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Pastoral Farming or Pastoralists
Where pioneer settlers first moved into the temperate grasslands, there were very few animals. The natural conditions suited animals farming. Subsequently, cattle, sheep, pig, etc., were introduced and they proved very successful. The commercial domestication of animals is particularly important in the temperate grasslands.
Thus, Pastoralism is essentially an occupation of the grasslands and semi-desert areas and because pasture is often difficult to find, or more abundant at certain season, the herdsmen tend to be nomadic, moving with their herds in search of grass and water. The tundra areas also support some nomadic pastoralists with their herds of reindeer or caribou. Elsewhere cattle, sheep, goats, horses, camels or yaks are the basis of the pastoral way of life and supply food, in the forms of either meat, milk or cheese, wool and hides.
The pastoral peoples include the Lapps of northern Scandinavia; the Aleuts and other Alaskan peoples; the Chuchchees, Yakuts, Tunguses, Koriaks and other peoples of northern Siberia; the Buryats mid Mongolians, Kalmuks, Kirghiz, Tibetans and other Central Asian peoples; some groups in Iran and Turkey; the Bedouin of the Middle East; the Berbers of North Africa, the Fulani of West Africa and the Masai and other tribes of East and Central Africa. The way of life of the various groups is basically a subsistence economy but cultivate small plots of land if they remain in one place for long enough, others depend on hunting and fishing to supplement their diet.
Trade with neighboring settled groups is also important to many pastoralists. There are few groups, however, who continue to live in their traditional manner. In Russia particularly they have been forcibly organized to work on collective ranches and in almost every country nomads are, encouraged to settle and to take up commercial ranching. Another way in which their movements have been affected is by the establishment of definite political boundaries, which may cut across their traditional routes.
The seasonal pattern of movement followed by animals and nomads varies depending on climatic conditions and the type of animals herded. It may be a constant pattern of movements from one area of pasture to another or from one water hold to another in the desert or it may be a seasonal pattern in which people spend the winter in one area and move off in the spring to find pasture on uplands previously covered with snow, e.g.. The Sub Arctic peoples move into the Tundra areas in the summer. The Kazaks traditionally made six major movements in relation to the seasons and grazing needs of their herd during the year.
Since nomadic herding is practiced in so many different parts of the world, a wide variety of animals is kept, each groups keeping the type of animals most suitable to the region in which way they live. In tropical areas of Africa, cattle are the most important livestock, though in drier areas, they may be replaced by goats. In the Sahara and the Asiatic deserts sheep and goats are kept and they provide wool, meat and milk. In the steppes of Central Asia, sheep and horses are the most important animals. Horses are kept not only as draught animals but also for their meat and milk by the Kirghiz and Mongols.
Transhumance is similar to nomadic herding in that it involves the seasonal movement of animals in search of pasture. But it is quite different in the fact that it is based on a permanent farm and is much more intensive method of livestock farming. In mountain areas, such as Norway, Italy etc., cattle or sheep from a farm or ranch may be kept in the valleys in winter, and driven on to the mountain pastures or Alps in spring when snow melts. In winter, they are usually kept under cover and fed on fodder, which has been grown in the valley fields during summer. In Europe dairy cattle are often raised in this way.