JIS News

The Ministry of Agriculture’s Research and Development Division has acquired 28 sheep at a cost of US$42,000, to boost its Small Ruminant Development Project. The animals, which arrived in the island on February 16, are part of a total shipment of 92 sheep and 95 goats, which will be used to increase production of mutton/lamb for the local market.
Chief Livestock Researcher for the Small Ruminant Development Unit, David Miller, explained that the delivery of the remaining animals was delayed for screening for the Scrapie disease, before being allowed into the island.
“We received 28 sheep instead of 92 and only the Dorper and mixed Dorper sheep. The long haired Katahdin sheep, and the 95 Boer and Anglo Nubian goats are not here yet,” he informed.
Jamaica’s veterinary requirements demand that animals are imported from farms that are free from Scrapie disease for three years. This sheep and goat disease is a precursor to the Mad Cow disease.
Unfortunately, the goat farmers, unlike some sheep farmers, were not conducting regular Scrapie surveillance and testing, Mr. Miller explained. However, the animals will be coming some time in late August or early September, when they have met the requirements.
Meanwhile, Mr. Miller pointed out that the animals acquired would go towards initiatives to increase the production of mutton and lamb protein for the Jamaican consumer and to improve the meat-producing ability of local animals.
“The imported animals will produce offspring, which will go to community farmers and selected farms, and then their offspring will go to other farmers.” Mr. Miller pointed out.
Already, two breeding programmes are underway, one involving the use of purebred varieties, while the other incorporates the local St. Elizabeth sheep with the Dorper sheep.
Of the 28 animals that were recently acquired, 16 ewes and six males have been sent to the sheep research centre at Hounslow, St. Elizabeth, while five ewes and one male are housed at the Bodles research facility in St. Catherine, where they are being held for research and to fulfill the project’s breeding requirement.
The Small Ruminant Development Project is a government initiative and is targeted at farmers with a minimum herd size of 25 animals, which is the minimum herd size that is economically viable.

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