- Animals: goats, sheep
- Animal Production: animal protection and health, feed management, genetics, grazing management, livestock breeding, parasite control
- Education and Training: technical assistance
- Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, financial management, marketing management
Over the last 4 years, Puerto Rico has been experiencing one of the worst economic crisis in its history. This has stagnated economic development, reduced employment markets and led to the creation of the Financial Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA)by the Federal Government. Hurricanes Irma and María, two earthquakes during 2020, and the COVID-19 outbreak, have increased this crisis. Although this series of events has weakened our fragile food security, an increased interest in small ruminant production has been observed. Lamb and dairy goat producers have seen an opportunity to enhance their production systems and improve marketing strategies of edible products. In addition, a recent program sponsored by the Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture Small Ruminant Production Fund (DA-SRPF) to import purebred replacement ewes and goats, and the use of sheep to manage grass in solar farms, and weeds in coffee and citrus plantations, have increased animal inventories. However, Puerto Rico continues to import lamb meat and goat dairy products for domestic consumption at higher prices than local products. In order to meet this demand, other livestock producers are responding by entering into the this sector. On the other hand, there are knowledge gaps on proper sheep and goat production management practices, especially nutrition, genetics, reproduction, parasite control, and marketing strategies thus, leading to sustainability challenges. It is imperative that the local producer have access to the necessary tools to improve the competitiveness and promote the development, expansion, and the sustainable production of the animal industry, and the subsequent process of locally produced lamb and goat edible products. To increase small ruminant productivity, sustainability, and profitability, a program developed to aid producers with appropriate educational materials is necessary. Through the knowledge of low-cost production management practices and enhanced productivity, producers will achieve optimum production while producing a high-quality product. Also, information in Spanish on sustainable small ruminant production in tropical areas, specifically in Puerto Rico and the continental USA, is limited. The few available publications focused on that topic are only available in English. This fact limits the accessibility of information uneducated producers or those with limited internet access. Therefore, developing educational materials in this clientele’s native language is necessary. The objective of this proposal is to create the Puerto Rico Goat and Sheep Producer Educational Program Initiative (PR-GOSHEPI) that will target members of the DA-SRPF, independent producers, Agricultural Extension Service county agents, and other clientele to educate them on 1) understanding Sustainable Small Ruminant Production 2) Nutrition and Feeding 3) Water 4) Pasture Management, Grazing and Browsing Systems, 5) Reproduction, Genetics and Selection, 6) Parasite Control, 7) Biosafety and Animal Well-being, 8) Lamb Meat or Milk Goat Properties 9) Economics, Records, Budget, 10) Waste Management and, 11) Marketing Strategies. The PR-GOSHEPI will be using webinars and webpages as main delivery methods. As part of the proposal, a handbook or training manual for Sustainable Sheep and Goat Production in the Tropics will be written. An annual conference will be held with the participation of invited speakers.
Project objectives from proposal:
To create the Puerto Rico Goat and Sheep Educational Program Initiative (PR-GOSHEPI) to develop educational materials to enhance sustainable small ruminant production on the island. Specific objectives include: