Tue | Apr 7, 2020

Record-keeping: A neglected necessity

Published:Thursday | February 20, 2020 | 12:21 AM
Goat and sheep farmers have no excuses not to record data relating to such things as birth and weaning weights
Goat and sheep farmers have no excuses not to record data relating to such things as birth and weaning weights

The failure of Jamaican farmers to consistently keep records relating to their farming practices, continues to hinder development in a number of agricultural sectors, according to Maxine Brown, senior livestock officer, Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA).

She told the recent annual general meeting of the Small Ruminants Association of Jamaica, held at the Bodles Research Station in Old Harbour, St Catherine, that continued negligence of such a critical practice is undermining efforts to improve efficiencies along the value chain.

The absence of data to guide expansion of the industry and inform decision on which breed stocks warrant further investment, continues to hurt development significantly and will continue to do so, she warned.

“If you are not collecting data that can be properly analysed, then you will not know what is happening. We have had persons come to do a study to say, let us see how we can make big plans for the industry, and that is one of the biggest stumbling blocks – the data that we are not collecting. How many of you farmers are keeping records on your individual animals to be able to say what was the birth weight? What was the weaning weight? How many had twins or triplets? These are important things.”

Goat and sheep farmers have no excuses not to record data relating to such things as birth and weaning weights, since RADA has developed a record-keeping manual for the industries, which is free to farmers.

“It wasn’t free to publish, but it’s free to you only because we see that without data ,we are going to be running around in circles. If we introduce another breed into Jamaica and we are not keeping data, it is going to be difficult for you to say with any certainty if the Kiko is better than the Boer, better than the Nubian. And the milk breeds, how can we say which ones are better if we are not having data?

“The books are free and we have officers in every parish, so you can go and get your record-keeping book and start to help yourselves, because the data that you are keeping is not for the association, it is for you to help with the management of your farm. We are here to help you analyse the data so you can make the right decisions, but you must have records,” she pleaded.

Hi-Pro veterinarian Dr O’Shane McHugh used the occasion to announce that the feed company would be introducing new genetic lines within local herds through artificial insemination, which should result in higher milk yield and meat-to-bone ratio for the local market.

Emphasising that artificial insemination is vital to the introduction of new bloodlines, he said it is intended to produce more does to provide milk for human consumption, value-added by-products such as cheese and skincare items, as well as bucks for goat meat.

For 2018, the Statistical Institute of Jamaica reported that the value of imported goat meat stood at $568.5 million, equivalent to 1.2 million tonnes, while the figures for sheep meat accounted for imports valued at $1.669 billion for 2.6 million tonnes.