Working Paper

IDS Working Paper;451

Livestock and Livelihoods in Africa: Maximising Animal Welfare and Human Wellbeing

Published on 1 December 2014

Livestock perform several vital roles in rural livelihoods in Africa, providing food (meat, milk, eggs), draught power and transport, as well as income from sales of animals and animal products. However, the implications for animal welfare are not always considered.

Theory suggests that animal welfare follows an ‘n-curve’ in relation to productivity. It tends to be low in smallholder farming and pastoral systems (due to inadequate feed, water and veterinary care), to rise with semi-commercial livestock production (increasing the use-value of animals requires investment), and to fall again with full commercialisation (exploitation for profit maximisation overrides welfare considerations).

This paper argues that livestock keepers invest in animal welfare to the extent that this increases their productivity, but they might also derive non-use value from treating their animals well. If the economic returns plus non-use value are not sufficient, regulations to protect livestock must be introduced and compliance must be enforced, to ensure that an adequate investment in animal welfare is achieved and to achieve a better balance between human and animal welfare.


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Stephen Devereux

Research Fellow

Publication details

published by
Institute of Development Studies
Devereux, Stephen
IDS Working Paper, issue 451
978 1 78118 213 0


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