Livestock definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary

Livestock is domesticated terrestrial animals that are raised to provide a diverse array of goods and services such as traction, meat, milk, eggs, hides, fibers, and feathers. The term livestock systems embrace all aspects of the supply and use of livestock commodities, including the distribution and abundance of livestock, the different production systems in which they are raised, estimates of consumption and production now and in the future, the people engaged in livestock production and the benefits and impacts of keeping livestock. These web pages provide geographical information and resources relating to global livestock systems.

For more information about Livestock resources please visit Pritish Kumar Halder blogs.

Livestock and Agricultural Research with PTR-MS

Livestock resources

India is

  • World’s highest livestock owner at about 535.78 million
  • First in the total buffalo population in the world – 109.85 million buffaloes
  • 2nd in the population of goats – 148.88 million goats
  • Second largest poultry market in the world
  • 2nd largest producer of fish and also second largest aquaculture nation in the world
  • Third in the population of sheep (74.26 million)
  • Fifth in the population of ducks and chickens (851.81 million)
  • Tenth in camel population in the world – 2.5 lakhs
  • Contribution of livestock to people

The livestock provides food and non-food items to the people.

Could you survive on just one food? - BBC Future


The livestock provides food items such as Milk, Meat, and Eggs for human consumption. India is the number one milk producer in the world. It is producing about 176.34 million tones of milk in a year (2017-18). Similarly, it is producing about 95.22 billion eggs and 7.70 million tones of meat in a year.

The value of the output of the livestock sector at current prices was Rs 9,17,910 crores at current prices during 2016-17 which is about 31.25% of the value of output from the agricultural and allied sectors. At constant prices, the value of output from livestock was about 31.11% of the value of the output from total agriculture and allied sector. During the financial year 2017-18, the total fish production in India is estimated at 12.61 Million Metric tones.

Wool Fiber for Needlefelting or Spinning Yarn

Fiber and skins

The livestock also contributes to the production of wool, hair, hides, and pelts. Leather is the most important product which has very high export potential. India is producing about 41.5 million Kg of wool per annum during 2017-18.

4,906 Animal Bullock Stock Photos and Images - 123RF


Bullocks are the backbone of Indian agriculture. Despite a lot of advancements in the use of mechanical power in Indian agricultural operations, the Indian farmer especially in rural areas still depends upon bullocks for various agricultural operations. The bullocks are saving a lot on fuel which is a necessary input for using mechanical power like tractors, combine harvesters, etc.

Pack animals like camels, horses, donkeys, ponies, mules, etc are being extensively used to transport goods in different parts of the country in addition to bullocks. In situations like hilly terrains, mules and ponies serve as the only alternative to transport goods. Similarly, the army has to depend upon these animals to transport various items in high areas of high altitudes.

Dung and other animal waste materials: Dung and other animal wastes serve as very good farm yard manure and its value of it are worth several crores of rupees. In addition, it is also used as fuel (biogas, dung cakes), and for construction as poor man’s cement (dung).

Livestock Shelter Benefits | Multi Shelter Solutions


Livestock is considered as ‘moving banks’ because of their potential to dispose of during emergencies. They serve as capital and in cases of landless agricultural laborers many times it is the only capital resource they possess. Livestock serves as an asset and in case of emergencies, they serve as a guarantee for availing loans from local sources such as money lenders in the villages.

Weed control

Livestock is also used for Biological control of brush, plants, and weeds.


Livestock offers security to the owners and also adds to their self-esteem especially when they are owning prized animals such as pedigreed bulls, dogs and high yielding cows/ buffaloes, etc.

Sports / recreation

People also use the animals like cocks, rams, bulls, etc for competition and sports. Despite a ban on these animal competitions the cock fights, ram fights and bull fights (jalli kattu) are quite common during festive seasons.

Companion animals

Dogs are known for their faithfulness and are being used as companions since time immemorial. When nuclear families are increasing in number and the old parents are forced to lead solitary life the dogs, and cats are providing the needed company to the latter thus making them lead a comfortable life.

Role of livestock in farmers’ economy

Livestock plays an important role in the economy of farmers. The farmers in India maintain a mixed farming system i.e. a combination of crop and livestock where the output of one enterprise becomes the input of another enterprise thereby realizing resource efficiency. The livestock serves the farmers in different ways.


Livestock is a source of subsidiary income for many families in India especially the resource-poor who maintain few heads of animals. Cows and buffaloes if in milk will provide regular income to the livestock farmers through the sale of milk. Animals like sheep and goats serve as sources of income during emergencies to meet exigencies like marriages, treatment of sick persons, children’s education, repair of houses, etc. The animals also serve as moving banks and assets which provide economic security to the owners. For more information please visit Pritish Kumar Halder ‘s page


A large number of people in India being less literate and unskilled depend upon agriculture for their livelihoods. But agriculture being seasonal could employ a maximum of 180 days in a year. The landless and fewer land people depend upon livestock for utilizing their labor during the lean agricultural season.


The livestock products such as milk, meat, and eggs are an important source of animal protein to the members of the livestock owners. The per capita availability of milk is around 375 g / day; eggs are 74 / per annum during 2017-18.

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Social security

The animals offer social security to the owners in terms of their status in society. The families especially the landless who own animals are better placed than those who do not. The gifting of animals during marriages is a very common phenomenon in different parts of the country. Rearing animals is a part of Indian culture.

Animals are used for various socio-religious functions. Cows for housewarming ceremonies; rams, bucks, and chicken for sacrifice during festive seasons;   Bulls and Cows are worshipped during various religious functions. Many owners develop an attachment to their animals.


The bullocks are the backbone of Indian agriculture. The farmers especially the marginal and small depend upon bullocks for plowing, carting, and transport of both inputs and outputs.


In rural areas dung is used for several purposes which include fuel (dung cakes), fertilizer (farm yard manure), and plastering material (poor man’s cement).