Livestock movement patterns in the main livestock production provinces of Lao PDR.
Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a highly infectious transboundary disease that is endemic and affects the livelihood of smallholder farmers in Lao People's Democratic Republic (PDR). Knowledge about livestock movement patterns is important for preventing the spread of FMD between villages. This study describes the livestock movement patterns in Champasak, Savannakhet and Xiangkhouang provinces of Lao PDR. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with randomly selected villagers (n = 195) and traders (n = 169) in 115 villages between February and March 2019. Livestock owners commonly purchased (mainly breeding) animals from other smallholders (81%) and sold (mainly slaughter) animals to traders (76%) or other smallholders (16%), typically within the same district and province. The median inter-village trade distance was 20-30 km, with an average frequency of 4 trades per village per month. Traders purchased animals from smallholders (71%) and middlemen (25%) located within their district. It was common for many traders (74%) to retain animals at their property before selling, typically a median of 4 beef cattle per trader. Local trades within the district were far more common (72%) than distant trades. The movements of grazing/fattening large ruminants between villages were reported in 30% of the villages in all three provinces and occurred mostly within the same district or province in short distance (6 km). Social Network Analysis has identified animal movement hubs in the three provinces which could be targeted for FMD control and surveillance. Movements of animals for further use (fattening/ reproduction), long-distance movements and frequent local movements described in this area have important implications for FMD circulation. The findings from the study will inform FMD spread simulation models for Lao PDR. The knowledge gained from these data will also help the Lao PDR authorities understand the patterns of animal movements associated with disease spread.