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transhumancethe seasonal movement of human groups in search of pastures; for example, the movement from dry season to wet season pastures undertaken by the Nuer. See also PASTORALISM, NOMADS, HERDING SOCIETY.
the seasonal movement of animals between pastures that are located far from residential and production centers. The animals are pastured year-round or for the greater part of the year. Sheep, horses, camels, and yaks are best adapted to transhumance. In many regions cattle are also kept on seasonal pastures.
The principal regions of transhumance in the USSR are Kazakhstan, Middle Asia, Transcaucasia, and the Northern Caucasus, as well as southeastern regions of the European RSFSR and of Western and Eastern Siberia. A nomadic system, in which land cultivation and systematic stock raising were nonexistent, formerly prevailed in many of these regions. When kolkhozes and sovkhozes were first organized, livestock usually was both pastured and stabled. With the growth of herds, farms were no longer able to supply sufficient feed from their own land.
In 1942 the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolshevik) and of the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR passed the resolution On Measures for the Care of Offspring and Increase in Livestock Herds on Kolkhozes and Sovkhozes, which set forth a program for the organization of transhumant animal raising. From 1945 to 1973, many old pastures were irrigated and improved, and many new pastures were created. Mechanized stock-raising stations and brigades to help farms prepare reserves of fodder and mechanize water lifting and other labor-intensive processes have been set up on the distant pastures. Many farms have irrigated areas for growing fodder plants. An evaluation of pastures (to assess their natural characteristics and farming capacity), pasture rotation, and enclosed pasturing have been introduced.
The entire camel and yak population, more than 50 percent of the sheep and goat population, 25 percent of the cattle population, and a large number of horses are concentrated in the desert, semidesert, steppe, and mountain regions of the USSR. In the spring, summer, and autumn, all the livestock in these regions are pastured. In the winter 30–35 million head are pastured. Light-weight structures made of local materials, sheds, and windbreaks are built to shelter the animals during bad weather. Permanent dwellings or portable cottages or yurts are provided for the herdsmen. Farm and interfarm cultural centers are being established in many regions.
The economic merit of transhumant stock raising has been proved. The net cost of the animal products is decreased significantly because expenditures for feed, maintenance, and labor are minimal. Considerable areas of arable land on the farms are freed for the development of other branches of agriculture.
A year-round pasturing system is used in several countries, including Australia, Mongolia, Afghanistan, Argentina, Brazil, and New Zealand. In Australia, about 170 million sheep and about 18 million cattle are pastured year-round. In Mongolia more than 22 million head of livestock are kept in pastures throughout the year.
IA. Z. LUTSKII