Farmers Receive F1 Sheep to Improve On-Farm Genetics

September 14, 2022

Picture: The Minister for Agriculture Hon. Dr. Mahendra Reddy with the Ministry staff and recipients of F1 Sheep breed at Nawaicoba Quarantine Station in Nadi.

A total of 61 pairs of F1 Sheep breed was recently handed over to sheep farmers as part of ongoing efforts to improve the genetic makeup on sheep farms in the country.

While handing over the F1 pairs at the Nawaicoba Quarantine Station in Nadi which saw the release of 122 animals, Minister for Agriculture Hon. Dr Mahendra Reddy said the amount of sheep stock currently in the country had improved.

“Currently Fiji has a total of 982 sheep farmers with 32,061 total stock and the sheep industry has come a long way, for example in 2009 we had around 14,000 stock amongst 818 farmers whilst in 2019 the sheep numbers were around 30,000, amongst around 900 farmers. From 2019 we had an average growth of around 3 per cent.

“So that is a substantial gain from 14,000 to 30,000 stock, this is more than double the number and farmers' numbers have increased slightly so we’re very happy to see this major growth but still, we are lagging behind substantially because we are importing 4,206 tonnes of sheep/lamb meat every year,” he said.

“We are spending $48million annually on the importation of 4,206 tonnes of lamb meat, 98 per cent of all the lamb meat consumed in Fiji while 2 per cent is what we are producing so there is enormous scope to raise production,” highlighted Minister Reddy.

Fiji’s current formal production of sheep meat stands at 3.64 tons/year whilst around 1.3ton is from the informal market.

The F1 Sheep is a product of cross-breeding between the Dorper and Fiji Fantastic breeds and was officially launched in 2019 whereby a total of 75 farmers in the Western Division and 32 farmers in the Northern Division benefitted from the program.

According to the breed evaluation studies at the Ministry’s Nawaicoba Quarantine Station, these crossbreeds have a higher average birth weight of 3.8kg. They also have better average body lengths. The average weaning weight of these cross-breed sheep was found to be 11.2kg.

The introduction of these cross breeds on farms will boost the genetic make-up of the existing population and contribute to the improved performance of these animals on farms.

The improvement in the genetic makeup will create impacts such as improved weight gain, reproductive efficiency and better production performance.