The Sheep and Goat Industry in Israel

The Sheep and Goat Industry in Israel

Haim Leibovich, PhD

Sheep-2In Israel there are about 2,400 farmers raising small ruminants (sheep and goats), keeping a total of about 520,000 animals. These farmers can be grouped into three different sectors – the intensive, the semi-intensive and the extensive Bedouin farmers in the arid south of the country.

Table 1: Number of sheep and goat in Israel breeders, and number of heads according to the sectors.

Sector No. breeders Sheep Goats Total heads
Intensive 500 130,000 30,000 160,000
Dairy 150 30,000 30,000 60,000
Mutton 350 100,000 100,000
Semi-intensive 600 100,000 40,000 140,000
Extensive 1,300 200,000 20,000 220,000
Total 2,400 430,000 90,000 520,000

Management aspects:

In the last decade the intensive sheep and goat farmers have upgraded their milking facilities and have introduced computerized systems for advanced automatic data recording and herd management. The professional management has improved and the average animal’s performance under the intensive management varies between 250 to 650 liters of milk per sheep and between 450 to 1,000 liters per goat annually. The variations between animals’ production are related to management aspects.

Nutritional aspects:

Since pasture is a limited resource in Israel and facilities to use these limited grazing options are too complicated, most sheep and goat farmers are using a zero grazing -full supplement feeding regime. In order to improve animals’ performances and farmers’ time management there is an increasing trend of outsourcing the preparation of the animals’ ration as TMR – Total Mixed Ration. TMR is prepared in a large feed center and delivered either fresh on a daily basis or as a packed mixture delivered once every two weeks.

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