TABLE of CONTENTS: Herd management

33. Number of animals

34. Moving herds between paddocks

35. Supervising the herd

The bespectacled crocodile

by John Hall

An illustrated manual for facilitating Holistic Management in pastoral communities.

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Introduction to the instructional unit on herd management


Introduce this instructional unit by saying that it deals with a subject raised several times during the previous training sessions, i.e.., the number of animals, how they should move around, and how they should be kept. Ask participants to cite some of their concerns in this regard :

¨      Are animals belonging to outside users a problem when they move to and from pastures, through their grazing area?


After hearing one or two concerns, explain briefly how they are going to tackle these issues in this first module, and then in the other modules in this unit.


Show participants the icons for modules covered in previous sessions, such as:

¨      "the whole to be managed";

¨      "animal impact";

¨      "time"; and

¨      "events and constraints ».


Have participants to reiterate the meaning of each module in one or two sentences.


Then show the image of a herd moving along in front of an arrow that indicates movement. This will be the icon for these three new modules, since they deal with "herd management" Then display the icon.











Desired situation:


¨      The community involves outside users in planning the management of pastoral resources;

¨      It accepts the presence of animals belonging to outside users as something to be assumed in this planning;

¨      In exchange, outside users participate actively in this planning and adhere to the community’s management rules.


Current situation


¨      Herders generally think that the excessive number of animals, along with insufficient rain, is the essential reason for pastureland deterioration.

¨      They therefore view with trepidation the arrival of animals belonging to other users, even those with acknowledged users’ rights.

Disparity between current and desired situation


¨      Confusion as to the true causes of overgrazing;

¨      Misreading/underestimation of the potentially positive impact of livestock on soils and vegetation;

¨      Lack of awareness of the potential of collaborative action.


Objectives of the module


By the end of the session, the participants will be able to:


¨      recognize that livestock belonging to outside users is part of the "whole to be managed";

¨      explain the potentially positive impact of a large number of animals, provided that time requirements are respected;

¨      assess, along with outside users, the carrying capacity of the grazing area, and design appropriate strategies.





Participants at Arfa Diguinat (Chad) discuss what attitude they should adopt upon learning of the imminent arrival of a group of transhumants; (37/02)





Target group:

The choice of the target group is left up to the community and the outreach team. It should include representatives of at least the following:

·        the pastoral management committee

·        auxiliary herdsmen

·        shepherds or cattle drivers


Exercise utilized by the module :

Critical incident (Srinavasan, p. 110)


Graphic supports :

Folder # 33


Approximate duration of the module :

                1 hour




1.    Critical incident :


ü      Introduction :


Explain that in this exercise, they will examine a case that may help them decide how to approach the issue of the number of animals. Ask participants to listen carefully to the presentation of the situation, since they will be asked to imagine the different stances that a given community could adopt when faced with such a situation.


ü      Proposed scenario

Imagine that, one fine morning, the inhabitants of a village discover with dismay that, during the night, a large group of transhumants has camped very close by. Representatives of these transhumants introduce themselves to the village chief to inform him of their intention to remain on his community’s grazing area for an indeterminate period of time. The members of the community must decide very quickly how to react to this request, given the pressure represented by the number of additional animals belonging to the transhumants. The community seems to break down into two opposing camps:


Position of refusal



Those in favor of this option do not want to accept transhumants grazing

on their pastures, since they feel that they have made great efforts to

improve it, and that there is no reason why outsiders, who did not

participate in this effort, should take advantage of it.

If the transhumants persist in their intention to use the grazing area,

these villagers are prepared to call on the Administration and, if

necessary, to resort to force.



# 3321



# 3322



# 3323

Conciliatory position



The management committee which manages the pastures holistically

feels that, despite the large number of animals they have, the

transhumants can be accepted provided that they adhere to the rules

that villagers impose upon themselves with regard to livestock

movements among the paddocks in accordance with minimum resting

and maximum grazing times.



# 3324



# 3325


# 3326


ü      The task :


Ask participants to discuss these two different attitudes and to decide amongst themselves which is the most appropriate. Be sure that the participants have thoroughly understood the two approaches to the problem, and what they are supposed to do. A spokesperson will present the group’s conclusions after 10 to 15 minutes of reflection and discussion among them.


Specify that the participants must carefully examine the advantages and disadvantages of each approach :

¨      From the standpoint of reciprocity: indeed, if the community refuses access to the grazing area to transhumants this time, it may happen in the future that, in the event of a drought in their region, access to other grazing areas will be refused precisely because this group of transhumants was refused access;

¨      The carrying capacity of the grazing area, even if it is properly used, is not unlimited. In any case, however, if it were incapable of supporting any additional animals, it is probable that the transhumant herders, fearing hardship for their own livestock, would have chosen to stop somewhere else. Moreover, they have observed that overgrazing is attributable less to the number of animals than to the failure to observe resting and grazing times;

¨      the impact that a large number of animals can have on vegetation may seem devastating at the time, but they have also learned that, over time, this impact eventually helps improve the cycle of water and nutrients.

ü      Sharing of conclusions :


The group of participants presents its conclusions. It must provide arguments on the above-mentioned aspects to justify the position that it recommends.


2.    Utilization of the critical incident


Thank the participants for the analysis and the quality of the discussion. Put an explicit end to the debate by saying that it will be worthwhile to step back a bit to examine the results of the exercise:


¨      What happened ? What attitude did the participants adopt?

¨      What are the reasons for their decision? Are they social ? Technical ? Economic?

¨      Why did the community reject the other approach?


3.    Lessons to be learned from the exercise:


Summarize the advantages of the conciliatory position:

¨      in social terms, i.e.. with a view to reciprocity;

¨      in economic terms, i.e., as a function of the grazing area’s carrying capacity

¨      in technical terms, i.e., in terms of value of the livestock impact


After this, the participants will summarize the disadvantages of the conciliatory position:

¨      in social terms : does not raise any issue;

¨      in economic terms: possibility of temporary tension about fodder availability and access to water;

¨      in technical terms: technical issues would be nonexistent if community rules are followed.


You can use this opportunity to start a discussion aimed at defusing the frequent hostility between herding communities and other competing pastoral groups, and to lay the groundwork for the module dealing with grazing "conflict prevention " (# 04) by asking the following questions:

¨      Do you know of any herding groups that frequent your grazing area habitually?

¨      Where do they come from ? How many time a year do they come ? Are there a lot of them? About how many of them do you think there are ?

¨      Do you ever leave your village lands with your animals ? Where do you most often go, and in what season?

¨      What relationship do you have with outside users ?

¨      Do you ever discuss with them the terms of their stay on your lands?

¨      Do the animals belonging to outside users have an effect on your grazing area ? What effect?


4.    Transition to the module on "Moving herds between paddocks";


Show the icon representing « number of animals », which is the first of the three modules in this instructional unit, and place it next to the generic icon for the instructional unit;


Explain to participants that, after having studied the constraints envisaged in this module – i.e., the grazing area’s overall carrying capacity – they will follow up with a module dealing with another aspect of livestock management, i.e., herd movements on the paddocks and the rules involved in this.




q       In the event that the group of participants is too large to allow everyone to take part in the reflection, two or three sub-groups may be formed and can deliberate separately, conferring with each other before presenting their conclusions to the group at large.

In this type of exercise, it is essential that the group understand thoroughly the nature of the task at hand. You should accompany the group in its deliberations to ensure that this is the case, and also make the required adjustments to your presentation.










Desired situation:


¨      Herders are motivated to work together.

¨      They organize themselves at the family level (i.e., there is communication between owners and shepherds/cattle drivers).

¨      They accept community rules (i.e., the management plan is applied)

¨      They communicate with transhumant herders in order to persuade them to follow the management plan.


Current situation


¨      There is great reluctance to work together and cooperate.

¨      Animals from different herds, unused to being kept together, tend to fight.

¨      There is a fear of disease transmission.

¨      Transhumant herders keep their distance from the community.

Disparity between current and desired situation


¨      Lack of collaboration and lack of will to conform to a common set of rules;

¨      Herd driving practices consist of keeping herds as far from each other as possible.


Objectives of the module


By the end of the session, participants will be able to:

¨      See the relationship between time management, parceling and herd movements on the paddocks;

¨      Explain the need for cooperation among all users in drawing up a management plan taking into account constraints that hamper livestock movements on the grazing area.



Target group:

The choice of the target group is left up to the community and the outreach team. In any case, the target group should include representatives of at least the following :

·        the pastoral management committee

·        auxiliary herdsmen

·        shepherds or cattle drivers


Exercises utilized by the module :




Graphic supports :

Folder # 34


Approximate duration of the module :

                1 hour





1.    Introduction


Agree with participants that they are now all convinced of the need to adhere to grazing and resting times for plants, of the advantages and feasibility of animal impact, and that the parceling of the grazing area is the way to put the whole thing into practice. Explain that the present module shows how to go about implementing these ideas, given the current dispersal of herds in the far reaches of the grazing area.


2.    Brainstorming : Livestock movements


The question is the following : “how can one ensure that all the animals belonging to a single community (which are grouped into a variable number of herds of differing sizes) are moved about in such a way that they graze together on a single paddock ?”


Together they shall imagine various possible methods, after which they will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each. At this point you place on the mat the three small posters representing the strategy for occupying the parcel.


¨      Various small family herds, each led by a herdsman, are spread out over the entire paddock being utilized;

¨      Owners start to group small herds into a smaller number of medium-sized herds; or

¨      Stockraisers decide to group all their animals in a single large herd for the duration of the grazing, it being understood that the small herds shall be reconstituted when they leave the grazing area and return to their owners’ corrals.


3.    Brainstorming: advantages and disadvantages


ü      Advantages of grouping

You will then have participants discuss the comparative advantages of grouping animals, or of keeping them in small family herds. The following ideas might pop up:


¨      The grouping allows for considerable labor savings, and indeed makes it possible to reduce the number of herdsmen;

¨      It also allows for more efficient guarding : when the animals are in a single large compact mass, it is more difficult for them to escape the notice of the drivers or to go outside the boundaries of the paddock;

¨      The animal impact of a grouped herd is more efficient than that of small dispersed herds;

¨      With regard to overgrazing, it has been noticed that it is more difficult for grouped animals to pick and choose their preferred forage plants, and that grouping therefore reduces overgrazing and encourages the consumption of less desired plants;

¨      By moving each day to a different part of the same paddock, the grouped herd ensures that each day there will be fresh, ungrazed fodder.


ü      Advantages of keeping small herds

¨      This approach is, of course, the one currently used by herdsmen, who would generally prefer not have to change their habits;

¨      The animals are less nervous and aggressive and fight less (although they also adjust quite well to grouping);

¨      In the event of contagious disease, herd dispersal is supposed to reduce the risk of transmission (although, in a village, contamination between different herds happens in most of the cases);;

¨      If water pumping equipment has small output capacity, it is more practical to provide water to small herds throughout the day than to a single large grouped herd.


4.    Utilization : advantages and disadvantages of the two approaches


Lead a discussion, in turn, on each of the three images submitted to the participants : the one of the small dispersed herds, the one showing animals grouped into medium-sized herds, and the one showing a single large herd.


Participants will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each system. They must realize that there is no standard solution. Despite its advantages, grouping is not mandatory, and it is up to them to find the solution that best suits them. Immediate consensus is not being sought, but the community must in the end find a solution that all herders can agree with.


5.    Role-playing : The recalcitrant herder


It is well known that the best laid plans (like the one they have just drawn up) are only theoretical until they are put into practice. What happens when the community organization does not work as predicted ? This is the situation faced by a community that decided to implement a management plan and is now encountering resistance from a group of herders who still want to do as they please, without heeding the agreements reached among the other members of the community.

State the content of the game, and ask for volunteers to play the roles of members of the community in question.


The characters

¨      Two brothers from a relatively well-off family;

¨      Two members of the community’s Management Committee;

¨      Village chief

¨      One village herder who does accept the community rules.

The scenario

The community has unanimously (including the family that is now creating a problem) approved a management plan that began to be implemented by all the village’s herders, with the exception of one recalcitrant family that wants to continue to graze wherever they please.

Naturally, this arouses the ire of the rest of the village and worries the Pastoral Management Committee, which fears that the management plan that took so much work and seemed to be yielding good results will be imperiled.


Role playing

After a few minutes of preparation on the sidelines, the characters appear before the rest of the participants and present the problem. Each character then tries to present his own arguments. Will they manage to persuade the recalcitrant family? 5 minutes.


6.    Utilization of the role-playing and conclusion :


·        What happened ?

·        Where did the conflict come from ?

·        Why has the family refused to adhere to the decision of the community of which it is a part?

·        What are the risks involved in allowing non-adherence to this decision ? from the technical standpoint ? from the social standpoint ?

·        What solutions could be envisaged ?

·        What measures could be envisaged for dealing with recalcitrant herders?

·        What is the meaning of the African proverb "One rotten peanut can spoil the whole bag" ?


7.    Transition to the module on "Supervising the herd" (# 35)


If the participants have no further questions or comments, show them the icon for the « moving herd between paddocks » module that was presented to them and put it beneath the icon for the « herd management » instructional unit and next to the icon representing « number of animals. »


Announce the next session, which will deal with the guarding and supervision needed to implement herd movements over the paddocks.


MODULE # 35:








Desired situation:


¨      The entire community is involved in guarding and supervising livestock.

¨      Guardians are qualified, (i.e., they have helped draw up the management plan), they have the means to move about quickly (e.g., horses, mopeds, etc.) and are motivated (i.e., they inform outside users of the utilization rules set out in the management plan).

¨      They are assisted in their task by the auxiliary herdsmen and the rest of the community.

Current situation


¨      Herd guarding is done by old people, women and children who lack the physical strength (to drive animals far from the encampment), the authority (to convince outsiders to obey community rules), and the means of transport (for quick movement) required to adhere to a management plan.

¨      Excessive dispersal of herds requires a great number of guardians.


Disparity between current and desired situation


¨      Lack of qualification, authority and commitment.


Objectives of the module


By the end of the session, the participants will be able to:


¨      Describe an improved guarding system that could be set up in their community, detailing the status of herdsmen, their resources and methods of collaboration, information and communication;

¨      Explain why guardians and herdsmen cannot simply be implementing agents, and how they must have the means to help enforce the management plan, monitor vegetation, and communicate with other users.




Target group :

The choice of the target group is left up to the community and the outreach team. In any case, the target group must include representatives of at least the following:

·        the pastoral management committee

·        auxiliary herdsmen

·        shepherds or cattle drivers


Exercises utilized by the module :

                Unserialized posters (Srinavasan, p.89)

                Working groups


Graphic supports :

Folder # 35


Approximate duration of the module

                1 hour





Horses are certainly the most efficient means of supervising livestock, especially if herdsmen enjoy them as much as they do in Arfa Diguinat (Chad); (36/03)





1.    Introduction: transition from the "moving herds between paddocks" module


Remind participants that they have so far discussed new methods of grazing land management, the success of which depends to a great extent upon the quality of livestock guarding and supervision. In this session, they will examine this question in more depth.


¨      Do they usually supervise their livestock ? If so, why ?

¨      How do they guard their livestock?

¨      How do they think it could be done more efficiently ?


2.    Unserialized posters


Place the unserialized posters describing problems that can be caused by inefficient guarding on the mat in front of everyone. Ask participants to interpret them and then to comment on them. The idea here is to represent the various types of livestock guarding responsibilities that have to be assumed if the parceling into paddocks (with all its advantages) is to succeed. Let participants discuss for a few minutes, then ask :


¨      Do these images represent situations that you feel you can already handle well with your herds?

¨      In these images, do you see situations that could come up, but that you don’t yet feel you could deal with ?


3.    Stacks of cards: guarding/supervision responsibilities:


Explain to participants that the following exercise will consist of drawing up a list of tasks to be assumed by various members of the community. Ask the following questions:


¨      Who are the main « actors » in the area of guarding and supervision ? (Answer: the community as a whole, herdsmen and auxiliaries);


Bring out the image of each of these « actors » as they are identified, and ask a question about each one in turn :


¨      Show the image of the herdsman : what is his main role in guarding and supervision (Answer: driving the herds)

¨      Show the image of the auxiliary : what is his main role in guarding and supervision (Answer: supervising the boundaries of the site);

¨      Show the image of the community : what is its main role in guarding and supervision? (Answer: making and enforcing rules in all circumstances, especially in the village);


Place the three images of the « actors » thus identified on the mat, and ask participants to sort the images illustrative of problems caused by poor guarding into three piles (depending on which person(s) are responsible). Certain tasks may be shared by two or three entities. Have them explain what their understanding of this is.


4.    Utilization of the exercise


¨      Was the « who does what » exercise easy or difficult ?

¨      What do the participants think of the result of the exercise ?

¨      Are there guarding and supervision responsibilities that have not been accounted for in these images ? (At this point, one can quickly sketch the corresponding pictures and add them to the existing pile of images);

¨      How do they intend to respond to cases where responsibility is shared by several groups ?

¨      How can one ensure that the three groups of actors understand their respective share of the responsibility?

¨      Among these responsibilities, which ones are already handled by groups to which they were assigned during the exercise?

¨      Among the responsibilities identified, which are the easiest to carry out and which are the hardest? Why ?


Indicate to participants that the next step in this module will allow them to plan how these responsibilities will be implemented.


5.    Implementation of the community’s responsibilities : working in sub-groups


Divide the participants into three small groups --- the community, the herdsmen and the auxiliaries --- and give them the image corresponding to each of these sub-groups, as well as the stack of images representing the tasks they are supposed to perform. Be certain not to forget the tasks shared by several actors. Explain that it will now be necessary to think « differently » about how to carry out these various tasks.


Introduce each idea by referring to the following table and display the image illustrating the situation over which they want to gain control by describing clearly what needs to be done.



Status, recognition, motivation



Are these persons motivated ? Do they do their

work with energy and conviction ?



Means of moving about

(especially for herdsmen and




What means to these people have available to do

their work ?


Participation in planning and

monitoring (especially

herdsmen and auxiliaries)



Are these people involved in establishing

management plans ? In their monitoring ? How is

information gathered and broadcast?






Are the current herdsmen qualified for the

responsibilities that have just been identified ?

How are they recruited? How are they




Ask each sub-group to discuss the following points :


¨      Given your group’s responsibilities (as represented in the images), what elements need to be considered in organizing the guarding and supervision of livestock in your community?

¨      Consider the four criteria set out in the preceding table.


Allow 15 minutes for this task, and ask the three sub-groups to present the results of their reflection to all the participants. Allow enough time for reactions and questions. Ask the community’s "secretary" to record the ideas expressed, and point out that these ideas will need to be reported back to the community at large so that decisions can be made.


6.    Conclusions


·        What conclusions can be drawn from this module ?

·        What is the difference between the traditional system of herd guarding and the form of organization that would result in more efficient livestock management?

·        What would be the advantages of implementing such a system of livestock guarding?

·        Do they think it is feasible ? Why ?

·        Are they going to try to persuade members of the community who are absent, of the importance of improving the herd guarding system, even if the introduction of such a system is a bit complicated ?


7.    Transition to the instructional unit on "Participatory monitoring"


If the participants have no further questions or comments, conclude the « herd management » instructional unit by displaying its icon, as well as the three icons for the modules covered in recent training sessions.


Indicate that the next instructional unit will deal with one of the tasks mentioned in this latest exercise, namely : monitoring of the execution of the management plan and of the progress achieved.