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25 March 2022 Cooperation and Cattle Herding in Eighteenth Century Acadia: Implications for Archaeological Studies of Agropastoralism
Martin H. Welker, Joanne E. Hughes, Sarah B. McClure
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Anthropological studies of cattle management have frequently used nomadic open-range African pastoralists as models even when examining more sedentary agro-pastoralists relying upon combinations of crops and livestock that prevent or inhibit mobility. The relatively limited number of datasets on more sedentary agro-pastoralists makes it difficult to assess the suitability of this analogy when modeling and understanding herd dynamics in sedentary or semi-sedentary societies like those in the European Neolithic or pre-industrial colonies in North America. Census data on seventeenth- and eighteenth-century French colonists in eastern Canada and the northeastern U.S. reveal that household herds average fewer than eight individuals. Herds this small would have been dangerously close to collapse if animals were slaughtered and would not have had sufficient numbers to grow quickly. Using effective population size, a measure from wildlife biology, to assess the demographic and genetic health of wildlife populations, we demonstrate that Acadian herders were able to overcome the challenges of their small herds by participating in village or inter-village herd networks. Furthermore, we demonstrate that differences in herd management existed across the Acadian colonies and correspond, in part, to local involvement in cod fishing. We suggest this case study may provide a useful model for understanding prehistoric sedentary agropastoralism and the role of cooperation in prehistoric animal management decisions.

Martin H. Welker, Joanne E. Hughes, and Sarah B. McClure "Cooperation and Cattle Herding in Eighteenth Century Acadia: Implications for Archaeological Studies of Agropastoralism," Journal of Ethnobiology 42(1), 69-85, (25 March 2022).
Published: 25 March 2022

herd size
livestock management
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