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Cattle farmers benefit from project participation: Case Study

Farmers in Phaksi village in Luang Prabang provincial capital are now able to earn more from paddy rice production and the cultivation of fodder for their cattle, thanks to a project to improve biodiversity and the marketing of cattle.
Funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and run jointly with the University of Sydney and the Lao Department of Livestock and Fisheries, the project also aimed to prevent disease among cattle so farmers had more animals to sell. 
This work aims to develop a new approach to parasite control, through the use of medicated nutrient blocks for cattle. In addition to initial ACIAR support, the work is now supported by the Business Partnership Platform project funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Mr Heuan and his brother-in-law Mr Home shared land on which they grew rice and fodder for their cattle, under close supervision from the project.
Throughout the project, Mr Heuan has been working with the University of Sydney and the Lao Department of Livestock and Fisheries to share in the positive changes to his farming practices.
He was even able to quote the exact date that he began taking part in the project when he spoke to University of Sydney PhD student, Nichola Calvani, recently.
“When the project first started I had 13 cattle. Now I have 46,” he said.
This enormous increase in his herd in the last four years was assisted by biosecurity and other training, plus animal management interventions.
“My son was able to study and I was able to sell some cows to pay for his wedding,” Mr Heuan said.
He learnt the importance of biosecurity and vaccinations to prevent disease, which he claimed was the most important factor allowing him to rapidly grow his herd.
Meanwhile, his brother-in-law Mr Home, with whom he shares grazing land for his cattle, has also benefitted from his involvement in the project.
“When the project started I had four or five cows and six buffalo. I sold my buffalo to buy more cattle and I now have 15 animals,” Mr Home said.
This may not seem like a significant increase when compared to that of his brother-in-law, but this figure does not account for the large number of animals that he is now able to sell each year to help provide cash for his young family.
“My cows are now strong and fat, with no disease, so they are worth more money than before,” he said.
Together they now own more land than when they first started working with the project, and Mr Home hopes to invest in growing fodder in the future, having observed the benefits on the farm of his brother-in-law.
The two families have been impressed with their involvement in the Business Partnership Platform project, using both medicated and un-medicated molasses feed supplement blocks to control liver fluke and improve nutrient supply, provided by the Brisbane-based company Four Seasons Pty Ltd.
Since working with the project, they have learnt the importance of controlling for liver fluke and other parasites, particularly Toxocara vitulorum in newborn calves.
They now appreciate the benefits of parasitic worm medication for young calves, increasing their chances of survival, with more calves and increased growth rates.
They also noted that not only has supplementation with the molasses blocks made their animals stronger and healthier, but the cattle now come back from free-grazing in the forest more willingly.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update April 9, 2019)

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