… report shows big drop in ownership

YK Poudel 

Livestock deaths in Bhutan have seen a significant rise with 21,472 bovine and 232,758 other livestock fatalities reported last year. This is an increase of 1,742 deaths of bovine and a decrease of 681,554 for other livestock populations.  

A total of 21,472 bovine livestock, an animal of the cattle group, which also includes buffaloes and bison, deaths were reported in 2022 compared to 19,790 in 2021. 

The National Statistics Bureau’s 2022 Integrated Agriculture and Livestock Census (IALC) report recorded 51,892 farmers rearing livestock compared to 54,149 in 2021.   

The farmers reported diseases, wildlife depredation deaths due to tiger and bear and accidents as the top three causes that killed bovine livestock in 2022. 

For other livestock, the top reported reasons for death were death due to disease and wildlife predation. Poultry also died due to lack of feed, birds pecking each other, birds slaughtered for meat, and birds being predated by domestic animals like dogs and cats. 

Wangdue reported 17.4 percent mortality – the highest among dzongkhags, Trashigang had 11.9 percent and Samtse had 9.4 percent. 

The report also showed that 232,758 poultry birds died last year. Of the total, five dzongkhags reported a high number of deaths: Tsirang at 22.5 percent; Sarpang had 20.5 percent; Samtse had 13.0 percent; Dagana at 9.9 percent; and Chhukha had 7.1 percent.

The number of cattle also dropped from  295,444 in 2021 to 254,897 last year a decrease of 14 percent. Samtse, Trashigang, and Mongar had the highest number of cattle in 2022. The cattle population on average has been declining since 2006, according to the report. 

The report, conducted between January 9 and February 20 of this year, plays a crucial role in providing reliable livestock statistics – vital for the development and implementation of food security programmes, monitoring economic growth and poverty reduction policies, and formulating sound investment strategies for the agricultural sector in the country.

The findings of the report emphasise the need for concerted efforts to address the increase in livestock mortality.

While the livestock sector remains a vital contributor to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (5.71 percent in 2021), it grapples with the spread of animal diseases from border areas, necessitating substantial government expenditure for containment efforts.