Livestock: The acute shortage of fodder in winter due to Laya’s extreme weather condition is getting addressed with the improved pasture development initiative.

The gewog of 286 households has the highest yak and horse population. There are 3,076 yaks, 1,296 horses and 50 local cattle. Only 73 households today rear yaks.

Laya’s livestock extension officer, Pema Wangda said in Laya, the grass starts growing only after May and by October end, the entire place turns dry.

He said yaks and horses are one of the main sources of livelihood for Layaps besides cordycep collection. To help people overcome fodder shortage problems, the livestock department has initiated a distribution of pasture seeds annually.

Layaps depend on open grazing on tsamdro, which is divided among them for summer. The fodder shortage has led to a decline in the number of yaks, low milk production and increase in the number of calf mortality.

The pasture/fodder seeds, which have grass mixture consisting of cocksfood and Italian Rye grass were distributed free to about 160 households every year with technical support from the national centre for animal nutrition.

Pema Wangda said this year they distributed about 235kgs of fodder seeds.

He said the grass is harvested in summer and stored for winter to address fodder shortages. As of today about 14.20 acres of pasture development has been completed.

The fodder development has also help reduce the earlier practice of Layaps bringing home hay from Punakha and Wangdue in exchange of yak products in winter.

Livestock officials said the fodder development has also seen a positive growth in the number of yaks in the last two years.

By Dawa Gyelmo, Wangdue