4. Small ruminant production in developing countries.
FAO Animal Production and Health Paper No. 58, FAO, Rome, ISBN 92-5-102343-3, 1985, price DM 33,-
FAO organized an Expert Consultation on Small Ruminant Production in Sofia, July 8/12, 1985. The papers published in these proceedings represent the technical contributions and discussions at the meeting.
Separate to these discussions the consultation addressed some of the broader issues of importance to the advancement of small ruminant production, particularly in the developing countries, and at the end of the meeting agreed a set of recommendations.
Twenty papers were presented and discussed in the consultation and are reproduced in these proceedings. Strategies in breeding and breed development, nutrition and management, the development and utilization of indigenous grasses, shrubs and forest feeds for the production of sheep and goats, in arid, semi-arid and tropical conditions.
Small ruminants such as sheep and goats have adaptive capacities to survive and produce in difficult environments be they arid, high altitude or extremely cold. Generally, small ruminants are efficient converters of forage feeds whether they are farmed in temperate, arid or semi-tropical conditions. Perhaps their greatest advantage relative to large ruminants is their low cost, small size, their suitability to small holdings and in many of the developing countries, their triple purpose use for meat, milk and fibre.
There is a steady increase in sheep and goat numbers; sheep numbers are in excess of one billion head and goat numbers globally are now approaching half a billion head.
Increasing numbers is not enough. The fundamental issues are increased efficiency of production, biological efficiency, structural/organizational efficiency or more effective use of basic feed resources.
The recommendations are set down under the following broad headings:
- Research and development in small ruminant production.
Adaptation of breed to local environment should be a key element in breed choice and breed development strategies. This means paying particular attention to indigenous breeds.
The consultation considered that many of the developments in the technologies of reproduction in small ruminants are not and will not be relevant to small ruminant production in the developing countries until levels of nutrition and management are substantially increased, and market prices dictate more cost effective results.
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