Due to climatic variability and arable land devoted primarily to rice production, cattle in Cambodia experience a year-round feed deficiency. During the rainy season (typically from June to November), rice growing occupies a large portion of arable land, cattle are typically tethered and fed with native grasses by grazing along the roadside.
During the dry season (typically December to May), grasses are scarce, and cattle are usually fed with rice straw and tethered on rice stubble. Tree forages such as bamboo or tamarind are sometimes fed to working animals during the cropping period. In both seasons, rice straw provides roughage but is of limited nutritional value to cattle. These feeding regimes are low in protein and high in crude fibre (Devendra & Leng, 2011). Low nutrition limits growth body condition, reproduction and productivity and increases susceptibility to disease (Young et al., 2013).
Nutrition has been identified the single most problem contributing to low productivity of cattle in smallholder systems in Cambodia. Efforts to improve the digestibility of rice straw and improved N intake have not been successful due smallholder perceptions on returns on labour. Planting forages has been suggested for smallholder farmers to improve their cattle production (Miranda et al., 2011) but is also seen as labour intensive.