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Livestock Systems

Livestock research for people, animals and the environment.
A farmer in Pakistan providing drinking water for her cattle

"In short, if you care about the poor, you should care about agriculture. And if you care about agriculture, you should care about livestock."

- Bill Gates, speaking at the opening of the Edinburgh University Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security, January 2018

The Livestock Systems Program contributes to ACIAR’s mission by brokering research partnerships that develop more productive, profitable and sustainable livestock systems for the benefit of smallholder farmers, their animals and the environment.

The program’s focus is on smallholder producers working in pastoralist and crop-livestock farming systems, with some investment in grasslands and agroforestry. The program aims to take a holistic view of livestock systems incorporating animal welfare, health and production while considering the broader human health and environmental impacts of the production systems.

The program also invests in a small number of ‘blue sky’ and emerging needs research initiatives which address important priorities for our partner countries.

Key themes addressed through Livestock Systems Program are:

  1. Producing more from less in a changing climate - Continuing our legacy research on improved livestock health and productivity, with a stronger focus on the environmental footprint and identification of climate-smart production practises. 
  2. Managing intensification of small-scale livestock systems - The transition from low input-low output systems to more market-oriented production remains a high research priority in all our partner countries.
  3. Tools and strategies for disease prevention and control - Developing evidence-based policy recommendations for government and private sector decision-makers on issues relating to food safety, endemic zoonotic diseases, biosecurity best practise and regional transboundary animal disease control.
  4. Novel approaches to the delivery of goods and services to small-scale livestock farmers - Improving smallholder access to affordable and appropriate animal health and production goods and services, and identifying business opportunities for input supply.
  5. Improve planning and decision-making by smallholder livestock farmers to increase productivity, meet market demands and improve household income - Promoting innovative tools that improve access to information such as feed formulation, disease identification and market trends. 
  6. Understanding and promoting the contribution of livestock to human nutrition, health and wellbeing - The importance of livestock to livelihoods of the rural poor are multifaceted, however, policy discourse is often limited to economic and environmental considerations. Research that contributes to providing a more inclusive understanding of society's contribution of livestock to women, men and their families will assist the global debate on the sector’s importance.

Research Program Manager: Dr Anna Okello