Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Meat Goat Production & Management in Haiti

Photo from first training of Makouti technicians
by Farmer-to-Farmer Volunteer Robert Spencer

I have been volunteering in Haiti for ten years. My initial work involved meat rabbit production and evolved into food security and meat quality assurance; this is my first assignment specific to meat goat production and management. This assignment was expected to help producers to 1) evaluate/assess their current system of goat production management, including feeding, reproduction, and overall maintenance (shade, ventilation, aeration, heat, etc.); 2) identify and reinforce best practices to improve the quality of their product.

Excessive rains and flooding were a serious constraint during this visit, we received over 36” of rain during our two weeks. For the first five days we had limited access to areas beyond the hotel, and our in-country colleagues were unable to access us. Myriam Kaplan-Pasternak (F2F volunteer from California) and I took advantage of this time to develop relevant training documents and detailed presentation to be utilized for the final Friday of week one and four days of the following week.

Flooding situation at end of first week
Utilizing alternating days of training that included lecture one day and hands-on practicums the next day allowed us to optimize training for each group of farmers, technicians, and students in the various villages. This strategy allowed Myriam and I to better serve more groups with same information. I provided training for three different groups, one for Makouti Agro Enterprises field technicians was held at Hotel Christophe in Cap Haitien, one set of trainings for farmers and students in Ferrier, and another set for technicians and farmers in Robillard. Myriam held one set of training for farmers and technicians in Dilaire.

Both the lecture and hands-on training covered detailed information on nutrition (including continuous access to water), selection, production, management, reproduction, parasitism, FAMACHA, health, disease, shelter, confirmation, kidding, body-condition scoring, estimating body weights using a measuring tape, hoof trimming, castration, injection sites, ear tag application, castration, and deworming.

Hoof trimming demonstration
More recently there has been a significant increase with veterinary medicines becoming more readily available in Haiti (from Dominican Republic) and individuals can travel to DR to pick them up and bring back for use on their farms. Now there is the need for education on usage, dosage, disposal, and withdrawal for meat and milk; although drinking goat milk is not that common.

The meat goat industry in Haiti has experienced significant advancement. Farmers and hosts have easier access to supplies (fencing wire, veterinary medicines and supplies, feeds, etc.) and number of goat farmers and goat inventories have increased. What seems to be much needed is a strong interest for improving quality of individual animals and herds, providing adequate nutrition including water, and quality of animal husbandry. While many of these farmers sincerely enjoy raising goats, they fail to take the initiative for improving various aspects of production quality. I have observed this for years with all types of livestock production in Haiti, and is a common problem in the U.S. with novice livestock producers.

Individual filling out evaluation form

Technician looking into microscope to assess fecal-egg count
Makouti technician assisting farmer with goat evaluation in Robillard

Group training

To find out more about our open assignments in Haiti, please email pcarlson@partners.net.

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