Animal Production Science Animal Production Science Society
Food, fibre and pharmaceuticals from animals
RESEARCH ARTICLE

The impact of best practice health and husbandry interventions on smallholder cattle productivity in southern Cambodia

J. R. Young A , L. Rast A , S. Suon B , R. D. Bush A , L. A. Henry C and P. A. Windsor A D

A Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Camden, NSW 2570, Australia.

B Department of Animal Health and Production, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

C Faculty of Agriculture and Environment, University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW 2050, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email: peter.windsor@sydney.edu.au

Animal Production Science 54(5) 629-637 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/AN13033
Submitted: 28 January 2013  Accepted: 4 June 2013   Published: 2 July 2013

Abstract

Future food security has become a major global concern and is particularly important in the Greater Mekong Subregion where several countries have seen rapid urban economic development and increasing demand for red meat. In Cambodia, the majority of livestock producers are subsistence or semi-subsistence rural smallholder farmers using cattle as a source of protein, fertiliser, draught power, and asset storage. Potential income from smallholder cattle is limited by a range of factors that compromise productivity, including endemic diseases, poor nutrition, and lack of knowledge of husbandry techniques and marketing practices. To address the developing opportunities to improve rural incomes from cattle production in Cambodia, a 4-year longitudinal study was conducted to examine ‘best practice’ interventions that could improve productivity and profitability of cattle within smallholder farming systems. The study involved six villages from three provinces, with two villages in each of the provinces of Takeo, Kandal and Kampong Cham paired and designated as either high intervention (HI) or low intervention (LI). A best practice intervention program was introduced to the HI villages to develop the husbandry skills of farmers, including implementation of forage technology, disease prevention through vaccination for foot-and-mouth disease and haemorrhagic septicaemia, deworming, and education in nutrition, biosecurity, disease control, and marketing. Between April 2008 and February 2012, eight repeat-measures capturing data on animal health and production, including cattle weights used to evaluate the impact of interventions on average daily gains, were completed. Cattle in HI villages had significantly (P < 0.01) higher mean liveweight during the last three sampling periods, and average daily gains were 2.4 times higher than in cattle of the LI villages. This study provides evidence that best practice interventions resulted in improved cattle productivity, farmer knowledge and positive impacts on household income over time, offering a pathway that can address food security concerns and more rapidly alleviate rural poverty in the GMS.

Additional keywords: average daily gain, extension, food security, foot-and-mouth disease, forage development, haemorrhagic septicaemia, rural poverty, South-East Asia, weight gain.


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