Animal Husbandry

From my notes for Anthropology 160 at UCSB:
of Watering
FoodFirst Birth
Cattle 9 months 1-2 days grass (fodder) 3 years
Sheep 5 months 3 days short grass 1 year
Goats 5 months 3 days browse 1 year
Camels 13 months 1-2 weeks tall grass & browse 5-6 years
If you see a cow, you've found water.
If you see a donkey, you've found a camp.
If you see a camel, you're lost.

The Pastoral Maasai eschew hunting, fishing, and farming, adhering zealously to a purely pastoral diet. They attempt to live solely off the milk, meat, and blood of their livestock. They have 14 head of capital per capita, making them one of the wealthiest cattle-owning peoples in Africa. A typical family (8-10 people) owns 125-140 head of cattle, of which 57-60% are adult milch cows on which the family depends for daily subsistence. Pastoral Maasai also keep large flocks of sheep and goats, kept solely for meat consumption. A typical family owns 150-200 sheep and goats, and at least five or six donkeys, which are used as pack animals.

There are about 10 people and 190 livestock units (i.e. 5 sheep and goats equal to one adult cow, and one adult donkey equal to two cows) per square mile for Kenya Maasai, and 3 people and 65 livestock units per square mile for Tanzania Maasai. These may represent overstocking and over-peopling.

A typical camp will consist of 50-80 people and as many as 1200-1500 livestock units. [Alan H Jacobs, “Maasai pastoralism in historical perspective.”]

The Pakot of Kenya have 10-20 cattle per adult male plus 10.5 goats and 3.4 sheep [Anthro160.15]
Among the Mkamba, shifting cultivators, a family owns 20 cattle, 9 sheep, and 28 goats. [Anthro160.277]
A Lapp family may possess 1000 reindeer, but usually it's half that many. 200 is the minimum number of reindeer needed to provide for a family of 4-5 adults.
A bó-aire held 700 acres (yielding crops of 1 bushel/acre), 20 cows, 2 bulls, 6 oxen, 20 pigs, 20 sheep, 4 boars, 2 sows. [Mac Niocaill, Ireland Before the Vikings, p. 65]
A bó-aire had 12 cows and small stock, and rented 8 cows and pasture lands from a lord. [Nerys Patterson, Cattle Lords and Clansmen, p. 220]

An ócaire owned seven pigs and a domestic boar, seven sheep, seven cows and a bull, an ox for plowing, and a work horse. He would further rent 8 cows and pasture lands from a lord. [Nerys Patterson, Cattle Lords and Clansmen, p. 164, 220]

The common rule of thumb is that one acre of permanent pasture can support one animal unit (one cow or horse, six sheep or goats) through the grazing season. Pasture productivity can vary widely from that guideline. Lush improved pastures can provide grazing for 10-12 ewes with their lambs per acre. Stocking rates for aggressive rotation, with substantial rests for the pastures after each grazing cycle, can reach 6 cows or 36 sheep per acre on improved pastures. At the other end of the scale, a cow or horse would have trouble supporting itself on five or even ten acres of dry Western native grassland, and one sheep per acre is the rule on some Australian sheep stations. [Pasture FAQ]
General guidelines for the pasture needs (if the pasture is to serve as a feed source) for horses which have a mature weight of 1000 to 1200 lbs. are:
Mare and foal: 1.75 to 2 acres
Yearlings: 1.5 to 2 acre
Weanlings: 0.5 to 1 acre
[Horse Pasture]
OK, this isn't animal husbandry, but for games which make use of prehistoric creatures (like those set in Glorantha), I recommend The Simon & Schuster Encylopedia of Dinosaurs & Prehistoric Creatures. It's got great illustrations of early mammals, many showing scale with a human figure. Latest edition is from 1999.
Milking increases caloric yields from fodder “by something like four times over what slaughter for meat could provide.” It also meant that humans began to maintain larger herds than before milking was practiced.

Llamas carried only about a quarter of the load a camel could bear [J. R. McNeill and William H. McNeill, The Human Web]

In Montenegro, “a sheep requires 150 kilos of hay and a cow 300 kilos. ... animals are kept under roof all winter.” [Christopher Boehm, Montenegrin Social Organization and Values]
Mules can carry 120 kg for up to 20 km, at 6 km/h. [FAO document]

Nepalese porters are the most efficient human load carriers. Men's loads averaged 95% of their body weight (to a maximum of 183%); women averaged 66%. “The porters walk slowly and rest often but go many hours with big loads” using less energy than young Europeans. [Science News, 18 Jun 2005]

Copyright ©2005 David Dunham. Last updated 13 Jul 05.

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