Thursday, February 6, 2014

Introducing Milking Shorthorns to Nicaragua

The calf bred from the Milking Shorthorn genes
 donated by the U.S. Milking Shorthorn Association
In Nicaragua, Farmer to Farmer’s country strategy focuses on increasing the productivity and profitability of the dairy sub-sector. Some volunteers assist farmer associations in increasing overall milk production and milk quality. Others support the diversification of Nicaraguan dairy products in order to increase their sales at the local, national, and international level. Between July and August 2012, Jerry Nolte (an agricultural economist) and Tony Jilek (animal scientist) spent almost three weeks training farmers on forage management, feeding quality forages, and cattle breeding in four regions of Nicaragua. Breeding programs are particularly important in Nicaragua to ensure that the breed of cattle is suited to the region’s climate and compatible with the type and quality of feed available. Based on their experiences and observations in-country, Jerry and Tony proposed the introduction of the Milking Shorthorn cattle to Nicaraguan livestock. Milking Shorthorns are better grazers in hot weather and are also known for their versatility in a number of production environments. By breeding Milking Shorthorns with existing breeds in Nicaragua, farmers could potentially improve dairy quality and production.

After working with Dr. Edmundo Robleto, a medical doctor and local rancher in Comoapa, on rotational grazing, both Jerry and Tony found him to be an ideal candidate for introducing Milking Shorthorn genes to his livestock. Jerry and Tony helped Dr. Robleto get 200 straws of Milking Shorthorn semen from the U.S. Milking Shorthorn Association. Unfortunately, the arrival of the semen did not happen during the time of the assignment. In November 2012, however, the semen made it to Nicaragua and, last year, the breeding program’s first calf (pictured below) was born!

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