Animal Husbandry

Livestock Sector in India: Importance, Types and Present Status

03 Sep 2023
Livestock Sector in India: Importance, Types and Present Status
Livestock sector in India is part of animal husbandry and contributes significantly to agriculture sector and India’s GDP. As per estimates, this sector contributes 4.11% to GDP and 25.6% to agriculture sector. Presently, India accounts for 2.4% of camel, 12.5% of cattle, and 56.7% of buffaloes in the world.

Table of Contents


Livestock sector involves the management of livestock population of India for food and non-food purposes. The livestock sector plays a pivotal role in the country's economy, contributing significantly to agriculture, rural livelihoods, and food security. It encompasses a wide range of domesticated animals, including cattle, goats, sheep, pigs, poultry, and more.

Let us explore the importance of the livestock sector in India, the various types of livestock reared, and the present status of the industry.

Importance of the Livestock Sector

  • Livestock, including cattle, goats, poultry, and more, provide essential resources like milk, meat, and eggs. These resources complement agricultural products and contribute to the overall food basket.
  • Livestock rearing is a primary source of income for millions in rural India. It offers employment opportunities for small and marginal farmers and landless labourers. This sector empowers them economically.
  • Animal waste serves as organic manure. It enhances soil fertility and reduces the dependency on chemical fertilisers. This, in turn, promotes sustainable agricultural practices.
  • Livestock products are a rich source of essential nutrients like proteins, vitamins, minerals, and fats. They contribute to the nutritional requirements of both rural and urban populations. It helps combat malnutrition and improve overall health.
  • The livestock sector has a crucial role in ensuring food security in India. It provides a steady supply of nutrient-rich animal products such as milk, eggs, meat, and fish. These items are essential for a balanced diet.

Types of Livestock Reared in India

The livestock sector consists of rearing of various types of animals for food and non-food purposes. The important livestock reared in India includes cattle, poultry, goats & sheep, among others.


Cattle rearing is widespread in India, primarily for milk production. Prominent cattle breeds include Gyr, Sahiwal, Tharparkar and Red Sindhi. These breeds are known for their milk yield and are integral to the dairy industry.


Poultry farming, including chicken and ducks, is a thriving industry in India and many households have started poultry farming business in India. It contributes significantly to meat and egg production.

Broiler and layer chickens are the most common types of poultry reared for meat and egg purposes, respectively. Poultry farming is increasingly gaining popularity due to its quick turnover and lower space requirements.

Goats & Sheep

Goat and sheep rearing is popular in India due to its adaptability to diverse climates. Also, it can provide meat, milk, and fibre. Breeds like Jamunapari, Barbari, and Malabari are well-known for their meat yield.

On the other hand, the Mandya and Nellore breeds are preferred for wool production. They are among the top 10 sheep breeds found in India. These animals are raised for their meat (mutton) and wool. Small-scale farmers often prefer them due to their low investment requirements.


Pig rearing in India serves various purposes and holds importance for both rural livelihoods and the overall economy. Pork is a popular source of meat in many regions of India. Pig farming provides a consistent supply of pork to meet the dietary preferences of a certain population.

Pigs have a relatively short breeding cycle and fast growth rate, leading to quicker returns on investment compared to some other livestock. Apart from meat, pig farming also yields by-products like skin and fat, which can be used for various purposes, including producing leather and lard.

Present Status of the Livestock Sector

The livestock sector in India has witnessed remarkable growth and development in recent years.
The livestock sector contributes to 4.11% of the total GDP. It forms 25.60% of the entire agricultural GDP.

India boasts a substantial presence in the global livestock market. It houses 12.50% of the world’s cattle population, 56.70% of its buffaloes, 3.10% of chickens and 2.40% of camels. India is the world’s second largest poultry market.

Key Highlights of 19th Livestock Census

Livestock Census in India started in the year 1919. The present Livestock Census was held in 2012. As per the Census, the livestock population consists of Buffalo, Cattle, Goat, Sheep, Horses & Ponies, Pig, Mules, Mithun, Donkeys, Camel, and Yak.

  • The total livestock population in India has gone down by 3.33% between 2007 and 2012. It stood at 512.05 million.
  • The maximum increase in livestock population is seen in Gujarat, followed by Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Punjab, and Bihar.
  • The Bovine population (Buffalo, Cattle, Yak, and Mithun) in 2012 is 299.9 million, which is a 1.57% decrease over 2007.
  • The milch animals in buffaloes and cow increased to 118.59 million, which is an increase of 6.75%.
  • The total sheep population in 2012 is 65.06 million, which is a decline of 9.07% over the 2007 Census.
  • The Goat population stood at 135.17 million, which is a decline of 3.82% over the previous Census.
  • The pig population in country declines by 7.54% over the 2007 Census. It stood at 10.29 million in 2012.

Challenges Faced by the Livestock Sector

Despite its importance, the livestock sector faces several challenges, including:

  • Diseases can impact livestock health and production. Measures to prevent, control and manage diseases are essential to maintain productivity.
  • Inadequate infrastructure for animal health services, veterinary care and storage facilities can hinder sector growth.
  • Limited access to markets and fair prices can affect the income of livestock farmers.
  • Ensuring proper nutrition for livestock, especially during periods of fodder scarcity, is crucial for their health and productivity.


In conclusion, the livestock sector holds immense significance in India's socio-economic landscape. Its contribution to agriculture, livelihoods and food security cannot be overstated. As the sector evolves with technological advancements and policy support, ensuring sustainability and addressing challenges will be pivotal in realising its full potential and continuing to uplift rural communities across the nation.

With ongoing efforts to improve productivity and address challenges, the future of the livestock sector looks promising. It is crucial to support and invest in this sector to maximize its potential and ensure a sustainable and thriving future for both farmers and consumers.

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