Characterization of smallholder pig breeding practices within a rural commune of North Central Vietnam


This case study focused on a pig production system in a rural area of North Central Vietnam, with a focus on describing household pig breeding practices and estimating herd demographic parameters, particularly on reproduction. One hundred five households undertaking small-scale piglet production were surveyed, with information gathered on 3268 individual pigs. Pig keeping contributed variably to the overall household livelihood portfolio, with female household members as the main decision makers, contributors to labor, and beneficiaries of income from the pig enterprise. All households kept between one and four young or adult sows, with 69 % of these sows of a local breed type (predominantly Mong Cai), 28 % a cross between a local sow and an exotic sow (predominantly Large White), and the remainder (3 %) as exotic sows. Eighty-eight percent of the piglets produced were cross-bred, while 12 % were local breed. No adult males were kept by the surveyed households, reflecting the common use of artificial insemination for mating purposes. The most common breeding system practiced—the keeping of Mong Cai females and production of cross-bred piglets—capitalizes on the small body size and high fecundity of the sows and the fast growth rate and leanness of the cross-bred piglets. The survey tool used, which was based on farmer recall of events over the preceding 12-month period, appeared to give reasonable results although some recall bias could be detected. This case study will serve as an entry point to planned broader scale characterization and development of pig breeding systems in North Central Vietnam.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6


  1. Dang-Nguyen, T.Q., Tich, N.K., Nguyen, B.X., Ozawa, M., Kikuchi, K., Manabe, N., Ratky, J., Kanai, Y., and Nagai, T., 2010. Introduction of various Vietnamese indigenous pig breeds and their conservation by using assisted reproductive techniques, Journal of Reproduction and Development, 56, 31–35

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Duc, N.V., Kinghorn, B.P., and Graser, H.-U., 1997. Studies on some production and carcass traits of Mong Cai and their crosses in North Vietnam., Proceedings of the Association for Advancement of Animal Breeding and Genetics, 12, 185–188

    Google Scholar 

  3. Duyet, H.N., Son, N.D., An, N.V., and Thuan, T.T., 2003. Effect of high dietary levels of sweet potato leaves on the reproductive performance of pure and crossbred Mong Cai sows., Livestock Research for Rural Development 15, Retrieved February 24, 2015, from

  4. FAO, 2005. Livestock Sector Brief, Vietnam., (Rome, Italy, Retrieved March 2015, from,)

  5. FAOSTAT,, accessed December 2013

  6. Huyen, L.T.T., Roessler, R., Lemke, U., and Valle Zárate, A., 2005. Impact of the use of exotic compared to local pig breeds on socio-economic development and biodiversity in Vietnam., Conference on International Agricultural Research for Development, Stuttgart-Hohenheim, Germany, October, 2005

  7. ILRI, CIAT, ICARDA, and Centre, W., 2011. More Meat, Milk, and Fish by and for the Poor (CGIAR Research Program 3.7): A proposal submitted to the CGIAR Consortium Board by ILRI on behalf of CIAT, ICARDA and WorldFish Centre., (ILRI, Nairobi, Kenya)

  8. Lapar, M.L., Toan, N.T., S., S., Minot, N., C., T., N.N., Q., and N.D.A., T., 2012. Smallholder competitiveness: insights from household pig production systems in Vietnam., Proceedings of the International Association of Agricultural Economics (IAAE) Technical Conference, Foz do Iguacu, Brazil, August, 2012

  9. Lemke, U., Kaufmann, B., L.T., T., Emrich, K., and Valle Zarate, A., 2006. Evaluation of smallholder pig production systems in North Vietnam: Pig production management and pig performance., Livestock Science, 105, 229–243

  10. Lemke, U., Kaufmann, B., L.T., T., Emrich, K., and Valle Zarate, A., 2007. Evaluation of biological and economic efficiency of smallholder pig production systems in North Vietnam., Tropical Animal Health and Production, 39, 237–254

  11. Len, N.T., Lindberg, J.E., and Ogle, B., 2008. Effect of dietary fiber level on the performance and carcass traits of Mong Cai, F1 Crossbred (Mong Cai × Yorkshire) and Landrace × Yorkshire Pigs., Asian-Australian Journal of Animal Science, 21, 245–251

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Lesnoff, M., Messad, S., and Juanes, X., 2010. 12MO: A cross-sectional retrospective method for estimating livestock demographic parameters in tropical small-holder farming systems., (CIRAD, Paris)

    Google Scholar 

  13. Ngoc, T.T., Len, N.T., and Lindberg, J.E., 2013. Impact of fibre intake and fibre source on digestibility, gut development, retention time and growth performance of indigenous and exotic pigs, Animal, 7, 736–745

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Roessler, R., Herold, P., Willam, A., Piepho, H.P., Thuy, L.T., and Valle Zárate, A., 2009. Modelling of a recording scheme for market-oriented smallholder pig producers in Northwest Vietnam., Livestock Science, 123, 241–248

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Sivilai, B., Chittavong, M., Preston, T. R., 2010. Reproduction and piglet performance in Mong Cai giltsfed a mixture of taro leaf silage and water spinach.. Livest. Res. Rural Dev, 22(4):79

  16. Tu, P.K., Duc, N.L., Hendriks, W.H., van der Peet-Schwering, C.M.C., and Verstegen, M.W.A., 2010. Effect of Dietary Lysine Supplement on the Performance of Mong Cai Sows and Their Piglets., Asian-Australian Journal of Animal Science, 23, 385–395

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Thuy, L.T., Hung, B. K., Tam, N.T., Bien, L.T. 2012. Study on model experiment of Ban and Mong Cai pigbreeds husbandry in Yen Chau mountainous area condition – Son La province. Available at accessed 15/12/13.

  18. Van, V.T.K., and Duc, N.V., 1999. Heritabilities, genetic and phenotypic correlations between reproductive performance in Mong Cai and Large White breeds., Proceedings of the Association for Advancement of Animal Breeding and Genetics, 13, 153–156

    Google Scholar 

Download references


We are grateful to Huong Pham from Hanoi University of Agriculture for local linguistic assistance during our field survey. The interviewees are acknowledged for their patience and corporation.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest regarding the publication of this article.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Karen Marshall.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Ieda, N., Van Bui, Q., Nguyen, N.T.D. et al. Characterization of smallholder pig breeding practices within a rural commune of North Central Vietnam. Trop Anim Health Prod 47, 1005–1016 (2015).

Download citation


  • Smallhold pig production
  • North Central Vietnam
  • Mong Cai
  • Household survey
  • Animal-level survey