This article is devoted to the investigation of factors determining patterns of cattle transhumance in Khoito Gol (BUR. Northern Valley), located in the Republic of Buryatia,Russian Federation. It represents an attempt to understand the causes of and constraints on seasonal migration to alpine pasturage in a time of social and economic reforms. It identifies vertical stratification of natural resources, including temperature regime, nutritional value of palatable vegetation, and propagation of insects and parasites as the main variable encouraging herd transhumance. These natural conditions provide a low-cost opportunity to improve livestock conditions and increase production. Meanwhile, the study demonstrates a sharp decline of the cattle mobility rate in the post-Soviet period. This trend is determined by economic decline and institutional reorganisation, resulting in social stratification and a deterioration of the herds’ security. The results of the research suggest that owners of small herds are more prone to abandon transhumance.