Overview Objectives

Cattle and buffalo are an important part of agricultural systems in Lao PDR, accounting for approximately 20% of agricultural GDP. Ninety five percent of the two million cattle and buffalo in Lao PDR are owned by rural households that farm on a subsistence basis. Livestock provide these families with draught power, nutrition and cash income. However production increases to help smallholders access markets servicing the growing 3% annual demand for livestock meat across Asia are constrained by entrenched diseases, poor feeds and subsistence-based husbandry practices. By examining current practices and knowledge for livestock diseases and husbandry, including through farmer participation, and with reference to complementary projects on disease control in the Mekong, a best practice approach will be developed to improve livestock productivity, potentially increasing marketing opportunities for smallholder livestock producers. Project activities will also operate in conjunction with the Department of Livestock and Fisheries, and collaborate with the Asian Development Bank’s Northern Region Sustainable Livelihood through Livestock Development Project.

Progress Reports (Year 1, 2, 3 etc)

This project aims to contribute evidence of effectiveness of methodologies that improve the profitability of large ruminant production in Laos. Interventions that are accepted and can be implemented by smallholder farmers in the areas of health, nutrition, reproduction and marketing are being researched. The project is working in six villages located in the three northern Lao PDR provinces of Luang Prabang, Houaphan and Xieng Khuang. National, provincial and district government staff are working closely with village farmers to implement the project. International experts in different fields of large ruminant production are contributing to the project. They are based with CIAT, UoS, CSU and private consultants.
Activities in the first year were directed at establishing the project and included refurbishing a central project office in Luang Prabang, appointing project staff, selecting the 6 project villages and enrolling the participating households in these villages. Of importance is that the project is implemented in close collaboration with the ‘Northern Region Sustainable Livelihood through Livestock Development Project’, also known as the Livestock Development Project (LDP) for the northern region. The offices of the LDP and our project are co-located with PASFOI in Luang Prabang, and the project leader of the LDP is also the Lao project leader of our project. This offers immediate opportunities for our research to be extended to the LDP and inclusion of LDP staff in our training programmes.
Knowledge of disease limitations to large ruminant production have been confirmed (Objective 1) through identification of gaps in large ruminant disease diagnosis and reporting. Targeted disease surveillance has commenced at the six project sites, with foot and mouth disease (FMD) and haemorrhagic septicaemia (HS) identified as the major concerns to biosecurity and trade. Liver fluke disease due to Fasciola gigantica in adult buffalo and cattle and Toxocara vitulorum in calves have been identified as production diseases of concern, with dermatitis (cause unknown) also identified as a disease that may limit large ruminant production.
Implementation, testing and demonstration of interventions effects on productivity (Objective 2) have progressed.
Collection of three monthly baseline productivity data has occurred twice (December 2008 and March 2009) in the six project villages.
All animals enrolled in the project in the six project villages have been vaccinated against FMD and HS in December 2008. An outbreak of FMD in Xieng Khuang, shortly after vaccination, demonstrated the effectiveness of vaccination, with significantly less animals becoming sick or dying in the vaccinated villages.
Calves were treated for toxocariasis in three of the project villages in December 2008.
Forage plots to improve cattle and buffalo nutrition will be upgraded by the start of the wet season in May/June 2009 in three project sites.
The attitudes of farmers to health, husbandry and market issues (objective 3) has been assessed through the first of three farmer knowledge surveys in all project villages between December 2008 and January 2009. All households with cattle or buffalo enrolled in the project were interviewed. Results indicated limited knowledge of ‘best practice’ large ruminant production issues by farmers.
Knowledge of the large ruminant supply chain and key drivers in the targeted communities (Objective 4) has been assessed through a survey of ten traders associated with the six project villages in February 2009. Three traders each were interviewed in Houaphan and Xieng Khuang and four in Luang Prabang province.
Additional funds were obtained from the Australian Crawford Fund to support a series of seven short workshops for project staff in areas of large ruminant production. Three workshops were held in Luang Prabang: a 2-day workshop introducing the project to participants in September 2008, a 2-day animal health workshop in February 2009 and a 3-day large ruminant nutrition workshop in April 2009. Future workshops will cover biosecurity, extension methods, reproduction husbandry, economics and marketing.
Two final year veterinary and two animal science honours students from the University of Sydney have commenced projects within the project, adding value to the research outputs. The current projects 2009 include:
Survey of farmer knowledge of biosecurity, risk of transmission of trans-boundary diseases and large ruminant health and production in 3 provinces of northern Laos: data collection completed in February 2009.
Prevalence of Toxocara vitulorum in large ruminants less than 6 months of age in 3 provinces of Northern Laos: data collection completed in January 2009.
A survey of buffalo livers in Northern Laos and faecal samples from project villages to determine the prevalence and significance of Fasciola gigantica infection: data collection in April 2009.
One PhD project entitled: ‘Studies on gastro-intestinal parasites of clinical importance to large ruminants in northern Lao PDR, with special reference to Toxocara vitulorum.

This project is researching methodologies that improve the profitability of large ruminant production in Laos to provide an opportunity for smallholder farmers to increase their household income. By a participatory approach interventions that are accepted and can be implemented by farmers in the areas of animal health, nutrition, reproduction management and marketing are being researched. The project is working in six villages located in the three northern Lao PDR provinces of Luang Prabang, Houaphan and Xieng Khuang. National, provincial and district government staff are working closely with village farmers to implement the project. International experts in different fields of large ruminant production are contributing to the project. They are based with UoS, CIAT, CSU and private consultants.
Activities in the second (of four) year were focused on continued training of the district government staff and farmers in best practice health and husbandry topics, three monthly production data collection in the six project villages and continued implementation of the proposed interventions, particularly in nutrition, animal health and biosecurity.
The project works in close collaboration with the ‘Northern Region Sustainable Livelihood through Livestock Development Project’, also known as Livestock Development Project (LDP). This is a very large development project being implemented in five northern provinces of Lao. The Lao project leader of the LDP is also the project leader of the ACIAR project, enabling our research to be immediately extended to the LDP by inclusion of LDP staff in our project training programmes.
Implementation, testing and demonstration of interventions effects on productivity (Objective 2) are continuing.
Collection of the three monthly baseline productivity data occurred an additional three times (July, October 2009 and Jan-April 2010) in the six project villages. Five data collections of the set of 10 in original project planning have been completed to date.
All animals enrolled in the project in the six project villages continued to be vaccinated against HS bi-annually. FMD vaccination was conducted in late 2008 but could not be continued in 2009 due to inability to source vaccine. This is being resolved and it is anticipated to resume by mid 2010 in the two project villages of Xieng Khuang, the only province of the project area where FMD have been reported over the last few years.
Young calves were treated for toxocariasis throughout the year in one of the project villages in each province and farmers are now reporting a decrease in calf mortalities. A preliminary study via a UoS honours project on Toxocara in 2009 confirmed the need to extend these studies on the role of Toxocara in calf mortality and morbidity and conduct prevalence studies to enable the financial impact of the infection on smallholder farmers to be determined; these studies are part of PhD thesis through UoS.
Forage plots to improve cattle and buffalo nutrition were upgraded by the start of the wet season in May/June 2009 in Luang Prabang and Xieng Khuang provinces but were delayed in Houaphan province. Establishment of more forage plots in all three provinces is planned for the planting season in May/June 2010 and farmers in all project villages have set aside land for forage establishment and ordered seed and rootstock.
The knowledge gap of farmers that was identified through the first of three panned knowledge surveys (objective 3) in early 2009 is being addressed by district staff working closely with farmers, visiting the project villages monthly and from May 2010 by implementing three-monthly 1/2 day farmer training meetings in the villages.
The knowledge of the large ruminant supply chain and key drivers in the targeted communities (Objective 4) that was initially assessed through a trader survey in Feb 2009 is being used to develop marketing interventions together with project staff at a workshop scheduled for June 2010.
The ‘train the trainer’ series of 7 workshops to build the capacities of Lao Department of Livestock and Fisheries staff in large ruminant production, supported by additional funds obtained from the Australian Crawford Fund, have continued. Two further workshops were held in Luang Prabang: a 2-day biosecurity workshop in July 2009 and a very successful 3-day large ruminant reproduction workshop in March 2010.
Student research projects contributing to the outcomes of the project have continued and assisted definition of the research questions for the PhD project entitled: ‘Studies on gastro-intestinal parasites of clinical importance to large ruminants in northern Lao PDR, with special reference to Toxocara vitulorum and Fasciola gigantica’. A prevalence survey on Toxocara infection in buffalo and cattle calves was completed involving district government staff from 5 northern provinces. Participants collected faecal samples and acquired capacities in sample collection, data collection, record keeping and sample submission. With over 800 faecal samples analysed at the Luang Prabang veterinary laboratory, livestock section staff have been provided with considerable experience in faecal sample processing. Initial results indicate that 78% of villages sampled had calves infected with Toxocara
A small abattoir survey to determine health status of large ruminants at slaughter and to develop a protocol for pre and post slaughter inspection of larger ruminants is scheduled for May/June 2010 to be completed by a final year veterinary student from UoS.

This project is researching methodologies to improve the profitability of large ruminant production in Laos to provide small holder farmers with the opportunity to increase their household income. Through a participatory approach a number of interventions that are accepted and can be implemented by farmers in the areas of animal health, nutrition, reproduction management and marketing are being researched. The project works in six villages located in the three northern Lao PDR provinces of Luang Prabang, Houaphan and Xieng Khuang.
National, provincial and district government staff are working with farmers in the six project villages to implement the project. International experts in different fields of large ruminant production based with UoS, CSU, CIAT and private consultants are contributing to the project.
Activities in the third (of four) year were focused on finalising the initial seven training workshop series of the district and provincial government staff with the final 2 workshops being held during 2010 in June and December, completing a further three baseline production data collections in the 6 project sites and continued implementation of interventions, particularly in nutrition, animal health and biosecurity.
The project continues to work in close collaboration with the ‘Northern Region Sustainable Livelihood through Livestock Development Project’ (or Livestock Development Project (LDP). This is a very large development project being implemented in five northern provinces of Lao and has the same Lao project leader as this ACIAR project, enabling our research to be immediately extended to the LDP by inclusion of LDP staff in our project training programmes.
Implementation, testing and demonstration of interventions effects on productivity (Objective 2) are continuing.
Collection of baseline productivity data occurred an additional three times (April-June 2010, Sep-Nov 20010 and Feb-April 2011) in the six project villages.
All animals enrolled in the project in the six project villages continued to be vaccinated against HS bi-annually
FMD vaccination was done in Xieng Khuang province in October 2010 for the first time again since initial vaccination in 2008 as sourcing vaccine was not possible since and remains difficult. In addition animals in the two LPB province project sites were also vaccinated in April 2011 for the first time as FMD outbreaks occurred nearby in late 2010.
Young calves continue to be treated for toxocariasis throughout the year by project staff and farmers in one of the project villages in each province and farmers are reporting a decrease in calf mortalities. Data collection to quantify calf mortalities due to Toxocara as part of a PhD thesis has been completed and will be analysed during 2011
Forage plots to improve cattle and buffalo nutrition were expanded and established improving with a further 49 households establishing a total of 20ha of forages. The entire forage plot area is now 27 ha amongst 187 households in the project sites.
75 Fattening stalls have been built in the three high intervention villages and are being used for fattening using forages and silage.

Addressing the knowledge gap of farmers that was identified through the first of three planned knowledge surveys (objective 3) in early 2009 through a farmer training program has been delayed due to an accident of a key project staff member by 12 months and is being implemented starting in May 2011 through a three-month long 1/2 day per week farmer training meeting program in the villages. In the meantime district staff have continued farmer training by on the job training through their bi-monthly visits in project villages. Change in knowledge will be measured through further surveys.
The knowledge of the large ruminant supply chain and key drivers in the targeted communities (Objective 4) that was initially assessed through a trader survey in Feb 2009 was run again in December 2010 and Jan 2011 as not enough data could be used from the first survey to develop marketing intervention. Results are still being analysed.
The ‘train the trainer’ series of 7 workshops to build the capacities of Lao Department of Livestock and Fisheries staff in large ruminant production, supported by additional funds obtained from the Australian Crawford Fund, were finalised with the final workshops being held in June and December 2010.
Student research projects contributing to the outcomes of the project have continued. They include development of a weight band specific for Lao cattle and buffalo, FMD serology surveys to assess the efficacy of vaccination and FMD reporting and control in Lao, analysis of production data, continued research of Toxocara vitulorum and Fasciola gigantica impact, a pilot slaughter house survey in Luang Prabang province in June 2010,followed larger survey in March/April 2011 showing high rates of liver damage (50% cattle; 95% buffalo) and liver fluke infections (25%) as well as high rate of pregnancy (50% in slaughtered cattle and buffalo)
DAFO staff who was trained by the project have gained skills in faecal sample collection and farmer interview techniques and implemented collection, data recording and submission of 1200 faecal samples for liver fluke prevalence study during 2010. The same staff then interviewed around 250 households in Feb 2011 to collect data that will allow assessment of finical and clinical impact of fluke as well as knowledge and attitude of farmers.

This project is researching methodologies to improve the profitability of large ruminant production in Laos, providing smallholder farmers with the opportunity to increase household incomes. Through a participatory research and extension approach, the project has identified and is testing a number of productivity interventions acceptable to farmers and can be implemented by them. The interventions include components of animal health and biosecurity to manage disease risk, better nutrition through forages to improve growth, breeding management to improve reproduction, plus marketing of superior stock to improve trading opportunities. The project works in six villages located in the three northern Lao PDR provinces of Luang Prabang, Houaphan and Xieng Khuang, with a high and a low intervention village in each province used for comparative longitudinal assessment of project outcomes. National, provincial and district government staff are working with farmers in the six project villages to implement the project and international expertise in several fields of large ruminant production from the UoS, CIAT and private consultants are contributing.
The project has been extended in 2012 for an extra 6 months without additional funding and is now scheduled for completion in December 2012. This will enable sufficient time to analyse recently collected data, especially the KAP (Knowledge Attitude and Practices) surveys that were identified as important in the 2011 project review, plus the previously planned marketing surveys and implementation and assessment of farmer training in the low intervention project villages. Activities in the fourth year have particularly focused on improved farmer knowledge, with training in project villages and by cross-visits, focused on animal health, nutrition, basic husbandry practices and biosecurity methods. Considerable efforts in 2012 have also included the KAP surveys, weight and trader survey data analyses, preparation for the final stakeholder workshop in late July 2012, plus preparation of scientific and conference papers on research outcomes (several already published).
Of particular importance has been the following activities related to project objectives:
Implementation, testing and demonstration of interventions effects on productivity (Objective 2):
Vaccination: Animals enrolled in the six project villages continued to be vaccinated against HS bi-annually. Between May 2011 and April 2012, the project launched an FMD vaccination campaign in all six project sites and biannual FMD vaccination was conducted, expanding from previous years when FMD vaccine could only be completed in the 2 project villages of Xieng Khuang province due to difficulties in sourcing FMD vaccine (Appendix 10.1).
Young calves continue to be treated for Toxocariasis throughout the year as they are born and reach 1-3 weeks age, involving project staff and farmers in the high intervention villages in each province with farmers reporting decreases in calf mortalities (note that anecdotal reports were received of calf parasite treatments also occurring on some of the low intervention project villages).
Forage plantations have been established and expanded in HardPang village by 10.10ha (total in village 21.60ha), HuayPaen village by 3.50ha (total in village 4.20ha), Nong village by 2ha (2ha in total), Nakud village by 1.74ha (1.74ha in total) and Naviang village by 1.21ha (1.21ha in total). This recent expansion is consistent with the project objective of commencing all interventions in the low intervention villages in the last year of the project.
The large ruminant fattening stalls built between Jun 2011 and Jun 2012 in Nong (19) and HardPang (13) villages respectively, continue to be used and farmers report them to be beneficial for obtaining higher weights and prices for their animals and plan to continue and expand using the method post project.
A treatment trial for Liver Fluke infection was completed in Nong project village in Xieng Khuang province, to investigate local drench efficacy and to teach farmers how to use anthelmenthics for fluke control. The trial established that both triclabendazole (Fasinex ), imported for trial) and triclabendazole/albendazole tablets (Han-Dertil-B, locally available) had high efficacy (>95%) against infestations with Fasciola gigantica.
Addressing the knowledge gap of farmers that was identified through knowledge surveys (objective 3) in early 2009 and published in 2010, is being addressed by participatory research and targeted farmer training program in the three high intervention villages and more recently the low intervention villages, with cross-visits between sites arranged. Farmer training meetings were conducted in June 2011 and March 2012 and covered important diseases, nutrition, basic husbandry practices and basic biosecurity methods. Change in knowledge will be measured by comparing farmer knowledge surveys in all six project villages with one completed in July 2011 and another in April 2012. Survey analysis is in progress. This method of farmer training is in addition to ‘learning while doing’ training occurring through participatory approach of data collection and implementation of specific interventions.
The knowledge of the large ruminant supply chain and key drivers in the targeted communities (Objective 4) that was initially assessed through a trader survey in February 2009, was assessed again in December 2010 and January 2011, particularly as insufficient data could be used from the first survey to develop marketing interventions. Preliminary data analysis and reporting had been completed in March 2012 (Appendix 10.4).
Student research projects contributing to the outcomes of the project have continued and have been significant, with 18 Sydney University students participating in the project as at the time of preparation of this report. Studies have included ‘The impact of F. gigantica and T. vitulorum in cattle and buffalo in northern Lao’, plus ‘Progressing smallholder large ruminant productivity and transboundary disease risk management for poverty reduction in Northern Lao PDR’, both conducted as part of two PhD theses (Rast and Nampanya, respectively). A survey of blood parasites in cattle and buffalo in northern Lao; summarising and documenting a cold exposure event in cattle and buffalo that led to large mortalities from hypothermia; plus developing a socioeconomic survey for farmers and analysing the trader surveys. Students also contributed to the parasite treatment trials and were involved in assessing and documenting the impact of parasites. DAFO staff and more recently veterinary students from NUOL (National University of Laos, Nabong campus) regularly assisted in student projects and gained research experience and practical skills by participatory co-learning from veterinary students.

Project ID
AH/2006/159
Project Country
Commissioned Organisation
University of Sydney, Australia
Project Leader
Professor Peter Andrew Windsor
Email
pwindsor@sydney.edu.au
Phone
02 9351 1710
Fax
02 9351 1618
Collaborating Institutions
Department of Livestock and Fisheries, Laos
Tristan Jubb Veterinary Consulting, Australia
Charles Sturt University, Australia
International Center for Tropical Agriculture, Laos
National Agriculture and Forestry Extension Service, Laos
Project Budget
$620,380.00
Start Date
01/06/2008
Finish Date
31/05/2012
Extension Start Date
01/06/2012
Extension Finish Date
31/12/2012
ACIAR Research Program Manager
Dr Mike Nunn
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