THESE FIELDS AND HILLS: Animal lover
Seventeen-year-old Nicky Hunte took over his father’s black belly sheep farm and transformed it into a dual-purpose goat business.
Nicky, who is completing an agriculture diploma at the Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of echnology, had an interest in raising goats for meat and milk, and his father Adrian, believing he had what it took to see after the operations, gave him administrative control over the family business. Nicky has been managing the Sealy Hall, St Philip farm since June last year.
Although the Hunte Farm is a small-scale business, Nicky said being in charge was a great esponsibility, adding he became more mature and could no longer think like teens his age.
“This is a great deal of responsibility because I cannot come home and play football or ride around; I have to tend to my stock first and anything else afterwards,” he told These Fields And Hills. “Once these are taken care of, I am fine because no one will come and give me $500 and say ‘hold this’, but these will produce that money for me.”
He added that farming made him more economically independent and he was able to contribute at home.
“A lot of persons my age are not really interested in this aspect [but] a lot of people keep encouraging me. So I see this as a good push for my development and I do a little gardening on the side. I like to plant chives and herbs.”
Six-year-old Andre Hunte trying to stop his sheep from running out of their pen. (Picture by Reco Moore.)
Taking over the family business came naturally for Nicky as he inherited his great-grandparents’, grandparents’ and his father’s passion for agriculture. In turn, he is teaching his six-year-old brother Andre the ropes.
Dad Adrian, who used to raise over 50 black belly sheep before he fell ill, said he also encouraged the boys to try their hands at different things. He explained that raising goats was a long-term profit and got his sons into rearing broilers as well, which took a shorter time to see returns. He said this allowed the boys to reinvest their earnings from poultry to buy more stock, feed and other supplies for goat-rearing.
The agriculture science teacher at Vauxhall Primary School in Christ Church said a lot of Barbadians were getting involved in the poultry industry as a means to earn extra income, adding that it made it difficult to sustain one’s markets. He said some players were selling their produce at “ridiculous” prices, causing others to lose clients and potential buyers. However, one of the strategies he taught his sons to use was selling chicken in leg, thigh and breast quarters.
Adrian said goat farming was a growing industry in Barbados and he welcomed the idea of Nicky investing in that sector on the condition that he agreed to research and learn as much as possible about the breeds of goats usually raised in the island – like toggenburgs, French and British alpines, saanen and Nubian. He added that milk and meat breeds as well as dual-purpose breeds, had varying nutritional needs from birth to adulthood.
He described the current status of the farm as an experimental phase as he and the boys were developing their own special type of feed mixtures for herd improvement, vigour, good milk-fat content and the overall health of the animals.
Meet the Huntes: Adrian (right) with his two sons Nicky (left) and Andre. (Picture by Reco Moore.)
Adrian said breeding was also an important aspect of the business, as impregnating animals too young or inbreeding could result in dwarfing, or cause them to have other undesirable attributes and deficiencies in their temperament, physique, reproductive capabilities, longevity and general development.
Nicky will be showcasing some of his prized animals at Agrofest this weekend in Queen’s Park. (SB)