440,000 farm animals killed in Mongolia harsh winter

Extreme wintry weather, known as “dzud”, has killed at least 439,700 head of livestock across Mongolia so far this winter, the country’s Food and Agriculture Ministry said Friday.

Dzud is a Mongolian term to describe the frigid winter that comes after a dry summer and causes numerous farm animals to die of starvation or cold.

At least six of Mongolia’s all 21 provinces have now been suffering dzud or near-dzud conditions, according to the ministry.

More than 80 percent of the dead animals were goats and sheep, the ministry said.

Animal husbandry is the backbone of the landlocked country’s economy as nearly 40 percent of its nomad population depends on animal husbandry for their livelihood.

Mongolia had 67.1 million head of livestock at the end of 2020, according to the country’s National Statistics Office.

Thousands of herders lose their animals almost every year due to dzud. In 2016, more than 1 million farm animals died from extreme weather conditions.