Physical environment
 Breeds and breeding
 Importance or cattle and buffa...
 Research and future prospects

Title: Cattle and buffalo production in Vietnam
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00091685/00001
 Material Information
Title: Cattle and buffalo production in Vietnam
Physical Description: Book
Creator: Benya, Edward George,
Publisher: Florida Agricultural Experiment Station,
Copyright Date: 1972
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00091685
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: 313792822 - OCLC

Table of Contents
        Page 1
    Physical environment
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
    Breeds and breeding
        Page 7
        Page 8
    Importance or cattle and buffalo
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
    Research and future prospects
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 21a
        Page 22
        Page 23
Full Text

Gainesville, Florida

.. ) Dairy Science Mi eo Repi1ND4iA72
May 1, 1972

I.F.A.S. Univ. of Florida

E. G. Benyal


The Republic of Vietnam lies between an area 104 to 109 degrees east longi-
tude and 8 degrees 31 minutes to 17 degrees north latitude (Fig. 1). Total
land area is about 171,655 square km. (about 66,200 square miles); with
about 17.8 million people living in 44 provinces (12,15). The country can
be divided into three geographic and agricultural regions termed the Mekong
Delta, Central Lowlands and Central Highlands. Over 12 million people are
farmers operating 42 million acres; most of these operations are in the
Mekong Delta (12) (Fig. 2).

Most cattle and buffalo exist in small family herds containing 1 to 5
animals which are used for work, meat and infrequently for milk (5,15).
The 1969 cattle population was about 940,000 and buffalo, 627,000 (Table 1).
This represents a decrease of 243,000 and 220,000 animals, respectively,
from 1963 (9). The ratio of 66 cattle and buffalo per 1000 people is one
of the lowest in the world; in many European countries this ratio is 250
to 500 per 1000. Even neighboring Cambodia has a much greater ratio,
more than 200 per 1000 (14). This low ratio in Vietnam is due to the fact
that most cattle and buffalo used for work are kept in the Mekong Delta,
where the major agricultural activity is wet land rice culture requiring
much human hand labor, the animals being used only to till the land before
and after each crop.

The quality (i.e. size, conformation, etc.) of the Vietnamese cattle and
buffalo varies greatly from region to region since continuity and intensity
of selection and management vary so greatly over the country (14).


Vegetation palms in the rain forest and wild grasses in the savannah serve
a major nutritive function in this country where organized feed production
for animals is virtually nonexistent (Fig. 1).

Most (60%) of Vietnam originally was forested, but about 50% of the forest
has been cut or burned over and is now in crops and savannah. Low rainfall
areas of Vietnam are naturally maintained in savannah. The common tropical
grass Imperator cylindrica, commonly called "tranh", grows extensively in
these savannah areas and in the young immature stage furnishes a good
cattle and buffalo feed (2,12).

iGraduate research assistant

Gainesville, Florida

.. ) Dairy Science Mi eo Repi1ND4iA72
May 1, 1972

I.F.A.S. Univ. of Florida

E. G. Benyal


The Republic of Vietnam lies between an area 104 to 109 degrees east longi-
tude and 8 degrees 31 minutes to 17 degrees north latitude (Fig. 1). Total
land area is about 171,655 square km. (about 66,200 square miles); with
about 17.8 million people living in 44 provinces (12,15). The country can
be divided into three geographic and agricultural regions termed the Mekong
Delta, Central Lowlands and Central Highlands. Over 12 million people are
farmers operating 42 million acres; most of these operations are in the
Mekong Delta (12) (Fig. 2).

Most cattle and buffalo exist in small family herds containing 1 to 5
animals which are used for work, meat and infrequently for milk (5,15).
The 1969 cattle population was about 940,000 and buffalo, 627,000 (Table 1).
This represents a decrease of 243,000 and 220,000 animals, respectively,
from 1963 (9). The ratio of 66 cattle and buffalo per 1000 people is one
of the lowest in the world; in many European countries this ratio is 250
to 500 per 1000. Even neighboring Cambodia has a much greater ratio,
more than 200 per 1000 (14). This low ratio in Vietnam is due to the fact
that most cattle and buffalo used for work are kept in the Mekong Delta,
where the major agricultural activity is wet land rice culture requiring
much human hand labor, the animals being used only to till the land before
and after each crop.

The quality (i.e. size, conformation, etc.) of the Vietnamese cattle and
buffalo varies greatly from region to region since continuity and intensity
of selection and management vary so greatly over the country (14).


Vegetation palms in the rain forest and wild grasses in the savannah serve
a major nutritive function in this country where organized feed production
for animals is virtually nonexistent (Fig. 1).

Most (60%) of Vietnam originally was forested, but about 50% of the forest
has been cut or burned over and is now in crops and savannah. Low rainfall
areas of Vietnam are naturally maintained in savannah. The common tropical
grass Imperator cylindrica, commonly called "tranh", grows extensively in
these savannah areas and in the young immature stage furnishes a good
cattle and buffalo feed (2,12).

iGraduate research assistant




-16 =1| Rain forest

W H Monsoon forest

I Cleared

"14 Savanna

Mangrave s






a -i ^ - - - --- -- --
Figure 1 Geographic Regions of South Vietnam. (12)
Source: Adapted from Canada,
Surveys, Indo-China,

Figure 2 Vegetation in South Vietnam.

Department of Mines and Technical
A Geographical Appreciation, p. 21.


W ,

0 50 100





______ I~___

Table 1. Cattle and buffalo population, 1969 (9)

Province Cattle Buffalo

Western Section
An-Giang 47,900 1,000
An-Xuyen 100 17,300
Ba-Xuyen 15,000 34,100
Bac-Lieu 3,500 16,200
Chau-Doc 61,200 3,200
Chuong-Thien 5,000 13,100
Dinh-Tuong 20,000 48,000
Go-Cong 1,800 14,300
Kien-Giang 18,700 25,000
Kien-Hoa 10,100 35,000
Kien-Phong 53,000 9,500
Kien-Tuong 3,500 14,000
Long-An 5,200 30,000
Phong-Ding 2,000 4,000
Vinh-Binh 28,000 25,000
Vinh-Long 8,000 21,000
Sa-Dec 8,000 3,000
Total 291,000 314,500

Eastern Section
Bien-Hoa 10,500 10,000
Binh-Duong 19,500 17,000
Hau-Nghia 20,000 30,000
Binh-Long 1,500 1,800
Gia-Dinh 24,000 26,000
Binh-Tuy 1,400 3,000
Long-Khanh 2,100 1,200
Phuoc-Long 400 300
Phuoc-Tuy 6,900 1,200
Tay-Ninh 22,000 25,000
Total 108,300 115,500

Central Lowlands
Binh-Dinh 127,000 14,000
Binh-Thuan 16,000 8,000
Khanh-Hoa 25,000 18,000
Ninh-Thuan 30,000 14,000
Phu-Yen 55,000 10,000
Quang-Nam 38,000 20,000
Quang-Ngai 120,000 24,000
Quang-Tin 41,300 22,000
Quang-Tri 28,000 7,500
Thua-Thien 9,000 30,000
Total 489,300 167,500

Central Highlands
Darlac 11,000 7,100
Kontum 16,000 4,800
Lam-Dong 800 1,300
Phu-Bon 12,800 8,100
Pleiku --- ---
Quang-Duc 1,900 1,400
Tuyen-Duc 9,000 6 300
Total 51,500 29,000
Overall Total 626 500

r | 1

f0 l oo

aa o

over 20


4.'LJ i JI


0 5o 00 200

il iOS i108
__ -_L__!_--

South and North

Figure 4 Mean Monthly Rainfall in South and North
Vietnam, January. (12)

Figure 3 Mean Monthly Rainfall in
Vietnam, August. (12)


Exotic plant species have been introduced and are now under study (as much
as possible) at the various national experiment stations. Especially
important are Para, Bermuda, Napier and Guinea grasses. Legumes, including
Kudzu, Centriola pubescens and Stylosanthes graciles, are also under study
and seem to give many poor soils and drought areas an economic advantage
in cattle and buffalo production (14).

Geographic Regions and Soils. The terrain of Vietnam is very diverse (15).
Soils range from alluvial soils in the Mekong Delta to silts and light red
laterites in the plains and Central Highlands. The essential mineral
nutrients of these soils determine the quality of forage produced and thus
determine the degree to which livestock thrive on forage.

The major soil forming process is laterisation (2). Through this process
fluctuating ground water having a low organic chemical content causes
breakdown of complex silicates in the upper top soil and carries these
silicates to the lower soil levels leaving the top soil composed of high
iron and aluminum clay silts colored red, yellow or brown. These fully
laterised soils have a crumbly, porous structure in natural jungle environ-
ments, but upon direct exposure to air after the heavy vegetation is cleared,
they tend to harden very rapidly and have a structure similar to that of a
well baked brick (2). Fortunately not many soils in Vietnam are completely

The Mekong Delta constitutes 40% (26,000 square miles) of Vietnam's total
land area and contains most of the people (250/square mile) (2). It is the
southernmost section of the country and is the termination point of the
Mekong River. About 50 miles before reaching the South China Sea, the
Mekong divides into two tributaries, the Fleuve Anterieur and Fleuve
Posteueur which again divide (2). Their silt load is spread over the
Mekong Delta yearly during flood season, thus replenishing soil fertility
and making huge rice crops possible. Cropping is carried on according to
the "flood rhythm" (2).

This flood rhythm does not occur in the Upper Delta and soils in the area
.(around Saigon) are extremely poor having been exhausted especially of their
phosphate and potash levels by leaching and cropping. They thus require
extensive amounts of chemical fertilizer (12). Delta soils in general are
sandy and silty in the Upper Delta but become heavier, increasing in their
clay content, as one approaches the sea. Slight phosphate deficiencies are
general all over the Delta and the soil is mildly acid. Organic matter
content is very low everywhere in this region. The best soils are found in
the southwest Delta where the newest deposits from the rivers are located,
because the Delta rivers, besides depositing their silt loads over the Delta,
also serve to extend the area of the Delta. Areas like the Ca Mau Peninsula,
an alluvial spit, are advancing into the South China Sea at a rate of 200
feet per year (2). Other minor sections are advancing at a rate of 250
feet per year (12).

The terrain of the Delta does not reach more than 10 feet above sea level
and saline content of soil is a problem when growing any crop for human
consumption or animal forage.


The Central Highlands, an area of about 9400 square miles, are geograph-
ically the highest areas in the Republic. They constitute the Southern
Chaine Annamtique which begins 50 miles north of Saigon and extends into
North Vietnam, Laos and Tibet (12). Geologically this region has a
crystalline igneous rock base with sandstone on top. It changes to a
limestone base as it moves north toward Tibet (2). Irregular mountains,
some 5000 to 8000 feet high, are found here and the Central Highland
Plateau, an area 200 miles long by 100 miles wide, is a major geographic
feature. It is very sparsely populated by Montagnard people who raise
rice and maize and graze cattle on the native grasses (2). The sandy soils
are not very fertile in the southern section and the red oxisol soils of
volcanic origin vary widely in their fertility, although generally being
low in potassium and calcium, high in iron oxides which may fix phosphate
in the soil making it unavailable to plants, and low in humus due to
oxidation and erosion (12,14). The western and southern slopes of these
regions contain about 5 million acres of good fertile uncultivated land
which would be perfect for cattle and buffalo stocking if satisfactory
security against insurgency groups could be provided. Savannah grasses are
naturally maintained on many of these slopes and plateaus the year round,
because rivers such as the Bla in Kontuim province provide a high water
table. Cattle populations in this region are higher than in the rest of
the country but many areas are still very much understocked (14).

The Central Lowlands consist of a narrow strip of coastal land running from
the Mekong Delta north along the Chaine Annamitique to North Vietnam. The
width of this strip may be as much as 40 miles or as little as a few feet.
The soils vary greatly in their fertility, the poorest being in an area
stretching some 100 miles from the upper end of the Mekong Delta to Mui Dinh
and being composed of dry shifting sand. The most fertile soils lie in a
250 mile stretch from Mui Dinh to Vung DaNang (12). This area is inten-
sively cropped to rice and sugar cane but cattle and buffalo graze the
indigenous forages on the poorer soil and along the mountain slopes (14).
From Vung DaNang to Hue there is little agriculture of any kind because
the Central Lowland strip is narrowest in this area. Some mountains jut
out into the sea (12). The stretch from Hue to the border of North Vietnam
is covered with sand dunes backed by flat fertile land.

Climate. Vietnam has a warm moist climate. The monthly mean temperature of
27 C varies from region to region depending on latitude and physical geogra-
phic features but being greatly affected by the monsoon seasons. There are
six months of wet season and six dry in most parts of the country. The six
month dry season causes pasture grass estivation and forces husbandry
practices to adapt to the flood rhythm (i.e. plant rice before the floods
come and harvest after flooding subsides). Saigon's daily temperature is
normally around 27 C (ranging from 21 to 35); during the summer the expected
thermal increase never occurs due to cooling effects of the monsoon rains
(2). This tempering effect of the summer monsoons is more pronounced in the
Mekong Delta, where there are no mountains, than in the Central Highlands (1).

Rainfall is governed by the monsoon winds. Summer monsoons blow northward
inland from the sea whereas winter monsoons blow southward off of the land to
the sea (12). The winter monsoon causes the dry season which lasts from


October until April in the Central Highlands and from November until March in
the Mekong Delta. Air pressure builds up on the interior land mass and
forces cool dry winds to blow out to sea. This process is reversed during
summer when hot air rising from the Gobi Desert causes moist air to flow
inland off of the South China Sea, bringing torrential rain to the Central
Highlands from May to September (12). Typhoons can arise from these
massive air movements and usually occur from June to November (12).

The profound effect on distribution of precipitation is shown in Saigon's
annual rain distribution (Fig. 3 and 4). Some 2032 mm of rain fall on Saigon
each year but with 1930.4 mm from April to December and only 101.6 mm from
January to March (2). Hue gets the highest total annual rainfall (3251.2 mm)
whereas Mui Dinh gets the lowest Q11.2 mm). These variations are due to
local geographic features and wind currents (12).


Cattle. The cattle are classified into two main types. Yellow Cattle are
so classified because of their resemblance to Chinese Yellow cattle (12).
They resemble the Bos taurus Jersey to a great extent, possessing small light
boned bodies, small ears, a poorly developed dewlap, short thin horns pro-
jecting laterally, a small udder and slender legs with coat color ranging
from yellow to brown (3). A mature bull weighs about 340 kg. with a moderate
hump while the mature female weighs about 250 kg. and possesses little or
no hump (3). Their genetic background appears to be mostly Bos bibos with
some Bos indicus and they are not known to contain any Bos taurus (15). The
mature male measures about 118 cm. at the withers while the female measures
about 112 cm. (3).

The second major type classification is that of Zebu (Bos indicus) which are
long legged animals with greater size and heavier bone structure than Yellow
Cattle. Both sexes of this type have pronounced humps and their coat color
ranges from grey to dark brown. These animals are more a result of importa-
tion of individuals from India than are the Yellow Cattle (12). Both types
are used extensively for meat and work and are being upgraded by crossing
with imported stock so that pure blood lines are disappearing (12).

The background of Vietnamese breeds over the past 70 or 80 years can be
traced to Cambodia. Most imported cattle have come from Cambodia since 1909
(10). When the French colonized this area, they used Cambodia and Laos as
the main source of livestock for the rest of Indo-China which was specifically
used for plantation crops. Cambodian cattle possessed a light body and a
long barrel with long legs. The head was narrow and long with horns that
varied in size and shape but which usually curved forward. Coat color
ranged from cream to black but red-brown was considered the most desirable.
They were generally small, usually standing around 116 cm. at the withers.
They strongly resembled the present Vietnamese Yellow Cattle (16). They
usually were trained to work in pairs and the males castrated to deter sex
drive. From 1930 to 1935 an average of 2003 steers and 185 cows were
imported into Vietnam annually for work purposes. During this same period an
average of 10,363 steers were imported for meat (16).

- 8-

India has been another very important source of breeding stock for Vietnam.
The Ongole, Sindhi, Tharparker, Sahiwal, and Hariana Zebu breeds have been
importAd over the years both to upgrade the indigenous breeds and to be
maintained as pure breeds for work, meat or milk production (15). Red
Sindhi were tried in the mid and late 1930's for milk production. Their milk
in high in quality containing about 4.9% fat, 9.03% solids-not-fat, 3.4%
protein and 4.91% lactose (5), but their use as a pure breed never became
extensive, probably for political rather than biological reasons. Shortly
after their introduction, World War II and then the first Vietnamese Civil
War began.

Bos taurus breeds have been imported over the years. In 1928 Ayrshires
were imported and evaluated at Dalat, a region with an altitude of 1500
meters above sea level. Their milk producing ability was tested and in
general they did not do well (16).

Santa Gertrudis cattle were imported from the United States in the 1960's.
They are kept at the Ban Rang experiment station and are being crossed with
local cattle. No results on these crosses are yet available (15).

The present cattle population consists of two major breeds, Tuy-Hoa and
Chau-Doc. These breeds are a combination of Bos bibos and Bos indicus and
are well adjusted to the climate but breeding and selection are necessary to
improve their work, meat and dairy characteristics (14).

Buffalo. The buffalo of Vietnam belong to the genus and species Bubalis
bubalis. The indigenous breeds predominate in the daily village uses for
work and meat.

The history of Vietnamese buffalo like that of the cattle can be traced
especially to Cambodia and India. Cambodian buffalo were imported about the
same time as Cambodian cattle and their physical characteristics still linger
in the present indigenous breeds. The Cambodian buffalo were upstanding
and long-legged, standing high off of the ground. The horns were symetrical,
curving out, back and up (similar to present Vietnamese breeds). The males
were not castrated as often as were male cattle; thus they could be used for
breeding more-than imported cattle (16). Imported buffalo stood about 120
to 125 cm.at the withers and were seldom used for meat, their main purpose
being work. From 1926 to 1937 an annual average of 3417 head were imported
into what is now the Republic of Vietnam (then known as Annam and Cochin
China). From 1932 to 1935 an annual average of 392 females were imported (16).

A second foreign source of buffalo has been Thailand. Through a 1956 law,
the Saigon Government encouraged importation of Thai buffalo by loaning
farmers up to $VN3500 per animal purchased (5). Although these buffalo were
smaller than native Vietnamese buffalo and did not do work as well, this
program met with success in that it helped the buffalo population of South
Vietnam grow from 220,000 in 1954 to 800,000 in 1964 (12).

As with cattle, India has also furnished buffalo breeds to Vietnam. The
Nili and Murrah breeds have been imported over the years but their numbers
are still quite low (15).



Work. Cattle and buffalo traditionally have been used for work purposes
in Vietnam. Animals imported from Cambodia 30 to 70 years ago had been
raised in small herds of about 10 where they received much individual
handling and were well trained. They were taught to work in pairs so
that when the Vietnamese farmer or plantation owner purchased them he had
a ready made, well trained team with which to plow his land, pull his cart
or move his logs (10,16). In a 1958 study in the village of Khanh Hau,
Long-An province, Hendry found that buffalo being used for work were still
usually kept in pairs (5). Even with cattle, 67% of the households with
cattle owned 2 or more. Bulls to be used for work are castrated while
young, especially if their conformation is good. Castration is believed to
cause faster early growth and thus prepare the bull for work earlier in his
life (14). These animals are used on many small diversified or "combin-
ation" family farms to plow, harrow and roll the fields before planting
(5,8). In the past they were also used to thresh grain, draw water or pull
carts along highways, but these uses are dying out with the advent to
mechanization. Cattle are considered inferior to buffalo for work but are
used if buffalo are unavailable or if the price of buffalo is prohibitive (5).

The buffalo population saw a drastic decline (over 50% in some areas) in
numbers in the early 1950's due to slaughter for meat purposes; by 1954 only
220,000 animals remained in South Vietnam (12). To alleviate this situation
the Government passed a law in 1955 making illegal the slaughter of buffalo
that were less than 10 years old (12). However, this law has been changed
and some buffalo calves are currently being slaughtered for meat (18).

Meat. Buffalo usually are used for meat after their productive work life
is completed. During the French colonial period, cattle were specifically
imported for meat from Cambodia. From 1930 to 1935 the annual average
number of steers imported for beef purposes was 10,363 (16). Today there
are main slaughter houses in each of Vietnam's 44 provinces. Saigon also
furnishes a market place for live cattle and buffalo transactions (9).
Besides this slaughter houses and markets provide market report information
concerning trends in livestock prices from month to month and year to year
(Tables 2 and 3). Prices are provided for each month on the basis of 100
kg. body weight. In 1969 the total cattle slaughter for Saigon and the 44
provincial slaughter houses was 81,128 head. These same houses also
accounted for 34,059 buffaloes slaughtered in 1969 (9).

These provincial markets handle all of the recorded cattle and buffalo
slaughter, but cattle and buffalo exchange markets, both legal and illegal,
exist throughout the country. The illegal "black market" exchange places
have tacit approval of the Saigon Government because they help fill the
demand for meat and thus keep retail meat prices fairly low (13). One such
black market exchange was located in Vinhte in 1969 (Fig. 1). The cattle
were of Cambodian or Vietnamese origin and resembled any of the indigenous
breeds. The market was open on the 10th, 20th and 30th days of each month
and provided 75% of Saigon's beef in 1969. In 1969 the Republic of Vietnam
had limited relations with Cambodia, therefore, these cattle were technically
classified as contraband and their entry illegal. Local Vietnamese cattle

- 10 -

buyers usually paid 50% of the purchase price to the Cambodian farmer
before delivery. The cattle were then collected in groups of 100 in
Cambodia and young boys drove them into Vietnam where their brands were
changed and they were either sold immediately for meat or fattened. They
brought about 60 piasters/pound (about 50C U.S.) live weight in the Saigon
market and the choice cuts about $1.40/pound (U.S.) in the Saigon Central
Market (13).

Many cattle herds (1 to 5 animals) presently are kept by families in the
Mekong Delta and raised specifically for beef. Rice straw and grass
constitute the bulk of the diet and although their quality may not be good
in terms of marbling, finish etc., they help fill demands for beef (5).

Dairy. Dairying is the least important of the three major uses for cattle
and buffalo. It is traditionally not a part of the Vietnamese culture to
consume large quantities of milk and milk products. This attitude is
changing as contact with Western countries increases.

Indigenous cattle, of which the Tuy-Hoa and Chau-Doc breeds are good
examples, provide the bulk of any dairy products consumed in remote
villages (14). Imported breeds of the Zebu species are used in commercial
herds as are Jerseys. These commercial herds usually are located around
the major metropolitan area of Saigon, where fluid milk markets exist (14,15).

Average milk production for all Vietnamese cattle is about 3 to 5 kg/day/cow
with a lactation lasting 180 to 240 days (14). Short lactations of Vietna-
mese cattle are due partly to poor nutrition, poor management and the hot
climate (12). Thus, despite low demands for milk, Vietnam imports 95% of
its commercially sold dairy products (1). Table 4 shows tonnage imports of
three major dairy products for 1962 to 1964 (14).

Table 4. Dairy product imports (tons)
1962 1963 1964

Milk 20,490 19,672 28,180

Butter 151 112 265

Cheese 122 661 83

It is planned to cross imported, genetically superior, stock to indigenous
cattle but due to poor security in some areas, this has been done only on a
limited basis. Small commercial dairies of about 15 cows are found around
Saigon. These dairies are usually operated by people of Indian origin.
Each dairy generally produces, pasturizes and sells milk directly to
consumers at about 30 piasters (26( U.S.) a quart (1). Processed milk
products include "Sweet & Condense" a reconstituted milk product composed
of fat imported from Australia, milk powder from U.S. and coconut oil from
Vietnam. It has been very well accepted by the Vietnamese.

Because of poor security, fluid milk shipments and enforcement of public
health laws are virtually impossible (4,15); thus, public confidence in

Table 2. Prices of live-weight cattle at provincial slaughter-house, 1969 (9)

Overall January to October
1969 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
V.N. $/100 kgs.

12,566 11,862 12,168 14,114 12,839 13,166 12,591 12,541 12,438 12,325 11,875

Southern Region
Western Part


Eastern Part


















13,179 12,012 16,733 14,610 15,000 14,250 13,325 11,625 11,500 11,750 11,750









9,900 9,900 10,500 10,500 10,500
11,821 11,916 12,350 12,781 12,490























10,500 10,500
12,458 12,143






















- 15,000 15,000 14,500 14,000 11,000 11,000 11,500 11,000

Tay-Ninh 12,750 14,000

Table 2. (cont.)

Overall January to October
1969 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
V.N. $/100 kgs.

Central Lowlands


Central Highlands


12,323 13,000 13,333 17,458 14,330 15,000 12,500 12,250 12,500 12,500 12,000

































- 12,000 12,000










- 13 -

Table 3. Controlled livestock slaughterings in Vietnam, 1961-19691

Buffaloes Cattle

Year Head
1961 28,611 64,512

1962 30,246 77,688

1963 35,228 73,959

1964 38,344 68,556

1965 46,779 76,621

1966 48,126 71,901

1967 41,585 75,255

1968 25,601 66,015

1969 34,059 81,128

Month 1968 1969 1968 1969
Jan. 3,174 2,718 6,896 6,449

Feb. 1,672 2,987 4,313 7,070

Mar. 1,565 2,258 3,341 5,992

Apr. 1,998 2,766 4,951 6,686

May 1,800 2,744 4,813 6,296

June 1,467 2,786 4,588 7,099

July 2,214 2,733 5,998 6,851

Aug. 2,265 2,944 6,116 7,024

Sep. 2,379 2,758 6,141 6,849

Oct. 2,302 3,004 6,500 6,912

Nov. 2,313 3,188 6,578 7,218

Dec. 2,452 3,173 5,777 6,682

Directorate of Veterinary and Animal Husbandry


- 14 -

clean, disease-free milk products is not high. Under present security
conditions, reconstituted milk products are the most readily available
dairy products for most Vietnamese.


Livestock and livestock products constitute the second highest source of
farm income in Vietnam. In a 1958 study of the village of Duc-Hoa in Long An
province, Philippine researchers found that the average investment in farm
animals per farm was 4917.5 piasters (about $50) (8). During this same
period the average price of a mature buffalo or cow in Vietnam was about
$VN4000 ($40) and a calf about $VN2000 ($20) (5). This is a large capital
investment when compared to investment requirements for hogs and poultry
and, along with the precarious security conditions, helps explain declines
in the buffalo population from 848,000 in 1963 to 545,000 in 1966, and in
cattle numbers from 1,183,000 to 875,000 (7,12). The rise in buffalo and
cattle numbers from 1966 to 1969 (Table 5) is probably due more to increased
security and not to lower investment cost per animal because the average
investment per buffalo in 1966 was $VN12,000 ($100) and per cow or bull
$VN8,000 ($67) (7,9).

Table 5. Buffalo and cattle numbers, 1963-69.

Year Buffalo Cattle

1963 847,700 1,183,000
1966 545,000 875,000
1969 626,500 940,000

In 1958, Delta farmers specializing in cassava production earned an average
of 718 piasters/year from the sale of livestock and livestock products
whereas those operating diversified farms earned an average of 4568 piasters/
year from livestock. Owners tended to invest an average of 8330 piasters per
farm in their work animals whereas tenants tended to invest an average of
only 2817 piasters (8). Thus, initiative in investment of individual farmers
greatly increased as land tenancy decreased (6).

A local study has shown that 60% of Vietnam village households owned neither
cattle nor buffalo. Only 27% of the households owned cattle and 18% owned
buffalo; only 5% owned both cattle and buffalo (5). Since lease or rental
arrangements can be made for work performed, many small farm households,
which specialize in specific crops like cassava, pineapple, sugar cane or
rice, prefer not to own their own animals, especially since use of these
animals is limited to the planting and harvesting seasons.


Indigenous grass pastures and cereal grain residues (especially rice straw)
furnish the bulk of nutrient requirements for most of Vietnam's cattle and

- 15 -

buffalo. The tropical grass Imperata cylindrica occurs naturally in
Vietnam's savannah areas. Elephant grass (Pennisetum purpureum) and rice
grass also occur naturally (10). These natural pasture grasses normally
estivate during the 4 to 6 month dry season and this causes stocking
problems (14). On some calcium, phosphorous and potassium deficient soils
of the northern Mekong Delta and Central Highlands, these grasses may grow
poorly and growth which results is nutritionally deficient as a livestock
feed (12). Fruits, vegetative matter and by-products from palmitic plants
also furnish cattle and buffalo feed in jungle areas.

Research is concentrating on introducing grasses and legumes with drought
resistance and flood tolerence. Para, bermuda, carpet, napier and guinea
grasses have been tested successfully for various purposes but distribution
and acceptance by farmers is slow (14,17). Stylosanthes graciles is a
newly introduced drought resistant legume which takes a year to establish
and yields well but is undesirable when too mature (14). It does well as
a range feed in medium rainfall areas (17).

The Vietnamese farmer is not accustomed to using feed grains (corn, millet,
sorghum, etc.), protein feeds and minerals as livestock feeds. His live-
stock receive only by-products from crops grown and this explains the
lack of thrift and quality in most Vietnamese cattle and buffalo. When
pastures dry up during the dry season, so do many dairy cattle because of
lack of feed. Some areas in the Delta slowly are adopting the idea of
growing corn or sorghum for livestock during the dry season when rice can-
not be grown in paddies, but this is a slow resocializing process. Local
rations composed of rice bran, water plants, bananas and sugar cane can
provide feed for maintaining cows in milk (5). These rations can change
as local availability of various plant by-products changes. Root crops such
as sweet potatoes are grown extensively for human and livestock feed (12).

During flooding periods, rice straws furnish nutrients to animals which
have migrated to higher altitudes (14). Silage made from excess growth of
grasses during the wet season is required to maintain meat or milk production
during the dry season (14). Composition of several comparable feeds in the
U.S. is shown in Table 6.

Legumes generally do not grow as fast nor produce as much bulk as grass (17).
However, species like Centrosema pubescens, a creeping legume, furnish a
cover crop to prevent erosion during the rainy season plus drought resist-
ance and increased fodder volume during the dry season (14). It can be
used in grass and legume mixtures especially in rainforest areas; Vietnamese
researchers are pleased with its results thus far (14,17).

Commercially processed cattle and buffalo feeds are almost nonexistent in
Vietnam although there are several major feed mills in operation. Balanced
rations containing antibiotics, sulfamides and anti-parasitic drugs are
produced. However, due to cost and transportation difficulties, these
feeds are used mainly by large livestock operations around metropolitan
areas like Saigon (7).

- 16 -

Table 6. Nutritive value of several common feeds1

Dry Digestible
Feed Matter Protein TDN

---------- 7 --------
Para grass (Brachiaria mutica)
hay 90.2 1.9 41.6
pasture 27.8 1.0 14.9
Carpet grass (Axonopus compressus)
hay 90.1 3.6 43.6
pasture 25.0 1.2 16.0
Guinea grass (Panicum maximum) 90.0 2.1 40.7
Napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum)
hay 89.1 3.8 45.4
pasture 22.0 0.7 13.0
Rice hulls 92.0 0.1 99.9
Rice straw 92.5 0.6 41.5

Morrison, F. B. Feeds and Feeding.
Ithaca, New York.

Morrison Publishing Co.,


Rinderpest. Major cattle and buffalo diseases found in Vietnam include
rinderpest, shipping fever, foot and mouth, internal parasites, black leg,
brucellosis, tuberculosis and anthrax (7,14). Rinderpest is by far the
most important of these diseases in terms of annual losses and cost of
control. It is a viral disease. Before 1958 an average of 6000 cattle
alone died from this disease annually (7). Major epidemics occurredin 1926,
1936, 1944, and 1952 when over 10,000 animals died in each of these years
(7). Extensive outbreaks also occurredin 1955 and 1958 (14).

Extensive funds have been allocated toward controlling this disease.
Beginning in 1956, a National Rinderpest Eradication Program reduced annual
losses through use of lapinized (and more recently through use of lyophilised)
vaccines (7,15). Since 1962 annual losses have averaged between 50 and 100
cattle per year (7).

Prior to 1955 rinderpest vaccine was produced from formalized organs of
infected calves. The vaccine was expensive (about $VN40/animal) and immuni-
zation lasted only 4 to 6 months (7). In 1955 the Vietnamese Directorate
of Animal Husbandry Research began preparing attenuated (lapinized) virus
vaccine Nakamura III by passing the virus through rabbits. This vaccine
causes only a mild reaction in animals and imparts an immunity which lasts
3 years (7). Lyophilised (killed virus) vaccine has been prepared since
1958. It has an advantage over lapinized vaccine in that it stores more
easily and is more easily transported, making it easier to treat cattle and
buffalo in remote areas (7).


- 17 -

The Rinderpest Eradication Campaign originally concentrated on primary
infection points in Central Vietnam. Later it spread to marginal infection
regions and frontier areas. When using lapinized vaccine, revaccination is
necessary every 3 years and since 1962 many cattle and buffalo in secure
areas have been immunized. Results show that the disease is now under
control in Quang Tri, Thua Thien, Quang Tin, Quang Ngai, Darlac and Lam Dong
provinces, the primary infection areas of 1956 (7).

Table 7. Animals vaccinated against rinderpest (8).


1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961

Buffalo 48,267 96,611 53,903 125,111 100,636 44,636
Cattle 66,446 217,110 157,719 198,869 202,731 116,535

1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 19671

Buffalo 148,360 109,157 255,174 77,850 138,419 66,542
Cattle 179,340 155,303 269,626 183,270 209,261 100,218

1To November

Values in Table 7 represent vaccination of 37% of all Vietnamese buffalo
and 64% of the cattle from 1956-59; 39% of all cattle and buffalo from 1962-
64; and 35% of all cattle and buffalo from 1965-67 (7).

Other diseases. Shipping fever kills 600 to 1000 cattle and buffalo
annually. No vaccine innoculation is available but treatment is presently
carried on with antibiotics (14).

Foot and mouth disease is not as extensive as in temperate climates. When
animals contract it they seldom die (in 1964 there were 4277 reported cases
of which only one died) but economic losses are due to lost work time of
the animal, loss of weight and lesions on feet (7,14).

Black leg is serious in the Central Coastal Plain Provinces of Binh-Dinh,
Phu-Yen, Khanh-Hoa, Phan-Rang and Phan-Thiet. No extensive vaccination
program is known to be in effect (14). A bacterin vaccine composed of
clostriduim chauvoei and clostriduim septicum has been used successfully in
the United States to impart temporary immunity to young animals 6 to 18
months old, the age at which susceptibility is greatest. Burning of infected
carcasses is of paramount importance in controlling spread of disease spores
into soil and to other animals. Treatment can be effected by use of an
aqueous solution of penicillin and antiserum injected intramuscularly, but
early diagnosis is necessary and this is impossible in most areas of
Vietnam (11).

Some Brucellosis control is achieved by use of a vaccine which is presently
being imported. Plans now exist to produce this vaccine within Vietnam by
1972 (7).

- 18 -

Tuberculosis vaccine is produced by the Pasteur Institute Lut extremely
large quantities of the vaccine are necessary in order to combat Vietnam's
extensive problem (7). However, isoniazid has been successfully used as a
chemotheraputic measure in heavily infested areas of Africa and may also be
successful in solving Vietnam's heavy infestation problem (11). Consider-
ing the size and distribution of infestation, test-and-slaughter and test-
and-segregation methods of control are not very practical.


Managerial systems for cattle and buffalo have run quite a gammut over the
past 80 years. The French tried combining plantation and cattle management
in the Central Highlands west of Phu Ly and Ning Binh. Coffee was the
plantation crop and since green manure was not feasible once the trees were
established, it was determined that animal manure was necessary at a rate
of 30 kg/coffee tree/every 2 years or 20 tons/hectare (10). Therefore, for
each hectare of coffee trees, 6 to 9 hectares of pasture were required for
cattle. This method had only limited success because fodder grass culti-
vation on these poor soils was too expensive.

During more peaceful times a less sedentary more variable type of agriculture
in the remote areas helped establish and maintain savannah areas by means
of "rai", set fires which destroyed old established vegetation and allowed
tropical grasses a chance to become established and used as a livestock
feed (10). Little else in the way of management was ever put into these
remote areas since the land had no official owners and occupation lasted
only about 3 years (10).

Most Vietnam village inhabitants are not extensively involved in animal
production today. A study of social classes has shown that cattle and
buffalo ownership is evenly distributed with no social group holding a
monopoly (Table 8) (5). Those villagers who own cattle or buffalo follow
simple management techniques providing a simple shelter for the animals
near the main house. The animals stay in this shelter at night but are
allowed to roam and graze roadsides and public pastures during the day. No
grazing right fees are exacted (5). Extensive inbreeding of the animal
populations occurs because calves are raised and kept in the same herds
upon reaching maturity. Offspring are usually very small when born because
females are bred too early in life. They usually have their first calf by
18 months of age (14). It doubtless would be better to breed them at 18
months and have them calve by 27 months. The diet usually consists of plant
material. Seldom are any concentrates fed.

Large scale cattle production is centered around Saigon where it provides
fresh meat and milk for local population. These operations also provide a
reliable, supplemental source of food when supply lines are cut due to war.
They also serve to upgrade local livestock by importing genetically superior
individuals. Introduction and demonstration of modern technology is another
advantage of these large scale cattle and buffalo operations (15).

- 19 -

Table 8. Ownership of cattle and buffalo, by socio-economic class,
Village of Khanh Hau, 1958 (5)

Upper Class Middle Class Lower Class All Classes
Ownership No. % No. % No. % No. %

Buffalo only 2 16.7 4 22.2 6 8.6 12 12.0
Cattle only 3 25.0 3 16.7 16 22.9 22 22.0
Buffalo and cattle 2 11.1 3 4.3 5 5.0
Neither 7 58.3 9 50.0 45 64.3 61 61.0

Total 12 100.0 18 100.0 70 100.1 100 100.0

- 20 -


Cattle and buffalo science-related research is carried on at several
stations. Extension stations at Hung-Loc, Banmethuot and Phan-Rang are
responsible for testing and introducing new pasture grasses. Para, napier
and guinea grasses were originally tested at these stations (14).

Specific cattle and buffalo research is carried out at the Tan Son Nhut
Livestock Experiment Station. American Santa Gertrudis cattle were intro-
duced here and tested for beef purposes. The artificial insemination
bureau for the surrounding area is also located here. Research on better
A.I. methods and education of A.I. technicians is carried on. This station
will be closed shortly (1,14).

Ben Kat is the site of the old National Agriculture College and the center
for most dairy research. Importation and testing of Australian Jersey cattle
first occurredhere (1).

The Ban Rang Experiment Station, under the direction of Dr. Tung, maintains
a herd of 50 or 60 cattle. The hot, dry climate affords a good environment
for testing new pasture grasses. It was here also that imported Santa
Gertrudis beef cattle were allowed to run and mate with the local herd (1).


The potential growth of the cattle and buffalo industry in Vietnam will
depend on genetic merit which can be introduced into the indigenous cattle
populations. Although temperature extremes are not too great throughout
the country, extremes in atmospheric and terrestrial moisture make the
indigenous breeds and types (Tuy-Hoa and Chau-Doc) extremely important at
present because they are acclimatized to these extremes. In countries with
similar climatic extremes (India and Taiwan), research has shown that
imported breeds (Jersey, Holstein, Sindhi, Santa Gertrudis cattle, Nili and
Murrah buffalo) crossed to the indigenous breeds have resulted in animals
that withstand local disease and climatic changes while producing high
enough levels of meat and milk to give local farmers a competitive edge
over imported products. Government initiative in importation and research
on foreign breeds is a commendable step in the proper direction.

The growth of this industry will also depend on the degree to which concen-
trate feeds can be used to improve production levels of these crossbreds.
Only recently have Vietnamese farmers begun growing concentrate livestock
feeds (corn, millet, sorghum, etc.) in their rice paddies during the dry
season when rice could not be grown. These livestock feeds provide a
residual source of income for crop farmers while supplying raw materials
to an infant livestock feed industry. To further growth of this feed
industry, investment in feed processing mills is necessary. These mills will
be absolutely necessary to specialized dairy operations near metropolitan
areas that will operate on limited acreages and probably purchase most of
their feeds. These feed mills will be an important tool in preventing and
controlling disease by incorporating antibiotics and drugs in the feed
mixtures. This is only done on a limited scale today.

- 21 -

Improved security also will be a key in encouraging growth. Cattle and
buffalo require a relatively high investment per animal when compared to
hog or poultry operations. Capital investment, on a scale which will
maximize livestock production through maximum utilization of available
raw materials, will be made only when dangers from insurgency or foreign
invasion are minimized. Improved security would also serve in improving
transportation of feeds and other raw materials along existing routes and
thus encourage specialization (i.e. milking operations, feed lots, feed mills,
feed additives, etc.) in various fields of the cattle and buffalo industry.

Three levels of cattle and buffalo production will probably evolve. The
first has already begun around Saigon and will spread to other large cities
like Hue and Da Nang. It will entail specialized cattle operations of from
10 to 25 cows for dairy purposes on small acreages of 2 to 10 acres with
most or all of the feed being purchased from rural areas and commercial mills.
A modern veterinary service for disease control and prevention at moderate
cost will have to be available. Skilled labor to handle duties involved in
dairy operations will also be necessary. Thus education of the labor force
will be of paramount importance before specialization can get underway.

A second level of cattle and buffalo production already exists in the Mekong
Delta where animals are secondary, being used mainly for work. Although
machines have begun replacing these animals, family livestock, especially
buffalo, will remain important in cropping operations for at least 10 or 20
years. Commercial feeds and veterinary services will bring a boom to this
aspect of the industry by improving livestock health and quality.

The third level of cattle and buffalo production virtually does not exist
at present. It will entail more extensive management in remote areas of
the country, especially in the Central Highlands, by grazing much of the 5
million acres of unused grasslands of Vietnam. Some of this land can be
intensively cropped to livestock concentrate feeds and silage operations.
Silage will be necessary to counter effects of the dry season, but good soils,
inexpensive real estate, sparce human population and good quality indigenous
grasses will make these extensive operations economically feasible. Of the
three levels of cattle and buffalo production here-in anticipated, this
level will require the greatest security against insurgency and criminal


The author wishes to express his appreciation to Dr. W. J. Payne under whose
supervision this study was originally prepared; Dr. H. H. Head, Dr. H. L.
Popenoe, Dr. H. H. Van Horn, Dr. J. J. Ewel, Dr. R. B. Becker, Mr. T. T. Toan,
Mr. D. D. Thien and Mr. L. A. Chow, whose critiques and comments helped make
the text far more coherent and readable. Special thanks go to Dr. C. J.
Wilcox who originally proposed publication of the work and who has handled
technical aspects of publication, and to Dr. J. W. Carpenter whose expertise
and photographic work were an invaluable aid.

Indigenous cattle of Vietnam being
used for work. Their blood lines
contain about 80 or 90% Bos indicus
and 10 or 20% Bos bibos (1).




,. r
- li9eE:-

Vietnamese buffaloes and calves
(Dr. James W. Carpenter)

I i~~i *i J

VX 92
~ ~~1


- ..io i

Self propelled tractors used in some cropping operations where
buffalo were once used (Army Reporter U.S.A.R.V. 6:35,
31 August 1970).

L. -_

,, ,-


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23 -

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