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The Changing Face of Cattle Raising and Forest Grazing in the Bhutan Himalaya

Kesang Wangchuk, Maria Wurzinger, Andras Darabant, Georg Gratzer and Werner Zollitsch
Mountain Research and Development
Vol. 34, No. 2 (May 2014), pp. 131-138
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Page Count: 8
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The Changing Face of Cattle Raising and Forest Grazing in the Bhutan Himalaya
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Household surveys were conducted in 2 representative rural settlements in central and western Bhutan to evaluate differences in cattle raising practices and seasonal variation in the physical characteristics of cattle, and to project future trends in herd management and forest grazing. Results indicated that cattle owners' perceptions, aptitudes, and attitudes are changing and that rural interventions need to take these changes into account. The proportion of households without cultivated pasture was greater in the central Bhutan study village. The settlements also differed in cattle owners' opinions on forest selection and grazing pressure. The only outstanding similarity between settlements was the preference for crossbred cattle, revealing a strong orientation toward small but productive dairy herds and suggesting that a future reduction in forest grazing was likely. Although both settlements rely on forest grazing, there are considerable differences in cattle production practices and type of cattle reared, primarily driven by access to market, topography, and domestic forage resources. Our results suggest that management decisions should be based on site-specific information rather than generic guidelines.

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