Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Improving Goat Husbandry Practices in Haiti

This blog post was written by Dan Krull who is currently in Haiti serving as an F2F volunteer in improved goat production. This is Mr. Krull's first F2F assignment.

A typical leash-pastured goat in a small village.
"Haiti is a diverse country with bright agricultural prospects. Many Haitians raise livestock, including goats [...] Goats are a vital source for protein, and as such, they fetch a good price at the market. They are also relatively hardy and can thrive in conditions that would be too stressful for other animals. You would think in the lush tropical landscape that is Haiti, the goats here would be fat and happy. On the contrary, many of them are thin and severely under conditioned. In addition, some are dying, quite suddenly, with little or no warning.

I recently traveled to Haiti to find out why and to implement practices designed to minimize the frequency at which it happens in the future. With the help of F2F Haiti Country Coordinator Benito Jasmin and Haitian organization Makouti Agro Enterprise, we set about visiting numerous communities and doing basic physicals on their goats. Though the health of the goats of each location varied, sometimes considerably, the most glaring clinical symptoms we kept finding were under-conditioning and anemia. 

The most likely cause of such severe anemia is internal parasites. Many goats were also exhibiting an unhealthy external parasite load as well. Of all the parasites that can infect the goat, Haemonchus contortus, or the barber pole worm is the most likely cause due to its propensity to cause severe anemia absent any other signs. For the inquisitively curious, this worm got its common name because its digestive tract spirals the length of its body. When the worm has ingested the blood of the animal in which it resides, its body resembles the spiral you would see on a barbershop pole. 
Dan demonstrating how to locate parasite eggs
under a microscope.
In addition to the anemia that was so prevalent in the goats examined, the hooves of many goats were in bad shape as well. I spent some time teaching why parasites cause anemia and how to look for it. I also demonstrated proper hoof trimming techniques.

Administering drugs to kill the parasites will certainly improve their herd’s immediate health, but this is only the first step in other changes that need to be made. With the immediate success from de-worming the goats, the farmers should be motivated to make changes in their overall management practices that are contributing to the parasite problems. Providing access to clean drinking water, maintaining clean shelters, and adding plants that have natural inhibit parasitic properties are three such actions that are being emphasized.

Change is often accomplished in incremental steps. With the help of the Farmer-to-Farmer program, the Haitian goat farmer will have a prosperous 2015."

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Dan for making a difference and putting the microscope that I lugged to Haiti in a suitcase to a great use.