News Detail

February 21, 2024


Nassau, Bahamas, February 21 st , 2024 – IN A STRATEGIC MOVE to boost the genetic quality of livestock available in the country, the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) recently collaborated with the Department of Agriculture to acquire purebred small ruminants (sheep and goats). The initiative is part of BAMSI's broader breeding programme to inject quality genetics into the local livestock population. Shedding light on the project's objectives and timeline, Dr Mark Butler, the Institute's Veterinarian, said the animals promise a more sustainable and prosperous future for the local farming community.

The newly acquired stock of animals, Dorper and Barbados Black Belly sheep and Boer and Savanna goats, are integral to the upcoming artificial insemination programme which BAMSI is set to commence later this year.

"The new animals will be used in one arm of our breeding programme, facilitating natural mating to ensure genetic diversity and quality," Dr Butler explained. "The goal is to increase the herd and improve genetic
traits, and we anticipate over 85 per cent success in terms of animals giving birth—a crucial marker for the programme's success."

Currently, 30 sheep and 30 goats are part of the breeding programme, with the expectation of 50 to 60 live births by the end of the year. The
focus is not only on increasing the herd size but also on ensuring the genetic quality of the offspring.

"We want offspring that exhibit high genetic quality. Purebred Dorper sheep and Boer goats show better growth rates and are ideal for farmers looking for efficient weight gain at market age," Dr Butler emphasized.

Ayrett Lightbourne, BAMSI's Farm Manager, addressed why BAMSI chose these specific breeds, and their potential impact on the local livestock industry. "The Dorper Sheep, for example, gains weight faster than native breeds, offering a different market for lean meat consumers. Similarly, the Boer and Savanna goats, being larger and more meat- producing, contribute significantly to improving meat quality in the country."

The imported purebred animals will create a nucleus herd at BAMSI's farm in Andros to upgrade the existing livestock population. Their
offspring will breed with the native flock, and some of the offspring will be distributed to local farmers. This collaborative effort between BAMSI
and the Ministry of Agriculture aims to enhance the genetic potential of the native flocks, ultimately benefiting farmers and consumers alike.

The BAMSI herd, comprising 190 animals, is expected to grow as the breeding programme progresses. The next phase involves artificial insemination, marking a crucial step towards achieving BAMSI's goal of increasing the quantity and improving the genetic quality of Bahamian livestock. The institute's dedication to scientific advancements in agriculture promises a more sustainable and prosperous future for the local farming community.

The Blue Hole Bulletin

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