Afghanistan veterinarians tour sheep, cattle operations in northern Colorado | TheFencePost.com

Afghanistan veterinarians tour sheep, cattle operations in northern Colorado

Bill Jackson
Greeley, Colo.

ERIC BELLAMY/ebellamy@greeleytribune.comA veterinarian trained at Kabul University in Afghanistan takes a picture

AULT – The veterinarians from Afghanistan crowded into the office of Double J Farms and Livestock Feeding at the company’s Ault lamb feedlot to get a quick lesson on feeding techniques.

Just outside the office, several hundred lambs were being fed in the lots, while later, the group went to a shed where several lambs were being shorn.

For the Afghans, it was all new and offered hands-on training and visualization from the classroom education they received from a retired Colorado State University professor about a year ago.

“We have never seen anything like this. We don’t do this in Afghanistan,” one of the English-speaking veterinarians said as he looked out over one of the lots of feeding lambs.

The group toured several Weld and Larimer county agricultural facilities last week including the sheep and cattle operations of Double J, owned and operated by the Hasbrouck family, the company’s packing plant in Pierce, a couple of dairies, Black Pines Natural Colored Sheep operated by Roy and Myrtle Dow of Eaton, a CSU research facility, a goat operation and cattle research facility all north of Fort Collins.

The tour was organized by Jerry Alldredge, a former CSU extension agent in Weld who now operates JKA Agricultural Management and Consultation.

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The group, said Dan Hilleman, CSU professor emeritus, will return to Afghanistan later this week after spending three weeks at CSU honing their veterinarian skills, as well as learning how to teach Afghan farmers to take better care of their livestock with a goal of creating more income for those farmers.

The six – who could not be identified because of possible Taliban retribution on their return home – also are part of the newly privatized veterinarians who are with Veterinary Field Units in their home country. They are, Hilleman said, from the central and northern part of Afghanistan.

“In the past, the government would pay for veterinarian services, but now farmers have to pay for those services such as vaccines, which is a new concept for them,” Hilleman said. The six, he added, were all educated at Kabul University.

At the lamb feeding operation, Jeff Hasbrouck first gave the four men and two women a lesson on the rations the lambs are given. Newly arrived animals start on hay, then corn is slowly added to their diet, depending on the size of the lambs that arrive at the lot. On average, he said, the lambs will eat 6-8 pounds of feed daily, and will put on about .6 of a pound each day.

The feed is tracked by computer in the trucks, “so we can tell exactly how much feed each pen gets every day,” Hasbrouck told the group.

Hilleman said extension specialists from the University of Wyoming and University of Nebraska first started working in Afghanistan in the 1950s and 1960s, but was then stopped with the invasion of that country by the former Soviet Union.

On his first trip into Afghanistan, Hilleman told the group he was from Fort Collins.

“There were those who remembered that Fort Collins is close to Laramie. So I got credibility for the first time in my life because I came from a place close to Laramie and the University of Wyoming,” he said with a laugh.

The veterinarians were impressed with the shearing operation at Double J, noting that when sheep are sheared in Afghanistan it is done with hand clippers. And, they found it interesting that all of the lambs were white.

“We could use that wool to color it,” one said, adding that Afghan farmers who shear their animals have difficulty, over time, with their hands.

He also said the area of Afghanistan he’s from has been in a very serious drought for the past five years, and as a result, many of that country’s human and livestock population have died. He expressed amazement at the pivot sprinkler in a corn field not far from the feedlot, another part of technology not seen in his native country.

“We only graze our livestock, we don’t feed them like here,” he said, noting the climate in that part of Afghanistan is much like of northern Colorado. But when is snows, the only feed for the sheep and goats is straw.

One of the programs developed by the wide range of animal health issues and production has been the harvest of Cashmere wool, which is done by hand. Cashmere, Hilleman said, was a largely unknown potential resource for Afghan farmers. Usually, it falls to the ground unused or is snagged on bushes when the goats shed in the spring.

But there are buyers, particularly in Europe, for the quality cashmere produced in Afghanistan. So it follows, Hilleman said, that healthy goats can produce more wool, which in turn will further supplement local farm income.

As a result of the training, more than 150,000 local farmers were educated on cashmere harvesting and this past season, 7 million metric tons of fiber were collected, and this year the harvest is expected to jump to 50 million metric tons.

That work has not gone unnoticed by the six who visited CSU and Weld.

“Last year Dr. Hilleman was in Afghanistan and now we get to see what he taught us in class. We appreciate his help and the help of all of America,” he said.

AULT – The veterinarians from Afghanistan crowded into the office of Double J Farms and Livestock Feeding at the company’s Ault lamb feedlot to get a quick lesson on feeding techniques.

Just outside the office, several hundred lambs were being fed in the lots, while later, the group went to a shed where several lambs were being shorn.

For the Afghans, it was all new and offered hands-on training and visualization from the classroom education they received from a retired Colorado State University professor about a year ago.

“We have never seen anything like this. We don’t do this in Afghanistan,” one of the English-speaking veterinarians said as he looked out over one of the lots of feeding lambs.

The group toured several Weld and Larimer county agricultural facilities last week including the sheep and cattle operations of Double J, owned and operated by the Hasbrouck family, the company’s packing plant in Pierce, a couple of dairies, Black Pines Natural Colored Sheep operated by Roy and Myrtle Dow of Eaton, a CSU research facility, a goat operation and cattle research facility all north of Fort Collins.

The tour was organized by Jerry Alldredge, a former CSU extension agent in Weld who now operates JKA Agricultural Management and Consultation.

The group, said Dan Hilleman, CSU professor emeritus, will return to Afghanistan later this week after spending three weeks at CSU honing their veterinarian skills, as well as learning how to teach Afghan farmers to take better care of their livestock with a goal of creating more income for those farmers.

The six – who could not be identified because of possible Taliban retribution on their return home – also are part of the newly privatized veterinarians who are with Veterinary Field Units in their home country. They are, Hilleman said, from the central and northern part of Afghanistan.

“In the past, the government would pay for veterinarian services, but now farmers have to pay for those services such as vaccines, which is a new concept for them,” Hilleman said. The six, he added, were all educated at Kabul University.

At the lamb feeding operation, Jeff Hasbrouck first gave the four men and two women a lesson on the rations the lambs are given. Newly arrived animals start on hay, then corn is slowly added to their diet, depending on the size of the lambs that arrive at the lot. On average, he said, the lambs will eat 6-8 pounds of feed daily, and will put on about .6 of a pound each day.

The feed is tracked by computer in the trucks, “so we can tell exactly how much feed each pen gets every day,” Hasbrouck told the group.

Hilleman said extension specialists from the University of Wyoming and University of Nebraska first started working in Afghanistan in the 1950s and 1960s, but was then stopped with the invasion of that country by the former Soviet Union.

On his first trip into Afghanistan, Hilleman told the group he was from Fort Collins.

“There were those who remembered that Fort Collins is close to Laramie. So I got credibility for the first time in my life because I came from a place close to Laramie and the University of Wyoming,” he said with a laugh.

The veterinarians were impressed with the shearing operation at Double J, noting that when sheep are sheared in Afghanistan it is done with hand clippers. And, they found it interesting that all of the lambs were white.

“We could use that wool to color it,” one said, adding that Afghan farmers who shear their animals have difficulty, over time, with their hands.

He also said the area of Afghanistan he’s from has been in a very serious drought for the past five years, and as a result, many of that country’s human and livestock population have died. He expressed amazement at the pivot sprinkler in a corn field not far from the feedlot, another part of technology not seen in his native country.

“We only graze our livestock, we don’t feed them like here,” he said, noting the climate in that part of Afghanistan is much like of northern Colorado. But when is snows, the only feed for the sheep and goats is straw.

One of the programs developed by the wide range of animal health issues and production has been the harvest of Cashmere wool, which is done by hand. Cashmere, Hilleman said, was a largely unknown potential resource for Afghan farmers. Usually, it falls to the ground unused or is snagged on bushes when the goats shed in the spring.

But there are buyers, particularly in Europe, for the quality cashmere produced in Afghanistan. So it follows, Hilleman said, that healthy goats can produce more wool, which in turn will further supplement local farm income.

As a result of the training, more than 150,000 local farmers were educated on cashmere harvesting and this past season, 7 million metric tons of fiber were collected, and this year the harvest is expected to jump to 50 million metric tons.

That work has not gone unnoticed by the six who visited CSU and Weld.

“Last year Dr. Hilleman was in Afghanistan and now we get to see what he taught us in class. We appreciate his help and the help of all of America,” he said.