The objective of this field questionnaire survey was to describe the productivity and socio-economic profile of dairy cattle farmers amongst rural smallholder communities in northen Vietnam. Vietnam considering regional differences in rural smallholder farming communities which have been targeted by a governmental dairy development policy. Using two stage-cluster sampling, a total of 99 dairy farming households (per commune) in Ba Vi district, Ha Tay Province, northen Vietnam. The results from this study indicate that there were regional differences in relation two basic management practices such as effective utilization of agricultural by-product for feeding and hygiene practices. These can be explained by variation amongst the regions with respect to environmental factors affecting agricultural activities such as constraints on land use and access to water resources. There were also regional differences in the use of governmental support such as agricultural extension services and financial institutions. These can be attributed to proximity of the communities to each of extension institutions as well as the phased and community-specific approach to the provision of governmental financial support for daily development.
Keywords : Dairy cattle, Questionnaire interviews, Smallholder, Vietnam.
The Vietnamese government has developed a policy aimed at the expansion of dairy cattle production in order to satisfy the demand for dairy products in urban areas such as the capital city of Hanoi and alleviate poverty amongst rural smallholder communities.(Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development, 2000). There is relatively little published information on most aspects of dairy production at the smallholder level in Vietnam. One of the few household and animal health baseline surveys was conducted by a European Union Project in Ha Tay Province (Anon., 2001). These survey findings need to be interpreted carefully, as the sampling methods used were not described explicitly or might not be correct statistically.
The objective of the current study was to profile smallholder farming communities in which the Vietnamese government’s dairy development policy was being implemented, particular emphasis was placed on testing the hypothesis that there were regional differences in relation to dairy cattle productivity and socio-economic characteristics.
- Materials and methods
2.1. Study area
The main cattle production system in this area has been based for many years on the Vietnamese Yellow Cattle breed which was kept for fattening, draught power and manure production. The area has a mean annual temperature of 21.5 C with minimum and maximum averages of 16.4 C in January and 28.9 C in July, respectively. The area receives an average of 1500-1600 mm of rain per year. Grass growth is normally year round but limited during the dry, cool months in October to February (Holland et al., 2000; Anon., 2005).
2.2. Location of study area
Based on geographical characteristics, the 32 communes were divided into three groups as follow : Delta (12 communes in the north of the district), Unplad (13 communes in the middle) and Mountain area (7 communes in the south). The delta area is considered more suitable for dairy cattle farming than the other two areas because of abundant supply of water and grass throughout the year (Nguyen, 2001).
2.3. Selection of study area
Using two-stages cluster sampling, 9 out of 32 communes in Ba Vi District, where diary cattle farming had been developed prior to this study, were randomly selected as primary sampling units. For the selection of the secondary sampling units, staff from the DVS provided access to a register of the agricultural households in each of the selected communes. Eleven dairy farming households were randomly recruited from the register of each of the 9 communes, resulting in a total of 99 dairy households. Of these households, 44 were from delta area, 33 from unplad area, and 22 from mountain area. These sample size were sufficient to detect differences of at least 1.00 standardised unit among the three areas, assuming a standard deviation within each group of 0.85, a statistical power of 80% and a significance level of p < 0.05, when using the Tukey=Kramer adjustment for unequal sample sizes (Pairwise)multiple comparison test.
2.4. Questionnaire and interviews
A comprehensive Questionnaire was designed to obtainbasic information about the households. Major sections of this Questionnaire study were on characteristics of the dairy cattle population, basic management practices, knowledge, and institutional support received in diry farming production. In order to describe farmers’ knowledge.they were asked 1) whether they could list clinical symptoms of cows suffering from mastitis, 2) what mastitis prevention measures they used before milking (no specific symptoms, methods or measures were mentioned by the interviewer so as not to influence the farmers) and 3) whether they could describe an observational method for oestrus detection. The commune-based animal health workers also guided the interviewers to the households. The average duration per house holds interviews was 40 min.
2.5. Calculation of risks
The peri-natal mortality risk was calculated as the number of both, stillbirths at > 270 days of gestation and deaths of calves during the first 24 h of life divided by the total number of calves born. Calf morality risk was estimated as the number of deaths amongst calves between 24 h and one year of life divided by total number of calves born alive.
2.6. Census statistics
The numbers of dairy frming households and dairy cattle (categorized by age group)in each commune were provided by the DVS, based on official monthly census statistics. These data were used to access the representativeness of the dairy farms included in the study with respect to the number of dairy cattle per households.
2.7. Data analysis
The focus of the analysis was on producing overall descriptive statistics as well as describing the differences between the three dairy farming households group. This information was also used to determine whether the data were normally distributed. If the variable was not normally distributed, the median instead of mean was used to describe continuous scale variables. Univariate analyses were conducted using person’s chi-squared statistic for comparison of categorical factors, and kruskal=wallis test for comparison of continuous scale variables between the three geographical areas. Exact probability test of significance were used when the assumptions of standard asymptotic methods were not met. Multiple comparison test using Bonferroni’s correction (Dawson and Trapp, 2001) were performed for both categorical and continuous data to determine which groups differed when differences existed amongst the three groups.
3.1. Description of study population
On average, the household heads were 45 years old(range 19-78 years old)and had to look after five household members (range 2-9 people), including themselves. The majority owned small areas of land (mean 0,51 ha; 0,03-2,76 ha)and small numbers of livestock [e.g. buffalos (mean 1,4;range 1-5), non dairy cattle(mean 1,4; range 1-4) and pigs (mean 4.9;range 1-30)]. None of the households owned pasture land and most of the forage fed to dairy cattle came from native pasture cut along roadsides and river banks. The percent ownership, mean number and range of different livestock species kept other than dairy cattle were as follows (households not owning a particular livestock species were excluded from the calculation): buffaloes 9%; pigs 60%; chickens 26%; ducks 1%; fish farming 35%.
3.2. Results of univariate analysis
Five different institutions provided training courses or workshops for dairy farmers. Frequency and content of extension delivery differed between institutions, but this variation was not considered in the following analyses to focus on farmers’ experience in training participation. There were significant differences among the three area farmers with respect to the likeliholid of obtaining training from four of the institutions, except for the Ba Vi Cattle and Forage Research Centre. Several financial government institutions were involved in supporting dairy farming in the study area. Terms and loan conditions differed between institutions. Mountain area farmers were significantly less likely to have received government lon for dairy development than the other two groups. The cows in the mountain area produced significantly less milk than those in the other areas. Abortion, peri-natal mortality, and calf mortality risks during the yearleading up to the interview date were reported by farmers as being very low. On average, the cows were 60 month of age, had been present on the farm for 36 months and had calved twice on the farm.
The agreement between the present study findings and the government statistics indicated that the monthly government reporting systems on dairy cattle numbers in the study areas collected accurate information. The dairy farmers from the mountain area utilised agricultural by products more commonly. This is surprising since the adverse agro-ecological nd terrain conditions in this area are likely to result in lower crop production , making lower quantities of agricultural by products available as feeds for livestock.as these farmers only have limited experience in dairy husbandry, they are likely to under estimate the amount of water required by crossbred dairy cattle due to the poor adaptation of these exotic breeds to hot environments compared with indigenous cattle, calving interval in the study population of cows was not a constraint to productivity. As the years of involvement in dairying of most study farmers was short, they might not have faced serious problems with long calving interval.
The fact that milk productivity of the cows in the mountain area was significantly lower is likely to be linked to the differences in the breed distributions of the study cows between the areas. Reproductive performance and calf survival in the study daiyr farms appear acceptable. However it has to be recognized that for a smallholder dairy farmer any loss with respect to reproductive performance or milk production can have immediate economic consequences that can only be compensated if they have sources of income other than dairy cattle. In addition, it would be possible that farmers provided based information with lapse of memory about reproductive performance
Overall, productivity appeared to be more than satisfactory in the study population during the study period. There were differences among the three geographical areas in relation to basic management practices such as utilization of agricultural by products for feeding and hygiene practices.These can be explained by differences amongst the three geographical areas with respect to environmental factors affecting gricultural activities such as a constraint on land use and access to water resources. They may also have caused some of the observed productivity differences. There were also differences in the use of governmental support such as agricultural extension services and financial institutions. These can be attributed to variation in proximity of the three dairy farming groups to each of the extension institutions nd a phased or community-specific approach to the financial support for dairy development by the local government.