Jamaica to import 200 goat embryos
Some 200 goat embryos are to be purchased next fiscal year as part of a programme aimed at improving the breeding stock of small ruminants - sheep and goats.
Just over $56.6 million has been set aside in the Estimates of Expenditure to complete the procurement of the embryos for assisted breeding through embryo transfer and artificial insemination.
In addition to the purchase of the 200 goat embryos, the Government is to spend money importing 109 animals for local breeding.
Dwight Williams, deputy research director, livestock at Bodles Research Station in St Catherine told The Gleaner that the original project proposal was predicated on the importation of live animals from Australia. However, concerns about diseases prevented the importation of the live animals, thus paving the way for embryos.
"So far, 200 sheep embryos have been brought in," Williams said, while adding that the consultant is to do ultrasound on the animals before implantation.
"We have 100 animals in which we are going to implant the 200 embryos ... . We have brought in 200 sheep and we are to bring in 200 goats."
According to Williams, it is necessary to improve the breeding stock to not only prevent against diseases, but to maximise the returns on the investment.
"It is good to have native goats, and you may have your own native goats, but when you look at the amount of weight that they put on per day, it is very poor. So we need to improve those parametres. Instead of having an animal weighing 40 pounds when it is an adult, we try to get an animal that weighs 80 pounds," Williams said.
Last year, Jamaica procured 244 animals under the diversification of Caribbean Livestock project 150 ewes, 10 rams, 74 does and 10 bucks.
The agriculture ministry said breeding stock increased by 70 per cent within the current fiscal year, which ends in March. It said that the stock has improved to 406 animals inclusive of sheep and goats.
The diversification of Caribbean Livestock project is aimed at contributing to the attainment of self-sufficiency in regional meat consumption through the development of the small ruminant industry. It also aims to increase the availability of quality breeding stock at affordable prices; to disseminate technology in the use of improved feed and feeding systems, and to increase the production of small ruminants meat and ancillary products.
Under the programme, Jamaica is to import 244 pedigree animals to be utilised as foundation stock for breeding.
Williams said Jamaica, since the 1980s, have continually been bringing genetically materials.
"You can't unnecessarily keep a closed herd. You need to add diversity to the genetic pool. You will have less possibility of disease when you do that," Williams said.
He said, also that Jamaica is not producing enough goats to meet local demand, and that much of the imported mutton purchased, comes from old sheep which were raised for their wool.
"We satisfy just about 10 per cent of local demand for goat meat so we are trying to improve the number of goats that we have," Williams said.
He said in distributing the improved animals, attempts will be made to identify persons to whom high graded and purebred animals will be distributed at a concessionary rate. In return, these farmers will have to breed those animals and distribute a percentage of the improved animals to other farmers.