The Athalassa Experimental Farm of the Animal Production Section covers an area of about 60 hectares, including animal sheds and arable fields for the cultivation of forage crops. The activities at the Athalassa Experimental Farm mainly involve the management of the Dairy Cow Unit and the Sheep and Goat Unit, and related experimental activities of the Animal Production Section. Furthermore, some experiments of the Plant Improvement Section are also conducted in the Farm area.
At the Athalassa Experimental Farm, information regarding the reproduction, nutrition and milk production of the animals is recorded. Data collected on the reproductive performance and milk production of ewes and goats, as well as the growth rate of lambs and kids, are used to conduct the genetic evaluation and selection for the partial replacement of the small ruminant population of the farm and for providing the sheep and goat breeders with animals of improved production and, which are, at the same time, resistant to Scrapie.
Furthermore, with the guidance of the Veterinary Services, a systematic program is followed in order to provide preventive vaccination to the pregnant animals and, subsequently, to offspring. In terms of animal nutrition, the ration composition and quantity is adjusted on a weekly basis, in accordance to each animal’s production stage. In addition, roughage is annually produced on farm, and partially covers the nutritional needs of the animals. Specifically, about 27 hectares are sown with barley, 4 hectares with wheat and 2 hectares with clover for the production of barley and alfalfa hay, straw, fresh alfalfa and alfalfa silage. Also, barley and alfalfa seed is produced every year. Finally, a training center has been established at the Athalassa Experimental Farm, in order to facilitate the provision of training seminars to farmers, other relevant stakeholders and to colleagues from various Departments of the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment.