Livestock Research for Rural Development 25 (2) 2013 Guide for preparation of papers LRRD Newsletter

Citation of this paper

Systems of cattle production in South Central Coastal Vietnam

D Parsons, P A Lane, L D Ngoan*, N X Ba*, D T Tuan**, N H Van*, D V Dung* and L D Phung*

Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture and School of Agricultural Science, University of Tasmania,
Private Bag 54, Hobart, TAS, Australia
david.parsons@utas.edu.au
* Hue University of Agriculture and Forestry
** Research and Development Centre for Animal Husbandry in the Central Region, Vietnam

Abstract

The objective of this study was to describe cattle production systems in South central coastal Vietnam including: farming resources, herd structure, feed resources, feed and feeding management, and constraints to cattle production. The study site, representative of the agro-ecological characteristics of the sandy zone in the South central coast, included Phu Cat, Tuy An, and Phuoc Nam districts selected from Binh Dinh, Phu Yen, and Ninh Thuan provinces, respectively. Secondary and primary data on cattle production systems were collected using both quantitative and qualitative research methods. Participatory meetings at the commune level were organised to collect qualitative information. In addition, 180 households were interviewed by using a set of questions.

 

Results showed that surveyed households in Ninh Thuan had advantages in raising cattle compared with Binh Dinh and Phu Yen in terms of labour and land area; however they were also more limited by lower rainfall. Households in Ninh Thuan had twice the number of cattle, sheep, and goats than those of the other two provinces; however  households in Binh Dinh and Phu Yen had greater numbers of pigs and poultry than farmers in Ninh Thuan, suggesting different income generating strategies. The method of raising cattle of surveyed households in Ninh Thuan was more extensive than in Binh Dinh and Phu Yen, evident by the scale of crossbred cattle, feeding systems, cattle management, and feed resources. Planting grass, storing agricultural by-products, supplying concentrate, cutting naturalized grass, and restricting the amount of cattle were methods suggested by surveyed householders to solve the lack of feed issue. Capital was believed by producers to be the most important factors that influenced cattle production (69% of farmers). Other important limitations to production included lack of feed and disease. 

Keywords: beef, rural development, sandy soils


Introduction

The sustainable generation of income for smallholder farmers in the central provinces is a major development issue for Vietnam. South central coastal Vietnamese farming systems are based on growing subsistence rice crops and cash crops such as cassava, peanuts, and cashews. Cattle production also plays a very important role in farming systems and Vietnamese life. Demand for beef is increasing, particularly in the major urban centres - due to both tourism and increasing disposable income of the local population. Increasing cattle production is seen by Research and Development agencies as an opportunity to help alleviate poverty in central Vietnam. About 40% of the total number of cattle in the country is kept in the Central region (Department of Animal Husbandry - Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development 2006)

Growth in cattle demand is led primarily through domestic demand, and an estimated 95% of beef is consumed domestically, particularly in Ho Chi Minh City which is the market for an estimated 70-80% of cattle from the South central coastal Region (Truong 2009). Although this presents an attractive opportunity for smallholder farmers, there are a number of obstacles that need to be addressed in order for the opportunity to be realized, particularly in relation to feed quantity and quality. Cattle production is constrained by limited resources, low fertility sandy soils, and harsh climatic conditions, including high temperatures, a long dry season and flooding in the wet season. Expanding cattle production is restricted by the limited quantity and quality of feeds, and poor husbandry practices leading to long calving intervals, high calf mortality rates, low growth rates, and consequently low cattle productivity and efficiency.

Appropriate solutions must be based on understanding the current situation of beef production systems in South central coastal Vietnam. Thus, the objective of this study was to describe cattle production systems in South central coastal Vietnam including: farming resources, herd structure, feed resources, feeding management, and production constraints.  


Materials and Methods

Farm survey sampling method

 

Commencing in 2009, an Australian-Vietnamese multi-disciplinary team has been working with smallholder farmers in three provinces (Binh Dinh, Phu Yen, and Ninh Thuan) in South central coastal Vietnam. Three communes, one from each province, were selected as broadly representative of the area. The selected communes were Cat Trinh in Phu Cat district (Binh Dinh), An Chan in Tuy An district (Phu Yen), and Phuoc Dinh in Ninh Phuoc district (Ninh Thuan). From each commune a number of villages were selected for survey, and these included Phu Kim and An Duc (Cat Trinh commune); Phu Qui, Phu Thanh, and Phu Phong (An Chan commune); and Son Hai 1, Son Hai 2, Bau Ngu, and Tu Thien (Phuoc Dinh commune). Using a stratified sampling method 180 households from three study communes were chosen, all of which were located on lowland sandy soils.

 

Data collection         
 

To collect primary data, a group discussion was held in each commune with participation from the Commune People’s Committee, representatives of community organisations (women’s union, farmer union, veteran association, youth union), village leaders, poor and non-poor household representatives, to discuss the current status of animal production including characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses of the current major animal production systems. In addition, a total of 180 households were interviewed, with 88 households with cattle and 92 households without cattle. The household interview was conducted using a set of questions including the following sections (i) general information on farm and household characteristics including family size, age, education, sex, occupation, farm size, (ii) household production system including cropping and livestock, with a focus on cattle production systems, and (iii) information on main constraints to household production.

 

Statistical analysis

 

Both descriptive and inferential statistics were used (SPSS package version 18). Means and standard deviations were used to describe the production systems. Analysis of variance was used to compare multiple means, which were considered significantly different when P<0.05. 


Results and Discussion

Livestock production resources

 

Resources for cattle production, including the number of people per household, labour, land, and education levels of owners, play an important role in determining the success of livestock enterprises. For example, resources influence decision making, and acceptance of new cattle production techniques, such as choice of animal genetics and developing cultivated forages. The farm resource is the basis on which agricultural extension institutions can propose appropriate alternative strategies for development (Raquel 1985; Baker 1997; Nelson & Cramb 1998; Savadogo et al 1998).

 

The average number of people per household ranged from 4.6 in Phu Yen to 5.7 in Ninh Thuan (Table 1). The average labour units per household ranged from 2.4 in Binh Dinh to 3.0 in Ninh Thuan, with slightly more than half of the labour male.

 

Table 1. Population, labour, and cultivated land of surveyed households of Binh, Dinh, Phu Yen, and Ninh Thuan

 

Provinces

Binh Dinh

(n=60)

Phu Yen

(n=60)

Ninh Thuan

(n=60)

Total population (people)

4.82.1a

4.61.6

5.72.1

Total labour (people)

2.41.6

2.91.5

3.01.6

Male labour (people)

1.31.0

1.51.2

1.61.0

Female labour (people)

1.10.8

1.41.0

1.40.9

Total area (m2)

817010970

31604470

49310192930

Area of agricultural land (m2)

60907370

30703450

3207042230

Note: a=standard deviation

 

There were differences in land resources among the households of the three provinces (Table 1). The land area of households in Ninh Thuan was 15.5 times larger than households in Phu Yen and 6 times larger than households in Binh Dinh.  Agricultural land comprised the greatest proportion (65 to 97%) of total land. The difference between total and agricultural land in Ninh Thuan suggests that households have the opportunity to raise cattle extensively on non-agricultural land. Binh Dinh and Phu Yen lack available land resources, and the potential for extensive animal husbandry production; thus, intensive production is more likely.
 

The level of education of the head of the household is an important factor affecting cattle production. Research indicates that a higher level of education leads to increased capacity for adopting advanced techniques; with the reverse also true (Bosman 1995 ; Le Thi Hoa Sen 2005). In all provinces, the majority of household heads were graduates from secondary and high school. There was no difference among provinces (P>0.05) of households’ education levels.

 

Scale and structure of animal husbandry

 

Cattle, pig and poultry are the main animal husbandry enterprises for households in the South central coastal region. The scale and structure of cattle production in the three provinces is displayed in Table 2.  The total number of animals per household in Ninh Thuan was approximately 4 times larger than Phu Yen and Binh Dinh, reflecting the constraint of land resources on cattle production in these provinces.
 

The percentage of crossbred cattle is an indicator of the level of intensity of animal husbandry (Le & Koops 2003). In Binh Dinh and Phu Yen the proportion was about 50%, but in Ninh Thuan was just 33%. These statistics highlight the different strategies in cattle production, based on the type and availability of land. Ninh Thuan developed predominantly extensive cattle production, with greater land use, using local yellow cattle; whereas Binh Dinh and Phu Yen raised more cross-bred animals, suggesting a greater incidence of semi-intensive cattle production. The number of cattle used for draught was greater than the number of bulls, indicating the multi-purpose functions of cattle (Table 2).

 

Table 2. The average structure and breed of cattle herds of surveyed households of Binh, Dinh, Phu Yen, and Ninh Thuan

 

Provinces

Binh Dinh (n=31)

Phu Yen (n=29)

Ninh Thuan (n=33)

Yellow cattle

Crossbred

Yellow cattle

Crossbred

Yellow cattle

Crossbred

Animal Class

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cow

0.19

0.42

0.97

0.41

3.52

2.15

Female calf < 12 months

0.35

0.26

0.38

0.21

1.12

0.27

Male calf < 12 months

0.19

0.26

0.17

0.28

0.58

0.33

Female calf (12-24 months)

0.16

0.06

0.10

0.07

2.09

0.27

Male calf (12-24 months)

0.03

0.10

0.24

0.10

0.48

0.48

Cow  > 24 months

0.39

0.52

0.00

0.00

1.55

0.33

Bull  > 24 months

0.29

0.35

0.28

0.28

0.76

1.12

Total

1.611.76

1.972.48

2.142.45

1.411.62

9.3910.37

4.737.43

Purpose

 

 

 

 

 

 

Draught power

0.870.81

0.410.82

1.271.86

Fattening cattle

2.711.75

1.381.52

7.186.85

 

In addition, pig and poultry production are popular activities in the three surveyed provinces. The scale of pig and poultry production in Binh Dinh and Phu Yen is larger than Ninh Thuan (P<0.05) (Table 3). Ninh Thuan households often had sheep and goats, whereas households in Binh Dinh and Phu Yen generally did not. This possibly reflects the competitiveness of these industries, cultural traditions, government priorities for their production, or suitability of land.

 

Table 3. Scale of livestock and poultry production of surveyed households of Binh, Dinh, Phu Yen, and Ninh Thuan

 

Binh Dinh (n=60)

Phu Yen (n=60)

Ninh Thuan

(n=60)

Pig

2.46.3a

0.821.9

0.070.52

Chicken

20.233.9

9.210.6

5.814.1

Duck and Goose

0.181.19

1.23.7

3.113.4

Buffalo

0.070.36

0.030.26

0.000.00

Goat

0.000.00

0.050.39

2.413.4

Sheep

0.000.00

0.000.00

2.713.7

Note: a=standard deviation


Methods of cattle production

 

The three main methods of cattle production in the three South central coastal provinces included grazing, grazing with supplementation, and stall-feeding, in order of increasing intensity. Grazing is the most extensive form of production, and can be intensified through supplementation. Stall-feeding is based on feeding such feeds as rice straw, crop residues, concentrates, and grass. In Binh Dinh and Phu Yen 41% of households primarily utilized stall-feeding, whereas this figure was only 6% in Ninh Thuan. In Ninh Thuan, 94% of farmers utilized grazing (either with or without supplementation). Thus in Ninh Thuan cattle production is more extensive, relying on grazing and some supplementation, whereas Binh Dinh and Phu Yen are primarily semi-intensive and intensive. The method of cattle production is also related to scale, as with larger herds (such as in Ninh Thuan) it can be more time efficient to focus on grazing rather than cut and carry.

 

Table 4.  Method of cattle production of surveyed households of  Binh, Dinh, Phu Yen, and Ninh Thuan

 

Provinces

Binh Dinh (n=31)

Phu Yen (n=29)

Ninh Thuan (n=33)

Grazing (%)

16.1

3.5

24.2

Grazing and supplementation (%)

41.9

55.2

69.7

Stall-feeding (%)

41.9

41.4

6.1

 
Managing cattle production

 

Techniques for managing cattle production can indicate the level of farming intensity. The hours of grazing for cattle in Ninh Thuan is two to four times longer than Binh Dinh and Phu Yen (Table 5), confirming the importance of grazing in Ninh Thuan. Indicators such as bathing cattle, supplementing with vitamins and salt, supplying water, and recording mating also express the level of intensity. More households in Phu Yen and Binh Dinh conduct these activities than in Ninh Thuan, confirming the more extensive production practices in Ninh Thuan province.

 

Table 5. Cattle management indicators of surveyed households of  Binh, Dinh, Phu Yen, and Ninh Thuan

 

Province

Binh Dinh

Phu Yen

Ninh Thuan

No. of grazing hours in rainy season (hour) 

2.32.6a

2.22.3

8.72.4

No. of grazing hours in rainy season (hour)

3.53.0

4.83.8

9.32.3

Parasite prevention (%)

77.4

51.7

56.3

Bathing cattle (%)

90.3

96.6

39.4

Vitamin supplement (%)

38.7

41.4

6.1

Water supply (%)

93.6

96.6

75.8

Salt supply (%)

96.8

75.9

6.1

Vaccination (%)

100.0

96.6

90.9

Recording time at insemination (%)

41.9

34.5

0.0

Estimating calving date (%)

54.8

44.8

9.1

Note: a=standard deviation

 

Households that bathe cattle, use salt, supply water, and record mating have lower cattle numbers (Table 6). This confirms that intensive and semi-intensive cattle production generally involves smaller herds than extensive production.

 

Table 6. Mean number of cattle of surveyed households that adopt or do not adopt production technologies

 

Cattle per household

p

Adoption

Non-adoption

Parasite prevention

6.38.5a

7.910.1

0.106

Bathing cattle

5.97.5

10.512.7

0.033

Vitamin supplement

4.24.6

8.210.3

0.060

Water supply

6.28.1

13.414.2

0.016

Salt supply

4.36.7

11.010.9

0.001

Vaccination

7.29.4

4.52.7

0.571

Recording time at insemination

3.42.1

8.310.3

0.028

Estimating calving date

5.46.0

8.010.6

0.192

Note: a=standard deviation

 

Method of insemination is an indicator of the intensity of cattle production. Results showed that 100% of households in Ninh Thuan used natural insemination without control of when this occurs, reflecting the extensive production system. In comparison, in Binh Dinh and Phu Yen only 31% and 22%, respectively of households used natural insemination without control. In these provinces the majority of households used natural insemination with control and a minority used artificial insemination. The source of semen is Zebu purebred or crossbred such as Brahman or Red Sindhi. This explains the high percentage of crossbred cattle in Binh Dinh and Phu Yen (Table 2).      

The breed of bull is an additional indicator of the level of extensive cattle production. In Ninh Thuan the proportion of households using Yellow cattle bulls is 69% and Red Sindhi or cross Red Sindhi make up 31%. In Binh Dinh and Phu Yen a third of households use Yellow cattle bulls and the remainder use crossbred such as Red Sindhi, Brahman, Limousine, and Simmental.

The decision to supplementary feed cattle affects the expression of the genetics and the efficiency of production. Many criteria can be used by farmers to decide when to provide concentrate, including age, sex, season, and purpose of cattle production. In all provinces the raising purpose is the most common criterion upon which supplement is offered. In Ninh Thuan, due to the lower rainfall and the predominance of grazing, the season is another important criterion for offering concentrate.  

Cows and fattening cattle are the priority classes for receiving concentrate. However, the number of households that offer concentrate to cattle is low, and cattle production relies mostly on other available feed resources including grazing, crop residues, and cut and carry.

 

Constraints to cattle production

 

There were numerous perceived constraints to cattle production of surveyed households including lack of capital, breed, feeding, labour availability, diseases, knowledge, and market constraints (Table 7). We acknowledge that constraints to production can be complex, and that farmers’ perceptions of constraints may not completely explain the situation. Capital was the constraint most frequently (69%) identified by farmers as very important. Other constraints such as lack of feed, diseases, and labour were listed as important or very important by just under half of surveyed households.

 

Table 7. Householders’ views on limitations to cattle production in South central coastal Vietnam

Factor

Unimportant (%)

Less important (%)

Important (%)

Very Important (%)

Capital

4

10

17

69

Breed

28

29

30

13

Lack of feed

29

25

28

18

Labour

30

26

27

17

Diseases

30

28

24

18

Technical knowledge

33

41

22

4

Marketing

47

26

14

13

 

Feed for cattle production in South Coastal Central Vietnam can be constrained by a general lack of quantity but can depend on the season and the source of feed. In order to solve this problem, many farmers have adopted solutions such as planting grasses, storing crop residues, offering concentrates, cutting natural grass, and reducing the cattle numbers. Depending on the province, from 41% to 77% of surveyed households stored agricultural by-products. In all provinces approximately 60% of farmers collect and feed natural grass. Supplying concentrate was most commonly reported (55%) by farmers in Binh Dinh. In comparison, a more common way (59%) for farmers in Phu Yen to deal with feed shortages was by cultivating grass. Reducing cattle numbers was a less commonly reported solution to feed shortages (15-20% of farmers). Farmers reported that selling cattle when there were feed shortages results in lower prices, due to the influx of cows on the market.


Conclusions


Acknowledgements

The authors acknowledge funding from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), students from Hue University of Agriculture and Forestry, and staff of the Research and Development Centre for Animal Husbandry in the Central Region. 


References

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Received 14 October 2012; Accepted 3 January 2013; Published 5 February 2013

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