before the Jan. 12 earthquake devastated Haiti, Mapleton veterinarian
Ken Schumann, a member of the World Community Service Committee of the
Hartland-Lake Country Rotary Club, was helping the impoverished
nation. In 1994 at the request of Rotary, Schumann, who owns a dairy
goat herd, made his first trip to Haiti to research the way goats were
bred and raised. As a result, the Goat Husbandry Project was born.
Because of the lack of refrigeration, goats in Haiti are used
mainly for meat, not milk. "A goal was to improve the size of the
Haitian goats by breeding them with healthier American goats,
resulting in more meat and improved protein," he explains. The
first group of Nubian bucks was shipped to Haiti in 1996, and the
program has been growing ever since.
In 2002 Schumann and Volmar Berthomieux, a Haitian veterinary
technician, teacher and organizer, started the Mirebalais Goat
Husbandry Project. Berthomieux teaches local farmers goat husbandry
during a week-long series of classes. Upon completion, class members
are each given a pregnant goat and shown how to examine and treat it.
In exchange, the farmers return the first female offspring to the
project. Berthomieux and a team of veterinary agents trained by
Schumann and other American vets provide follow-up visits to ensure
proper medical care and breeding of does with the imported bucks.
While goats average two kids per litter, Schumann estimates that
number could be less in Haiti due to poor nutritional practices and
parasites. Does are bred from ages 1 1/2 to 10 1/2, potentially
producing 20 to 30 kids in a lifetime and providing an income for the
Approximately 175 farmers have participated in the project since
its inception. "Dr. Ken," as they refer to Schumann, gets
many requests to stop by so they can thank him. "I can never seem
to find the time," he says. This comes as no surprise since he is
involved in several other initiatives around Haiti, from providing
solar ovens to working on the Vision Project founded by his wife,
Gerry. "I hope to be able to visit and see how they are doing
with their goats when I go to Haiti in September."
An ongoing challenge is
fundraising. It takes $125 to train one farmer and supply a
pregnant goat. If you’d like to contribute, please send
donations to Lake Country Foundation, 142 E. Capitol Drive,
Hartland, WI 53029, Attn: Goat Project.