Barbados??? livestock industry is self-sufficient with supply matching demand, even as feed prices continue to present a challenge for farmers.

This was confirmed by Deputy Chief Agricultural Officer (Livestock) at the Ministry of Agriculture, Charleston Lucas, as he addressed the 2015 Student Project Presentations at the Greenland Livestock Station recently.

According to him, the island???s poultry sector in terms of the production of broiler meat and eggs was doing ???pretty satisfactorily???, while other areas of livestock farming were also holding their own.

He noted that throughout the year, the supply for local meat matched demand, while peaks were witnessed at Christmas and during the winter tourist season.??Meanwhile, as feed prices continue to account for between 60 and 70 per cent of production costs, Mr. Lucas is encouraging local farmers to seek out alternative methods of feeding their animals.

He explained that Barbados??? limited land space, unlike larger countries, reduced the possibility of having extensive land to create pastures for production.??The alternative, the Deputy Chief Agricultural Officer suggested, was protein plants such as the mild berry, river tamarind (leucaena) and quick stick (glircida).

He added that there were a number of forest tree species that had a high protein content ranging between 14 and 15 per cent, and if used mixed with grass, could reduce cost.?????If we can reduce the cost [of feed] by using other by-products???we could formulate rations using these materials… That is the direction in which we are going for our livestock rearing,??? he said, noting the local substitutes could benefit farmers.

Mr. Lucas also pointed out that efforts were being made to have farmers look at all the components of feed ??? nutrition, genetics and management.?????It makes no sense if you can buy the best feed but then you don???t manage the animals properly, or you don???t look at the health aspect of the animals; you still would not derive any benefits,??? he explained.

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