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Farmers' Hands-on Experience

AI facilitator Carl D. Rugg from Bovine-Elite views technique of a local farmer.

Eleven persons, including five local farmers, attended the Artificial Insemination (AI) and Palpation clinic hosted by the Agriculture Department recently.

The Department invited facilitators Carl D. Rugg and Dr. Lesley R. Sprott from Bovine-Elite, a company based in College Station, Texas, which specialises in AI and palpation (manipulation and examination of the reproductive tract of cattle).

The a weeklong clinic covered the many aspects of AI, such as the anatomy and physiology of reproduction, estrus detection, estrus synchronisation, frozen semen handling, reproductive management, herd health, proper nutrition for reproductive efficiency, practical training on live cattle, sire evaluation and sire selection.

Local farmer George Smith, who owns a herd of 36 cattle in the West Bay area, lauded the department. "This programme will take us to the next level because it will enable us to breed the best bulls with the best cows, which will provide us with the best genetics for a margin of the cost."

"It was an exciting and engaging clinic," he added.

Bruce Watler, a livestock farmer from Savannah, also praised the Agriculture Department and said the clinic was presented in an easy and practical manner. "The hands-on teaching makes it easy to put the information to use after the clinic."

Ms Tiffany Scott, Livestock Extension Officer for the Agriculture Department, who organised the clinic, explained that one of the reasons for AI is that the profitability of meat production from cattle depends, to a large extent, on the efficiency of reproduction. "Maximising reproductive efficiency requires the matching of genotypes to the production environment, together with appropriate husbandry practices, in order to ensure that the intervals from calving to conception are short.

"Our local supermarkets are asking us to breed a special type of cattle to improve the beef quality on these islands. The outcome of this clinic will be greater economic benefits to the farmers. Optimum conception rates will be achieved if the quality of semen used is good and if the insemination is done at the most appropriate time in relation to the reproductive period. Those who participated in the programme now have the skills to do the procedure," Ms Scott said.

"AI also allows for better breeding records and less disease transfer. It's more economical since it costs considerably less, and it's safer. It uses no live bulls which can be aggressive and hard to handle," she explained.

Director of the Agriculture Department Adrian Estwick commended the staff that organised the clinic and the participants. He also thanked farmers Paul Bodden and Marbin Montoya for lending their cattle, Arch and Godfrey for its assistance with the event and the Ministry of District Administration, Works, Lands and Agriculture for its support.

Acting Premier Hon Juliana O-Connor-Connolly and Minister responsible for agriculture praised the department's progressive nature. "This clinic has added another element of education to farmers and by doing so will no doubt improve our beef quality in the future."