Some farms breed local cows or even import bulls from a broad for the purpose of breeding heavier livestock for meat production. One Tbong Khnum farmer has found a more efficient way.
Hout Leang employs artificial insemination to fertilise local cows. Thanks to imported “straws” of foreign bull semen, his original herd of just seven has now produced more than 700 head of cattle, each worth double the price of local animals.
In 2013, the Tbong Khmum Provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries provided him with training in the new technology. His beef cattle business, in Ta Ream village, Chong Cheach commune, Dambae district, has never looked back.
He imported semen from bulls from the US, France and even Thailand, in pursuit of the perfect beef cattle. By 2016, he had produced 38 calves, both male and female. He sold the bulls – along with his local cows – and kept his heifers to breed.
“Back when my herd consisted of just seven local animals, I had the ambition to expand it, but not the technique. Thanks to the agricultural department, I was able to achieve my goal,” He told The Post.
Since 2016, he estimates that he has produced more than 700 head of cattle – 300 of them heifers. All of his calves were the product of artificial insemination.
He added that due to the large number of cows on his one hectare property, he has planted grass to feed his herd, although he supplements it with feed from the market. One again, the agriculture department was on hand to provide expert advice on the most suitable fodder. Leang said he spends almost five million riel a day to buy fodder to supplement the grass diet of his livestock.
Even though their diet is supplemented, merchants are prepared to pay top dollar for his delicious tasting beef, which Leang attributes to the amount of natural grass they consume.
He said that he generally sells his calves when they are from one-and-a-half to two years old, although some of his big bulls are also in demand. He sells between three and ten head of cattle most days, saying that prices start at around 3.5 million riel per animal, although larger specimens typically fetch much more.
“Once my expenses are deducted – including cattle feed, maintenance and the wages of my seven farm hands – I clear around $70 per day,” he estimated.
Heng Piseth, director of the provincial agricultural department, told The Post that the department had run classes on artificial insemination throughout the district.
He claimed that calves produced with this breeding technique grow more quickly and are more disease resistant.
“One local farmer told me that a domestic cow that is left to graze might put on 100kg of weight in a year. These hybrid foreign cattle – combined with supplementary feed – can add two or three hundred in the same period. For beef production, it is hard to argue with these figures,” he said.
“There are almost 100 farmers in the district raising such animals. Most of them are small family farmers – there aren’t many who have a herd as large as Leang,” he added.