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An Introduction to the Animal Production in Taiwan

Under the influence of maritime climate, the subtropical island of Taiwan features high temperatures and humidities. Despite adverse environmental factors, domestic animals including livestock and poultry grow well. As a result of continuous economic development and improved living standards in recent years, the demand for animal protein in the daily diet of local citizens has increased sharply, making animal husbandry one of the most prominent industries in local farming villages.
Livestock and poultry sanctioned by the ROC government include pig, dairy cow, sheep, horse, rabbit, chicken, duck, goose and turkey. Other major poultry raised by local farmers include quail and ostrich yet to receive government sanction. Due to high land prices and rising environmental awareness, most local farmers operate on a small scale in rural areas of Central and Southern Taiwan. Coupled with import-dependent feeds and expensive laborers, the local livestock industry operates at a rather high production cost. Fortunately, local livestock farmers are highly diligent, and have advanced feeding and breeding skills. As a result, domestic livestock products such as pork not only meet domestic demand but also supply foreign markets. Since the outbreak of the Food-and-Mouth Disease (FMD), however, government policy priorities have been shifted to the domestic market, reducing livestock export to a role of balancing production surpluses.
With Taiwan's entering the World Trade Organization (WTO), livestock products are bound to suffer tremendous pressure under global competition. Major challenges facing local livestock farmers include:

  1. As certain parts of meats in Taiwan have long enjoyed a price advantage over imports, it will take time for us to adjust to new market parameters. For example, the imported drumsticks, chicken wings and pork bellies, which cost little in the U.S., could be sold at a much higher price here, while the chest meat and other pork cuts are on the reverse. The opening up of the domestic market to foreign imports therefore will prompt the prices of the whole hogs and chickens to drop and result in serious losses to the local farmers. This is expected to further exacerbate after 2005.
  2. Taiwan's livestock farms remain largely small in scale and large in number; therefore, to compete with multi-national enterprises, further consolidation is required.
  3. Because Taiwan is surrounded by oceans and has long coastal lines, smuggling is difficult to curb, which poses a risk of the invasion of exotic diseases. Local farmers hence have no complete control over the safety of the animals they raise.
  4. The limited availability of pastoral land has resulted in heavily concentrated livestock farming in Taiwan. The vast amount of solid waste thus generated poses yet another difficulty for farm operators.
  5. With consumers' product safety awareness on the rise, effective elimination of residual hazardous substances in food has become a pressing need.
  6. Given the growing awareness of animal welfare, highly concentrated animal breeding will no longer be acceptable. However, renovation of animal houses involoves new investment and will increase the production cost, all dampending the alreday gloomy business environment.

Despite the challenges, livestock farmers and the government have been working closely throughout the years to readjust the structure of the industry and to modernize its production and marketing. Such efforts have seen fruitful results, particularly over the past three years. Therefore, it is expected that the overall livestock industry in Taiwan will maintain its edge in the face of global competition.