Myanmar has an ethnically diverse population. The ethnic mix influences on the livestock sector in terms of preferred types of production systems.
The beef cattle industry in Myanmar can be divided into three main farming systems:
- Small scale cattle system (usually 2 head) is practiced by smallholder mixed farming system. Local breed male cattle are raised primarily for draught purposes, while females are used for breeding. This system requires minimal labour input as the cattle graze on pasture, roadsides and other communal land. This low input system is characterised by low output and poor reproductive performance. Calf is attached to mother until weaning.
- Mixed for dairy cattle (usually > 3 head) is practiced by small farmers with the purpose of milk production. Cross breeds are often used. First calving is about 3 years old, and the calves are kept with the cows. Female calves may be kept as replacements, or farmers may buy replacement cows from other herds. Male calves are sold at about 7-8 month of age. Bulls from other farms are used for breeding. Cattle are occasionally fed in the communal grazing areas. Crop by-productions and locally available concentrates (e.g. rice bran) are used as feed. Some of these farmers raise their cattle in peri-urban areas and often don’t own any land.
- Large scale cross breed cattle (up to several hundred cattle) is raised by commercial farmers for milk production in high input-output systems. Cattle are completely stall fed using concentrates. Legumes are grown to feed the animals.
While production systems can be described through these three categories, and specialisation in cattle enterprises is yet occurring, much of the Myanmar cattle herd is produced in “mixed” production systems, where farmers hold breeders and offspring are fed and sold out of the system at a certain age.