The Sheep Breeding Research Station, Sandynallah of the Nilagiri district was established during the year 1950-51. It has a land area of 708.67 acres, of which about 500 acres is maintained as natural grasslands. The entire area consists of rolling hills with an average elevation of 2230 metres above mean sea level. The annual rainfall ranges from 800 to 3000 mm.

This research station in its fifty years of existence had two different mandates implemented in two phases. In the first phase (1950-72), the mandate was to improve the meat characteristics of Nilagiri sheep through crossbreeding with exotic dual-purpose sheep breeds. In the second phase (197390), the mandate was to improve the wool yield and quality of Nilagiri sheep by crossbreeding with Merino and Rambouillet sheep.


Conservation of Nilagiri sheep

Breed profile

The Nilagiri breed of sheep is a short statured wooly breed, inhabiting the hilly regions of the Nilgiris district in Tamil Nadu. It has a crossbred base and contains unknown proportions of inheritance of Coimbatore, Tasmanian Merino, Cheviot and South Down breeds. The breed was evolved during the nineteenth century. Both males and female are polled with a few males having a horn spur.


  • The Government of India has sanctioned a scheme for conservation of Nilagiri sheep
  • As a measure of conservation a breedable population of 20 males and 300 females of Nilagiri sheep have been established at Sheep Breeding Research Station, Sandynallah for in-situ conservation.
  • The sheep from farmers flock have been registered in the scheme and are provided with concentrate feed during winter months and comprehensive health cover.
  • Infra structure facilities were created to make the project self sustainable
  • Ex - situ conservation of Nilagiri sheep in the form of frozen semen
  • Identification of traits unique to the breed.
  • Awareness creation among the sheep farmers on the importance of Nilagiri sheep and its conservation
  • To provide inputs in the form of technical knowhow and health and nutritional care the sheep farmers

Improvement of Sandyno sheep through selective breeding

Breed profile

The Sandyno breed of was developed at Sheep Breeding Research Station, Sandynallah by crossing Merino/ Rambouillet with Nilagiri breed of sheep. The Sandyno sheep contains 5/8th inheritance of Merino / Rambouillet and 3/8th inheritance of Nilagiri sheep. The males are either polled or horned and the females are polled.


  • The breed was field tested and has wide acceptability among the farmers.
  • Breeding stock were also supplied to hilly areas in the neighbouring district of Karnataka.
  • The Sandyno sheep had performed excellently under farmers conditions
  • Due to its heavy body weight, this breed could be used as an improver breed for commercial sheep breeding.
  • The breed is continuously improved through selective breeding
  • The yearling body weight is about 28-30 kg.

Developing a meat breed of sheep by crossing Dorset and Nilagiri sheep

Breed profile

The Nilagiri breed of sheep had adapted over years to the Nilgiri hills of Tamil Nadu. It is a fine wool variety and is more valued for meat rather than wool. A cross-breeding programme to improve the meat characteristics of Nilagiri sheep was initiated at Sheep Breeding Research Station, Sandynallah. Polled Dorset sheep were crossed to Nilagiri ewes in a phased manner over the last 17 years and a separate genetic group with uniform type and conformation has been evolved. The level of Dorset inheritance in the new genetic group is about 50 per cent.


  • The Dorset X Nilagiri (DN) animals have adapted well to the conditions of the Nilgiris and are superior to the Nilagiri sheep in terms of body conformation, temperament, body weight traits and meat characteristics. The adaptability and survivability were generally good under field conditions and the acceptability of the strain among the farmers is very high.
  • Medium sized animals, white in colour with broad fore head
  • Adult rams / ewes weigh 45 / 35 kg
  • Meaty body conformation
  • Body weight at market age (9 months) is about 18 kg
  • The crossbreds have more lean meat, tenderer than the Nilagiri sheep.
  • Sensory evaluation of the meat is in highly acceptable level
  • Overall, the meat from the crossbred animals are superior when compared with the native Nilagiri sheep

Nucleus herds of Nilagiri and Sandyno sheep

  • The nucleus herds are elite herds made out of the top 5 per cent of the sheep(males and females) in the respective breeds.
  • The sheep of the elite herd are maintained at the recommended plane of nutrition throughout the year.

Production and supply of breeding stock of sheep

The sheep, rabbit and geese of this Station are genetically improved on a continuous basis through selection for body weight and other economic traits. Sheep breeders are registered and they are supplied with improved rams for breeding purpose. The sheep supplied for breeding in the last three years are furnished.

Category of animals Animals sold
2009-10 2010-11 2011-12
Sheep 416 455 410
Rabbit 312 412 119
Geese 28 15 58



  • Selective breeding of New Zealand White rabbit
  • Production and supply of improved breeding stock of rabbit.
  • No of rabbits supplied in the last three years is as follows



  • Production and supply of breeding stock



  • Evaluation of temperate fodder types
  • Improvement of fodder production and conservation
  • Production and supply seeds/slips of fodder crops


  • Temperate fodder types suitable to this region have been identified
  • The fodder types were evaluated with respect to yield and proximate composition
  • The procedure for small scale silage production has been standardised.

Kikiyu grass

Fodder oats

Fodder maize

Phalaris grass


Ongoing Externally Funded Projects

  • Centrally Sponsored Scheme - Conservation of Threatened Breeds of Livestock - Nilagiri sheep.
  • Veterinary Plan - Technology and Research Farms - Hill and Tribal Zone - Strengthening of SBRS - Sandynallah
  • Distribution of backyard poultry units under Part II scheme of Government of Tamil Nadu and under the scheme of Veterinary Type Culture - Tribal sub-plan.
  • Empowerment of Tribal youth in conservation of Toda buffaloes - an 'for the Toda by the Toda approach'



  • Dr. N. Prema, Assistant Professor and Head |
  • Dr. V. Thavasiappan, Assistant Professor | thavasiappan.v @
  • Dr. S. Krishnakumar, Assistant Professor |
  • Dr. R. Prabhakar, Assitant Professor |
  • Dr. S. Satheesh Raja, Assitant Professor
  • Dr. J. Selvamani, Assitant Professor

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