Source: Partap, 1993
Livestock and agroecological diversity There is great diversity in indigenous livestock breeds in Nepal because of climatic and physiographic differences and prevalent traditional animal husbandry systems. Twenty-four breeds of cattle, buffalo, sheep, goat, pig and poultry are recognised in Nepal (Table 2.20), but the strains within each breed have not been adequately identified. Among known breeds, pure Siri cattle have become extinct in Nepal and crossbreeds of Siri cattle are only seen in small numbers. Lulu and Achhame cattle are on the verge of extinction. The Yak population is also decreasing at the rate of 1.41% a year. Lime buffalo is perhaps endangered and likely to disappear soon. Lampuchhre and Kage sheep are at risk. The Bampudke pig is on the verge of extinction while Chwanche and Hurrah pigs are only seen in small numbers. Breeds and strains of domestic animals, including poultry, in different ecological belts are yet to be identified and characterised.
Table 2.20 Indigenous and exotic livestock genotypes in Nepal
Indigenous livestock breeds and genetics There are at least 17 species of livestock in Nepal, five Bovidae, seven Aves, two Equidae (excluding mules), one pig (Sus scrofa), one rabbit (Oryctolagus cunuculus) and one elephant (Elephas maximus) species. Domestic animals include cattle (Bos taurus and B. indicus), buffalo (Bubalus bubalis), yak (Bos grunniens) and its crosses with cattle, goat (Capra hircus), sheep (Ovis aries), equids, poultry (fowl - Gallus domesticus, duck - Anas platyrhyncos, and pigeon -Columba livia), pigs, and, more recently, rabbits for meat and the Angora type for wool. Buffalo, cow, and goat milk are the major livestock products, with an annual production of 600,000 tonnes, 260,000 tonnes, and 51,000 tonnes respectively. Buffalo is the most important source of meat (95,000 tonnes annually), followed by goat (35,000 tonnes), pig (10,000 tonnes), poultry (9,000 tonnes), cattle (which is illegal to slaughter) (4,000 tonnes) and sheep (3,000 tonnes) (Wilson 1997). The density of livestock per unit of arable land is high (Tables 2.21 and 2.22).
The selection and distribution of various indigenous types of animals raised in different parts of the country are guided by socio-economic values and ethnocultural preferences, climate, animal husbandry systems and, in some cases, marketability. The annual status of feed supply and social preferences are two major factors that determine the type of animal and livestock management system in rural areas. Thus conservation of livestock genetic resources, incorporating both preservation and sustainable use of farm animals, exists mainly in small farming systems where farmers own few animals but keep several species (Shrestha 1984; 1998). These farming systems are characterised by small land holdings and low use of technology and inputs. Owning livestock, which is mainly for subsistence, is a risk reduction strategy as these farmers live in remote locations isolated from market services (Wilson 1995).
Table 2.21 Livestock and poultry populations in Nepal and comparison growth rates with
those of the Asia-Pacific region
POPULATION IN 1995 (‘000)
AVERAGE ANNUAL GROWTH RATE (%)
Table 2.22 Livestock density (heads/ha) on cultivated land in Nepal