Definition of pastoralism and its types


There are different types of agricultural methods and pastoralism is one of them. The Definition of pastoralismIt is the part of agriculture that describes animal livestock farming. Pastoralism marks the first steps in the ancient period of human civilization. Here we discussed the definition and description of pastoralism.

Agriculture is the first level of the economy. In the past, people used to make a living from this agricultural work. Because the technology of the ancient time was not as advanced as the technology of the present. So no industry has developed that way in the past.

Farming was the core of human economic activity. At that time people used to keep different types of animals on the same farm along with agricultural work. Pastoralism is one such type of agricultural method.

Definition of pastoralism

Pastoralism refers to a method that involves raising animals and taking care of herds. The definition of pastoralism in simple words is, it is the branch of agriculture-related to animal husbandry. At some point in the ancient period, as prey realized an unstable activity, humans may have thought of domesticating animals. People living in different climates are selected and domesticated animals are found in that area.

Depending on the geographical factors and technological advances animal husbandry today is practiced at either the livelihood or commercial level. Pastoralism is a way of life of humans who do not live in the same place continuously but move in cycles or in phases.

Interesting facts about pastoralism

  • Pastoralism is a branch of agriculture-related to animals raised for meat, fiber, milk, eggs, leather, and other animal products.
  • This activity directly affects the economic dependence of the preceptors.
  • It is based on extensive livestock farming.
  • The animals that are reared here are donkeys, sheep, goats, cattle, camels, horses, reindeer, etc.
  • It is found in many regions throughout the world.
  • This is usually done in places where the environment is arid in nature, weak soil, cold or hot temperatures, and lack of water.
  • Here animal feed is not bought for them, the animals are shifted to pastures.

Where pastoralism is found

This type of ecological system of agriculture is found in the following areas

  • Australia
  • The Tibetan plateau
  • The Eurasian steppes
  • Africa
  • The Andes
  • Patagonia
  • The pampas etc.

Types of pastoralism

1. Nomadic Pastoralism

  • Nomadic pastoralism or nomadism is adapted by peoples who have no particular habitat in an area. It is also known as pastoral nomadism.
  • It is described as one of the types of livestock that move from one place to another.
  • This livestock farming is the primary source of livelihood for the marginalized people of the African continent.
  • The main reason for the Nomadic pastoralism or nomadism of the nomads was to find fresh pastures for their pets.
  • Nomads move from south to north in summer and from north to south in winter in the tundra region.
  • In this agricultural system, there is no fixed schedule for nomads to travel from one place to another.
  • Nomads in Nomadic pastoralism or nomadism are occupied and identified territory.
  • It is a primitive subsistence farming method.
  • Nomadic pastoralism or nomadism is generally prevalent in regions with very little arable land in the developing world.
  • Such farming methods are mainly used to meet the needs of food production, clothing, shelter, and entertainment for the family.
  • The animals that are reared here are sheep, goats, cattle, donkeys, camels, horses, reindeer, etc. Nomads apply this farming method to meet their own needs.

Location of nomadic pastoralism

Nomadic pastoralism or nomadism is mainly found in these areas

  • The southwestern and central parts of Asia.
  • Northern Canada
  • The northern parts of Norway, Sweden, and Finland.
  • Some parts of Saharan Africa such as Libya, Algeria, Sudan, Niger, Mali, Mauritania, and Chad.
  • Kenya and the mountain region of Tanzania.
  • North Russia.

The function of nomadic pastoralism

  1. The main importance of nomadism or Nomadic pastoralism or nomadism is that the headers depend on animals for food, clothing, shelter, and transport.
  2. Nomads in Nomadic pastoralism or nomadism produce some essential products such as meat, milk, wool, etc.
  3. Headers stabilize their finances by rearing all these animals and exporting various animal products to the market.
  4. Mainly livestock farming is done here. So sufficient food supply is always maintained in this farming method.

2. Transhumance


Transhumance words come from two French words, “trans” and “humus”. Trans means across and humus means ground.


Transhumance is the process of moving from the plains to the mountain pastures in summer and from the mountain pastures to the plains in winter.

Interesting facts about Transhumance

  • Transhumance is a type of seasonal movement of livestock farming.
  • It is based on regular and seasonal movements.
  • Those who practice transhumance are usually involved in cultivating certain types of crops.
  • It is more organized and capital intensive.
  • This type of pastoralism is developed on every continent.
  • It is a fixed pattern of movement of farming.
  • Those who apply the transhumance method have permanent settlements.
  • In some parts of the world, transhumance is practiced in mountain areas and in highlands or regions that are too cold.

Example of transhumance

Some examples of transhumance are as follows

  • Romanian and Vlachs transhumance in Balkans
  • Transhumance in Toblach, South Tyrol
  • Main transhumance routes in Spain
  • Transhumance in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France.
  • Vlach shepherd in Banat.


Transhumance pastoralism is mainly found in temperate areas. Such as

  • Himalayan-Hindu Kush area
  • the cold semi-arid zone of the north of the Himalaya
  • Tibetan plateau
  • Northern China to the Eurasian steppe.
  • The Alps, Balkans, Britain, Scotland, England, Ireland, Italy, Spain, etc. in Europe
  • Afghanistan, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, etc. in Asia
  • Australia
  • North Africa, Horn of Africa, East Africa, Nigeria, etc. in Africa.
  • And some parts of North and South America.

Function of Transhumance

  1. This type of livestock farming helps to utilize grazing resources, often distributed over large areas.
  2. It helps to protect cattle from harsh climates.
  3. Transhumance provides an advantage to integrate livestock with crop production.
  4. Those who have practiced transhumance stabilize their finances by rearing all these animals and exporting various animal products to the market.

Written By: Manisha Bharati