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DR. THE HON. THOMAS P. LECKY, PH.D., O.M., O. J.,

O.B.E. (1904-1994)c c

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Thomas Lecky, was born on a small farm in Portland in 1904. The first Jamaican to receive a Ph.D.cin
agriculture, his work would revolutionize the Jamaican dairy industry and improve the lives of countless
small farmers.cc

Young T.P. received a merit scholarship to attend the Farm School at Hope Gardens in St. Andrew (now
part of the College of Arts and Sciences, CASE, Portland). From an early age T.P. was closely attuned to
the challenges of small farming having watched his father lose his banana crop as a result of hurricanes
three years in a row. Aware too that many of his friends and family members in Portland suffered from an
unbalanced diet, he became particularly interested in cattle, convinced that milk and beef could help
satisfy protein needs that were not being met. Livestock also seemed a wiser bet than a focus on crops
alone. c

After graduating, Lecky went to work for the government at Hope in 1925. He became closely involved
with assessing the suitability of new breeds of cattle being introduced to Jamaica and testing their
reaction to local conditions. Lecky learned that the cattle in Jamaica at that time were not well suited to
life on hillsides where many small farmers had holdings. Hailing from a hilly region himself Lecky became
one of Jamaica's earliest environmentalists, a strong advocate for conservation of hillsides. He believed
that all small farmers should have cattle because besides producing milk, every year a young animal
could be sold to help pay for school fees. c

Bred for size and strength Jamaican cattle at the time were descendants of animals brought by the
Spanish and the British hundreds of years before. In general, they were slow to mature, grew on grass
and water, had a low milk production and a low proportion of meat around the haunches and ribs. They
were, however, champion haulers of carts and resistant to tick fever and other tropical diseases. Lecky
decided that what Jamaica needed was an animal that would produce enough milk for farmers as well as
be light enough that they would move up and down steep hillsides.cc


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Lecky began to dream of a new breed of cattle, a Jamaican breed. He


turned his attention to the study of animal genetics and earned
degrees in Agriculture from McGill University and Animal Husbandry
from Ontario Agricultural College, Guelph. At Guelph he focused on
evaluating cross-breeding as a means of acclimatizing European
cattle to Jamaica's environment. He concluded that the answer was
not an acclimatized European breed but a new breed, a completely
adapted tropical breed. He returned to Jamaica in 1935 and started to
test his ideas. He used two lines of cattle and began to select bulls for
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breeding from the best producing cows in Jamaica. In 1949, Lecky


gathered hiscdocumentation and traveled to the University of
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  Edinburgh where he used this research as the basis for his doctorate.
  His dissertation, entitled "Genetic Improvement in Diary Cattle in the

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Tropics" presented his ideas for developing a tropical dairy breed and
catapulted him to international acclaim. It considered the two main processes by which species or breeds
adapt to new environments natural selection and mutation. Natural selection dates as far back as
Charles Darwin and is essentially the idea of survival of the fittest. Those members of a breed with
qualities most suited to a location will survive and dominate. Mutation is the idea that actualcchanges are
made in genes themselves for many different reasons. After a period of time, the gene pool of a later
generation may therefore differ from the original gene pool. Lecky noted this in animals he observed in
Jamaica where some cattle showed significant improvements after a period of 20 years.cc

By the early 1950s, Lecky saw his ideas realized and the first examples of genetically bred cattle, named
¦    , were ready. They were a combination of the British Jersey cow (small, and light feeding)
with the Holstein (heavy milk producers) and the Indian Sahiwal breed (disease resistant and adapted to
the tropics). The Jamaica Hope could produce up to an average of 12 litres of milk a day 3 times that
produced by other cattle on the island. Lecky's work revolutionized the Jamaican dairy industry and
indeed the dairy industry around the world. Scientists from many different countries flocked to Jamaica to
see what he had done. Lecky's work impacted on the development of cattle in many tropical countries.cc

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Not satisfied with the Jamaica Hope, mainly a producer of milk, Lecky turned his attention to creating a
Jamaican breed able to produce meat. He worked with cattle farmers and looked carefully at Indian cattle.
He selected from amongst a few breeds of Indian cattle that had been brought into the island and created
a new breed known as the ¦   ½  , which has since become popular also in Latin America.
Farmers had noted that the imported English Red cattle, which had not proved resistant to ticks and
tropical disease, when bred with the Jamaica Brahman, produced cattle of top quality beef. This breed
became known as the ¦    the main meat-producing cattle on the island.cc

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Still not satisfied, Lecky decided to focus on cattle who could live in the cooler areas of the island where
other breeds were unable to thrive. He bred the black Aberdeen Angus from Scotland, well adapted to
cool temperatures, with the Jamaica Brahmans to produce a small, black cattle called the ¦   
½ . Yet, even though some claim it has the best quality of beef on the island, the Jamaica Black
proved to be the most difficult breed to care for. Not surprisingly, it did not prove to be as popular as its
two predecessors, the Jamaica Hope and the Jamaica Red, among cattle farmers. c

Dr. Lecky retired from government service in 1965, but remained available as a consultant until close to
his death in 1994. Indeed he was at work at his beloved Bodles Research Station until a week before his
death, having dedicated over 60 years of his life to the development of Jamaican livestock. Prior to his
passing, Dr. T.P. Lecky received Jamaica's highest civilian honour, the Order of Merit, for creating new
breeds based on foreign cattle that reproduce on their own without acting like cross breeds or hybrids. He
also received the Norman Manley Award for excellence. A countryman at heart, Lecky took greatest
consolation from knowing he had helped small farmers like his parents improve their lot. He is
remembered as the father of the Jamaican Dairy Industry.cc

The Father of Jamaican Fish c


AJ Thomas 1909-1988
A self-educated scientist and international consultant, Austin James Thomas
was born in 1909 in Westmoreland. A lifelong environmentalist, careful angler
and longtime secretary of the Jamaica Angling Association, Thomas' love of fish
led him to revitalize and mechanise Jamaica's fish industry. c

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He first came to prominence in 1945, not for his scientific work but because he
created a new world record by catching the largest white marlin ever seen in
Jamaica. It weighed 80 kilos seven kilos more than the previous record holder. In 1949, his fishing skills
catapulted him further
a fish he caught on the North Coast was determined to be of a new species, as yet unknown to science. It
was named Gobiosoma thomasi after him.c

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In that same year, Mr. Thomas was employed as the
government fisheries officer. At that time, there was
significant concern that given that fish is a staple of the
Jamaican diet, more focus should be given to developing fish
for local use, reducing reliance on imported fish. Mr. Thomas
dreamed of a new breed of fish. When he was sent to Africa
to study fish that thrived in that climate he was determined to
find a fish that would adapt well to Jamaica. He returned with
perch 
    and carefully built ponds in which
he measured their growth. Most of the fish did not develop
and as a result were named "ticky-ticky." Yet, Mr. Thomas
noted that the male perch when reared together grew larger.  '   
    

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So began a period of monosex culture, or selection of fish of 


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the same sex an approach used on perch for the first time 

 
  

 


 

 
ever. It was immensely successful, allowing perch to reach a 
 
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weight of half a pound in five months the best of any
commercial species. This discovery spawned successful industries in many countries including America,
Africa (where he returned as a consultant to work on fishing cooperatives in the 1960s) and Israel.cc


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As a fisherman himself, Mr. Thomas was also interested in boats. He is credited with being the first to
introduce outboard motors on local canoes in the 1950s. This allowed fishermen to cover greater
distances and catch larger amounts of fish.cc

A.J. Thomas died in 1988, at the age of 79.cc

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