Open access peer-reviewed chapter

Kendrapada Sheep: An Insight Into Productivity and Genetic Potential of this Prolific Breed

Written By

Lipsa Dash, Sukanta Kumar Sahoo, Feroz H. Rahman, Simphoni Mohanty, Prasanta Kumar Nanda, Debi Prasad Kund, Surya Narayan Mishra and Susanta Kumar Dash

Submitted: July 2nd, 2021Reviewed: October 19th, 2021Published: March 23rd, 2022

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.101289

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Kendrapada sheep of Odisha is a prolific, medium stature meat type breed. The Kendrapada sheep is the second prolific sheep of India after Garrole of West Bengal, which carries FecB mutation, responsible for prolificacy. The reproductive traits of this sheep is the major attribute where the ewe of this sheep comes to heat at around 10–11 months and drops its first lamb at around 15–16 months of age. The average lambing interval in these sheep is 8 months with gestation period of 150 days. The reproductive performance of these sheep is the uniqueness of this sheep population with more than 70% multiple births; 62.8% twinning, 2.3% triplet and 1% quadruplets. Thus research should be undertaken to conserve the valuable germplasm of Kendrapada sheep to improve the other breeds of India which are good in context of weight gain but lack prolificacy. As sheep are well adapted to diverse climatic conditions they can easily thrive on wide variety of grasses and crop residues thus fits well in zero input free grazing system of rearing by rural poor. However the potentiality of this Kendrapada sheep in terms of meat quality and prolificacy and resistance to diseases has been the simulating force to take up base line survey along with variety of trials to conserve this breed. Keeping the above mentioned points in mind the present study was carried out to highlight the baseline details of this neglected breed as it is one of the first review articles on Kendrapada sheep.


  • Kendrapada
  • sheep
  • Fec B
  • fecundity
  • prolific
  • germplasm
  • Odisha

1. Introduction

India has diverse breeds of sheep (44 breeds) which were adapted to different agroclimatic zones of the country. Sheep plays an important role in the rural economy and is principally maintained by poorer section of the rural community providing them a source of livelihood. Most of the breeds amongst those give single births and only few of breeds give birth to twins and triplets. The name ‘Kendrapada sheep’ of Odisha is highly prolific and excellent medium stature meat type breed. The climate of native tract of Kendrapada sheep is hot and sub-humid to hot and humid in nature and is located in south east coastal plain agro climatic zone of Odisha, India. The average annual rainfall is around 1500 mm and average relative humidity ranges from 31.6 and 93.4 percent over the months during the year. Recently National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources (NBAGR), Karnal has recognized it as a new sheep breed of India with accession number INDIA_SHEEP_1500_KENDRAPADA_14042. This breed of sheep is smaller in size weighing 18 kg–20 kg and thus due to small stature these are known as “deshi” or “Kuji mendha”. The distribution of Kendrapada sheep mainly extends from Bhadrak district to Nimapara (Konark) town of Puri district of Odisha. However this breed of sheep is present in the area extended around 100 km along Bay of Bengal coast from Konark to Chandbali. The majority of pure animals are found in the surrounding villages of Kendrapada district of coastal Odisha. The Kendrapada sheep produces 62.8% twins, 2.3% triplets and some 1% quadruplets [1, 2]. Most of the Kendrapada sheep (73%) carried the Fec Bmutation [3]. This sheep has been identified as second sheep breed in India, which carries FecB gene mutation. High prolificacy is a very much sought trait and is a major factor influencing the profitability in sheep farming. The Kendrapada sheep have many good qualities like adaptability to low input system of management, tolerance to hot and humid climate, resistance to many diseases along with very high prolificacy rate. These sheep are popular for their longevity and longer reproductive life, compared to other breeds of sheep. Being very docile and endowed with flocking together characteristics these animals are never a headache for farmers and serve as ready cash in emergency. These animals have always proved to be stress free under harsh climatic conditions with high humidity and flood situations. These sheep are popular for good quality skin, manure and low fat mutton. Milk is not an important attribute of this breed as the quantity produced is too less to be fed to its own lambs. This breed of sheep is endowed with the resistance to tropical diseases and has been proving its worth under extensive system of management under hot and humid climatic conditions, contributing to the livelihood of resource poor farmers [4]. However the potentiality of Kendrapada sheep in context to body weight, meat quality, prolificacy and resistance to diseases has been the driving force for the farmers to take it up as an enterprise. Some important aspects pertaining its performance characters are discussed underneath in this review.


2. Phenotypic characteristics of Kendrapada sheep

Kendrapada sheep is a medium stature compact meat type docile animal with very coarse and little curly wool as body coat. The head, leg and lower abdomen are free from hair coat. The color of sheep is predominantly light brown and blackish brown while in some cases black coat color with white patch on head are also seen. In most of the light brown colored animals the head color is lighter than the body (Figure 1). In contrary in case of dark colored animals the head and neck is darker than the body. The color pattern of animals mostly depends on the color of ram used for breeding in that particular area. However dark coat color animals are preferred over light ones and fetches higher price in case of marketing. This sheep possess an even rump indicative of high fleshiness and meatiness. While in most cases the head is straight, ears are mostly medium, horizontal in position and little drooping. These animals have no wattles or beard. These animals possess short and thick tail with round udder and small teats in case of females. The eyes of this animal are prominent, glowing and light yellow in color wit eyelashes matching to head color ranging from light to black color. Neck is little long with respect to body size. The average size of head in adult male is 16.96 ± 0.08 cm while in females it is 16.79 ± 0.08 cm. Both the sexes of this breed are polled, however, males at times have small button like and curly horns. Orientation of horns in this breed is backward and color of horns is always black [5]. Hooves of these animals are usually grayish black.

Figure 1.

Kendrapada sheep medium statured brown colored.

Body measurements (cm).

Body measurementsMale (avg)Female (avg)
Chest girth70.33 ± 0.1868.46 ± 0.17
Body length54.28 ± 0.1552.8 ± 0.15
Height at withers56.67 ± 0.1654.08 ± 0.16

Body weight (Kg).

Weight atMale (avg)Female (avg)
Birth1.69 ± 0.031.58 ± 0.02
Weaning/3 months6.74 ± 0.046.46 ± 0.04
6 months11.15 ± 0.0710.86 ± 0.06
1 Year18.65 ± 0.1017.22 ± 0.09
1st lambing20.24 ± 0.32
Adult weight21.15 ± 0.0720.25 ± 0.08

Findings about body weight at all stages of growth revealed sex dimorphism in Kendrapada sheep resulting in heavier males than females. The dressing yields of Kendrapada sheep on empty body weight basis ranged from 49.42 to 50.07% and the meat of this sheep slaughtered at 2 years of age is more tender and leaner compared to meat obtained from 3 years of age [6].

Carcass characters.

Male (avg)Female (avg)
Age at slaughter (months)11.818.7
Weight at slaughter (Kg)17.321.4
Carcass weight (Kg)8.3710.2
Dressing %48.447.6


3. Management practices of Kendrapada sheep

Kendrapada sheep are reared in the native tract only under extensive range system without giving any feed supplementation. A few animals are reared in organized farms under semi- intensive system with proper housing only. All the sheep in the native tract are kept in almost nil input basis. These sheep are usually left loose in the morning and allowed to graze across grazing land, road side vegetations and harvested fields mostly along with cattle herd of the village throughout the day. In town area, these sheep move around the market near vegetable shops and restaurants in search of food, along with grazing in nearby field. Though habituated of grazing themselves, the flocks are escorted with the owner while grazing during cropping season (Figure 2). In most of the cases the sheep do come back voluntarily before evening to their shelter place. During post harvest period the sheep often go for grazing in the morning and come back to shed in the evening.

Figure 2.

Free grazing with zero input system of rearing.

3.1 Housing

As seen during random survey in the district about 65% of sheep farmers do not provide any defined shed for their animals. A part of their dwelling space is thatched roof only which is utilized as a resting space for animals during rain and cold nights. So it can be concluded that most of the Kendrapada sheep are penned in open housing system (Figure 3). The sheds are kucha in nature with mud flooring and thatched roofs (Figure 4). Ventilation is of utmost importance to maintain a desirable interior temperature of 28 to 30°C. If the animals cannot get rid of heat because the surrounding temperature is too high (> 30°C), they eat less and therefore produce less. Roofing material was made of bamboo in some cases and earthen tiles in other cases which were cheap and practical as mentioned in Table 1 which was a part of our survey. A study was conducted to compare the growth and disease status of sheep kept under mud floor housing system and slatted floor platform based housing system. It was concluded that the wooden slatted floor in sheep shelters in this coastal areas benefit in increasing performance of growing lambs and adults with respect to body weight gain at different ages. This platform based housing system effectively controlled the gastrointestinal parasitic load which pose a great economic burden to the marginal and small farmers. It was observed from the above study that the coccidial load in mud housing system increased considerably during second sampling i.e. month of June which is the season for onset of south west summer monsoon in the district somewhat similar to that of first sampling which was taken in the month of March. On the contrary, there was significant reduction of coccidial load in sheep housed under platform raised housing during second sampling (June) which proved that the elevated structure above ground level was helpful in decreasing the coccidial load in sheep during the peak time of incidence in the district. Moreover, similar increase was found again during third sampling taken during end of October where in the coastal districts of Odisha there is onset of North east winter monsoon. These scenarios pose better survival of the oocysts in the surrounding due to increased moisture and increased incidence of coccidiosis due to uptake of infection through faeco-oral route. Further, in the platform raised housing system, the animals after administration of anti-coccidial drugs, were unable to pick up the infected oocytes from dry slatted floors which in contrary gets absorbed in the mud type housing system. In most cases the sheep are penned along with cows as a resultant sanitary condition of these places is very poor leading to soiling of animals and thus increase in cases of parasitic infestation. In case of large flock size close enclosures of asbestos is provided to the animals.

Figure 3.

Open housing system of Kendrapada sheep.

Figure 4.

Sheep houses with mud flooring and thatched roof.

HousingFrequency (N = 120)Percentage
Open space6150.83
Kutcha with straw roof1815
Kutcha with asbestos/Earthern tile roof1512.5
Keeping with other animals2621.66

Table 1.

Distribution of respondents according to housing.

3.2 Feeding of Kendrapada sheep

Kendrapada sheep depend solely on grazing. Supplementation of kitchen waste or little amount of leftover cooked human food is a practice with lactating ewes only. During grazing hours the animals use nearby water source for drinking purpose. The lambs are usually allowed to go with their mothers. In few cases those are retained near the house. During this period the old people and children of the house take care of the lambs and often feed the lambs with rice gruel and other kitchen waste. Even the kids of house help these lambs suckle from the mother. The ewe comes back to the lambs at regular intervals for suckling and then again goes out for grazing. As the Kuji or Kendrapada sheep are only maintained on free grazing lands, it is often seen that they face feed scarcity due to low forage yield especially during lean periods due to wide seasonal variations and higher stocking density of animals as they are penned in open sky closed enclosures. As a resultant there is decreased dry matter intake and nutrient utilization pattern in these Kendrapada sheep even to meet the maintenance requirements, preventing them to express their full production potential and thus affects the profitability of these small and marginal sheep rearing farmers. In order to address the issues of low growth rates and meat productivity of Kendrapada sheep a different feeding practice needs to be developed to improve the marketable weight and slaughter yields of sheep by effectively utilizing the locally available crop residues and agro industrial by-products as feed resources. Utilization of crop residues as animal feed is an alternative to overcome feed shortages for ruminant feeding in India [7]. More than 75% of Kendrapada sheep owners possess less than half hectare of cultivable land. Only 3.31% of the farmers rearing this sheep own more than a hectare land, reflecting poor resource profiling of Kendrapada sheep farmers in the native tract. The flock size ranges from 5 to 27 [4]. If supplementation of feed during lean period and at vital stages of reproductive life is done then better growth rate is achieved [8]. A low cost scientific input as concentrate supplementation at the rate of 1% of body weight to ewes during this critical stage is recommended to enhance their production performance, general condition as well as growth rate of lambs [9]. The inculcation of low cost concentrate feed I the feeding schedule of 3rd month pregnant ewes upto weaning of lambs shows a drastic increase of 0.59 g in case of lambs, 2 kgs increase in case of 3 months old lambs, 5 kgs increase in case of 6 months old sheep, 6 kgs increase in case of nine months old sheep and 7 kgs increase in 12 months old sheep (Figure 5). While it was also found that lamb mortality also decreased by 42% as more instance of twinning was there. Thus it depicts that feeding of concentrates play a major role in weight gain along with decrease of lamb mortality. The population dynamics of Kendrapada sheep showed a declined trend over the decades which may be attributed to shortening of grazing land and constraints in marketing of animals as most farmers still depend on middlemen for marketing.

Figure 5.

Weighing of sheep after demonstration on supplementary feeding of sheep.

3.3 Breeding

Farmers rearing Kendrapada sheep often own their breeding rams if the flock size is more than ten. Breeding activities are carried out mostly at grazing. Therefore the female gets natural service from available rams nearby and hence manage to lamb with an average lambing interval of around eight months. The males are castrated at the age of around three months leaving the healthiest counterpart as future breeding ram of the flock. Evn some lambs are left uncastrated for future use in ceremonial purpose. Generally one breeding ram is seen in a flock of 10 to 25 sheep in the grazing field. It has been realized through survey that sheep rearing families live in specific villages and not in every village as seen in case of dairy farmers as there is caste differentiation and beliefs stating a particular caste does sheep rearing and all caste should do this job or else they will be debarred from the village. Thus these villages are situated away from main village and also from each other as a result in the present context these sheep are very much confined to certain pockets of the districts and due to regular crossbreeding for increasing the body weight gain of lambs this breed is on the verge of extinction. Moreover as seen in most other parts of the state both in case of sheep and goat farming due to use of same breeding rams inbreeding depression is pretty common. In case of Kendrapada sheep this is not common as the males does not get enough scope to pass on their progeny to nearby villages but exchange of some sacred males between the villages continue for breeding purpose. There is neither any policy nor facility for artificial insemination through either government or non government organizations. Further neither the farmers are aware nor are interested for any such activity.


4. Reproductive performance

The average reproductive performance of this breed is depicted in the Table 2. The ewe of this breed attains sexual maturity at around 8 months of age and does lambing at around 15 months of age. The average lambing interval in these sheep is 8 months with gestation period of 150 days. Unlike other sheep this breed is not a seasonal breeder and gives birth in all seasons of the year. However majority of lambing is seen in early winter. These sheep deliver easily but sometimes help of owner is required during lambing. Mostly these ewes lamb in the house itself as they are reluctant to go for grazing during the period of advanced pregnancy. The lambs stand on their own for suckling after birth often due to scarce feeding weak lambs are born as there are multiple births that need assistance to stand. The reproductive performance of this sheep is only one of its kinds and is a unique feature of this breed as due to presence of FecB gene more than 70% of population gives multiple births, out of which 62.8% are twins, 2.3% triplets and some 1% quadruplets [1, 2]. FecB is an autosomal dominant gene located on chromosome 6, responsible for increasing the ovulation rate and litter size in sheep [10, 11]. It follows simple Mendelian inheritance. It has been reported that the effect of Booroola allele (FecBB) is additive for ovulation rate and each copy of the allele increases ovulation rate by about 1.6 and approximately one to two extra lamb in Booroola Merino [12, 13]. FecBor the Booroola is a dominant autosomal gene mutation with an additive effect on ovulation rate [14]. The genotype and gene frequency of FecBBB carrier are higher in Kendrapada sheep than Garole [15]. Prolificacy of Kendrapada sheep with respect to parity is mentioned in Table 3. The discovery of Fec Bmutation in Kendrapada sheep puts the breed at second position in India and sixth position in the world pertaining order of breeds known to carry the mutation (Booroola Merino or BM, Garole, Javanese TT, Hu and small tailed Han), which has large effect on litter size [3, 16]. The frequency of FecB allele in this sheep sample was about 0.73 [3]. The introgression of FecB allele in nonprolific breed with higher bodyweight can significantly increase the productivity of sheep industry and subsequently farmers will be benefitted. The Kendrapada sheep would be a better choice for this purpose since the bodyweight of this breed is higher than the Garole breed [15]. It has been observed that though these sheep lamb in all seasons highest percentage of estrus is recorded during the spring season.

1.Age at first mating in males (days)428.28 ± 3.21
2.Age at first mating in females (days)372.8 ± 1.24
3.Age at first estrous (days)352.13 ± 1.06
4.Estrous cycle duration (days)20.49 ± 0.03
5.Age at first lambing (days)521.85 ± 1.14
6.Lambing interval (days)236.42 ± 0.56
7.Service period (days)87.45 ± 0.24
8.Litter size1.75 ± 0.02
9.Lifetime lamb production17.89 ± 0.09

Table 2.

Reproduction performance of Kendrapada sheep.

Sl NoLambing% Single birth% twinning% triplets
2.L2 to L422.4470.517.05
3.> L421.7865.3512.87

Table 3.

Prolificacy of Kendrapada sheep with respect to parity.


5. Health status of Kendrapada sheep

Kendrapada sheep are adaptable to hot and humid tropical climate and are thus resistant to many diseases, poor food sources and heat stress. As most of the farmers are illiterate, poor, lack resources and are less aware about public services they often use indigenous knowledge and medicines to treat some of the major and minor diseases. Only in case of chronic diseases these farmers seek veterinary aid. Castration of young males is done by both local experts and veterinary personnel. The animals are periodically vaccinated against FMD, HS, PPR and Enterotoxemia under state vaccination policy to enhance their immunity. Often farmers are reluctant to go for FMD vaccination due to incidence of post vaccination inflammation attributed to use of adjuvants in these vaccines. The change of season plays a great role in manifestation of diseases. In rainy season the incidence of digestive disorders, parasitic and viral diseases are more as compared to other parts of the year. In winter, the sheep are mostly afflicted with worm infection, Foot and Mouth and Septicaemia diseases. Though kept together with other breeds of sheep this breed suffers less intensely than other breeds. In most of the viral diseases like Bluetongue, PPR and bacterial disease as ET the incubation period is less than 24 hrs. Antibiotics are recommended to check secondary bacterial infections. In case of this breed majority i.e. approximately 80% of deaths in lambs have been estimated due to non-infectious causes. Starvation, primarily from mismothering and behavior, nutritional and environmental stress, reproductive problems and predation are the major causes reported (pneumonia, acidosis etc.). Kendrapada district especially Subala village of Mahakalpada block witnessed a huge mortality of more than 60 sheep in between December 2016 and January 2017 due to gastrointestinal form of Pasteurellosis followed by secondary parasitic infestation of Haemonchus contortus. Since then vaccination of HS was mandatory and those farmers who were reluctant to vaccinate continuously vaccinated their flock from time to time. As per change of seasons the incidence of various diseases is depicted in Table 4. Various reproductive disorders are also seen in case of Kendrapada sheep which is attributed to deficiency of essential vitamins and minerals Table 5. These reproductive disorders also pose a great problem to these small and marginal farmers. Various deficiency diseases also play a pivotal role as predisposing factor for death of Kendrapada sheep as seen in case of young sheep grazing on flood -stricken pastures suffer serious depletion of reserves of minerals and vitamins. Copper and Cobalt: Characterized by anorexia and wasting. Anemia, diarrhea and unthriftiness occur in extreme cases. In such cases if treatment with Copper or cobalt sulphate is done then it causes rapid disappearance of the symptoms. Another such example is deficiency of Calcium, Phosphorous & Vit. D: The daily requirement of Ca, P & Vit. D for an adult sheep is about 2.5 gm, 1.5 gm and 300–500 units, respectively. Deficiency may result in rickets in lambs and osteomalacia in adults. Mineral supplementation in diet is essential to prevent this deficiency. Last but not the lease is deficiency of Vitamin A which occurs in sheep kept on dry feed without much access to green fodder. Symptoms include night blindness, corneal keratinization, ptyriasis, hoof defects, loss of weight and infertility. Congenital defects are common in the offspring of deficient dams. Thus farmers are encouraged to go for green fodder cultivation and also give access to green pastures to prevent recurring occurrence of this deficiency.

Sl. NoDisease/symptomsSeasonOverall (%)
Summer (%)Rainy (%)Winter (%)
1.Digestive disorder18.622.35.336.2
5.Skin disease2.
7.Ear/Eye Infection1.
8.Viral diseases1.217.24.623
9.Blood protozoan diseases7.65.25.218

Table 4.

Season wise diseases and symptoms of Kendrapada breed.

Sl. NoType of problemDisease incidence (%) n = 218
2.Still birth0.92
3.Retention of placenta0.46
4.Repeat breeding1.37

Table 5.

Incidence (%) of reproductive health problems of Kendrapada sheep.


6. Marketing

Sale and purchase of these Kendrapada sheep is mostly done at home of the owner. Sale of Kendrapada sheep is also realized in weekly village level markets. Most of the meat production and marketing practices in the district is traditional. Well-integrated marketing system for meat and meat products is lacking in Odisha a glimpse of which is seen in case of marketing this breed. According to a survey conducted by us regarding marketing of this breed as mentioned in Table 6 it pose problem amongst the local farmers. The main reason being monopoly of meat trader, lack of coordination between production and demand, too many middlemen in the trade which fetch low price to the innocent, shy sheep owner [17]. It is also observed that the mutton of Kendrapada sheep is a delicacy for biryani preparation amongst the hotel owners of the cities. Moreover in cities people choose a small stature dark skin coated animal for preparation of delicacies. Thus mutton is more preferred over chevon due to presence of more quantity of interstitial fat and once dressed people are unable to make out any difference between mutton and chevon so its seen mutton is more relished than chevon. But still these local farmers have to wait for various seasons and occasions in order to sell their mutton at a good price as mentioned in Table 7 an output of our survey. Usually males are raised for marketing but adult rams are mostly used for cultural and asthetic puposes. Females are normally never sold until and unless there is some financial exigency. Stress sale or push sale of this sheep breed has never been recorded not even during flood and cyclonic conditions. Moreover there is no instance of marketing hide, skin, horn, milk and manure from these sheep. Thus keeping the problems of these local farmers this marketing part needs a lot of renovation as development of adequate market infrastructure with basic requirements which is a must for marketing. Secondly because of the unorganized nature of the sector local farmer is not getting good price and middlemen gets benefited. Thus there is a dire need to modernize the meat production and marketing system of Kendrapada sheep. The state government is keen to improve the marketing system so that the consumers would get the quality meat and meat products at reasonable prices. Thirdly along with the production and productivity increase marketing facilities shall be prioritized to compete the export markets and to increase the income then only this endangered breed will be prevented from being extinct and farmers will be encouraged to continue farming of this pure breed without crossbreeding.

Time of marketingAlways (%)Sometimes (%)Never (%)
After 10 month254233
After 1 year464311
At body wt. of 15 kg523612
At body wt. of 20 kg56386
At the time of necessity622414

Table 6.

Distribution of respondents according to marketing.

Period of sellingAlways (%)Sometimes (%)Never (%)
No specific period84124
Festive season63559
Wedding season104743

Table 7.

Distribution of respondents according to marketing demand.


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Written By

Lipsa Dash, Sukanta Kumar Sahoo, Feroz H. Rahman, Simphoni Mohanty, Prasanta Kumar Nanda, Debi Prasad Kund, Surya Narayan Mishra and Susanta Kumar Dash

Submitted: July 2nd, 2021Reviewed: October 19th, 2021Published: March 23rd, 2022