Thursday, August 28, 2014

Farmer-to-Farmer Supports the First Artificial Goat Insemination in Guatemala

In July 2014, Partners of the Americas’ Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer Bill Knox made history by visiting the western highlands of Guatemala to provide the first-ever training on artificial goat insemination. Months of preparation by both Bill and his host organization, CEPROCAL-Altiplano (run by Save the Children), went into his assignment. From January to April, Bill conducted research on the restrictive Guatemalan import protocols for goat semen to ensure he would be able to successfully import 120 breeding units of frozen goat semen. He also sent photos and instructions to CEPROCAL to construct a simple breeding stand made of local materials that would be used to restrain the goats during insemination. His assignment was also timed so that he would arrive when the goats were in heat.

F2F volunteer, Bill Knox, arrives with 115 pounds of
instruments, supplies, and 120 units of frozen goat semen

Given the urgent need to improve the food security of thousands of rural families in Guatemala, Save the Children and the Agros Foundation developed a program to develop a goat milk production center in the department of Quiché. They founded CEPROCAL-Altiplano that trains technicians and hundreds of farmers in the management and production of dairy goats. The goal of CEPROCAL-Altiplano is to have approximately 320 goats on-site with a daily production of 700 liters of milk that will be used to improve the nutrition of local families and also to make dairy products such as cheese and yogurt. CEPROCAL-Altiplano also seeks to provide breeding stock to improve the genetic quality of native goats in the surrounding communities, thereby increasing milk production. There are approximately 2,200 female goats in the local communities that are involved in this program.


Veterinary students learn about artificial goat
insemination at the University of San Carlos
Bill trained almost 100 producers, technicians, and veterinary students in two methods for artificial goat insemination. He also provided training on the use of estrus and ovulation synchronization and how to complete internal parasite assessments. Artificial insemination can be as effective as natural breeding by local bucks but the offspring of AI bucks will have superior genetics. This means that Bill’s training will help improve goat production in the country, which will thereby help improve families’ nutrition and food security through greater access to goat milk.

Bill also got a chance to visit some of the villages involved in the program and was impressed with how successful the program has been despite only being in existence for eight years. He notes that they are not only teaching children and their families to drink goat milk, but also how to raise goats and take care of them. On his assignment, Bill states, “There was earnest interest in the subject of AI and ovulation and estrus synchronization by faculty, students, and producers. . . This was a wonderful learning experience, and I hope the information I delivered will be helpful. Guatemala is a great country that is full of promise”.

Practicing artificial goat insemination at CEPROCAL
At a smallholder family farm that has received a doe from the
goat production program in Guatemala

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