Advantages and Disadvantages of Nomadic Herding

Alt: = "photo showing herds of cattle moving along the road"


Nomadic herders or herdsmen, like the Fulani herdsmen in Northern Nigeria, move from place to place seeking for grassland and water for their herds. The movement is often necessitated by climate changes.

Advantages of Nomadic Herding

Access to green pastures and water

Low cost of raising livestock

Low marketing costs

Access to green pastures and water

In areas where there scarcity of food and water, the movement of the herds prevents starvation and death as the herd well have access to green pastures and water by moving to where they can be found.

Low cost of raising livestock

Nomadic herding is the cheapest method of raising livestock. Nomadic herding does not require building of farm structures and buying of farm equipment. The herds have access the free pasture to graze on, cost of feed is therefore out the budget.

Low cost of raising livestock

Feed is the major cost in livestock farming. With nomadic herding, livestock farmer does not need to buy feeds thereby reducing the cost of livestoke production. Cost of feed is one of the reasons herders in West and North Africa adopt nomadic system of husbandry where the livestock openly graze. It’s not that the herders who are predominantly Fulani like to live in the bush rather, it is because they can’t afford to buy the feeds that can feed their livestock, if they were to adopt sedentary method. 

Low cost of marketing

Transportation is one the major cost of livestock marking. As the move on hoof from place to place, at the point where they mature becomes the market.

Disadvantages of Nomadic Herding

Uncontrolled breeding

Poor health and biosecurity practices

Production of low quality beef and diary 

Herds and herders are exposed to attacks

Stray livestock destroying farm crops

Farmers-Herders conflicts

Poor lifestyle for herders and their family

Uncontrolled/ improper breeding 

Nomadic herding does not enable the herder to monitor herds and choose the right breeding program. When the herds are in the, you will not be able to know when your cows go into estrus and when they are ready to breed and go ahead with breeding. If you do not want year round breeding and calving, you can pull out the bulls for some time  say 64 to 85 days but you can’t achieve this monadic herding as the bull are with the cows all the time.

Poor health and biosecurity management practices

It’s difficult to care for the health of livestock when they are  in open field. The cattle can’t easily be vaccinated against diseases. Incoming animals can’t be isolated first and get their health information. And sick animals can’t also be isolated to prevent the spread of the diseases. Diseases are therefore easily spread among the herd. Poor implementation of  biosecurity in farm animals has long term adverse effects both for the producers and consumers. 

Production of low quantity and quality beef and dairy

In extensive system, cattle are moved from one location to another by nomadic husbandmen covering long distances in search of pasture and water. In most cases, this results in a very low level of production (both beef and milk) because the cattle lose weight (average weight of Nigerian breed is 550kg for bulls and 463kg for cows), milk and their maturity is delayed, milking is not carried out regularly and in a hygiene manner with the right equipment, and  more often than not, there is no record for milk produced by each cow. Cattle trekking for long distance without access to water may lose weight or even die as a result of dehydration. They are often injured and the bruises reduce their market values. The animals hardly receive good veterinary  care. Morbidity rate is very high.

Also read: Problems of Beef and Dairy Production in Nigeria


Security of the livestock and the herders. Nomadic rearing exposes cattle to attacks by predation and rustling. Animals moving on foot can be attacked or stolen. The prevalent rate of cattle rustling that occurs in Nigeria is as a result of method transporting cattle by herders. It is very easy for rustlers to invade herds in the bushes and open fields. Livestock traveling on hoof and grazing in the forests may eat poisonous plant. 

Low Market 

The nomadic system of cattle rearing and by extension cattle transportation affects the quality and quantity of beef and dairy production thereby affecting the market prices of cattle. 


Farmers-herders clashes are usually as a result of cattle trespassing and destroying farm crops while on open grazing. 

Poor lifestyle for herders 

By moving from one place to another, living in the bush, pastoralists and their families will not have access to basic social amenities and infrastructures like water, electricity, hospitals and schools. They will not access to decent life. Moving from one location to another denies the herders' children their right to education.

Related articles:

Advantages and Disadvantages of Ranching

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