Plan to up Blackbelly numbers

Barbados Blackbelly rams are fit and healthy enough to produce the necessary semen for a countrywide artificial insemination (AI) programme that will rapidly multiply the number of Blackbelly sheep on the island.

This is according to experts Dr Raymundo Rangel-Santos and Dr Jose Garcia-Muniz from Universidad Autonoma Chapingo of Mexico, who along with other specialists from the Inter-American Institute For Co-operation On Agriculture (IICA) toured a number of island farms this morning to get a preliminary look at sheep stock before going into talks with the Government of Barbados.

Dr Jose Garcia-Muniz and Dr Raymundo Rangel-Santos of Mexico.
Dr Jose Garcia-Muniz and Dr Raymundo Rangel-Santos of Mexico.

“Once you have identified high quality animals like the ones you have here in Barbados you can get high genetic females and males, and you can apply some of these reproductive technologies that we already know to be able to multiply those numbers. For instance, bring a ram, collect the semen sample, and with one sample we could AI or process the semen to be able to AI between 50 and 100 ewes. And if you consider that, you could collect from a ram twice a day, so you could AI between 100 and 200 ewes in a single day,” Rangel-Santos said.

He explained that this move could have a great impact for Barbados’ shipping industry once the sheep produced lambs and that other Caribbean countries should seek to get into AI also.

“It is something that is not impossible to do and the process will take two to three months without any problems; and instead of waiting for somebody else from another country to do it, we should take advantage of it.”

According to Rangel-Santos, such an undertaking would cost US$250 per embryo transfer procedure and US$10 to US$12 for each AI. He said around eight to ten good quality embryos could produce four to five lambs.

The doctors’ visit to Barbados was arranged after their meeting with Barbadians Greg Welch and Dr Jamekal Andwele, who took part in an agricultural programme launched by IICA and the Ministry of Agriculture. The two Barbadians were attending a three-week training course on sheep production at Universidad Autonoma Chapingo in Mexico to enhance the capacity of approximately 200 Caribbean farmers and technicians.

From left, Barbadian            Dr Jamekal Andwele and Mexican doctors Raymundo Rangel-Santos and Jose Garcia-Muniz observing a few blue-eyed sheep closely.
From left, Barbadian Dr Jamekal Andwele and Mexican doctors Raymundo Rangel-Santos and Jose Garcia-Muniz observing a few blue-eyed sheep closely.

Both Welch and Andwele told  Barbados TODAY it was a gainful experience in which they learned quite a lot and that they would be looking to test their knowledge once they had engaged the Barbados Government in talks with the idea.

At present the idea is in developmental stage, but they intend to focus their attention on record keeping because that is one of the main problems sheep farmers face on island, they said. Tomorrow the group is hoping to engage Government in discussion.

Farm manager at Greenland Livestock Research Station, John Vaughan, said the Blackbelly sheep was the only indigenous animal that Barbados had and therefore needed to be preserved.

“What happens is that in case of a natural disaster like hurricane, earthquake and the island is devastated and the animals are all eliminated and you don’t have embryos or semen stored, then the breed will become extinct. And as you know Barbados Blackbelly sheep is the only indigenous animal we have. We have to do all that we can to preserve them.”

6 Responses to Plan to up Blackbelly numbers

  1. Princess Tiny Neferua
    Princess Tiny Neferua December 4, 2014 at 9:04 am

    It’s about time..for ages I have been saying we have the best lamb around and it should have been in top supermarket and gracing the tables of restaurant all over the world…..but ON NO..investing millions in sugar and nothing in the form of agriculture…..

  2. Greitcha Smith
    Greitcha Smith December 4, 2014 at 9:15 am

    Tall talk talk

  3. Angus B Post
    Angus B Post December 4, 2014 at 9:37 am

    Somebody had ta come from overseas ta tell we we got quality sheep. …smh. …

  4. Ella Rose
    Ella Rose December 4, 2014 at 11:58 am

    About time is right!!

  5. Terry Harewood
    Terry Harewood December 4, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    Nothing beats natural mating where animals are concern. There is no other superior bred of the Barbados Blackbelly Sheep in the world than what we have here on this island at present.

  6. Glyn Brathwaite
    Glyn Brathwaite December 4, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    A proper example of a Barbados Blackbelly ram!!


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