The Livestock component of the UVI Cooperative Extension Service is divided into four main project areas. Each area strives to provide the farmers of the Virgin Islands with the most accurate and up to date livestock information available.


Beef Cattle Improvement Program
The beef cattle program of the Cooperative Extension Service focuses on identification and performance testing. It works with all of the cattle farmers in the Virgin Islands from the large purebred Senepol breeder to the small backyard producer. The program operates along the guidelines of the Beef Improvement Federation and assists producers in the identification of animals, weighing of animals and provides selection assistance for replacement animals. The goals of the program are to provide beef cattle farmers with the technology and education necessary for a profitable enterprise.

The primary breed of beef cattle in the Virgin Islands is the Senepol. This breed was developed on St. Croix to meet the needs of the tropical beef producer.


The cattle were classified in the 1970's in a cooperative effort between the then College of the Virgin Islands and the original four Senepol farms. The breed has now gone global and can be found on almost every continent. For more information on the Senepol cattle visit the UVI Senepol homepage.


Dairy Cattle Improvement Program
The dairy cattle program of the Cooperative Extension Service focuses on production testing of the dairy herds in the Virgin Islands. Using the guidelines of the National Dairy Herd Improvement Association, staff perform monthly weighing of the milk produced by each cow. From the collected data, assistance is given to the farmers on management and selection. This allows the dairy producers to maximize the amount of milk that they produce. Currently, the island of St. Croix is virtually self-sufficient in milk production, unlike most islands of the Caribbean.

The primary breed of dairy cattle used in the Virgin Islands is the Holstein, although some Jersey and Brown Swiss breeding still remains. Another animal used somewhat for milk production is the Holstein/Senepol cross. These animals combine the milk production of the Holstein with the heat tolerance of the Senepol.

Small Livestock Improvement Program

The small livestock program of the Cooperative Extension Service serves the farmers in the Virgin Islands that produce any and all non-bovine food producing animals. The primary species that are produced are swine, goats, sheep and chickens. In addition to these are rabbits, turkeys and, although not very "small", ostrich and emu. The two sheep breeds most prevalent in the Virgin Islands are the Virgin Islands White Hair Sheep, developed on St. Croix, and the Barbados Blackbelly sheep. Both sheep breeds are used in the tropics for meat production and do not grow the heavy wool coat necessary for colder climates. The goat breeds used locally are primarily Anglo-Nubian, Creole and their crosses. Recently, a small number of Boer goats were imported to improve the local stock.
Rabbit breeders in the islands range from the young 4-H participants that raise dwarf breeds for show, to the commercial farmer, raising larger breeds for meat. Information is provided on management, feeding and selection. Assistance is given to the farmers in the areas of marketing (via the Breeders Exchange Program) and improving breeding stock through inter-farm sales and importation.


Breeders Exchange Program
The breeders exchange program of the Cooperative Extension Service is a locator service offered to all of the livestock farmers in the Virgin Islands and the nearby Caribbean. It deals with all species of livestock. This service keeps record of farmers that have livestock to sell and farmers who are searching for livestock. The animal science staff then works to put the two together. This locator service is offered at no cost to the two parties and will accomodate requests for a single animal up to an entire herd or flock

Staff

The livestock staff consist of people from all over the world. They bring their varied backgrounds and experiences together to form a deep and cohesive support base for the Virgin Islands' livestock producers.

P. Kofi Boateng, Program Supervisor, Extension Livestock Specialist, was born in Ghana, West Africa. His education spans the globe from Africa to the United Kingdom and the United States. He brings to the program a background in ruminant nutrition and experience with beef and dairy production and has worked with the program since early 1984.

Sue A. Lakos, Livestock Extension Agent II, is a native of Michigan and a graduate of Michigan State University. She first arrived in the Virgin Islands in 1984 through an international internship cooperative between the then College of the Virgin Islands and MSU. She returned in 1986 to continue her work with both the beef and dairy programs at CES. Her primary background is in beef production management, but she also works intensively with the dairy and small livestock programs.

M. Edgar Austrie, Livestock Extension Assistant, hails from the Caribbean island of Dominica. He joined the Extension family in 1988 with a degree in tropical agriculture from the Jamaica School of Agriculture. Before coming to the Virgin Islands he had worked for the Department of Agriculture in Dominica as an Extension Assistant. Currently he performs the duties of the Dairy Herd Improvement Program supervisor and works closely with the small livestock program.