chapter  5
22 Pages

Training, husbandry and feeding

WithJill Goulder

The modern development studies reporting on regions of sub-Saharan Africa offer unique eye-witness accounts of adoption of working donkeys and cattle by cultures formerly using hand-cultivation and human porterage, bringing to life the sometimes sterile references in archaeology to diffusion and establishment of the new technology. This chapter examines, in particular, approaches to working-animal training, highlighting the central role of person-to-person dissemination of the concept and best means of use of working donkeys and cattle. It goes on to explore the animal-choice implications of the contrast between the low-level management systems typical for donkeys and the intensive herding and maintenance generally necessary for working cattle. Modern African studies provide valuable examples of the feeding issues presented by operation of working animals unable to graze and needing extra calories and nutrition. There is still very limited archaeological discussion of the certainly sizeable foddering industry associated with early systematic use of working animals. Donkeys are physiologically more efficient than cattle at food and water processing and more behaviourally flexible in their feeding needs; the extra feeding required by working cattle can provide eventual payback in terms of carcass value, but there is a marked shift among farmers in Africa to the lower-investment strategy of donkey power.