Rampant inbreeding amongst Cambodian cattle has weakened the nation’s pool of draught animals and remedying the situation should be made a top government priority, officials said this week.
Chan Sarun, Minister of Agriculture, said Tuesday that the inbreeding was “a top worry” for his ministry, which is considering mating Cambodia’s small cattle with larger breeds. Over a third of Cambodian bulls, cows and oxen are too small to be used for plowing due to inbreeding, he said.
Chan Sarun said the smaller “yellow cattle” are found mostly in Kompong Chhnang, Pursat and Oddar Meanchey provinces because local farmers cannot find suitable bulls.
Cambodian veterinarian Sen Sovann, formerly deputy director of the Animal Health and Production Department at the Agriculture Ministry, said Wednesday that small cattle are plentiful in Cambodia because they breed unattended in remote regions.
In Pursat, he said, “farmers just let their cattle graze in the jungle for months…. They mate with their relatives.”
“There should be more breeding with bigger bulls or foreign breeds so we get offspring good for plowing or beef,” he said, adding that he would like to see at least one proper bull available to farmers in each commune.
He added that small bulls ought to be castrated once proper bulls are available.
“That will cut down on the number of small cows,” he said.
The market price for a quality bull has risen to the point where one bull costs $15,000, Chan Sarun said.
“Kandaub,” a 17-year-old bull known as the “great-grandfather of good Cambodian cattle” from Kandal province’s Muk Kampul district, will mate for $50 per coupling, his owner Krea Meth said.
Khim Lenin, who owns two bulls on a farm in the province’s Takhmau district, said his bull “Beckham,” named after British football star David Beckham, is Kandaub’s son.
“My Beckham is more sexually potent than I am and his father Kandaub is even stronger,” he said.