Three French students in veterinary medicine are staying with local households in the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap to exchange experience in cattle and poultry farming and medical care.
At Nguyen Van Nguyen’s cow farm in Lai Vung District, Lisa Pénin, 23, and her 21-year-old friend Sophie Novelli were walking around the cow byres, jotting down notes and taking photos of the entire farm.
Meanwhile, Juliette Di Francesco, 24, was discussing cattle raising techniques with the household owner.
The three are students from Ecole Nationale Vétérinaire d’Alfort (National Veterinary School of Alfort) and volunteers of Enfance Partenariat (Childhood Partnership) Vietnam, an NGO which was founded in 2007 and aims to improve the living conditions of poor, physically-challenged Vietnamese children.
The three are on a one-month trip to Vietnam both for their studies and work with the Vietnam Red Cross Society to help local farmers improve their techniques in cattle and poultry raising and disease prevention, especially in pigs and cows.
The students began their day by walking to cattle-raising households a few kilometers away.
Pénin noticed striking differences between Vietnamese farmers’ techniques and those applied in her country.
“For example, homegrown chicken here are free to wander all day long to seek whatever food and sleep wherever they want. Also, apart from dried animal feed, farmers here also feed their cattle with bran-powder mixture to cut costs. So I think cattle and poultry in Vietnam are less stressful as they don’t keep to the strict timing or feeding criteria of industrial farming models,” she noted.
However, she warned local farmers of the high risk of disease transmission as different species are allowed to live close to one another due to the households’ limited space.
Meanwhile, Novelli thought highly of the local households’ way to run their farms though they mostly do spontaneous farming.
The students also handed out the materials they prepared themselves to the farm owners. The materials provide the latest techniques for poultry and cattle raising, shed arrangement, delivery of young animals, disease prevention and ways to deal with an infected animal to avoid transmission.
The French youth also relish in locals’ heartwarming welcome and take great delight in exploring the Mekong Delta culture.
“Locals here are really cheery and adorable. They really care for us and always provide us with the best working conditions. They’re also willing to treat us to cozy, delectable meals and give us fresh fruits to bring home,” Novelli added with a smile.