Dr. Lionel J. Dawson, Associate Professor in Theriogenology and Production Medicine at Oklahoma State University’s Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, recently returned from Ethiopia. His trip was part of a United States AID project to improve small ruminant meat production in Ethiopia, one of the top populated countries in Africa.
The Ethiopian Sheep and Goat Productivity Improvement Program involves Oklahoma State University Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, Langston University, and Prairie View A&M. The 6 year program is designed to improve the country’s small ruminant meat production through cross breeding. Local or native breeds of sheep and goats will be cross bred with Boer goats and Doeper sheep imported from South Africa.
“This project is very important to improve the economy of this East African country. Improving the carcass yield in these cross bred sheep and goats will enable Ethiopia to export meat and meat products to other African and Middle Eastern countries in that region,” explains Dr. Dawson. “Through organized breeding and proper veterinary care we will be able to improve the genetics of goats and sheep over a period of time in Ethiopia. And the quality and quantity of meat produced by these cross bred animals will be a lot healthier than the meat produced by local breeds for human consumption.”
Dr. Dawson supervised the quarantine station located at Sabeta, Ethiopia. A chartered plane flew in 120 Boer goats and 120 Doeper sheep from Johannesburg, South Africa, to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. These animals were then transported via a two deck trailer for the remaining 30 miles to the quarantine station at Sabeta. Dr. Dawson spent 3 weeks in Ethiopia monitoring the animals’ health and immunizing them for local diseases. After 6 weeks in quarantine, the sheep and goats will be sent to nucleus farms all over Ethiopia for crossbreeding.