Livestock and Dairy Sector of Pakistan – Few Facts

January 21, 2013


Dr. Sajjad Zaheer Malik
Dr. Sajjad Zaheer Malik

Domestication of livestock is one of the earliest achievements of human beings. It made their lives more productive, easy and secure. Since, those early days, livestock is serving mankind. It still does so in Pakistan where it is an integral part of the rural economy contributing significantly to the Agriculture and National GDP’s. The livestock accounts for approximately 55.1 % of agriculture value added and 11.5 % of GDP during the year 2010-11. Due to massive floods, the growth of livestock showed a marked decline at 3.7 % as against 4.3 % last year.

Livestock is raised by more than 8.5 million small and landless families in the rural areas and is their main livelihood source. Livestock sector’s prospective role towards rural economy can be well recognized from the fact that 35-40 million rural populations are dependent on the livestock.

Population and distribution

The Detail of livestock population of large ruminants and small ruminants in Pakistan and provinces is as under:           

Livestock Population in Pakistan and Provinces

(In millions)

     Country/ Province       Cattle      Buffalo        Sheep       Goat


       29.55        27.33         26.49      53.79
             NWFP         5.91








             Punjab        14.48








              Sindh         6.82








         Balochistan         2.36








                                                                              (Source Livestock Census 2006)

The increase in the livestock population during the decade from 1996-2006, for buffaloes, cattle, goat and sheep is 35, 45, 30 and 13 respectively for the National herd is given in the table below:     


Comparative Status of Ruminants Population in Pakistan

        Type of Animals                      Herd Strength

                       (In Millions)

     % Increase                    
            1996            2006
            Buffaloes             20.27           27.35              35
              Cattle             20.42           29.56              45
              Goats             41.17           53.79              30
              Sheep             23.54           26.49              13

                                                                              (Source Livestock Census 2006)


The density of livestock population per sq, kilometer varies from area to area. It’s more in irrigated areas for dairy animals, whereas the rain fed and hilly areas have more population of small ruminants and non-descript cattle. Nearly, 80% subsistence farmers are having 1-4 animals with small land holding or landless.

However, if the distribution of livestock population under different production systems is examined, the situation changes. This is because of production systems have evolved naturally in the agro-ecological regions of the country that is independent of administrative/ provincial boundaries.


Livestock as a Source of Income

As reported, in baseline survey on Livestock sector which was got conducted through SEBCON by Strengthening of Livestock Services Project (European Union Project) in 2006, on National Basis, the total income in urban and peri urban was Rs. 178, 466 with the highest income from livestock products Rs.72, 878 (41%) followed by the remittance Rs. 65, 209 (37%), Crops Rs. 16,733 (9%) and Livestock Rs.14,550 (8%). This was also the pattern in all the provinces. In the rural areas, the total income was reported to be lower with Rs.126, 926. The highest sources of income was crops Rs. 43, 123 (34%) followed by remittances Rs. 39, 696 (31%), Livestock products Rs. 29, 844 (24%) and Livestock Rs.11,473 (9%). However, in the provinces the income from different sources was different from that on the National basis. The details of the study are as under:


Pakistan is amongst the top 5 milk producers in the world with an annual gross production of 45 billion liters of milk. There are 8 million farming households in Pakistan with a total herd of about 60 million animals. Some 97% of Pakistani farmers are not linked to the formal markets. The overall animal herd density of Pakistan is thinly spread across 796, 095 sq kilometers of area. The distribution of milch cows and buffaloes by herd size is given as under: 

 Distribution of Milch Cows and Buffaloes by Herd Size

        Herd Size          Households Reporting Percent of Milch Animals
Number in Million      Percent
            1-2            5.14        61.1             27.3
            3-4            1.88        22.3             23.7
            5-6            0.71         8.4             14.3
           7-10            0.45         5.4             13.7
          11-15            0.13         1.6              6.3
          16-20            0.04         0.5              2.6
          21-30            0.03         0.3              2.6
          31-50            0.02         0.2              2.7
      51 & above            0.01         0.1              6.7

(Source: Pakistan Livestock Census, 2006)

Major Milk Contributors


(Source: Livestock Census, 2006)
(Source: Livestock Census, 2006)

Buffalo and cattle are major sources of milk as they are contributing in total production by 67 and 31% respectively as shown in the chart below.


The average milk production/ animal per lactation in liters are quite low when compared with developed countries. Milk productivity comparison is given in the following table:


Milk Productivity Comparison



Average Milk Production/Animal /Lactation (Litres)

                Cattle            Buffalo
       Bangladesh                   207               407
          Bhutan                   257               400
            India                   987              1,450
           Nepal                   415               850
         Pakistan                 1,195              1,909
       Sri Lanka                   627               496
       Australia*                 4,926                 –
     New Zealand*                 3,947                 –

(Source: FAO 2004- Mr. Collin’s Report February, 2005)

The comparison between the livestock census 1996-2006 on average daily milk yield reported an increase of +1.4 and +2.8 % for cows and buffaloes, against an increase of 45 and 35 % in population during the same decade, which seems to be meager in such a big herd.

Production Systems

In dairy sector, there are 4 very strong production systems i.e. small-holder subsistence (1-3 animals), small-holder market oriented (3-5 animals), Rural Commercial with more than 50 animals (90% buffaloes & 10% cattle) and Peri-urban (100-200 animals). A brief of production systems and their characteristics is detailed below:

Production System and their Characteristics

 Production System Number of Animals Marketing Channels
Small-holder Subsistence 1 – 3 Milk not marketed due to lack of regular access to market. Markets processed goods like desi ghee
Small-holder Market Oriented 3- 5 Retail Shops, Middlemen, Procurement agents of dairy processing plants
Rural Commercial More than 50 (90% buffaloes & 10% cattle) Retail Shops, Middlemen, Procurement agents of dairy processing plants
Peri-Urban 100-200 livestock with 90% buffaloes and 10% cattle Direct sale to retail shops, contract with the middlemen, sales to consumers

(Source: Analysis of Milk Marketing Chain, FAO Pakistan, 2006)

The present trend of introduction of corporate \ commercial cattle farming of exotic and cross bred animals is changing the production systems, as well as seasonal fluctuation gaps and improvised supply of milk to the processing plants is being noticed. This change in scenario will go a long way in helping the dairy sector as well as consumers in the urban markets on demand and supply situation, provided the management and feeding aspects are taken care professionally and herds are also saved from epidemics like foot & mouth, H.S and haemoparasitc infections.


Dr. Sajjad Zaheer Malik

Consultant Pakistan Dairy Association

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