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Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung



The three major subsidiary undertakings of the peasants of the Boarder Region are animal husbandry, salt transport. and textiles. It is well known that the breeding of cows and donkeys plays a decisive role in agriculture and salt transport. The breeding of sheep is closely related to the supply of bedding and clothing. Last year the peasants of the Border Region harvested more than 1 million jin of wool. Including sheep exported the estimated value was more than 20 million yuan which is proof of the importance of sheep. The greatest enemies of livestock are the many diseases and the lack of fodder. If we do not solve these two problems, there can be no development. In the first place the destructive power of disease is very great. For example in the Spring of 1941, more than 20,000 Sheep died in an epidemic in Jingbian. In 1942 more than 16,000 died at the same cause in Dingbian. In the summer of 1941, more than 500 cows died of cattle plague in Yan'an. In the summer and autumn of 1942, 574 cows died in Zhidan. This shows how disease is the great enemy of the livestock of the Border Region. Secondly. the lack of fodder also greatly hinders the raising of livestock. In the spring of 1941 when 20,000 sheep died in Jingbian, most of the 30,000 lambs also died. Besides the epidemic, an important factor was the lack of fodder. At the same time over 2,000 cows and horses died of hunger there. Another keenly-felt difficulty in recent years is the lack of fodder supplies on salt-transport routes, which greatly hinders the transport of salt.

Our task is to protect livestock and increase breeding. In order to attain these goals we should implement the following policies.

Prevention of disease.  The important thing here is for the county and district governments to call meetings of local veterinarians and old experienced peasants to do research into simple methods of preventing and curing animal diseases, and to encourage the use of these methods among peasant families with livestock. This is a very simple thing to effect. Secondly, the Reconstruction Department should order its agricultural station to increase veterinary equipment, to do research into animal diseases in the Border Region, to produce large amounts of serum and vaccine, arid to propagate and implement effective methods of prevention and cure.

Popularize the planting of grass for animal pasture.   Most of the animals of the Border Region are put out to pasture. Where the pasture is not good, disease easily arises. Therefore we should widely promote the planting of alfalfa [musu], particularly on and near the salt-transport routes. This will benefit both the transport of salt and the development of animal husbandry. In 1942 the government originally planned to plant 30,000 mu of alfalfa, but ultimately only 23,000 mu were planted because there were not enough seeds. In 1943 the county governments should transport more seeds from Guanzhong and issue them to the peasants in areas where planting is planned. They should also encourage the peasants to buy some themselves. In addition they should mobilize the peasants to cut large quantities of grass in the autumn and to store it up for winter use. This will not only avoid illness induced by animals eating cold grass but also stop the peasants from selling animals because of lack of winter fodder. We should look to the experience of Jingbian in this respect. Warned by the great loss of livestock in the spring of 1941, the comrades in Jingbian have done much work in tine past two years. They have appealed to the peasants to plant alfalfa, create fields for pasture, cut autumn grass, plant willow trees, and dig up grass roots as means of providing fodder. First of all their called upon the peasants to plant over 2,000 mu of alfalfa in 1942. Most of the seed was issued by the government, and the peasants were very enthusiastic. They are once again preparing to issue some credit for seeds to the peasants in 1943, and they are specially calling upon the peasants themselves to prepare seeds. As a way of encouraging them to plant large amounts of alfalfa, they are giving rewards to those who do very well. Secondly, they prepared more than 4,000 mu of pasture fields in 1942. The grass on this pasture land is mainly reed grass [luwei]. This flourishes in the ponds and large marshes in the desert land bordering an Mongolia. Each mu yields more than 500 jin. The pasture fields that existed before the revolution were later destroyed and the cows and sheep wandered around at will. Now they are mobilizing the masses to restore them. It does not take a lot of labour, and cutting the grasses after autumn prepares for winter use. Thirdly, in the mountainous areas of Jingbian there is a lot of reed grass, white grass [baicao]. bing grass [bingcao], desert bushes, and so forth. These are of great help for the livestock, if they are harvested in autumn. In 1941 the masses were organized to gather 5 million jin. In 1942 they again mobilized each man to cut 100 jin. As yet they have not worked out the latter total. Fourthly, they encouraged the masses to plant willow-trees, sand-willows, and pea-trees. The leaves and twigs can be fed to camels and sheep which is another way of providing fodder. At the same time this supplies fuel which pleases the masses The duty of the government is to supply seeds and encourage planting. Fifthly, in Jingbian the animals eat both the leaves and the roots of the white grass and bing grass. During spring ploughing the strongest men in Jingbian plough the land in the morning, dig-up roots in the afternoons, and feed the livestock in the evening. The woman and children spend the whole day digging-up roots. Each person can clean-up more than 100 jin, and this plays an important part in this supply of fodder. However, the government must make good arrangements since, as there are many people digging, there are arguments over land rights. The landless refugees make it even more difficult. According to the Jingbian comrades:

'With these methods we solved many problems for the people. Of course the grass grew well in 1942 because there was a good rainfall. However, animal husbandry also developed because of the above five methods for providing fodder. In 1942 over 60,000 lambs survived throughout the county and there were very few deaths. With the exception of a few areas, there was a great reduction in the loss through disease of fully-grown sheep, and cows, donkeys, horses and so forth. Excluding sheep, the livestock of Jingbian requires 30 million jin of fodder per year. We can get at least 10 million jin with the above five methods.

Fodder is a life-and-death question for livestock. We hope that the comrades in the various counties will make a plan for fodder in 1943.

Ban the slaughter and export of female animals.   The slaughter of all cattle is forbidden and old cattle can only be killed after inspection.

Improve animal breeds.  We should investigate experience in cross-breeding, select good breeds of donkeys and sheep, and popularize them among the people. This should be done first of all in Ganquan and Yan'an and then spread to other counties. Besides this the government should purchase tanyang sheep from Yanchi. These should be issued for breeding to peasant families with many sheep. Each tanyang ram can be mated with twenty ewes. The wool of this sheep is extremely fine and soft, and each sheep yields 2 jin per year.

If we can conscientiously implement the above methods. there can be even greater expansion of livestock in the Border Region. I hope the Reconstruction Department and the comrades in the various counties will pay attention to this.

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Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung