Sustaining Deer Production in the Island of Rota

Final Report for FW09-050

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2009: $10,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2010
Region: Western
State: Northern Mariana Islands
Principal Investigator:
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Project Information

Abstract:

A very challenging but rewarding experience is the outcome of my work on this project. The whole purpose of this project was to do management grazing practices and productivity so that at the end it would create food sources, self-employment and eco-tourism attraction and would encourage interested farmers/ranchers with this concept in the future.

The major task completed on this project is the half-inch pvc waterline connecting from the main water meter, which is about five hundred feet all around the three sections of the fence. I also built a twenty-four by thirty-two foot concrete typhoon shelter and also a six by ten foot tin water catchment to help supply drinking water in case of city water shut down. I completed all three sections of the fence with a combination of cyclone wire and net fencing and also completed planting of grass in all three sections for grazing alternation.

The most significant results are the grazing alternation on all three different sections and water catchment for water supply as an alternative for the city water. An impact on the operation of this project is the weather, especially during the dry season. It really caused a delay on grass seedlings and requires us to provide a lot of irrigation in the field.

Introduction

Deer in the Northern Marianas have been mainly found on the island of Rota, and sporadically present on the islands of Saipan and Tinian. Most of them live in the wild and are protected under the CNMI Division of Fish and Wildlife (DF&W). Others are domesticated for venison production. The island inhabitants are considered meat lovers and have been importing almost 95% of beef, pork and chicken meat.

Deer meat could be a good replacement for all of the frozen meat importation. Deer meat “Katne Binadu,” as locals call it, is considered high in demand, not only for local residents but for tourists as well. It serves as a local delicacy, with a significant cultural role as part of the islands’ feasts and parties. It is also available as meat jerky, dried meat and appetizers prepared and cooked in different dishes for locals and tourists.

Deer farming can also be maximized and utilized as an educational attraction for potential agri-tourism. This could eventually lead to a potential alternative livestock enterprise for residents; important given that the current economic condition is down and that there are few or no jobs for locals.

Another pressing problem relating to deer is poaching. It is illegal to catch deer in the months of June to December, but still poaching is a common problem encountered by DF&W. The recent enacted law to domesticate deer in the CNMI is one big step towards decreasing illegal poaching. The ‘domestication of deer’ demonstration project is one way to discourage illegal poachers and promote the new domesticated law that was enacted last year.

Project Objectives:

(1) The project will do a demonstration of sustainable livestock grazing strategies to local famers/ranchers to protect soil, the environment and the wild life by promoting “Katne Binadu” deer farming.

(2) The project will investigate the creation of alternative enterprises, such as deer meet tapas and jerky; deer “Katne Binadu” production; the agri-tourism concept of education and marketing, promotion and preservation of cultural delicacy; and promotion of small-scale profitable business. This means creation of self-employment and empowering of small businesses.

(3) The demonstration of deer production through effective rotational grazing strategy, protection through provision of alternative animal health regimen and provision of good pasture and proper grazing system. No artificial feeds and medicines will be used to promote organic deer production.

(4) By demonstrating a sustainable strategy and coupling it with agri-tourism, more clients will be reached and educated about the proper way to manage animals and promote environmental protection while creating an enterprise for livelihood.

Cooperators

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  • Allan Sabaldica

Research

Materials and methods:

*Performed rotational grazing, divided in four paddocks and resting each paddocks every fourteen days

*Installed improvised fencing, a rain water catchment system and a tourist shade

*Planted local grasses, such as guinea grass and boksu introduced grass

*Performed grazing alternation every two to three weeks on all three different sections

*Planted local cherry trees, breadfruit trees and lemon trees for shade

* Lead Field Days and tours showcasing Deer production sustainable grazing strategies and the potential of “Katne Binadu” for local and tourist consumption

* Created publication materials, such as a brochure and video. The video will be constantly played in Channel 5 here on Rota

*Deer Demonstration site will be available for viewing

Research results and discussion:

The benefits from this project are creating self-employment and site attraction for eco-tourism as a sustainable industry in the future. It will also blend together the local food and a taste from our local delicacies with the preservation of our culture.

The soil quality will increase due to healthier grazing in the fenced areas, as well as from the fruits from the deer manure as it becomes dried up.

There have been some potential impacts on the deer behavior since the beginning of this project. We have observed the deer are biting each other on the skin at a certain time and with certain behaviors. Most of the time, one deer would pursue another deer and then peel the skin. This is a very serious behavior that threatens the health of the deer population in general. This behavior needs serious attention, and possible isolation or individual deer confinement for treatment in case the sore is getting worse. Medicines for these skin sores are also a factor to be explored through the internet so that easy ordering in case they are needed. De-worming medicines are also needed to prevent the animals from getting skinny from worms. These are some of the factors as far as the impacts on the behavior of the animals which at the same time are creating health hazards.

Participation Summary

Educational & Outreach Activities

Participation Summary

Education/outreach description:

Project information was communicated to others through Facebook and local television on channel five. This is a local television program for the entire Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. I led a Field Day for school children and the community, as shown in some of the pictures in Facebook and the pictures provided in this report.

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

There have been a lot of obstacles along the way with the construction of the fencing and with grass seedlings for the rotational grazing. The ordering of cyclone wires is one of the obstacles. The delaying of the shipment of cyclone wires makes it hard to have a continuity of the fencing project. Shipping situations here on our island of Rota is a major problem because of unpredictable weather conditions and the narrow channel for the ship to come in, especially during bad weather.

Planting of grass seedlings was also a problem because of the drought at the beginning of the planting season. There are times that repeated replacements and plantings must start all over because of dry season. Irrigation played a major role at the beginning of the planting during the dry season. Irrigation of the seedlings in the field is an extra labor that must be continued until the rainy season comes in so that the seedlings can overcome the heat and grow. An irrigation system was not readily available at the beginning of the project, so water needed be taken from about three miles away from the project site.

Cutting down pine trees for pole fencing is also intense labor because of the distance and time. The location where pine trees were cut is about five miles away from the project site. Again, this time consuming situation of labor and distance is to be included in the calculation of the entire project. Manpower labor for digging about two feet in the ground for the poles is also a hard labor. Cutting and putting up one inch nylon net is also a time factor of project completion. Since the cyclone wires were not readily available, one inch nylon net was an alternative replacement for the meantime until shipment arrives. Copper wires are also being used to tie down the net. In spite of all the problems mentioned in this section of the report, the entire project has been completed and the rotational grazing concept as proposed is being fully utilized at this very moment.

Producer Adoption and Reactions

One specific example of other producers adopting the new technologies, production practices or systems that evolved from the project is the divider fencing for rotational grazing practices. Some producers used solar electric fencing as a divider for their rotational grazing. Others used regular barb-wire to divide their rotational grazing sections.

One recommendation for the other producers to consider, based on findings, is to make concrete typhoon shelters. This is very important because our place here on Rota is a typhoon area, and this kind of shelter is needed in case there is a typhoon. Also recommended is the planting of different kinds of fruits inside every section of the fence for additional food or feeds for the deer. This will help out with the depletion of grazing in every section of the fence. This is one idea that other producers are trying in their fenced sections.

Producers reacted to the lack of medicines readily available to treat the animals right away when they become sick. There is no veterinarian clinic here on Rota to check our animals in case they are sick. Medicines have to be ordered in advance.

Additional grazing sections are needed for future expansion as the deer population grows. There is a need to build a small carrel in order to isolate sick deer and to apply medicines.

Recommendations:

Future Recommendations

To do similar a project, make sure the estimation for the entire project is well calculated terms of cost, materials and labor. Materials needed for the entire project should also be surveyed to see if there are available on the island. Irrigation should be also readily available to avoid delay when planting the seedlings, especially where there is no water supply on the location for the project. As much as possible, if there is no water supply from a city water-line nearby, be creative and possibly make water catchment systems to collect water from the rain. Explore or research new breeding practices; for example artificial insemination from other places to bring in for a new experiment as far as inter-breeding of our local deer. This is another area where the quality and quantity of deer meat can be analyzed for future production. The behavior of the deer is another area that needs to be carefully observed and analyzed because there are certain times that the full grown male deer are very aggressive towards people and pregnant female deer. Sometimes they are too aggressive and can hurt or kill the pregnant female deer or small babies around him. For these reasons, one area or section of the fence should be built for pregnant female deer only. Another thing that needs to be incorporated when doing a similar project is co-habitatation with other animals. For example, chickens or ducks can be raised inside the deer fence provided. These are some of the recommendations when doing a similar project.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.