RUSVM Hosts Workshop to Benefit Livestock Farmers of St. Kitts

Basseterre, St. Kitts–Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine (RUSVM) hosted its first livestock farmer’s workshop on Monday, October 21. The workshop was a joint effort between the St. Kitts and Nevis Department of Agriculture and RUSVM in collaboration with the Caribbean Agricultural Research & Development Institute (CARDI) and McGill University. The workshop combined interactive lectures and participatory instruction on working with the livestock with the goal of discussing and learning more about sheep and goat (small ruminants) husbandry practices.

Mr. Shelford, a rural farmer in attendance gave his perspective on the workshop. “I enjoyed the event thoroughly. I am pleased to see that this collaboration between RUSVM and the agricultural ministry to host an event like this. I have always had interest in new breeding techniques and one of the speakers lectured about this topic. I was able to learn more about how to breed animals to be less susceptible to certain diseases,” he explained.

Farmers who participated in the workshop had an opportunity to learn additional management methods, to share experiences with other farmers and to inform faculty at RUSVM about research and training needs. RUSVM hopes to begin to build a collaborative relationship with farmers, working with the St. Kitts Department of Agriculture, to understand the areas that are most relevant to assist the farmers in production, as well as, improve techniques and veterinary medical care available to them. Veterinary students interested in livestock also attended the workshop gaining supplemental knowledge from the lectures and discussion with farmers.

Dr. Jennifer Ketzis, assistant professor of Parasitology reflected on how the idea for the workshop had begun indicating that what initially had been envisioned as a two hour event with approximately fifteen famers, blossomed into a half day event with double the famers and included students and RUSVM faculty and staff. “In almost every country I have lived, I have been lucky to be involved in workshops with farmers. When I moved to St. Kitts in 2012, my first thought when I saw the goats and sheep on the island was to put together a workshop which would provide the opportunity to learn about farming on St. Kitts and to share my own experiences and those of my colleagues with the local farming community. With the assistance of the student chapter of the American Association of Small Ruminant Practitioners (AASRP) and the support of RUSVM, the Department of Agriculture, McGill University and CARDI we have been able to bring the idea to life,” explained Ketzis.

It has been proposed that this event become an annual staple in the farming calendar with hopes of this event opening the door for more on-farm research to directly benefit the livestock owners and provide mutually beneficial interactions between students, faculty and farmers on St. Kitts.

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