Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Kentucky Partners Send Animal Science Volunteer to Ecuador

Animal Science Specialist Jonathan Tubbs recently returned from a Farmer to Farmer trip to Ecuador, where he contributed to an ongoing exchange of technical assistance between Kentucky and Ecuador in the areas of animal health and milk production. Below are some excerpts from his trip report and photos from the trip. 
Photo: Jonathan and his Ecuadorian counterpart manually milking cow
During the recent visit to the Chaco and Tungurahua regions of Ecuador, several implications of previous projects were noticeable, mostly from the most recent visit by Dr. Prather or Morehead State in 2008. During his visit, Dr. Prather and a few pre-vet students conducted seminars centered on animal health, vaccination protocols and procedures, and worked with the Mobile Veterinary Services clinic. Since that time, the farmers and agriculture leaders in these regions have been working toward implementing these practices with some success.

[A] Radio interview [was] done concerning agriculture in the region. Questions included concerns of global warming, impacts of cattle production, and goals for the project. Milton Hugo’s farm is interested to see how sustainable cattle farming is starting.

“One of the problems that contributes [to] global warming is the cutting of trees for beef production, and because [of] the lack of nutrients in the pasture the farmer needs to keep cutting more and more forest, and so oxygen machines such as trees are no longer in rainforest areas” [quoted from Miguel Castanel, long time volunteer and Kentucky-
Ecuador POA Orient Coordinator in the jungle region of Ecuador). With the system that Dr. Richard is establishing for improving nutrition in cattle he was able to improve the use of the grass areas from 1 cow per 2,54 acres up to 4 cows per 2,54 acres. He is using a mixture of local grasses with a high content of protein and sugar cane and feeding the cattle in stables. This method has applied for the carbon credits program and 10 farms running with this program are receiving the benefits. 
             Photo: mobile clinic  in action
The biggest accomplishment of the first trip of this project was the positive response, excitement, and anticipation that were received from all of those involved, but more importantly from the farmers. Many of the community leaders were grateful and look forward to the progress that we hope to achieve, but it was the farmers who were truly excited about a program that was focused on helping them achieve higher production on their farms. This is perhaps the most important aspect of the program that we aim at establishing. Without the farmers support and willingness to participate, nothing will be achieved.
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Photo: local cheese being packaged

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