Some ten years ago, a few livestock breeders in central Vietnam’s Quang Ngai Province formed a hybrid cow market to cater to locals’ increasing demands in raising high-quality breeds.
The market, in Cong Hoa 2 village, Tinh An Tay Commune in the provincial capital Quang Ngai City, has thrived since, with some hundred cattle sold each day.
Unlike most other cow markets, which are held outdoors, the market, located along 24B National Highway, comprises of small farms next to another.
Bustling from dusk to dawn
The market is bustling from early in the morning.
Customers begin to show up at 6:00 am, before the cows have even left their pens.
Half an hour later, Pham Tan Xiem, 39, unloaded ten Thai-origin cows from his truck.
He sold two cows to Tien, a local, for VND46 million (US$2,170), but allowed Tien to pay VND10 million on credit, which he would pay back in the next 15 days or so.
At around 9:00 am, the market was packed with customers.
The farms owned by Pham Em, 67, and Pham Ngoc Hien, 36, which are next door to Xiem’s, were also crowded with dealers and local cattle keepers.
“The market is a big help indeed, as it offers a wide variety of breeding hybrid cows, ranging from Thai hybrids to “superlean” cows, at affordable prices. There weren’t such breeds around ten years ago,” said Luu Toi, a customer.
Well into 8:00 pm, customers were still seen around the farms.
Apart from transporting the cows to buyers’ farms for free, farm owners operating at the market offer no-collateral credits, and 15-day to one-month “cow warranty.”
“After the purchase, if we no longer like the cows, or they have some health problems, the farm owners will take the cows back and let us choose another. If we can cure the cows, they’ll pay our treatment fees,” said Ngo Van Diem, who has bought cows from the market in the past seven years.
In recent years, apart from retailing, farm owners at the market have also sold cows in bulk to dealers from across the province and others.
Less expensive hybrids are bought from Binh Dinh Province and Gia Lai Province in the Central Highlands and Ho Chi Minh City, while more expensive ones are imported from Thailand.
According to farm owner Xiem, cows are loaded in trucks, which depart from border gates and usually arrive at the market at midnight after travelling one day and two nights.
Xiem’s farm takes in some 800 cows each month on average. New cows arrive at the market almost every night.
A number of dealers from other provinces stayed overnight at the farms, waiting for new batches of cows to arrive in trucks. They would pick the best ones, and mark them so that they would recognize their cows the next morning.
“With limited capital, we could each afford only 5-10 cows, with each worth roughly VND30 million ($1,415). We usually pay Xiem part in advance, and the rest after our customers pay us. As cows sell well in the sunny season, I come here almost once every two days,” shared Dao Duy Ba, a cow dealer.
Customers said that the cows have notably improved locals’ lives. Now almost every household keeps at least two hybrid cows, which earn them some dozens of million dong after one year.
From the two cows in the first place, many have expanded their herd to ten or some dozens.
Pham Em, one of the farmer owners who helped launch the market, noted that most customers used to buy cows with loans from banks or relatives. In the past five years, most use the money earned from selling their cows to buy new ones.
According to engineer Ngo Huu Ha, director of the provincial Agricultural Promotion Center, raising hybrid cows is a good choice.
“Overcoming initial difficulties, the market has thrived with eight farms in it now. These farm owners’ cows account for 58 percent of the province’s herd. Without the market and these farm owners, the agriculture center would have to do lots of work buying young hybrids for breeding purposes and creating markets for them. We often take cattle keepers from remote areas to the market to learn from the model,” Ha pointed out.