The Small Ruminant Research Programme started as a Department of Small Ruminants on October 1, 1982 before it metamorphosed into Small Ruminant Research Programme in 1987 when the then DIFRRI (Directorate of Food Road and Rural Infrastructure) gave huge intervention fund for the transformation and expansion of the Department. Research on sheep and goats actually started in 1972 and 1974, respectively, in Shika Stock Farm which later became NAPRI in 1976.
ADMINISTRATIVE STRUCTURE OF THE PROGRAMME AND FUNCTIONS
The Programme Leader (PL) of the Programme serves as the administrative head and leader for research. He assists the Executive Director and Assistant Director (Research) in matters relating to research. The Programme leader coordinates all research activities in the Programme and he is assisted by a Research Committee in research formulation, screening and initial approvals of projects. The Programme is structured into four research units, namely Goat Project, Sheep Project, Experimental Unit and Health Unit. The first two are concerned with breeding and genetic research on the indigenous breeds of sheep and goats for breed improvement. The Experimental Unit is the place for conduct of nutrition research, performance test and fattening activities in the Programme. The Health Unit is concerned with routine health management of the Programme’s animals. Each of these units is headed by a Project Manager (PM), a research staff, who is assisted by Assistant Project Manager (APM), a technical staff whose main duty is to ensure that all the routine and periodic or strategic farm operations in his unit are carried out good and promptly. In addition to the above units domiciled at the Headquarters, the Programme has an Outstation at Ubiaja, Edo State headed by a Station Manager. The Station is to improve the productivity of trypano-tolerant small ruminants found in the humid zone. The initial emphasis at the Station is to breed, select and supply improved males to interested farmers, but at the moment it also provides alternative breeds for production research to the breeds of sheep and goats available at the Northern part of the country where the Headquarters of NAPRI is located, thus widening research scope, applicability and relevance of research findings by the Programme. The Programme provides extension services by advising both practising and would-be farmers, supplying of improved sheep and goats for breeding, taking part in scientific conferences, seminars, workshops, technology review meetings, agricultural shows, trade fairs and assisting industries and farmers in practical application of results. In terms of research activities, it collaborates with Nigerian Institute of Leather and Science Technology (NILEST), Institute for Agricultural Research, Department of Animal Science and Faculty of Veterinary medicine, Ahmadu Bello University, and assists the latter two in the teaching and supervision of under and postgraduate students. The Programme has staff strength of 54 members, with six research staff, four-HND-holder technical staff and other support staff with varying middle level manpower qualifications. It requires more research staff to meet the establishment requirements. The Programme was a host to one of the Competitive Agricultural Research Grant Scheme Projects in the Institute sponsored and funded by the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN). The Project titled: “Development of Commercial Feed Supplements for goats” has enabled acquisition of a bomb calorimeter for the laboratory, and a dramatic upgrading of research facilities in the Programme which many postgraduate students from Ahmadu Bello University and some other universities in the country use for their research work. A project titled: “Genetic Variation of Resistance to Gastrointestinal Parasites in Red Sokoto and Sahelian goats” and funded by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was also domiciled in Programme.
MANDATE, RESEARCH OBJECTIVES AND ORGANIZATION OF THE PROGRAMME
The mandate of the Programme remains, essentially, as that of its precursor and it falls within the broad mandate of the Institute (NAPRI). The mandate is to assist the livestock industry by improving the productivity of indigenous sheep and goats, providing new and improved technologies which can boost the economic efficiency of sheep and goat production, and providing management techniques which can enhance the survivability of sheep and goats, especially before weaning. The broad research objective of the Small Ruminant Research Programme is to improve the production characteristics that are capable of having major impact on the efficiency of sheep and goat production. The Programme therefore, places emphasis on research to improving traits like reproductive performance, growth and milk production through short and long-term research projects in the areas of nutrition, reproduction, genetics and husbandry. To accomplish its mandate, the research programme is organized on a multi-disciplinary approach with prime focus on finding solutions to problems that represent the greatest constraints to production efficiency and to generate technology which is practical and can easily be adopted by resource-poor farmers.
Specific Research Objectives
The research of the Programme is divided into five broadly-based projects, each of which deals with areas of major concern to the Small Ruminant industry in Nigeria. The projects and their objectives are:
- Genetic improvement through selection and crossbreeding for litter size and growth rate.
- Genetic improvement of Red Sokoto goats for milk production
- Evaluation of indigenous breeds of sheep and goats.
- Determination of production characteristics.
- Estimation of genetic parameters.<br>
- Determination of nutrient requirements for various production functions.
- Development of feedlot fattening technology.
- Use of agro-industrial by-products, crop residues and farm waste in sheep and goat feeding.
- Determination of energy values and utilization of commonly used feed ingredients in sheep and goats rations.
- Development of complete feeds for fattening sheep and goats.
- Development of complete feeds for milk production in goats.
- Comparison of different management systems.
- Development of grazing management systems.
- Grazing/supplementation strategy for optimum performance and feeding cost reduction.
- Identification of factors causing lamb/kid mortality and development of lamb/kid management procedures to reduce mortality.
- Development of artificial rearing systems for kids and lambs