The pattern of livestock ownership in Vietnam varies with the agricultural zone. However, in all areas, swine are the most important animals, with most farmers owning some heads of swine. Ducks and chickens are widespread, with ducks present in large numbers in the Mekong River Delta. In the south the role of buffaloes is decreasing as farmers are unable to allocate land to support them.
Livestock especially swine are kept as a form of savings and provide a return in excess of bank interest rates.
Constraints to livestock production in Vietnam
The following are the major constraints to livestock production in Vietnam: (1) nutrition; (2) animal health; (3) animal productivity; and (4) extension of information to producers
Most livestock kept by small scale farmers are fed on crop by-products and are kept in pens near the farmer's house. Virtually no land is set aside for fodder production, nor is grazing land available with the exception of the mountainous areas. The provision of adequate nutrition to livestock is a problem for farmers as the cost of prepared feeds is high in comparison to the farmer's income. Alternative feed production systems are being developed at the University of Tropical Agriculture near Ho Chi Minh City in association with FAO. These include the production of duck weed in ponds, the use of fodder trees and alternative systems for the processing of crop by-products.
Commercial feedmills are being developed by private feedmills using locally available and imported ingredients to produce balanced diets for swine and poultry. An ACIAR project is also examining the constraints to production with respect to nutrition.
Disease poses a large problem to successful livestock production. This area is not well developed in Vietnam. With the change from local to exotic breeds, the situation is expected to become more apparent. Duck plague for example may kill up to 95% of ducks in a flock during an outbreak.
The indigenous pig appears to be relatively disease-resistant and tolerant of poor feeding. However, it was developed for a market where fat was highly prized and are therefore fat. This is an inefficient use of available feed and a number of alternative cross-bred types of swine and systems for their production have been developed. Its aims are to reduce fat to lean ratios, increase fertility and improve feed conversion and growth rates. Production- and fertility-tested boars are sold farmers from government breeding farms. However, they usually are sold to the larger and more developed farms.
Several problems exist with the use of crossbred swine. These include increased disease susceptibility and a decreased ability to survive in periods of nutritional stress. This means that exotic and crossbred swine require a higher level of care than indigenous swine.
Similar breeding programmes are being carried out for chickens and ducks with the aim of developing stable crossbred animals for distribution to farmers.
This study does not attempt to quantify any of the limitations to production.
Government policy for livestock development
As the income of the population increased, so did the demand for meat and milk. However, this demand is not met from local sources.
The Government aims to increase livestock production from 26% to 30% of total agricultural production. To do this, focus is on two areas: (1) development of the dairy industry through use of the Red Sindhi breed; and (2) development of the pig industry through cross-breeding programmes using exotic breeds.
The policies to achieve these aims are (1) the development of government breeding stations and (2) development of the government extension service
Both areas are being developed using a combination of government and external resources. The extension component is regarded as underfunded to achieve the goals set and acts more to provide a focus for the collection of information.
Programmes for increasing the diversity of the agricultural sector to make use of regional variation in conditions are being developed. In addition the need for market development is recognised. Livestock disease is regarded as a major constraint to livestock production.