With the rising price of feed and hay, the Ministry of Agriculture’s Greenland Livestock Research Station in St. Andrew has been seeking to cut down on its expenses by cultivating its own grass.
The Station, which runs government’s Black Belly Sheep Improvement Programme, has implemented a pasture programme, where several fields in the St. Andrew district are being used to cultivate hay.
Officer-in-charge, John Vaughan, explained that all the animals at the facility were ruminants, that is, their stomachs were divided into four compartments and they chewed a cud of regurgitated, partially digested food.
Speaking to the Barbados Government Information Service recently, he pointed out that such animals required substantial amounts of fodder, and, therefore, grass had to be grown for daily feeding.
"Grass is expensive, especially in the dry season when bales can cost up to $10 to $12 each, which is about 35 to 40 pounds of grass. The amount of grass these sheep eat, it would be difficult for us financially, if we did not produce our own hay," Mr. Vaughan said.
The pastures are planted with Pangola, which is a type of grass. It is cut every six to eight weeks, raked and baled and then stored for the dry season when grass isn’t readily available. The pastures are then fertilised after each cutting for faster re-growth.
The Ministry of Agriculture is also exploring the use of another type of grass – Mulatto to aid the reduction of feeding expenses.
Feed remains one of the greatest expenses in animal rearing; constituting as high as 70 per cent of the cost of production due to the rise in prices of grains and soya beans.