In talking with our World Wide Village “goat experts” this week, I have learned more about goats than I ever thought possible! Each time I travel to Haiti I have a hard time understanding how goats are roaming freely through the community. Where did they come from? How will their owners find them? What do they eat? I have learned the answer to these questions and many others as I’ve looked into how WWV is making an impact in Haiti through agriculture.
The World Wide Village goat program started a little over a year ago in Williamson. The first round of families in the the WWV goat program received two goats each. As part of the program, the first kid born comes back to the WWV community herd as a tithe. The second kid born belongs to the family. The third kid born comes back to the WWV community herd as payment for the initial goats they received. All additional kids belong to the family and they have the opportunity to raise a herd that can help their family break the cycle of poverty.
Even though I imagined raising goats was pretty simple, WWV and our Haitian families have learned many important lessons along the way. It’s not as simple as it seems! Thanks to a few generous supporters and our great Haitian staff, the goat herd in Williamson is thriving!
The first lesson learned in starting the goat herd was where to purchase the starter goats. WWV first started by purchasing pregnant goats from the market, but soon realized that some of the goats were not pregnant…they just looked pregnant. Through their research they learned that the only way to tell if a goat is pregnant is through blood work. Unfortunately, this process of buying “pregnant” goats in the market is not fool-proof. They have now learned to buy young female goats from the market and raise them to breeding age.
The second obstacle was the size disparity among the goats. All of their first goats weighed between 45-80 pounds as adults – all from a Spanish line of goats which are common in Haiti. These goats are much smaller than most goats in the United States. In the U.S. a male Boer goat can weigh as much as 360 pounds and the doe can weigh as much as 220 pounds. One of our supporters generously donated two Boer studs purchased from a Haitian veterinarian in July for $500 each for the WWV community herd. WWV will now be able to breed the Boer line of goats into the Spanish line to increase the size of the goats and their price in the market!
The third struggle in starting the goat herd was the high mortality rate with the kids that were born. After working with a veterinarian from Bon Repos, Haiti, WWV and the Haitian families in the goat program are now supplementing the goats’ food intake with corn. Each goat under 50 pounds receives ½ cup of corn per day and each goat over 50 pounds receives 1 cup per day. They were also advised by the vet to start deworming all of the goats. Thanks to the diligent pursuit of our Haitian staff, World Wide Village American supporters, and the Haitian families in the goat program, more recently there has been great success with the new kids born!
Remember my earlier questions? Where did the goats I see roaming in the community come from? How will their owners find them? What do they eat? I learned this week that goats can be trained. When the goats are first given to a family they must be trained. The families first keep the goats in their yards and feed and water them at the same time each day. Next, they allow the goats to roam, but tied to a tree so they cannot roam too far. The families continue to feed and water the goats at the same time each day. Eventually the goats learn to roam around the countryside grazing as they go, but return home each day at noon for food and water and also in the evening. It’s amazing!
We currently have 17 goats in our WWV community herd – praise God! Jean Claude, a faithful man from Williamson, has been hired by World Wide Village to care for these goats. As an organization, our long term goal is two-fold. We would like to raise enough goats to breed the females from this herd to give to new families as part of City on a Hill. We would also like to use the meat from the males and the funds we receive from selling the males in the market to feed the children in the World Wide Village schools. Lord willing, and with YOUR help, this will be a reality in the near future! Buy a goat and help another family thrive.