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Livestock husbandry is an integral part of rural economy of Pakistan. Despite the force majeure type of farming, the livestock sector has grown at an impressive rate.

While other development sectors experienced saturation and decline, there was a 17.8 per cent increase in livestock. The economic survey of Pakistan 2009-10 reports that the livestock sector contributed approximately 53.2 per cent of the agriculture value-added and 11.4 per cent to the national GDP.

It is a net source of foreign exchange earnings, constituting more than 8.5 per cent of the total exports. It is an important source of raw material particularly for leather, carpet and woollen cloth industries.

The livestock sector is performing relatively well, particularly in Punjab. The livestock subsector in Punjab comprises a variety of animals like buffaloes, cows, goats, sheep, camels, horses, mules, donkeys and poultry birds.

At the national level, human: livestock ratio is 1000: 881. The ratios for the provinces of Sindh and Khyber Pukhtunkhwa are not much different from the ratio at the national level.

Punjab has the lowest population of livestock in relation to human population (663 for 1000 persons) for three obvious reasons.

Firstly, Punjab is the most densely populated province with more than 55 per cent of human population of Pakistan. Secondly, major proportions of the national population of large animals (buffaloes 64pc; cattle 46pc; equine 55pc) are found in Punjab. These animals require more housing space, feed and fodder. Thirdly, from the point of view of marketing of milk, dairy buffaloes and cattle are generally maintained at permanent settlements where fodder production competes with cash crop production in terms of static land resources.

It is estimated that nearly two third of buffalos and half of the cattle population of Pakistan are found in the province of Punjab. Buffaloes and cattle used for dairy purposes are concentrated in the irrigated plains of the central and eastern regions of Punjab. These areas are the primary home-tracts of famous dairy breeds of cattle and buffalos and also have the maximum number of crossbred dairy cattle.

Because of better communication linkages and marketing opportunities, the irrigated Punjab provides best production environments in the country for traditional as well as semi-commercial or commercial dairy farming.

In addition to buffaloes and cattle, more than one third of the total population of goats and one fourth of the sheep population of Pakistan are maintained in Punjab.

Small ruminants means goats and sheep are scattered throughout the province but have more economical value in the rain-fed areas of northern part and Cholistan desert areas of southern part of Punjab. Dera Ghazi Khan has maximum number of sheep (1.91 million) followed by Bahawalpur (1.10 million) and Sargodha (0.97 million).

Highest number of goats is found in Multan (2.84 million) followed by Bahawalpur, D.G. Khan and Faisalabad each with goat population of over two millions.

Approximately, one fourth of the camel population of Pakistan is in Punjab. The distribution pattern of camel population is similar to that of small ruminants particularly sheep.

Maximum number of camels is found in D.G. Khan (63,000) followed by Sargodha (40,000) and Bahawalpur (35,000).

Unlike in other provinces, the camels in Punjab are generally not used as a meat animal. Their predominant use remains as a pack animal for pulling heavy loaded carts in the cities and towns for the transportation of various agricultural commodities and fuel wood, etc.

More than half of the equine population of Pakistan is found in Punjab. Equines are not used as a meat animal in Pakistan and the same is true for Punjab as well.

Horses are commonly used as carriages. The traditional use of horses for driving two-wheel carriages as a means of transport in big towns and cities is on decline due to increasing availability of automotive vehicles.

Population of horses is almost uniformly distributed throughout Punjab. However, some concentration is noticed in Gujranwala, Faisalabad and Lahore. Distribution pattern of the population of donkeys is similar to that of horses in the province. In Faisalabad, Gujranwala and Lahore, the donkeys are commonly used to pull small carts for transportation of industrial raw materials and goods and also to carry construction materials for short distances within and around towns and cities.

Generally, all these livestock's consider as a major source of nourishment like milk, butter oil, eggs and meat and adds immensely to the health, nutrition and wellbeing of rural as well as urban people. However, livestock provides a lot of benefits to Pakistan's economy.


Dairy sector is an important component of Pakistan's economy. The value of milk alone exceeds the combined value of wheat, rice, maize and sugarcane in the country. Only the milk produced has value higher than the combined value of wheat and cotton. Livestock provides raw material for the dairy industry and is the most important subsector of agriculture with significant contribution towards national exports.

Pakistan currently produces around 33 billion litres of milk per annum and Punjab constitutes around 63 per cent of the total milk production, making the country the third largest producer of milk in the world.

Pakistan is the fifth largest red meat and seventh largest goat meat producing country in the world.

In 2009-10, the total red meat production was comprised 1.65 million tons of beef and 0.60 million tons of mutton. Of the total red meat produced, buffaloes contributed 35 per cent, cattle 39 per cent, goats 18 per cent and sheep eight per cont. The livestock resources hold considerable potential for increasing meat production. It has been estimated that if the 6-7 million male buffalo and cattle calves available for rearing are raised on balanced fattening diets to live weights of 250-300kg, the beef production can be doubled.

The absence of calf weaning programme heavily penalises the development of sound beef industry. However, in Punjab, a company introduced a project named "Save the Calf" and offered subsidy of Rs2,500 per calf to those farmers who will raise these calves for meat purposes.

Hides and skins are important by-products of the meat industry. Hides of cattle and buffaloes and skins of sheep and goats are used in raw or semi-processed form for manufacturing several products of leather industry such as shoes, leather garments, handbags, cushions and musical instruments, particularly drums.

Leather belts are commonly used for moving pulleys in several mechanical devices. Leather industry of Pakistan, which uses hides and skins as raw material, is a notable contributor to the foreign exchange earnings of the country.

Cottage industries are a notable consumer of local wool. Woollen products of the cottage industries include carpets, tweeds, blankets, heavy and light shawls and felted wool-mats.

In addition, a variety of domestic goods like upholstery, bags and shoes are prepared from wool blended with goat hair, camel hair and other synthetic fibres. Blankets are made mostly from local wools but blending with fine and crossbred imported wools is also practiced.


However, the factory-made blankets are preferred because of their better quality and finish. Goat hair is commonly used for preparation of ropes and large storage bags. A large proportion of hair production is utilized in the preparation of rugs and foot-mats after mixing it with the wool.


Animal husbandry provides large self-employment opportunities. Apart from its contributions to national income, the livestock sub-sector is also an employer of thousands of landless poor and subsistence and semi-subsistence small farming families of Punjab.

Livestock is raised by more than 8.5 million small and landless families in the rural areas and is their main livelihood source.

Being a household activity, women are a special beneficiary of employment in the subsector. Over the years, women are playing vital role in Pakistan's agriculture economy as well as in the economy of Punjab. Women are mostly involved in the production of livestock, providing labour and management. They not only perform the home chores but also participate in agriculture related activities, which are mostly related to livestock. They give fodder to livestock, milk the animals, extract different dairy products from milk, take care of livestock at home, do weaving, cleaning shelters of livestock, convert manure into fuel, process wool and hair and so forth.


Compared with the use of tractors, animal power is still a renewable energy source in rural Punjab. Animal traction, therefore, avoids the drain of foreign exchange involved in the importation of tractors, spare parts and fuel.

Draught animals remain the most cost-effective power source for small and medium scale farmers. In spite of the trend of mechanization to replace work animals, a large number of livestock farmers are still using draught animal power.

In addition to ploughing and land levelling, the draught animals are frequently used for planting, threshing of crops, fodder chopping, cane-crushing, and water lifting and transportation. Draught animals are the only source of power on hilly terrain and narrow or waterlogged fields.

Still in Punjab, cow and buffalo dung is highly valued as fuel for cooking and heating, reducing expenditures for fuel wood or fossil fuels. It represents the major fuel supply for rural household.

The collection and drying of dung for cooking generates income for women. It is also used directly as plaster and other building materials, while its ash is used as fertilizer. Thus, by minimizing use of non-renewable energy, livestock make a positive contribution to the economic development.


Nutrient recycling is an essential component of any sustainable farming system. The integration of livestock and crops allows efficient nutrient recycling. Animals use the crop residues such as cereal straws as well as maize as feed. The manure produced can be recycled directly as fertilizer.


In the rural areas, financial services such as credit, banking and insurance are still virtually non-existent. In these areas, livestock play an important role as a means of saving and capital investment, and they often provide a substantially higher return than alternative investments. A combination of small and large livestock that can be sold to meet petty-cash requirements to cover seasonal consumption deficits or to finance larger expenditures represents a valuable asset for the farmer.

It is a form of social security for the poor, who cash it at the time of need and it also serves as security against crop failure. Along this, the role of livestock sector in enhancing agricultural productivity is well recognized and its contribution to alleviate poverty in rural areas is enormous.

The growth in the livestock subsector is also contributing to poverty alleviation, as the livestock elements are largely concentrated among the marginal and small farmers in rural areas.

For many smallholder farmers, livestock are the only ready source of cash to buy inputs for crop production - seeds, fertilizers and pesticides. Livestock income also goes towards buying things the farmers cannot make for themselves. And, that includes paying for school fees, medicine and taxes. Income from cropping is highly seasonal. In contrast, small stock, with their high rates of reproduction and growth, can provide a regular source of income from sales, so can milk and milk products like butter and cheese.

Larger animals such as cattle are a capital reserve, built up in good times to be used when crops are poor or when the family is facing large expenses such as the cost of a wedding or a hospital bill. ADB report said that the livestock has played a major role in sustaining the rural poor over the past few decades without which the intensity of poverty would have been much worst and totally disastrous.

Punjab has an excellent wealth of animals. The varieties of its animals have no parallel in the world. Some of the varieties are of very high quality, but little efforts have been made to make further improvement and develop new species. Livestock holders must be provided with adequate incentives by ensuring a fair share in consumer prices not only to induce them to adopt the latest technologies but also to reward their efforts.
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Publication:Pakistan & Gulf Economist
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Dec 11, 2011

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