Over 130 oxen have died from severe drought while thousands of other cattle and poultry are struggling with the lack of water and nutrition in a Dak Lak Province district in Vietnam’s Central Highlands.
The devastating climate has caused 83 oxen in Ia Lop Commune and 50 more in Ia Rve Commune in Ea Sup District to die, while destroying hundreds of hectares of crops and draining 91 drilled wells in the locality, the local Office of Agriculture and Rural Development said on Wednesday.
“The animals have to endure extreme heat from the sun while grazing only dried grass, causing their health conditions to deteriorate,” said Le Thi Cuc Phuong, a farmer in Ia Lop Commune.
Phuong added that she and her husband have had to force their oxen to drink fresh water in order to prevent exhaustion.
Phung Ngoc Cuong, owner of a herd of over 40 cows and bulls in Ia Rve Commune, said that his cattle have been in competition over the few resources available.
“I have not seen such serious drought in years. As there is no grass left for the animals to eat, they now consume everything in sight, even garbage,” Cuong added.
The farmer spent VND4 million (US$179) buying straw for cattle feed and another VND15 million ($672) drilling a well to supply them with sufficient water.
Showing Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporters the herd of skinny and fatigued oxen, Pham Bao, also from Ia Rve Commune, said that he had to buy several metric tons of quality crops to feed his animals.
Bao added that he also had to grind rice and combine it with water for the cows and bulls, while providing extra supplements and vitamins for the weaker animals.
“I have to do everything to save my group of oxen, which is worth billions of dong [VND1 billion = $44,820],” the farmer stated.
Thirty out of 120 of his cattle have died due to the harsh weather, costing about VND300 million ($13,445), according to Bao.
“The scarcity of water due to the absence of a reservoir and canal in the commune, accompanied by 40 degree Celsius temperatures, has posed many risks to the survival of the animals,” he elaborated.
A living cow can be sold for between VND13 million ($583) and VND14 million ($627), said Le Ky Giong, residing in Ia Lop Commune, adding that a dead one is only worth VND3 million ($134).
The death of the oxen arose mainly from the deprivation of sufficient nutrition, food and fresh water, said Nguyen Ngoc Phu, head of the Office of Agriculture and Rural Development in Ea Sup District.
The situation is common in the two communes, as there is no system of water reservoirs or irrigation ditches, Phu explained.
To cope with the severe drought this year, the local budget will be disbursed for the farmers to drill wells and afford food for their cattle, according to the official.