By: Chaïra Flanders
Basseterre, St. Kitts, October 1, 2019 (ZIZ News): In April of 2018, the Department of Agriculture and Ross University entered into an agreement to introduce a Breeding Program with an objective to improve the federation’s local flock and the dress weight of goat carcass.
One year later, ZIZ along with other members of the media were introduced to the first generation of off-spring that were bred through this program.
Representatives from the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine and the Department of Agriculture proudly showcased the new generation of goats that were born as a result of the Goat Breeding program at Island Country Farms in Parsons Village on Monday September 30 2019.
Director of Agriculture, Melvin James held the first born kid of the batch and explained that goat meat has become a heavily sought after product. He said that the federation however, has been at a disadvantage considering that local Feral goats on island take a much longer time to gain weight for slaughter; sometimes weighing 25 pounds or less, which he says does not meet the expectations of the farmers.
James said the Department then made the decision to partner with Ross University to use three Boer Bucks of different genetic lineage and import the animals from Florida because they are specialized in breeding.
“There are other goat breeds which are specialized for meat and we thought that we would approach Ross and get some assistance here and they were able to assist us through their program to import a breed of goat called Boer which are excellent in terms of putting on weight in a short period of time. So we got them in and therefore we put them in like a breeding program where we would use the males and they also brought in some females. But in addition to that, we can use the local females as well in what you call an upgrading program where the offspring from our local females will be bigger and stronger than the normal ones produced from just the local animals”, James explained.
Associate Professor at Ross University, Dr. Aspinas Chapwanya explained the importance of the Goat Breeding Program and added that the program would also assist the students at the University by giving them the practical experience.
Dr. Chapwanya said, ‘This program is important on three levels where we are concerned because at Ross we are a University and we teach so for us it was important for us to have the material that we can teach our students with and with this project we have our students coming out to the farm to not only learn the practical of keeping animals but they can actually see what program we are working on.”
Student at Ross University, Angela Muggli said that she is quite pleased to have been given the opportunity to interact with the goats.
The Goat Breeding Program initially began in 2018 at Bayford’s but experienced setbacks such as sickness of animals, shortage of water and lack of transportation.
The animals were then moved to a private farm in Parsons Village where the breeding resumed in March of this year.
The overall budget for the Goat Feeding Program is an estimated EC $18663.91.