Beef Cattle of Maonan Ethnic Group

The lack of arable land in the Maonan mountainous area limits their agricultural development. The Maonan people cherish soil like gold, and avail themselves of every opportunity to cultivate their limited land. Besides the intensive cultivation, they make use of green grass all over the mountains to develop the domestic raising industry. Every family raises beef cattle, for food specially, which are popular in the domestic, Hong Kong and Macao market. The cattle folds are dry, clean and quiet. They avoid the bright light. In the summer, mosquitoes are prevented, while in the winter, they are kept warm. The cattle that first come to the folds should be taken great care of. Owner of the cattle should find out carefully their living habits and favorable forage. Sometimes, salt water has to be scattered on the grass to increase their appetite. Meanwhile, a set of herbal therapeutics is adopted for the sick cattle. Many families have all kind of herbs in their yards.

Apart from grass, some coarse grains are applied after being cooked and mixed with water, such as corn, sorghum, rice bean, sweet potato and pumpkin. This is the stage called fold raising. The second stage is “storing fat”, to put weight on the cattle. On this stage, the grass should be cut off before the sun rises, with dewdrops on the blades. The more tender, the better. Every cattle eat 60kg of grass every day. At noon and in the evening, 10kg of food grains need to be additionally fed after being swilled with water. In the middle night, the half-done green grass mixed with water should be given. The third stage is to make the cattle fatter. In addition to plenty of tender grass, dunked millet and yellow soybean milk should be browsed every day.

More than 40 days later, the meat on the cattle’s back will be higher than the backbone, and form a groove, on which a tub can be put and will not fall down. Because the cattle are very fat, and the winding mountain paths are difficult to march, the cattle can not be driven to sell at the foot of the mountains. People will slay the cattle and sell the meat. The meat is pink, thin, well-arranged. The tender line is detailed, fat but not oily. It is tasty and refreshing whether by frying, stewing, boiling or stirring. It is really first-rate among all kinds of beef. It is profuse in praise by every one who enjoys it.

It is said that the worshipped God “Sanjie Grandpa” of Maonan people has descended the special method of raising beef cattle. “Sanjie Grandpa” had a poor childhood, and he made a living by herding cattle for others. He was talented for restraining the cattle by drawing circles on the grass. The cattle ate grass in the circle he drew, and then he went to cut firewood. One day when cutting firewood, he came across some celestial beings who were playing chess. He was greatly attracted. The celestial beings gave him one plat peach, and invited him back to the celestial mountain.

On the way, “Sanjie Grandpa” saw a mountain spring, and said without hesitance, “This spring can be easily used to wash cattle belly and rinse chafing dishes.” The celestial beings thought he was still a common guy, and ordered him to go back home. One day in the celestial world is equal to many years in the human world. The cattle circled by him had grown into a big herd. After careful observation, he got to know several kinds of grasses the cattle were in favor of. Since then, he applied intricate materials, changed to raise cattle in the folds, and taught this method to his villagers.