A Madgyal breed sheep, known for its unique appearance and superior meat quality, has got an offer of a whopping Rs 70 lakh from a buyer in Maharashtra's Sangli district while its owner has quoted a price of Rs 1.5 crore.
The Madgyal breed sheep, inhabitants of Jat tehsil in Sangli, are taller, larger and have a higher growth rate than other breeds. Hence, they are in great demand among breeders.
The state's animal husbandry department is also making extensive efforts to increase the Madgyal breed's population beyond its origin, an official told PTI.
This sheep breed derives its name from the Madgyal village in Jat tehsil of Sangli.
Babu Metkari, a shepherd having a flock over 200 sheep in Atpadi tehsil of Sangli, was surprised when a buyer at a fair recently offered to buy one of his Madgyal sheep for Rs 70 lakh, though he did not wish to sell his prized possession.
"This sheep's real name is Sarja, but it was re- christened 'Modi' after people likened him to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the way he won all elections and became PM of the country. Sarja, too, showed its dominance and ruled every fair and market it was taken," the proud owner told PTI.
Metkari said as Sarja is a "lucky charm" for him and his family, he does not want to sell it.
"I refused to sell to the person who offered Rs 70 lakh, but when he insisted, I quoted Rs 1.50 crore as I knew no one will shell out that much for the farm animal," he said.
Metkari said he has several sheep of the Madgyal breed, but Sarja is far superior in terms of qualities, appearance and ability to reproduce.
"We have been into the live-stock rearing business for two to three generations but in the last two years, we gained real profits just because of Sarja. A lamb bred by this sheep is sold between Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh," he claimed.
Metkari said in the last last two years, he has earned good money because of this sheep.
The Madgyal sheep are taller, larger, have a higher growth rate and are considered ideal for meat production.
The ruminant animal has a prominent brown ring around the eyes. Its head is convex and it has a typical Roman nose.
Its ears are pendulous and leaf-like long and drooping.
Maharashtra Sheep and Goat Development Corporation's assistant director Dr Sachin Tekade said in view of special qualities of the Madgyal breed, its utility, high demand and better adaptability to harsh drought-prone climate, the animal husbandry department has decided to revive the breed.
"During a survey in 2003, it was found that there were only 5,319 pure Madgyal sheep available in the breeding tracts of Sangli district," said Tekade, who has been researching on the Madgyal breed for last several years.
"So, an extensive programme was started with an aim to conserve and preserve the then endangered Madgyal sheep breed," said Tekade, who is also co-author of the paper 'Performance evaluation of Madgyal sheep in its breeding tract'.
Under the programme, initially, 500 ewes and 20 rams of pure Madgyal breed were maintained at government-run sheep breeding farms, and the improved progeny from this pure breed was distributed among shepherds in the breeding tracts of Sangli, he said.
The characters of Madgyal sheep are very dominating and if it is crossed with a local breed sheep, the newborn lamb has more than 50 per cent features of Madgyal, he said.
"Now, the sheep population in Sangli district is more than 1.50 lakh, predominantly comprising the Madgyal breed," he said.
A proposal to register Madgyal as a separate breed has been sent to the National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources at Karnal in Haryana, he added.