Moneague College set to bolster goat dairy sectorWednesday, March 31, 2021
Moneague College in St Ann began taking significant steps in support of Jamaica's sustainable development through the implementation of a food security project in 2007.
The goat rearing aspect of the venture was more recently strengthened through the Skills to Access the Green Economy (SAGE) Project, now at work in six countries within the region. The project leverages the agricultural expertise of Niagara College and College of North Atlantic, both based in Canada, to increase the capacity of local training institutions in delivering programmes that meet the economic and environmental needs on the ground.
The initiative targets the disadvantaged, youth, women and unskilled individuals, among others and is designed to take a hands-on approach to learning, providing first-hand experience to participants. Project coordinator and head of the School of Natural and Applied Sciences Desmond Campbell noted that goat semen was sourced in Canada as part of the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica (EFJ)-sponsored goat expansion initiative, with assistance from the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and Hi-Pro.
“This thrust will enable us to transform our herd from the Nubian African Boer to the Saanen strain, which is a milk breed sourced through semen out of Canada. That novel aspect of the food security venture is a joint effort between Hi-Pro and Moneague College,” Campbell explained.
“Hi-Pro vets, Dr Michael Motta and Dr O'Shane McHugh, have assisted with our nutrition, sanitation, pathology and genetics programmes. They have made frequent trips and they are on-call, responding to the needs and training that our staff requires,” added Campbell.
With challenges arising due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the college has had difficulty maintaining a steady stream of students. However, the project continues to make strides with the successful delivery of two sets of Filial 1 (F1) offspring to date.
“We have eight-month-old animals and kids that have just been born this month of March. Both sets are F1 seeds. These animals will only be at best 50 per cent Saanen. We are targeting the F2 generation for better milk production. By inseminating the F1s with semen from a different Saanen buck, the resulting offspring — the F2 generation — will be 75 per cent Saanen,” explained Campbell.
Hi-Pro veterinarian Dr McHugh commented, “The overall aim is to use the goats as a teaching tool as well as an income earner for the college by establishing cottage industries around goats' milk. The Saanen line can produce more than three litres of milk per day as compared to approximately 1.5 litres from native local breeds. Our aim is to ensure that the local animals are healthy and to further select the best animals for the AI programme.”
The Ebony Park HEART Academy is also a part of the SAGE Project in Jamaica, wherein Ebony Park offers the preparatory programme. Students successfully completing the preparatory course are able to matriculate into Moneague College's associate's degree programme in agro-processing.
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