Animal Husbandry

What is Livestock: Its Meaning, Types and Present Status in India

Updated on 29th March, 2024, By Arpit Srivastava
What is Livestock: Its Meaning, Types and Present Status in India
Livestock animals, also called farm animals, are commercially reared for food and non-food purposes. The livestock sector in India contributes 4.90% to the GDP and 30.13% to the agriculture and allied sector.

Table of Contents

What is Livestock?

Livestock are farm animals raised and reared to produce food and non-food items such as milk, meat, hide, and wool. The farm animal list for the purposes of estimating livestock population in India includes bovine animals, pack animals and poultry birds.

  • Bovine animals: Cow, buffalo, goat, sheep, yak, and mithun.
  • Pack animals: Camel, horses, donkey and mule.
  • Poultry birds: Fowl, turkey, and duck.

The livestock sector is all about the management of the livestock population for food (egg and meat) and non-food (wool and leather) purposes. Livestock sector is an important sub-sector of Indian agriculture and economy. It contributes significantly to national income, employment generation, and food security.

Types of Livestock Farming

The different types of livestock farming include dairy farming, cattle farming, poultry farming, goat farming, and pig farming. See the section below to understand each type of livestock farming.

Dairy Farming

Dairy Farming is the most important livestock farming practice. It focuses on rearing animals like cows, buffalo, and goats to produce dairy products such as milk, butter, and cheese.

It involves feeding and managing dairy animals along with milking and processing milk.

Today, the dairy sector is the largest contributor to the Indian agriculture sector, contributing 24% to overall agriculture output. India is the number one producer and consumer of milk globally.

Cattle Farming

Cattle farming involves rearing of cattle like cows, buffaloes, and oxen. They are used for two purposes: dairy and draught.

Dairy animals are female cows and buffalo that are reared for milk purposes, whereas draught animals are male cattle raised to do agricultural works like ploughing and transporting.

Prominent milk giving Cow Breeds in India are the Gir Cow, Red Sindhi Cow, and Sahiwal Cow. On the other hand, the Best Buffalo Breeds in India include the Murrah buffalo, the Jaffrabadi buffalo, and the Mehsana buffalo.

Poultry Farming

Poultry farming, including chicken and ducks, is a thriving industry in India and many households have started poultry farming business in India.

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.

Poultry farming contributes significantly to meat and egg production. According to FAOSTAT production data, in 2020, India was 3rd largest producer of eggs, and 8th largest producer of meat globally.

Goat Farming

Goat farming is popular in India due to its adaptability to diverse climates. Goats, also known as ‘poor man cows, ' are reared in India for their meat, milk, and fibre. The Top Goat Breeds in India include Jamunapari, Chegu, Talaserry, and Karoli. These breeds are well-known for their meat yield.

Sheep Farming

Sheep farming is the practice of raising and rearing sheep for their meat (mutton) and wool. Small-scale farmers often prefer them due to their low investment requirements.

The Mandya and Nellore breeds are preferred sheep for wool production and are among the top 10 sheep breeds in India.

Pig Farming

Pig farming is the practice of rearing pigs for various purposes. It is vital for rural livelihoods and the overall economy.

Pork is a potent source of meat production in many regions of India. The average meat yield from pigs are around 65 – 80%.

Pigs have a relatively short breeding cycle and fast growth rate, which leads to quicker returns on investment than 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 Livestock Sector in India

The livestock sector in India has witnessed remarkable growth and development in recent years.
The livestock sector contributes 4.90% of the total GDP and forms 30.13% 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 20th Livestock Census

Livestock Census in India started in the year 1919. The present Livestock Census was held in 2018 and results were released in October 2019.

As per the Census, the livestock population consists of Buffalo, Cattle, Goat, Sheep, Poultry birds (duck and fowl), Horses & Ponies, Pig, Mules, Mithun, Donkeys, Camel, and Yak.

  • The total livestock population in India increased by 4.69% between 2012 and 2019. It stood at 535.78 million.
  • The maximum increase in livestock population is seen in West Bengal, followed by Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Bihar.
  • The Bovine population (Buffalo, Cattle, Yak, and Mithun) in 2019 was 302.79 million, which is a 1.0% increase over 2012.
  • The total number of cattle in the country in 2019 was 192.49 million, which is an increase of 0.8% over 2012 Census.
  • The milch animals in buffaloes and cow increased to 125.34 million, which is an increase of 6.00% over 2012 Census.
  • The total sheep population in 2019 is 74.26 million, which is an increase of 14.1% over the 2012 Census.
  • The Goat population stood at 148.88 million, which is an increase of 10.1% over the previous Census.
  • The pig population in country declined by 12.03% over the 2012 Census. It stood at 9.06 million in 2019.

Issues of Concern in Livestock Sector of India

There are several issues of concern in the livestock sector of India. These are:

  • Low Productivity: India is largest producer of milk globally. But when it comes to productivity, it is below the world average. The milk productivity in India in 2019 stood at 1,777 kg per cow per year compared to the world average of 2,699 kg per cow (FAOSTAT).
  • Structure of Livestock Population: In India, the structure of livestock population is dominated by local breeds. The need is for crossbred and improved breeds of livestock.
  • Technological Dualism: The livestock sector in India is marred by technological dualism. For instance, dairying in urban areas is largely based on improved breeds as compared to that in rural areas.
  • Non-compliance in Phyto-sanitary: Due to non-compliance of phyto-sanitary conditions and quality standards, the exports of livestock products do not realise its true potential.
  • Ineffective Quarantine Regime: It has led to importation of contaminated biologicals and infected livestock species.


Livestock sector is an important sub-sector of Indian agriculture. Its contribution to agriculture sector and Indian economy stands 4.90% and 30.13% respectively in 2021. Many types of livestock farming are practiced in India starting from dairy farming to pig farming. The 20th Livestock Census highlights the increase in livestock population due to government emphasis on this sector. Yet, the sector is plagued by issues like low productivity, technological dualism, and ineffective quarantine regime. Addressing these will help increase the contribution of the sector to Indian economy.

Frequently Asked Questions On What is Livestock: Its Meaning, Types and Present Status in India

1. What is livestock?

Livestock are farm animals commercially raised and reared to meet the needs of food (egg and meat) and non-food (wool and leather).

Livestock farming comes with many advantages. They create employment opportunity, provide food security, and alleviate poverty in addition to raising the income of the farmers.

Goat farming the most profitable livestock in India as it requires less initial investment and are cheaper to rear.

To start livestock farming you need to start with selecting the type of livestock you want to rear.

No, fish are not livestock.

Arpit Srivastava
Published By
Arpit Srivastava
Arpit holds a B.Tech degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering from Babu Banarasi Das Northern India Institute of Technology. He is a professional content writer having skillset of writing top quality research based content for various niche and industries. With over 7 years of experience, he holds expertise in writing SEO-friendly content on a wide range of topics related to agriculture, tractors, and farm implements. In his free time, he loves to explore new places, try different cuisines, and play sports like cricket and badminton.
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