Training for a Focus on Individual Animal Quality
I have been volunteering in Haiti for 10 years. My previous work involved meat rabbit production and evolved into food security and meat-quality assurance. As a volunteer for Partners Farmer-to-Farmer Program (http://www.partners.net/farmer-farmer), Nov. 6-19, 2016, was my first assignment specific to meat goat production and management. This assignment was anticipated to help producers to evaluate/assess their current system of goat production management, including feeding, reproduction and overall maintenance (shade, ventilation, aeration, heat, etc.); and identify and reinforce best practices to improve the quality of their product.
Excessive rains and flooding were a serious constraint; we received over 36 inches of rain during our two-week stay. 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 Pasternak, a volunteer from California, and I took advantage of this time to develop relevant training documents and a detailed presentation to be utilized for the final Friday of Week #1 and four days of the following week.
Utilizing alternating days of trainings with 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 us to better serve more groups with the same information. I provided trainings for three groups: Makouti Agro Enterprises field technicians at Hotel Christophe in Cap Haitien, farmers and students in Ferrier, and technicians and farmers in Robillard. Pasternak held a set of training sessions 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 weight using a measuring tape, hoof trimming, castration, injection sites, ear tag application and deworming.
Left to right, trainees were taught how to estimate body weight using a tape measure. A technician looking into a microscope to assess fecal-egg count.
More recently, there has been a significant increase in veterinary medicines becoming more readily available in Haiti (from the Dominican Republic) and individuals can travel to the DR to pick them up and bring them back to 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 the number of goat farmers and goat inventories have increased. What seems to be most needed is a strong interest in 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 it is a common problem in the United States with novice livestock producers.