Fish Agriculture

Fisheries play an important role in food security and for the economy in Thailand as fish is a large source of income and it is a valuable exported product. Fish is a preferred source of protein in Thailand, with the average per capita consumption of fish in Thailand at about 30.9 kg/year, significantly higher than the world average of 16.3 kg/year (FAO). CCAT contributes to educating young Thai prospective farmers and students about fishery science.

Today, we had the opportunity to watch the students breeding catfish at their teaching fishery. 10-15 hours prior to breeding, the male and female catfish are separated and given LH (luteinizing hormone). The male catfish’s abdomen is incised and his testes are removed. His abdomen is sutured back up and he is released back to the pond. The female’s ventral abdomen is gently squeezed which causes her eggs to be expelled. Once the sperm and eggs have been isolated, the testes are cut (releasing the sperm) and are mixed in a bowl with the female’s eggs. This process will result in about 50,000 fertilized eggs (see image).

The fertilized eggs are gently poured into the water over a mesh, where they will subsequently hatch in about 24 hours into fry (baby fish). Out of 50,000 eggs, 80% will hatch, or about 40,000 fry. The fry are then transferred to a different tank, or nursery where they grow for 30 days until they are 1 inch long. 60% of these fry make it to that size, after which they can be sold as growing stock to farmers for 50 baht/100 fish.


Farm Visits, Livestock Management

Royal King Projects

Today, we had the opportunity to visit the facility at CCAT that is designated to show the King’s Projects. The facility demonstrates that it is possible to have 2 acres of land that will completely support a family in a sustainable manner. The moto of these projects is “grow everything you eat – eat everything you grow”. The projects demonstrated at this facility include

Fish Pond – The fish pond at this facility produces tilapia, panfish and catfish. There is a bicycle powered pump that pumps and oxygenates the water. Alongside the pond are a grass species called “yah fag”. Planting this specific species, which has a root system of 15 feet, provides soil erosion management. This “yah fag” grass is native to Thailand, but the King has shared this species to other countries and now soil erosion projects exist all throughout Asia and Africa that implement “yah fag”.

Throughout the facility there are a variety of climbing fruits and vegetables that are growing on an arching trellis. The purpose of the trellis is to minimize the space needed to grow the crops and maximize the crop yield (including melons and gourds). The other varieties of crops growing were chilis, squash, pumpkins, bananas, papaya, dragonfruit and many others. Surplus produce can be sold at the village market.

Frogs are grown in a 4X3X1.2 m enclosure. They are being raised for meat, the popular dishes that include frog meat are “pad ped gobb” (fried spicy frog) and “gob tood grat-tiem” (fried frog with garlic). To begin the frog farming, about 200 tadpoles are brought to the facility from a hatchery when they are one month old. The frogs grow for 3-4 more months before they are market size. A lamp is hung above the enclosure to attract insects that the frogs eat. The insect meals are supplemented with additional feed. Each cycle (4ish months) produces 200-300 kg of frog, it is 6-7 frogs per kilogram.

In concrete circular enclosures crickets are raised. The crickets are sold for 250 baht per kilogram. They are deep fried and salted and often eaten as a snack. The cricket enclosure contains a moist shredded material where the crickets lay eggs. In the same style of enclosure young chicks and ducklings are grown until they are mature to move to the adult growing area.

The style of pig farming modeled includes a 10X6 foot trench with a shaded enclosure. The hope is that the pigs defecate in this wallowing area, and the manure can easily be collected. The manure is then mixed with “EM”. EM is Effective Micro-organism (EM) which is a fermented molasses and fruit fertilizer that promotes digestion of the pig manure. The pigs naturally mix the manure and EM which promotes natural composting.

The chicken and pig manure is collected everyday and mixed with water and put into a tank. The tank is part of a system that creates an oxygen free environment and allows for collection of methane gas. From the system there is a pipeline which is connected to a stove. The stove is completely powered by the methane gas.

The King’s projects are collaborative with other countries and include joint researching and implementation. The students at CCAT work at the farm in between classes every week and use the facility for studying sustainable farming systems.


Farm Visits, Livestock Management

Bovine AI

This lab was led by the artificial insemination technician at the college. It was a great experience because we had the opportunity to learn along with the ag students. During the lesson, we helped generate a list of English vocabulary for the students associated with the process of AI, reproductive anatomy of the cow, and equipment used. Though there were some minor differences, we found the processes of AI to be very similar between the USA and Thailand.

Livestock Management, Teaching Workshops

Blood collection, Vaccinations and California Mastitis Testing

This lab focused on teaching vocabulary and concepts associated with mastitis (udder inflammation), methods of vaccinations and blood collection and the process of California Mastitis Testing (CMT). After a chalk talk where we discussed how CMT is used to detect both clinical and subclinical mastitis, we went to the dairy farm facility at CCAT to practice what we learned. Using the teaching dairy herd we practiced using strip cups to evaluate color and consistency of the milk, we performed the CMT, we practiced different routes of injection and we practiced tail vein blood collection.


Livestock Management, Teaching Workshops

Bovine Lifestages

For this lab, we covered the lifecycle of a cow in both the dairy and beef industries within the USA. The lab helped our class identify many differences between the United States and Thailand cow life stages, which can translate into differences in efficiency. For example, a USA dairy heifer is bred by 22 months of age, whereas a Thai dairy heifer is not bred until 27 months of age. Cows in the USA produce on average 32 kg/cow/day, whereas Thai dairy cattle produce 10-13 kg/cow/day. This sparked an interesting discussion about why these differences in production exist. Together, we generated a list of several key challenges to both dairy and beef production such as nutrition, diseases/parasites, heat stress, and genetics. This discussion allowed us to identify just how important these factors are to the efficiency of these industries. CCAT hopes to prepare future farmers to optimize production by investing their energy into these understanding these critical areas.

Livestock Management, Teaching Workshops

CCAT animal science facilities

In the afternoon, the students and teachers from CCAT gave us tours of their animal science teaching farm facilities. The students work at these facilities and use the farm for animal husbandry education.

Poultry house: the laying poultry house has a very similar cooling system to poultry houses in the USA. Each hen is individually housed in mesh wire cage.

Dairy farm: The milk from these cows is sent to a processing facility 25 km away to be pasteurized, homogenized and bottled. We sampled the milk and it passed our taste test; it was arroy (Thai for delicious).

Beef cattle: The beef cattle ranged from 100 % Brahman to different genetic crosses between Charolais and Brahman. Brahman cattle are native to Thailand; they are heat adapted and more resistant to parasites than some imported breeds.

Swine: the teaching swine facility raises swine that are a cross between land raised sows and Duroc boars. The facility uses mostly live-cover breeding. On average, there are 10 piglets per litter.

Other facilities at the school include fisheries, frog farming, horticulture, greenhouses, vegetable farming, and a experimental farm for sustainable agriculture (stay tuned for later posts and pictures). All of the animal products produced at CCAT are incorporated into school lunches and surplus is sold biweekly at a student run market in front of the school.


Farm Visits, Livestock Management

Animal Health Evaluation and Calf Scoring

During our first week spent at CCAT (Chaiyapum College of Agriculture and Technology) we taught a variety of hands-on veterinary science labs to the students. Dr. Remsburg, a practicing veterinarian from Pennsylvania, has been with us for the past week and has and added insightful clinical knowledge to the labs. His enthusiasm and support has been invaluable to our group!

The first lab that we taught was how to perform a basic physical exam on an adult cow and how to score a calf. After a brief classroom presentation filled with pictures, we went to the school’s small teaching dairy farm located at the animal science department. First, we demonstrated how to check a calf’s temperature, check for nasal discharge, ocular discharge, fecal consistency, and ear droop etc. On the adult cow, we used colored cow chalk to show anatomical landmarks such as the heart, lungs, and rumen. The students took turns stimulating cows to urinate (in order to collect a sample to check for ketones), checking respiration rate, heart rate, learning to use a stethoscope, and perform a “scooch test” to test for pain.

From this lab, we learned that the students respond well to hands on and visual activities. For the following labs we plan to add as much hands-on work as possible!

Livestock Management, Teaching Workshops

Chaiyapum rural countryside and Pineapple farming

Today was our first day in Chaiyapum where we met with professors from CCAT.  After eating lunch, we stopped at the school briefly and then the professors brought us to Tadton natural park to see a waterfall and nature surrounding the park. We then drove up into the hilly countryside to see the rural life style and landscape. During the drive, we saw expanses of fruit gardens, upland rice paddies, pineapple fields, rubber tree groves, cassava fields and sugarcane crops. We had fun identifying each field of crop and learning about different aspects of their production.

During our drive, we saw some farmers working in a pineapple field and we pulled over to talk with them. We met the owner of a farm (a women) who explained to us more details about pineapple crops, of which there are over 1,000 acres in the area. (In Thailand the unit to measure land area is the rai, and 2.5 rai equal 1 acre). Her independently owned farm produces 15 metric tons per acre per year. Pineapples grow close to the ground, and each plant produces one fruit at a time. We were surprised to learn how long it takes to produce one pineapple. It takes about 18 months from planting until the pineapple is ready to be manually harvested. After 12 of these months, a product is applied to the fruit, and 6 months after this application the pineapple is harvested. The pineapples profit about 7 baht per kilo when the farmers sell directly on the street or 3 baht per kilo when the farmer sells to a canning company. A second, (often smaller) pineapple grows on the same plant and is then harvested after 3-4 months. After the second harvest, it is time to replant using the tops of the last crop of pineapples to seed a new field. Therefore, even if the pineapple is not yet matured it will be harvested so that the tops can be replanted. The owner told us that she makes between 50,000 – 200,000 baht per harvest (per rai per harvest, over a 2 year period, and depending on the year). I don’t think any of us will ever eat pineapple again without remembering all the time and hard work that goes into growing them!



KKU Farm Call

June 22, 2012


Moldy rice straw

Example of a depressed cow

Students taking history





Collecting blood sample

Collecting blood sample

Gif, Aim, Jolie, Kate and John











Today we accompanied the students and a veterinarian on a farm call. The dairy cows on this farm were sick and a suspected cause was mycotoxicosis. Mycotoxins are toxins or secondary metabolites produced by mold that is present in the animal’s feed. They can cause sickness either directly by effecting liver function or indirectly by suppressing the immune system. The toxic conditions can build up gradually over a period of time (depending on how much is present in the feed), and eventually can reach levels high enough to cause acute sickness.

When we visited the farm, the students and veterinarian obtained a detailed history of the case, evaluated the feed and feed storage, and evaluated the herd’s symptoms. Some of the symptoms of the sick cows included increased respiratory effort, fever, depression, Down cow, gastrointestinal discomfort, and muscle tremors.

In this case, the source of the problem was mainly the cattle’s consumption of moldy rice straw. The straw bales became moldy after getting wet. The storage conditions on the farm were also a problem as there was some mold growing in the walls. Moldy rice straw could be found during the rainy season especially in the cases of improper feed storage. Recently, there has been only a few suspected farms (less than 1% of dairy farms in this area). Many farmers here are aware of this type of problem and have tried to prevent it to produce good milk quality.

To treat the cows, antibiotics were administered, and a special adsorbant was mixed with their feed. An adsorbent is a substance that takes up another by the attachment of one substance to the surface of the other. It can be used to prevent further toxin absorption.  In the afternoon, we returned to the farm and the students collected blood to identify the toxin producing mold species, obtain a complete blood count, and to evaluate liver enzyme function.

-John and Kate

Livestock Management, Uncategorized, Veterinary

Bovine Rotation at Khon Kaen University


Our team has the opportunity to immerse ourselves in Thai culture and veterinary medicine for 2 weeks at the Khon Kaen Veterinary school. All 6 of us are participating in different rotations, including small animal internal medicine, surgery and bovine health. We (John and Kate) are taking part in the bovine rotation that focuses on mastitis in dairy cows and milk quality control this week.

From Left to Right: John, Mr. Somchit, Kate, Ninh (Vietnamese international student), Dr. Chaiyapas

Yesterday, following a short meeting with the dean of the school, we joined the rotation. In the morning, we watched a Canadian film about milk quality and good and bad habits or routines used by farmers in the dairy industry, and how a veterinarian should evaluate farm practices. The professor also talked at length about the afternoon’s agenda, including a visit to a nearby dairy farm where we would be performing various tests and practicing some important veterinary skills.

After a delicious lunch in the school’s beautiful open air cafeteria, we hopped on the bus and travelled to a 45 cow dairy 30 km away, which is owned and run by Mr. and Mrs. Somchit. This farm has 14 milking cows, and we were able to observe the milking process by the husband and wife team. During the milking process, the cows are fed. Three veterinary graduate students who also came along on the farm visit explained to us the components of the feed. We were fascinated to learn that they eat various combinations of regionally specific products and by-products, some of which include pineapple, coconut, rice bran, and rice straw (the primary roughage).

Pineapple by product feed, very sweet

Layered feed, top to bottom: coconut husk, minerals, rice bran, brewers byproduct, coconut byproduct









While the farmers were doing the afternoon milking, the veterinary students performed their tasks. To detect subclinical mastitis, the California Mastitis Test (CMT) was performed by collecting a sample of milk from each quarter of the udder. In a CMT, a paddle is used that separates the samples, a reagent is added, and the degree of gelling rapidly and accurately helps determine somatic cell counts (SCC) in a specific cow. The students also collected milk samples using aseptic technique, practiced scoring body condition, teat end conformation, and overall hygiene of the farm. Meanwhile, we spoke with Dr. Chaiyapas about dairy farming and veterinary medicine in Thailand. We discussed common vaccinations that are given to cattle (including Foot and Mouth disease), common health issues seen in Thai dairy cows such as laminitis due to feeding high concentrate feeds, gastrointestinal diseases, mastitis treatments, and antibiotic resistance.

Thai student collecting milk sample using aseptic technique

CMT results, dark purple gelling quadrant indicates clinical mastitis with a score of 3







Today, the class stayed in the lab to analyze the samples collected from the day before. They determined bacterial load from the bulk tank sample (all the cows) using Standard plate counts. The same technique is used to classify the strain of bacteria found in an individual cow’s mastitis infection. They also did a Methylene Blue Reduction test, which determines if certain types of acid producing bacteria are present in the milk. Lastly, they performed Somatic cell count analysis. The results from these analyses will be later used to help the farmer effectively treat his herd, and the class will make overall recommendations later based on their data and observations.

-John and Kate

Farm Visits, Veterinary

Veterinary students visit Cambodian children at Aziza’s Place


We had the opportunity to visit Aziza’s Place while we were visiting Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia. Aziza’s Place is a home and school for impoverished Cambodian children who are from city slums and vulnerable situations or lifestyles. The foundation was established in 2007 in memory of a young girl named Aziza Yasmeen Ghori, who tragically lost her life. The school aims to empower and educate the children in their youth, giving them tools for success in their adult life. There are currently 22 children aged 6-16.

The school, located in the heart of Cambodia’s capital, is a vibrant, colorful, and happy place. When we arrived, all the children greeted us warmly and introduced themselves. We then had the pleasure of observing their weekly dance class. The school creates a peaceful safe-haven in the midst of a bustling and loud city, and we could perceive this as soon as we entered the gates.


After the dance class, we had the opportunity to talk to the children about veterinary medicine in the USA. We discussed different types of veterinary careers, including companion, food animal, exotics, equine, and public health. We tried to make the presentation interactive, and included discussions of what kinds of animals are in Cambodia, how they are used, and the veterinarian’s role.

The afternoon was overall a very positive experience for both us and the children.

-John and Kate





School Visits, Teaching Workshops

Follow our travels!

Stop back soon, the gang will be traveling throughout Northeast Thailand during June and July 2012. We will be blogging regularly as we… join senior Thai vet students on their clinical veterinary rotations (on field service and small animal internal medicine), visit farms (swine, dairy, poultry, rice), hold teaching workshops at elementary and middle schools …..and lots more!



5th Annual Meeting- Global Colloquium of University Presidents

EMPOWERING WOMEN TO CHANGE THE WORLD: In April of 2011, the University of Pennsylvania hosted the 5th Annual Global Colloquium of University Presidents. Each year the Colloquium is hosted by one of the 5 sponsoring Ivy League Universities- Columbia, NYU, Penn, Princeton, Yale, while University Presidents from 25 countries from around the world are invited to attend with the goal of exchanging ideas on an important and timely topic. This year’s public address was focused on the subject of Empowering Women to Change the World.

The speakers, Ban Ki-Moon (Secretary General of the United Nations), Michelle Bachelet (First female Chilean President; Executive Director of United Nations Women), Valerie Jarrett (Senior Advisor to President Obama and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls) and Amy Gutmann (President of the University of Pennsylvania)

I was excited to learn more about the depth and breadth of women empowerment initiatives planed throughout the world over the next decade. I am excited that the DEC will be a part of developing meaningful opportunities for women and girls in Thailand, bringing the world closer to it’s goals. The speakers covered many topics and spoke about goals for the future. Click on the below links to listen to each person’s public address.

Dr. Amy Gutmann – Public Opening of Global Colloquium

Michelle Bachelet – Former President of Chile – Plenary Session Keynote Address

Brief Overview – Ban Ki-Moon, Michelle Bachelet, Valerie Jarrett, and Amy Gutmann

“Universities are the incubators of change” – Valerie Jarrett

“There is no other topic [women's empowerment] that is more important to the UN and Universities that we can work together on” – Dr. Amy Gutmann

Uncategorized, Uncategorized visits

Vet dairy farmer models progressive management!

We had the opportunity to visit a very progressive dairy farm. The owner of the farm is a veterinary graduate of Khon Kaen University, and the management on his dairy farm is reflective of his level of dairy knowledge. Although they are currently milking with bucket system, the farm has plans for the future of implementing a pipeline system- a very progressive transition for this region in Thailand. In addition to being a veterinarian and a owning and managing the farm, he also privately owns a dairy cooperative which we toured later in the evening. Additionally, while we were on the farm for the afternoon a cow gave birth to a heifer calf!

Farm Visits

Farm expansion on the horizon!

We were warmly welcomed to this family owned 30 cow dairy that began dairy farming just 2 years ago. The family members have attended training classes that are provided through the DPO (Dairy Farming Promotion Organization of Thailand), but they explain that they are eager to learn more. In addition to dairy farming, the family also continues to rice farm. They eat or sell the rice and use the rice by-product, what was waste material before dairy farming) as forage for the cows. They explained that in the next 10 years, they would like to increase the land that they own and use for farming and also significantly increase the number of cows on the farm. Their farm is very well managed and we look forward to seeing them expand and continue to learn!

Farm Visits

Manure sales to boost farm revenue!

This family farm began dairy farming just 8 years ago when they were given a few cows as a gift from their relatives. The management style is unique to this region in that they graze their animals on pasture for parts of the day, while other farms in the area cut the grass and haul it to the cow’s lot. The dairy cooperative to which the farm belongs actually helps the farm find the best grasses to plant in their pasture which will be most nutritious for the cows. In addition, the farm owner (wife) supplements the farms income from milk sales by selling the cow manure to a nearby rubber tree farm.

Farm Visits

Sugarcane and cassava farmers switch to dairy

Today we visited a family farm, that previously farmed sugarcane and cassava but bought their first cows 8 years ago. They learned all about cows from their neighbors who are dairy farmers. The farm currently has 22 lactating cows and 7 heifers. The business is a family affair with the 2 sons (aged 21 and 18) looking to continue dairy farming well into the future. They are very happy with the services they receive from the dairy cooperative to which they belong and are thankful that the government pays 100% to vaccinate all of their cows against Foot and Mouth Disease (2 times a year).

Farm Visits

Temple school kids making ice cream!

We made ice cream at a school that is located on the temple grounds. The kids at this school are amazing. More details to come!

Check out this video… singing while shaking the ice cream ingredients! The director even joins in! MOV00193

School Visits

I scream, you scream, Thailand screams for ice cream!

Yesterday we went to visit the Chaiyaphum College of Agriculture and Technology to give the students a lesson in how to make ice cream!! Our students for the day were girls and boys specifically interested in having or managing dairy farms in the future. We traded our ice cream lesson for a tour of their dairy barns. It was hard to focus though, when all anyone had on their mind was ice cream …

The ice cream making process gave us a framework to discuss dairy products and dairy processing in Thailand, it wasn’t only about the sweet treats we all hoped would result in the end. We practiced english with the Ag students by talking through the ingredients that go into ice cream, and discussed how milk is made safe through pasteurization. Then we proceeded to the stickiness with Amanda and Brittany demonstrating how to make ice cream with 4 ingredients; cream, milk, coconut milk and sugar.

The result = delicious for all parties involved. The students jumped right in after the demonstration and although it was messy, everyone had so much fun making ice cream and students even brought out flavorings to make their own signature ice cream. Clearly we are excited to use this lesson with students again.


School Visits

Students learn where their School Milk comes from

We spent the day at Anuban Chaiyaphum School and were welcomed by an indescribable amount of excitement and energy. Dairy consumption is has been increasing in the Chayiaphum province very steadily since the 1980’s, which began when HM King began the School Milk program. This area is known for rice production but many farmers have been transitioning to dairy farming with the rising demand for fresh fluid milk. Despite the fact that dairy farming is on the rise in the area, we realized there are still many students for which a description of the co-op collection system was brand new. In addition, the students analyzed and presented to the rest of the class, the precautionary and processing steps necessary to make raw milk safe to consume. Two options for processing include UHT (ultra high temperature) heating or pasteurizing, both of which are common in Thailand. We did blindfolded taste testing of the two forms… the class was pretty split between those that prefer UHT to those that prefer the pasteurized.

School Visits