Livestock are the cornerstone of communities and economies worldwide

Livestock can be many things – a source of food, a savings investment, a form of transport, and an essential part of agricultural production. Livestock are the engine of development in many communities throughout the world.

These animals provide essential protein and nutrition for children, supporting their physical and mental development and life chances. And livestock can be a crucial investment – or a store of wealth – for communities who want to be more self-sustaining. Around 70% of income in the world’s poorest countries comes from livestock production.

For smallholder farmers in developing regions, a single animal can provide food for their family, manure for their crops and labor to help till the field. Protecting livestock in vulnerable regions must be at the core of economic development.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization described the loss of livestock as “not only…a loss of income for families, but also family savings and investment over many years. Livestock represents a safety net for many families and the loss of such productive assets will impact significantly on lives and livelihoods.”

Veterinarians, with the help of critical medicines, can reduce this risk. Innovations like heat-stable vaccinations allow animal health professionals to protect livestock in the most remote regions. Antibiotics can end a raging disease outbreak before an entire herd is lost. Paraciticides can stop disease spread between animals.

Livestock is a driver of agriculture, and agriculture is the driver of economies worldwide. Protecting the health of animals improves the future of nations.

Quick Facts

  • Livestock are an economic foundation: Livestock contribute 40% of the global value of agricultural output and support the livelihoods and food security of almost a 1.3 billion people
  • Livestock are a safety net: As the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has said: “The loss of livestock not only represents a loss of income for families, but also family savings and investment over many years. Livestock represents a safety net for many families and the loss of such productive assets will impact significantly on lives and livelihoods.”
  • Livestock is a path out of poverty: A program in Rwanda to provide a cow to 200,000 families found recipients reaped higher incomes, improved nutrition, better credit access, improved shelter and farm equipment, and more.
  • Livestock could transform Africa: In June 2016, philanthropist Bill Gates launched a campaign to help poor families in sub-Saharan Africa by giving them vaccinated chickens. He says raising and selling the vaccinated birds can tackle poverty and help rural families raise improved breeds of chickens, protected from disease. A farmer breeding five hens could earn more than US$1,000 a year, and with nearly 400 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa living on less than US$700 a year, this would be life changing.