Animal Husbandry in Qatar
Animal husbandry is common in about 76% of active Qatari farms. Livestock usually consists of camels, sheep and goats, cows, poultry and to some extent horses. The distribution is as follows:
- Two-thirds of farmers have a sheep herd ranging between 3 heads to 1,500 heads.
- Half the farmers have a goat herd ranging from 5 to 650 heads.
- Camels are found in 21% of farms.
- Cattle is found in 29% of farms with considerable variation in the size of the flock.
- Poultry is found in 28% of the farms, however only 1% of farmers reported large poultry activities.
The vast majority of farmers who have livestock reported that they keep the production of sheep and calves essentially for domestic consumption. Some, but not all livestock owners collect milk from their animals. Milk production is low and it is often consumed inside the farm particularly if the flock size is small. It is estimated that one-third of sheep and goat owners; two-thirds of cattle owners; and about 43% of camel owners collect milk from their animals.
Fodder is the main source of livestock feed, whereas pastures are not as important (used only by 4% of farmers). To 60% of the farmers, their main source of feed comes directly from the farm. Alfalfa and Rhodes grass are the dominating fodder crops. Most of the produced feed is consumed by the farmer’s livestock. The surplus is sold either on the farm or in the feed market located near the vegetable market in Doha.
Demand for feed to meet the anticipated growth in the animal population can be achieved by expanding the production of fodder crops through a number of strategies which the QNFSP is currently studying. Such strategies are aimed at reducing the consumption of the water resources while at the same time prevent the over-cultivation of Qatar’s limited arable land.
Increasing the production per unit area of fodder crops can take place through best practices such as the use of higher yielding, heat tolerant, and water efficient native and exotic forage varieties. For example Lebid (buffel grass - Cenchrus ciliaris), a perennial grass from the Arabian Peninsula, has been widely used as pasture for livestock feeding and land rehabilitation. The crop is adapted to warm, moist and saline growing conditions and persists under heavy grazing and drought. It has higher water productivity and fodder quality than Rhodes grass.
Hydroponics can also offer an attractive, cost effective alternative to growing fodder in open field. Production of barley under hydroponics is significantly faster and alfalfa, if grown under hydroponics, can produce 10 to 20 times more than in open field where the yield is about 85 tonnes per hector per year.
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