|Prolonged hot weather has made grass and other natural feed scarce for livestock in Ninh Thuận Province. – VNA/VNS Photo Nguyễn Thành
NINH THUẬN — Farmers in Ninh Thuận Province, which has the largest number of cattle and sheep and goats in the country, are struggling to find natural food for their animals since prolonged hot weather has parched their pastures.
The south-central province has head of 401,525 cattle, sheep and goats, according to its Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Most are bred outdoors and on a small scale and allowed to feed on pasturelands.
Natural grass fields and agricultural by-products on average only meet 35 per cent of their needs, according to the department.
The prolonged hot weather since early this year has worsened things.
Đinh Văn Hùng, who raises nearly 500 sheep in Bác Ái District’s Phước Trung Commune, said he has to buy rice straw and dig ponds for them.
During the peak dry season last year, 20 sheep died due to lack of food and water, he said.
The dry season normally lasts between December and August.
The province has good conditions for animal husbandry though climate change has been having an impact on it in recent years.
Trương Khắc Trí, head of the province’s Sub-department of Animal Health and Husbandry, said to protect livestock in the dry season this year, animal health and husbandry stations in districts have been told to instruct farmers in safeguarding them.
The sub-department has told farmers not to increase the size of their herds and sell market-sized and old animals if they cannot secure food and water for them.
It has also instructed them to take special care of mothers and babies and give all their animals additional food like bran, corn flour and molasses.
The animals should not be allowed to graze outdoors during the hotter times of the day to ensure they do not dehydrate and become sick, it said.
In recent years, the province has encouraged farmers to raise livestock on a farm scale.
It has helped them set up co-operatives and tie up with companies to ensure there is stable demand for their livestock.
It has encouraged farmers to use low-yield rice fields to grow grass instead to feed their livestock and develop animal husbandry sustainably.
The province plans to have 240,000 goats and 456,000 sheep by 2020, according to the department.
As of last year, the numbers were 137,000 and 160,000. VNS