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Retired policeman big into goat rearing

‘Cowboy’ Knight’s younger brother Patrick Griffiths showing the way

By RENAE DIXON Sunday Observer staff reporter dixonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, May 11, 2014    

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HIGHGATE, St Mary — He has always enjoyed rearing goats and did it alongside his job as a police officer for years.

But retired corporal of police Patrick Griffiths knew that he could offer more if he spent more time on his farm.

After giving over 30 years of service to the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), at age 51, he left to pursue his passion for farming.

"We have limited time here. I gave sometime to policing and I have always wanted to give some time to farming," Griffiths, the younger brother of Assistant Commissioner of Police Derrick "Cowboy" Knight told the Jamaica Observer during a tour of his farm in Highgate recently.

Although his decision was driven by his love for farming, Griffiths however admitted that he had planned to retire at age 50. However, he gave it an extra year, before throwing in the towel in 2012.

In his years as a member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, he played Senior Cup cricket for the Police National Team and also the Portland parish team, known as a fearsome fast bowler.

Since his retirement, he has had no regrets, as what started out as a hobby is now a flourishing business and he is a fully dedicated farmer, rearing over 70 goats on his small property.

Although he lives in Portland, the dedicated and hardworking Griffiths is in St Mary every day, sometimes twice daily, to attend to his animals, the source of his income presently.

"I believe I came to the end of my time in the force. For years I had planned to retire at 50 and I left at 51," Griffiths said.

He said that while the situations in the JCF were not always favorable, he valiantly served and was a dedicated policeman. However, when he reached age 50, he believed it was time for a new chapter in his life, that of serving his country as a dedicated farmer.

Griffiths said that he has been doing goat rearing for over 20 years and believes in it. As a result, he believes it is time to focus fully on it.

"I love it. I am good at it and I make money from it," he said.

The jovial farmer added: "I am sure I am better at it than I was at policing."

The growth of Griffiths' farm over the years has shown his capability and expertise as a goat farmer.

Griffiths, who started out in goat rearing as a hobby with only two goats, has big plans to increase the stock from the present number.

Although praedial larceny has been affecting farmers across the island, Griffiths is not deterred by this and has implemented his own measures to reduce the probability of criminals attacking his farm.

"It takes money and is not without inconvenience," he said in speaking of a costly security system which he has been forced to institute. He acknowledges the fact that the system is expensive and in some cases inconvenient, but he believes that if success is to be achieved, there has to be some amount of inconvenience.

The former policeman said that he is willing to share his expertise with others to help them protect their farms from thieves.

Protecting his farm from thieves, however, is not the most time consuming activity for Griffiths. The man who operates his farm on his own said that much of his time goes into preparing food for his goats.

He believes that proper nutrition will ensure the best results and produce healthy animals.

"I always have food ready," he told the Sunday Observer.

While he allows some of his animals to go out into pastures, the majority of them are housed and so he has to prepare their food and take to them. Although the process is time consuming, it is not a challenge for Griffiths because of his love for what he does.

"To feed a large herd like this is labour intensive and a lot of persons won't have the time," he stated. However, for him, it is something that he enjoys.

So dedicated and passionate is he, that time, or the weather, does not dictate his attendance to the animals. If it means getting up at midnight to go to his farm by 2:00 am and to leave by 5:00 am, he is willing to do it.

"This is my occupation and I work at it anytime. I don't allow time or weather to limit my movement," Griffiths said.

Griffiths will look about food for the animals several days ahead, as he likes to be prepared for any situation which might arise.

He explained that the diet of his animals is far above just grass as he ensures that they are served a mixture of other nutritional foods. The animals are fed grains, in addition to what Griffiths calls the "grow steak or the St Vincent plant". This he said is very high in protein. The animals are also fed almond leaves and King Grass combined with "grow-steak", the best type of food for ruminants, Griffiths explained.

"Most farmers ignore the nutritional source for the goat, but nutrition is important. They need proper nutrition to have proper growth," the Buff Bay, Portland resident suggested.

He further added that the animals, which include several different breeds of goats on his property, have to get water, especially in the "dry season".

The successful goat farmer believes that he can assist others in setting up successful farms. Griffiths said that he established his farm by taking ideas from several other farms he visited.

He is also willing to share ideas with others so that the production of goat meat in Jamaica can increase.

"I took bits and pieces from other farms and allow it to work for me," he said.

The farmer said that goat meat is in high demand and he has found the business to be profitable. He however said that he prefer to sell to farmers so that growth can take place.

According to Griffiths, research has shown that Jamaican farmers only meet the demand for 20 per cent of the island's demand for goat meat.

The former crime fighter who served police divisions in St Mary for 10 years said that he has no intention of stopping goat rearing anytime soon.

Underscoring his happiness with the goat farming profession, Griffiths pointed out that being fully dedicated to goat rearing he has been able to see a decline in the mortality rate of the kids born on his farm.

As he continues to do what he does best the father and husband said that he is willing to help others along the way as he reaches for greater heights with his animals and continues to play Over 40 cricket.

As for his relationship with Knight, who is now in charge of the police Area 3 division which comprises the parishes of Clarendon, Manchester and St Elizabeth, Griffiths said that he has always been inspired by the high-profile senior police officer, who played football as a youngster, and earned the nickname 'Clappy' for the way the big defender tackled forwards heading towards his goal.

"He is an inspiration to me," Griffiths stated without pausing. "In fact, the first day that he arrived at the house from police training school, I saw several differences in his behaviour. That is what forced me to enlist in the police force, because Derrick's conduct was so much improved and I wanted to find out what it was that brought about that change in him," Griffiths said.

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