Ton Dinh Vu
Animal science and rural development researcherVietnam National University of Agriculture
Vietnam’s poultry population grew at an average of 5.5% in the 10 years to 2017. It is projected to reach 500 million in 2025, with annual egg production at around 15 billion.
This is despite an epidemic of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) hitting the country at the end of 2003 and the virus now being endemic.
The persistence of HPAI, as well as other animal diseases, has a significant impact on the development of livestock production. In particular, the emergence of Africa swine fever (ASF) at the beginning of 2019 is anticipated to have major implications for the poultry industry as consumers switch from pork to other meats such as chicken, with the resulting increased chicken production leading to an increased risk for avian influenza.
The Vietnam government, in collaboration with international and development organisations such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and USAID, has implemented national animal disease control programmes for the period 2019-2024. These aim to minimise animal disease outbreaks, build disease safety zones and develop safe supply chains.
However, most animal holdings are small with poor biosecurity. They are often located near residential areas, making it difficult to apply biosecurity and disease control measures.
The illegal poultry trade along the long border between Vietnam and China is an added challenge.
Around 70% of the total chicken population in Vietnam are kept in households, mainly for commercial purposes. They provide 60% of the country’s egg yield. The number of chicken in household ranges from a few birds (backyard) to up to 2,000, with a popular flock size of several hundred birds.
Most of the remaining production is accounted for by farms with flock sizes that average 2,000-5,000. The number of farms keeping 8,000-15,000 birds, however, is growing, and there are some contract farms with common flock size of 4,000-5,000. These are integrated poultry farms, in which feed, drug and breed companies collaborate with poultry farmers. These bigger farms house chiefly exotic and cross breeds while indigenous breeds and cross-breeds are mainly in household production.
Poultry are usually traded by direct sales of live birds to traders at the farm or household gate, or via contract companies, which often have their own slaughter houses and processing plants, or via farmer cooperatives.
For backyard farmers and smallholders, poultry production provides important animal protein sources for home consumption. It can also account for up to 30% of cash revenue, providing income to pay for clothes, school fees and more.
In medium and larger farms, poultry production contributes the main income for farmers and provides work opportunities for women and middle-aged and older people. These people often have to leave their work in factories due to the age and work pressure, and have limited opportunities to other work.
The export of animal products has been projected to reach 15-20% of poultry meat and egg produced in Vietnam.