“The quality of sheep which we had before the 1990s used to be low on both meat and wool. But since we started the cross-breeding programme to get Kashmir Merino, both these issues have been resolved,” says Imran Nazir, a health officer at the Sheep Husbandry Department, adding that Kashmir Merino is far more productive than original local breeds, both in terms of mutton and of wool.

Cooperative farmers ensure quality control

Enthusiastic sheep farmers in the region have been of great help in spreading the quality sheep germplasm and improving mutton production in the region. Thirty-seven-year-old Hilal Ahmad Yatoo of north Kashmir’s Chandarhama village is one of these farmers. Yatoo owns a flock of 130 Kashmir Merino. What has particularly made him a name in sheep farming is the way he maintains the quality sheep germplasm. He is the leading supplier of breeding rams among farmers in the region.