|Sheep barn of Ms. Dao Thi Thanh Toan
Xuan Hai commune has a population of 19,000 people living in 9 hamlets. Five hamlets are mainly ethnic Kinh and four are ethnic Cham. In the past, they raised cows. But the climate – dry, sunny, and windy for most of the year – is better for raising sheep. In the late 1980s locals switched to raising sheep, which are easier to feed and more profitable than cows.
Sheep farmers in Ninh Thuan province raise two breeds – Ninh Thuan indigenous sheep and sheep crossbred between indigenous sheep and sheep imported from Australia. The hybrid sheep are not much different from either Australian sheep or Ninh Thuan sheep in appearance, but they are usually bigger than the other two and grow faster. That’s why the hybrid is raised by so many households in Xuan Hai commune.
|Ms. Toan feeding her sheep
A Cham ethnic woman named Dao Thi Thanh Toan said that at first she had a small flock, only 15 sheep. But as soon as she found it so profitable, she decided to expand the flock.
“I now have 150 sheep. Sheep eat mainly green fodder and give birth twice a year. Each time they birth 1 or 2 lambs, whose meat sells for about 5.5 USD a kilo of live weight. Sheep raised for meat grow to 25-30 kg. We earn a profit of more than 4,200 USD a year,” said Doan.
Sheep raising is not as hard or expensive as raising other livestock or poultry because graze freely. Farmers only need to build a barn and buy some breeding sheep.
Nguyen Van Hien, who works at Toan’s sheep farm, said that sheep are easy to raise. They eat leaves, straw, and grass. It’s possible to freely graze sheep to eat wild grass along the road.
He added, “What you need is a source of grass for sheep to eat and spacious barns where they can sleep and reproduce. I raise sheep mainly for meat and sell them for 8.4 USD a kilo, higher than pork. An adult sheep weighs about 20 kg, depending on the breed. It takes 1 to 1.5 years to raise a sheep.”
Training courses on sheep farming are regularly organized by the Xuan Hai administration and functional agencies.
Nguyen Thi Thanh Dip, Vice Chairwoman of the commune’s People's Committee, said locals have access to preferential loans to develop sheep farms.
“Xuan Hai People's Committee has opened vocational training courses for rural workers on goat, cow, and sheep breeding techniques and has worked with the Policy Bank of Ninh Hai district to help them obtain loans for livestock farming. The locality has provided breeding sheep for farmers and replicated the household economic model for sheep raising. This has reduced poverty here,” said Dip.
Xuan Hai has 4 cooperatives, which buy all that the local farmers can produce. Per capita income is now more than 2,600 USD a year. At the end of last year, Xuan Hai had just 0.34% of its households living in poverty. Every hamlet in the commune is engaged in raising sheep.
Sheep farming is creating profits for rural areas and opening up a new direction for tourism development. Ninh Thuan has two sheep fields for tourists to explore: Sơn Hải sheep field in Phước Dinh commune and An Hoa sheep field in Xuan Hai commune, the largest in the province, with a flock of thousands of sheep.