Illustrative image (Source: VNA)
HCM City (VNA) - The HCM City Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has advised dairy farmers having cows with low milk yields to switch to higher-yield cows or oxen for their meat.

The city, which has the largest number of dairy cows in the country, has begun a programme to support farmers make the switch.

Farmers who decide to breed oxen will get subsidies for artificially inseminating their cows to produce hybrid oxen that yield large quantities meat.

The hybrids can reach weights of 380-400 kilo with 18 months.

As of last July the city had more than 95,000 milch cows - with Cu Chi, Hoc Mon and Binh Chanh districts accounting for the largest numbers - down 2 percent year-on-year, according to the department.

The decline has been attributed to dairy companies in the city reducing their purchase of fresh milk.

Vinamilk, for instance, has this year increased quality standards for the milk it buys.

The company has informed farmers that next year it will only sign contracts to buy milk from those who have more than five cows, and that number will rise to more than eight in 2018.

Last year the city had more than 2,700 households with less than five cows.

Le Van Tam, a farmer in Cu Chi District’s Thong Tay Hoi Commune, said: “Now farmers only increase their dairy cow herd if they have signed a contract with a dairy processing company.”

In Cu Chi, around 1,200 farmers have switched from dairy cows to oxen, according to the Cu Chi District Farmers Association.

Le Thi Thanh Huyen, who has two oxen farms with more than 400 head in Cu Chi’s An Nhon Tay and Nhuan Duc communes, said her family has been breeding hybrid oxen with high meat yields since 2007.

But the price of beef has reduced to around 64,000 VND a kilogramme because of the large import of oxen for meat, resulting in lower profits from raising oxen, she said.

Oxen breeding has been widespread in Cu Chi for many years, but farmers have not benefited from a city programme to provide soft loans for raising economically viable livestock, which does not cover oxen.

District authorities have petitioned the city that farmers switching to oxen should be provided the loans.

The city plans to have around 100,000 head of dairy cattle by 2020, with each animal yielding an average of 7,700kg of milk a year (or 21kg a day), up 33 percent from 2010, according to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

There will be 30,000 oxen supplying 10,000 tonnes of meat.

It also expects the cows to calve 25,000 – 30,000 cows and 7,000 oxen a year.

The city will apply Vietnamese good agricultural practices (VietGAP) in breeding dairy cows.-VNA