Migratory Herding

In this form of livestock industry, the animals are periodically driven to the pasture grounds. There are several types. In the case of mountain grazing or alpine cattle keeping, the livestock is kept in stables located in the valley during the winter; in the summer they are driven to the mountains by hired hands or family members who tend them and keep them there to graze. Transhumance is characterized by periodic migrations with herds that belong to owners who live in a permanent settlement. The herds migrate between two climatic zones that have very different conditions (e.g., mountains and lowlands). Therefore it is not necessary to feed in stables during the winter. This form is found in all parts of the world and makes use of marginal areas. Pastoral nomadism is the wandering of social groups (clans, extended families) with their herds through tribal territory that serves them as pasture lands and that is often theirs more on the basis of tradition and domination than legally defined.

The insecurity involved in an existence in marginal regions forces the groups to be strongly tied together in order to protect grazing and water rights. The leadership of the group, therefore, demands strictly observed loyalty on the part of the group members, while the leader gives patronage and protection. The indivual families are principally equal.

Social differentiation is the result of a process of superior position of permanently settled cultivators with whom the nomads avoid integration by means of a special code of honour and closed marriage circles.

The right of use for the grazing areas is in the hands of the tribes, while the animals belong to the individual families. This differentiation results easily in the land being overgrazed if grazing land grows scarce. The tendency exists, namely, to own a herd with as many animals as possible and not to try to achieve high performance. The livestock is not only the basis on which the group's own needs are met and a security against times of crises, but it is at the same time the only form of maintaining a food buffer stock in a nomadic way of life. It creates, furthermore, prestige; serves as a source of gifts needed to meet social obligations, and to pay the bride price for the purpose of tying social relationships that, once again, serve as a means of securing the existence of the group.

In many cases, there are economic ties to the settled population. This is necessary to meet the demand for non-animal products. In recent times, cereal cultivation by tenants and farm hands has increased.

Migratory herding is of great importance for reclamation of desert and marginal regions as well as transport and trade routes. The production is, however, low and the land is frequently devastated by being over grazed. It is difficult to motivate the tribal groups to change their mode of production. This is namely at the same time their way of life, and a change would include settling. Efforts taken in this direction have, however, little success as this transition would mean the necessity of taking up field cultivation, which is not respected, and giving up their elite position in other words turning away from the traditional culture.