BAMSI chief tells of agricultural decline in nation



GODFREY Eneas, president of the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Sciences Institute (BAMSI), in his book ‘Agriculture in the Bahamas’ highlights the continual decline of the country’s small ruminant industry for almost 40 years.

The industry has suffered because of limited interventions until the recent establishment of BAMSI, according to a press release from the institute.

The technological advancements that have benefitted livestock production in the Caribbean are only now being addressed through BAMSI-led initiatives, the press release said.

The BAMSI small ruminant unit, established in 2015, is expected to develop into national breeding herds of sheep and goats providing stock to livestock farmers throughout The Bahamas. It is a major intervention in the small ruminant industry as it represents the largest holding of diverse breeds in the Bahamas, with the main objectives of teaching, extension and research, BAMSI said.

BAMSI’s objective is to demonstrate to farmers improved housing structures, feeding technologies, disease management and hygienic animal slaughter techniques to develop the industry.

BAMSI’s sheep and goat unit currently houses over 600 animals at different physiological stages. Three groups of pedigree goats - Savannah, Kiko and Boer - were imported last August with the objective to improve existing herds in The Bahamas. These are all meat breeds which can adapt easily to the geography and climate of The Bahamas. In addition, the breeding herd consist of several breeds of sheep including the local Bahama, Persian blackhead, Dorper and Barbados black belly.

The sheep and goats are managed under both intensive and extensive systems. The intensive system comprises a suspended slatted floor with forage racks and automatic water flow, which afford the animals a more secure and hygienic environment, BAMSI said.

Here the feed from managed pastures is chopped and fed in combination with grain-based concentrate. Improved animal husbandry techniques are employed by the BAMSI livestock staff, ensuring that hoof-trimming and de-worming are routine procedures for both the sheep and goats under this system, BAMSI said.

Animals managed extensively are on a pasture rotation programme, where grazing is the primary means of feed, and supplemented if required with grain-based concentrate, the school said.

In his book, Mr Eneas noted that the production of sheep and goats has traditionally taken place on bush pastures in Exuma, Eleuthera, Long Island and Cat Island. To overcome the constraints of reliance on bush pastures, the establishment of managed pastures is critical to the sustainable development of the small ruminant industry in the Bahamas.

Over 40 acres of legume forages are being established in Andros and will be managed as crops with irrigation and fertiliser applied, BAMSI said.

These improved high protein forages are to be evaluated for growth performance, nutritive content and adaptability. Sheep and goats are ruminants, which mean that they grow best when fed on grasses and forages, so a feeding regime will be developed based on these forages established at BAMSI.

These grasses and forages will be made available to other Family Islands; so that all livestock farmers will have the opportunity to supply high quality feeds throughout the year, BAMSI said.


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