26 Abisi Livestock

Animal husbandry is practiced by men and women.

A study of 27 households shows that each one had goats / agum∫i / male and /anagiwun/ female and castrated goats: /asak/, poultry (chickens: /akur/, roosters: /aron/) and dogs /asaŋ/.

Ducks were recently introduced required no maintenance, feeding on crushed grain remains

Of the 27 houses, 44% had pigs /udwaŋ)/, 37% horses (ibarka), 33% ducks (agwagwa Hausa), 18.5% had sheep , male /agam/, female /anagitra/ and neutral/ azar/ ).

Only 4%. had cattle /ena/.

There was a maximum of 3 pigs in houses who had them, showing the subsistence level of this commercial activity.

Goats and Sheep

Goats and sheep are left free during the dry season. However, they are put in a pen at night to collect their droppings, urine and drool, with the remains of feed that is used as a fertilizer.

They are then fed forage harvested by young boys.

Goats and sheep have the same economic function. They are kept for meat and for exchange in return of agricultural work.

In 1929, J.C. Drummond-Hay estimated that 133 Abisi domestic groups had 511 goats and 158 sheep a ratio of 0.3. In 1973, the ratio sheep/goat was lower at 0.24.

One domestic unit may had become specialized, it had by itself between 20 and 24 head of sheep raised for the market.


Pigs raising is practiced by men and women and it is recent. It is not practiced near Muslim settlements.

It is a commercial livestock, pigs are fattened and sold afterward.

Many people feared that if a placenta, buried near the hut of the mother, is eaten by a pig, the child may die. Hence, after a birth, the father must threaten the pigs so they do not eat the placenta.


Some cattle are kept by Fulani for Abisi owners.

Their frequency is difficult to assess since special tax is levied on the herds and their numbers are objects of negotiations.

However, we can suggest that this practice is not new but it is not widespread.




Each year, at the end of April, cows may be infected and develop a condition called Samara. Before they die, these cattle are sold to Abisi who eat them.

Dogs and Horses

Men use dogs and small horses for hunting.

Dogs are everywhere, but, in 1973, the number of horses was relatively low (37% of domestic units) compared to the assessments of the past.

In 1929, the district officer evaluates horses at 140 heads, which means that each domestic group had at least one.

Abisi only keep stallions, they must obtain them from the outside, by exchange with comrades, mainly Rukuba and Ribam.

In the past, horses were either captured in war or obtained through an exchange for captive for three or four horses.

Under the domination of the Emirate, Abisi also had to give away horses.

In 1929, according to the report, a horse was valued at 7 (7 pounds). In 1973, a good horse cost more than 20 to 40 Naira and this purchase depended on the economic situation of the family group. The number of horses was about fifty.

In general, some groups cooperate together to buy a horse. The best rider of the group will have the privilege to use it but it can also be lent to a uterine nephew when he is invited to hunting parties.

This reduction certainly shows a decline in the importance of hunting.

Horses are never consumed for their meat or used as a source of energy in the agricultural work. Horses need a lot of care and its pen is cleaned every day by young boys who bring fodder.

Horses are so meaningful to Abisi that they are fed by a special spouse of the house (/uko iyerka/: horse woman) who, therefore, has some influence on the horses.

Riders fear conflicts with these women who can persuade the horses to unseat their riders.

Horses also receive special attention from old men that give them a weekly ration of grain. Sometimes, some older men even sleep in the stable to keep it company.

Moreover, the distinction between stallions and mares, considered to be too small to be useful, symbolizes in Abisi eyes the gender differences.

First wives have to wear a braided horsehair tail for sometimes after their first marriage. This symbolic relationship extends to offspring of the woman because she must apply a little horse manure on her breasts the first time she feeds her children.


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