Country Profiles

Inputs sector

Due to climatic variability and arable land devoted primarily to rice production, cattle in Cambodia experience a year-round feed deficiency. During the rainy season (typically from June to November), rice growing occupies a large portion of arable land, cattle are typically tethered and fed with native grasses by grazing along the roadside.

During the dry season (typically December to May), grasses are scarce, and cattle are usually fed with rice straw and tethered on rice stubble. Tree forages such as bamboo or tamarind are sometimes fed to working animals during the cropping period. In both seasons, rice straw provides roughage but is of limited nutritional value to cattle. These feeding regimes are low in protein and high in crude fibre (Devendra & Leng, 2011). Low nutrition limits growth body condition, reproduction and productivity and increases susceptibility to disease (Young et al., 2013).

Nutrition has been identified the single most problem contributing to low productivity of cattle in smallholder systems in Cambodia. Efforts to improve the digestibility of rice straw and improved N intake have not been successful due smallholder perceptions on returns on labour. Planting forages has been suggested for smallholder farmers to improve their cattle production (Miranda et al., 2011) but is also seen as labour intensive.

Cambodian cattle are predominantly Bos indicus and consist of the local breed, Haryana and crossbred (local breed crossed with Haryana), and other breeds such as Brahman. The local yellow cattle, called Gor Srok or Gor Khmer, are most common breed as they are relatively tolerant of low maintenance, poor feed supply and inadequate disease prevention (Serey et al., 2014). The local breed cattle are yellow in colour, having a small hump, and typically mature weight of between 250-300 kg.

Haryana cattle, introduced from India, are tall and narrow framed with a hump, usually white in colour. The Haryana crosses typically reach around 400-450 kg. Crossbreed (Haryana x Local cattle) are found in Kampong Cham, Kandal and other provinces along the Mekong River where forages are abundant year round. Brahman crosses are less adapted to Cambodian conditions as they have higher feed requirements and seem to have poor breeding ability.

Breeding is often from mating of free-roaming cattle where bulls are not selected. The smallholders’ preferred breeding approach is to use selected superior bulls, often sourced from within the village with a fee for service (fee vary between USD4 to USD6.5 per service depending on the area and quality of the bull).

The predominance of the local cattle breed is possibly due to a lack of breeding activities such as artificial insemination and breeding stock selection. Artificial insemination is not popular among Cambodian farmers. Besides, local breeds also receive a higher price which is a disincentive for smallholder farmers to consider breeding (Muniroth et al., 2014).

Cattle production in Cambodia is constrained by trans-boundary animal diseases (TADs) including foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) and haemorrhagic septicaemia (HS). Vaccination is provided or subsidised by the Department of Animal Health and Production (DAHP) Services twice a year.

DAHP and its provincial offices of animal health and production (OAHP) are responsible for animal health services and have the major role in the management of animal health disease outbreaks in Cambodia. Veterinary epidemiological and diagnostic services within DAHP are provided by the National Animal Veterinary Research Institute (NaVRI). The DAHP however has limited transport and insufficient skilled personnel in its central and provincial offices. Furthermore its limited budget is mostly expended on operating State livestock farms and in salaries. Private veterinarians are very few and constrained by a lack of access to vaccines and drugs, inadequate cold-chain facilities, and lack of technical knowledge.

The government has established a system of village animal health workers (VAHW) and a disease control program to support major disease prevention in cattle and buffaloes. The DAHP is represented by a VAHW in almost every village (12,474 VAHWs in 2010) (MAFF, 2013). They work closely with village heads to implement animal health campaigns and activities recommended by MAFF and DAHP. As farmers pay fees for service and drug delivery, the VAHW system is designed to be market-based and and sustainable (Stratton, 2011). . The study conducted by Stratton (2011) suggested that VAHWs had good contact with farmers (61.5% of VAHWs visit more than one farm each day), and high rates of disease reporting (72.5% of VAHWs report diseases immediately and 73.6% report monthly). However, the VSHW income from this work is low, with about half of VSHWs earning 20-40% of their household income, and only 1.1% of VSHWs survive solely from this work. This indicates the unwillingness to pay of farmers for these services.

Scroll Top