Climate-resilient and productive small ruminants (sheep and goats)

Selected Doyogena ram for use in artificial insemination
Selected Doyogena ram for use in artificial insemination

Since its foundation in 1977, ICARDA has worked on small ruminant production in drylands, and its Small Ruminant team contributes to more productive and environmentally friendly livestock production systems. In many developing countries, sheep and goat production is hindered by low herd productivity and profitability, high emissions per unit product, overgrazing, and limited or no access to productive and climate-resilient breeding animals. Furthermore, dairy and livestock households in remote locations often lack the knowledge and skills to ensure product safety and fully benefit from value addition options.

Major research topics include:

  • Co-design of functional country-specific sheep and goat breeding programs for resource-poor small ruminant producers,
  • Establishing digital phenotyping platforms which will generate up-to-date breeding values for selection and management decisions,
  • Dissemination models for improved genetics adapted to target breeds and production systems,
  • Establishing institutional support structures like certification systems and market links,
  • Strategic supplementation and fattening strategies based on locally adapted and available feed resources,
  • More and better feed from croplands through selecting cereal and grain legume varieties for food-feed traits (high nutritious grain yields as well as high biomass and feed quality of residues and dual-purpose barley varieties selected for high tilling, regenerative potential and improved first cut yield,
  • Contributions to herd health management considering most productivity-reducing diseases and important zoonoses.
  • Low-input dairy processing solutions for safer and higher-value dairy products. 


Watch and learn how ICARDA and it's partners are helping in improving livestock production and health to support Dryland farmers!