News last update:6 Aug 2012

Hybrid grass to solve cattle feed shortage

A recently developed hybrid grass could be a solution to Vietnam's pressing feed shortage in the dairy industry, experts have said.

The hardy grass, known as VA-06, can be grown on infertile ground in rough weather conditions and is resistant to a high number of pests.

It is nutritious and also highly productive. According to the director of the National Agriculture Extension Centre Tong Duy Khiem one ha of land can produce between 40 and 50 tonnes of VA-06. This figure doubles that of elephant grass, widely believed to be the most productive grass available.

Rising prices of animal feed, already up by 30% last year, means the livestock industry now has to rely on growing grass. Fresh grass is especially important for the dairy industry as the quality of the plant defines the taste of animal's milk.

Education needed
"There are more than 11.5 million grass-eating cattle in the country but it is difficult to find dairy farms with lush pastures," deputy director of the Livestock Breeding Department Hoang Kim Giao said.

One major reason behind this problem is old habits. Many farmers simply send their animals out to graze without thinking about what grass the animals would be best eating.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has set a target to expand grass growing areas to 290,000 ha by 2010 and 500,000 ha by 2020.

It has urged provinces nationwide to assist those farmers who grow grass to raise cattle.

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