Livestock: It is a usual sight to see empty and milk-filled jerry cans left on wooden benches along the Chamkhar-Chokhortoe road in Bumthang every morning and evening.

This is because many Bumthaps rear cattle and sell milk to milk processing units. Jerry cans are left on wooden benches that are built at various points on the road starting from Dekiling.

A milk van collects the milk-filled jerry cans and leaves empty ones in their place. With each jerry can numbered and identifying which farmer it belongs to, the containers are not mixed.

People say rearing cattle is a lucrative business.

Karma, 67, from Chakhar has five cross Jersey cows, four of which are milking. He sells 30 litres of milk every day. He milks his cows twice a day in the morning and evening. Each of his cows produce some 15 litres of milk a day during the peak-milking season.

Chokhor Gonor Gongphel Chithuen Tshogpa at Tamzhing pays Nu. 36 a litre while the milk processing unit at Batpalathang buys at Nu 33 per litre. Karma earns about Nu 40,000 by selling milk every month. His earnings do not go below Nu 25,000 even during the winter.

Karma said cultivating crops like wheat, buckwheat and barley lead to loss but rearing cattle was profitable. “If people reared good breed cattle, it will be profitable,” he said.

Rinchen Lhamo, 33, from Norgang village sells about 50 litres of milk everyday. She earns around Nu 54,000 a month and runs a profitable business. Rinchen owns 13 cows of which seven are milking.

Rinchen said rearing cows is not easy but it is worth it.

Wangdila from Jampalhakhang has four milking cross Jerseys. He sells 20 litres of milk every day. He earns about Nu 20,000 every month.

He said rearing cattle was lucrative but there are problems. Wangdila said people with more fodder land can do better business. “The other problem is we can’t get enough poles to fence our fodder lands,” he said, adding that the poles had to be replaced every three years.

The people of Thangbi village supply the milk processing committee at Zhabjethang in Chokhortoe.

The sight of the jerry cans has become a familiar sight for those who jog. Some joggers said they feel they have a more successful day if they come across filled jerry cans. Not all are happy when they come across empty ones.

Nima Wangdi | Chamkhar