Saturday, May 31, 2008

Goat Registration

In an effort to monitor and evaluate the progress of goat breeding, our outpost in Bundibugyo will start registering our dairy goats. This will allow us to have a better idea of what goats are out there, breeding with which others, and what the survival rate is. The database that the David Dowdy created is starting to be the central database for all of Uganda dairy goat keepers. It allows us to track milk production and keep up with vaccinations. We'll also gain information on which goats are producing the most milk and can be selected for mating.

This has to start with data gathering. This week was a practicum in recording information in local herd books. With literacy being low it is a struggle, but people are really trying. Most buck stations will keep records of the dairy goats in their area and record matings, deaths and births. Lamech will enter all the data from the herd books in his computer so we'll be able to keep up with what is happening in the field.

As we've moved around, the Dowdys have been encouraged by how well the goats are looking and being kept. That is a great encouragement to us all.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Visiting Buck Keepers

David and Jacqui Dowdy (my mentors in goat care) are in Bundibugyo this week with their new interns, John & Alison Law. Yesterday, Lamech brought us around to visit various buck keepers. We visited 3 sites to see the animals and get an idea of the way they keep records (a tricky thing where the literacy rate is low). It was great to see the families and the animals they are caring for.
I was especially pleased at the last site where two women who lived nearby one another build their sheds together. One female goat was nursing a 10 day old kid, and supplying milk to the family. The other female goat was tremendous and is probably carrying two kids in her womb. They were surrounded by an array of various nutritious feeds within their reach. Because these women are doing such a great job, they were also given the responsibility of keeping the buck for their community.
At each place suggestions for improvement were given along with encouragement in their work.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Chick arrival

Day-old chicks arrived at the newly expanded chicken coop! 200 were snuggled into 2 flat boxes and went for the ride of their short lives. They were picked up from Kampala at 7:00 AM. The boxes of chicks sat next to Pauline and her 2 year old son, Keith, in a minivan. Unfortunately, the minivan (public transportation) knocked a kid off of his bike during the journey. I believe he is fine. They sat on the side of the road for 1 ½ hours while the police took the information. When they reached Fort Portal, they found a truck that they sat in the front seat of and waited until 6:30 for it to fill up with passengers. The whole time, Keith wanted to get his hands on the peeping chicks. When they finally reached Bundibugyo town it was so late that it was hard to find transport for the last ½ hour leg. Reaching the mission at 11:00 PM, they found that Basaija, the chicken keeper, had given up and gone home. Pauline and Keith slept in the chicken coop to keep an eye on them.

During the first few days, they need constant attention to make sure they don’t drown in their drinkers or overheat near the clay pot filled with warm charcoal. I found them this morning running around the coop and snuggling to stay toasty near the pot. The journey was a success.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Round Two for Goats

Lamech is making preparations for the next goat distribution. He will visit in family in Masaka next week, he lives a day's drive from his wife and children. He'll buy calliandra seed there to distribute to the new beneficiaries. He'll conduct two separate 2-day training the following weeks. One will be in Bundibugyo Town (1/2 hour north) and the other will be on the mission. Seeds to plant for fodder and nails for the goat shelter will be distributed along with an abundance of helpful knowledge.

New Chicks

Yesterday Michael went to Ugachick and ordered 200 newborn chicks. In three weeks we'll be allowed to pick them up. That will give Pauline time to finish preparing their home. The BundiNutrition Chicken Coop has been expanded and they are finishing up on the fence around it. Coffee husks need to spread around the floor and then the house will need to be disinfected. Then it must sit empty for a time.
The 39 chickens from last year are doing a great job of laying eggs still. By August their laying period will end and we'll need to sell them off for meat. The new batch of chicks should start to lay by October.
If we have a better mortality rate, the project will be approaching self-sustainability. The eggs will be used abundantly at the health center and the rest will be sold. The revenue will go into the chicken feed, chicken medications and salary for Basija, the chicken keeper.