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Citation Information

Type Journal Article - Animal Production Science
Title Smallholder large ruminant health and production in Lao PDR: challenges and opportunities for improving domestic and regional beef supply
Volume 57
Issue 6
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2017
Page numbers 1001-1006
URL http://www.publish.csiro.au/an/an16023
Indigenous yellow cattle (Bos indicus) and Asiatic swamp buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) are important
livestock species in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Laos). Data from 2011 estimated there was a national
herd of 1 586 200 cattle and 774 200 buffalo, with average numbers of 5.3 cattle and 3.4 buffalo per farm household,
indicating that the majority of farm households with large ruminants were smallholders, retaining large ruminants as
a storage of wealth, for sale as meat, and as a source of manure fertiliser. Increasing demand for red meat in both
domestic and neighbouring markets, driven by rapidly growing economies and urbanisation, offers opportunities for
Lao smallholders to gain more income from their livestock. However, improving cattle and buffalo production and
a more sustainable supply of safe beef and buffalo meat, requires that numerous production, health and welfare
constraints be addressed, including: prevalence of important infectious and parasitic diseases, nutritional deficits
particularly in the dry season, undeveloped trading, meat processing and marketing systems, limited veterinary and
extension service capacity, adverse impacts from climate change and cultural practices specific to buffalo husbandry,
plus policy developments that recognise and adapt to changes in land use. Improvements in large ruminant health,
processing and marketing are of particular importance as these will enable poor smallholder farmers to participate in
emerging beef markets and expand other agricultural enterprises, improving rural livelihoods, with potential reductions
in rural poverty and increased food security. This paper identifies the strategic interventions that may increase the
supply of cattle and buffalo and improve rural livelihoods in Laos and the Greater Mekong Subregion.

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