Livestock Research for Rural Development 16 (8) 2004

Citation of this paper

Socio-economic characteristics of ruminant livestock farmers and their production constraints in some parts of South-western Nigeria

A O K Adesehinwa, J O Okunola* and M K Adewumi**

Institute of Agricultural Research and Training, Obafemi Awolowo University, Moor Plantation, Ibadan. Nigeria  /
*Department of Agricultural Economics and Extension, Federal University of Technology, Akure. Nigeria
**Department of Animal Science, University of Ibadan, Ibadan. Nigeria


A total of five hundred farmers randomly selected from ten villages were surveyed to examine the socio-economic characteristics of ruminant livestock farmers and constraints to ruminant livestock production in some parts of south-western Nigeria.

Seventy percent of the farmers were males and about 50 percent were between 51 and 60 years. The study revealed that traditional/ceremonial use of the animals, pests and disease problems and costs of production do not have significant effects on livestock production. However, availability of inputs and extension services were significant factors to be considered in the production of ruminant livestock. Thirty percent of the farmers claimed that they use farm and home remnants to feed their animals.

The results of the study therefore show that there is need for the effective implementation of policies on adequate input supply to the farmers as well as improved extension services to enhance the production of ruminant livestock in some parts of south-western Nigeria.

Keywords: Constraints, livestock production, ruminants, south-western Nigeria


The role of livestock in human development is enormous. Protein from livestock is needed for physical and intellectual development as well as for developing immunity against disease (Atinmo and Akinyele 1983). Livestock production is also an instrument to socio-economic change to improved income and quality of life. In Nigeria, livestock provides about 36.5% of total protein intake (NISER/CBN 1991) but this still falls short of the minimum animal protein requirement recommended by FAO/WHO (1983). The level of domestic livestock production still falls short of demand, for example, in 1997, demand for beef was 554,000 tonnes, while it was 627,000 tonnes in 1998 but the domestic supplies were 376,000 and 391,000 tonnes in 1997 and 1998, respectively (NAERLS 1999). Efforts being made to improve the level of domestic production have not yielded the desired result. Since the1970's, cattle rearing for instance witnessed only slight modernization with the establishment of cattle ranches in Gombe, Manchock, Mokwa, Obudu and upper Ogun and Osun States, while, sheep and goats are scattered throughout the different ecological zones in the country (Akinwumi and Ipki 1985). The introduction of the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), a government policy of the 80s, affected livestock production in the country tremendously. There was a decrease in the amount of meat consumed by households between the pre SAP and the post SAP period (NISER/CBN 1991). The number of cattle produced per sampled farmer also decreased by 44% between pre SAP and the post SAP period. Apart from the Federal Government policies, the problems of livestock production in developing countries are becoming more critical as population increases, demand elasticity is growing and the production systems still remain constrained by socio-economic and biological factors (West 1990). With primary focus on animal husbandry/veterinary services, acknowledged socio-cultural factors as an appendage of major concern in seeking solution to problems facing livestock production is necessary (Olawoye 1990). In the light of the above, this paper examines constraints affecting livestock production in some areas of South western, Nigeria with an attempt to:


The study covered selected villages in Ekiti and Ondo States of Nigeria. Ekiti North Local Government was randomly chosen in Ekiti State. Five villages were randomly selected out of 30 villages on the map of the local government area. The villages were divided into 4 wards out of which 2 wards were randomly selected. Twenty five farmers were interviewed per ward giving a total of 50 respondents from each village and total sample size of 250.

Akoko Northwest was selected in Ondo State. Five villages were randomly selected out of 35 villages in this local government area. Each of the villages 9was divided into 4 wards and 2 wards were randomly chosen. Twenty five (25) farmers were randomly interviewed from each ward and this made a total 250 farmers from the local government. A total of 500 respondents were used for the study.

Data collection and data analysis

Primary data were collected with the use of validated structured questionnaires administered by trained enumerators. Descriptive statistics such as frequency distribution and percentages were used to process the raw data while chi-square and multiple regressions were used for some selected variables.

Results and discussion

Socio-economic characteristic of respondents

Most of the farmers were within the age range of 51 to 60 years (50%) and were males (70%), while 27% were between 31 and 40 years. Less than 5% of the farmers were below 30 years (Table 1). This implies that the younger ones were less involved in livestock production. This could be attributed to rural-urban migration by the young men for white collar jobs while some are basically involved in food crop production only.

Table 1: Distribution of socio-economic characteristic of respondents



















Traditional Worshiper



Educational Status



No formal education



Formal educational


















> 60 years



Primary Occupation















In the area studied, 70% of the respondents were Christians, 12% were Muslims and only 9% were traditional worshippers. The educational level of the respondents show that 23% of the farmers had formal education while 77% had no formal education. Sixty-six percent of those who were formally educated attended adult literacy classes and 6% attended secondary school while 4% had diploma certificates. The low percentage of those with formal education may be due to limitations of educational facilities in the villages, which to a great extent could adversely influence adoption of innovations in livestock production.

The study also showed that 90% of the respondents were involved in farming while 4% were involved in trading as primary occupation but took to farming as secondary occupation. Ninety-two percent of those involved in farming as primary occupation claimed that they were involved in both crop and livestock production. This was in agreement with the findings of Charray et al (1992), who reported majority of households in Africa to keep small groups of ruminants alongside cropping.

Figure 1. Frequency Distribution of Types of animals reared by the farmers

Figure 1 indicates that 40% of the farmers reared both sheep and goats while 29% reared only goats. Nineteen percent reared cattle, 7% only sheep but 3% reared cattle and goats while 2% had both cattle and sheep on their farm. These data implie that most of the farmers reared sheep and goats and also that the goat was the commonest animal reared by the farmers. This could be attributed to the fact that it is possible to rear goats on free-range, which is less costly and with less managerial involvement. The study area is also a suitable ecological environment for this type of goat (West African Dwarf goat). Small ruminants have been reported to form an integral part of the cultural life and farming system of Nigeria's peasantry (Ajala 2004). The low percentage of farmers rearing cattle alone (19%) could be attributed to the ecological problem which makes the area prone to trypanosomiasis. The goat has been reported to be resistant to trypanosomiasis attack (Oladele and Adenegan 1998). It is worthy of note that the breed of cattle mostly reared in this area is the Ndama breed, which has been noted for its tolerance to trypanosomiasis (Vietmeyer 1991).

Sources of feed

Most of the respondents (31%) fed their animals on a combination of home remnants and grazing, as shown in Figure 2. This could be because most of the farmers use the range method in rearing their animals, while left-over foods on farm and at home are cheap feed sources which are readily available (Ajala 2004). In the area of study, fresh grasses are also available for about 8 months of the year for the animals to graze on. This is supported by the assertion of 78% of the respondents who claimed that feeds are readily available for the animals.

Figure 2. Frequency Distribution of Feed sources

On the effect of feed on livestock production, over 68% of the respondents were of the opinion that the source of feed affected their product. The quality and timely availability of the feed has been reported to affect the productivity and growth of the animals (Adesehinwa et al 2003). Sixty percent of the respondents claimed that the quality of the feed most of the time is not good enough for growth of the animal, hence, its adverse effect on the performance.

Effect of Input Supply on Production

Thirty five percent of the farmers claimed that they obtained their farm inputs from government agency, 33% from co-operative societies and 31% from Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO's). This confirms the assertion that some NGO's in Ondo State are involved in supply of farm inputs to enhance animal production in the state (Okunola and Akosile 1990). The type of input obtained is shown in Figure 3. The supply of chemicals to the farmers is the prominent input obtained by 51% of the farmers. Approximately 29% claimed that "improved" animals are the major source of input made available to them while 12% reported that theirs is provision of drugs.

Figure 3. Relative uptake of inputs

On timeliness of the input, 60% of the farmers reported that they obtained the input on time and 40% stated otherwise. This is because over 30% of the respondents obtained their inputs from co-operative societies. Sixty percent of the farmers also reported that the supplies of the inputs were regular.

Figure 4. Effect of input supply on livestock production

Figure 4 above show that 74% of the respondents claimed that the present position of input supply has helped increase their livestock production and decrease deaths of the animals. This shows that their levels of income would have increased as a result of the availability of adequate feed and drugs (Oladele and Adenegan 1998).

Figure 5. Frequency distribution of market outlets for livestock sales

Sixty five percent of the respondents sold their product in village markets while 21% sold to middle men (Figure 5). The implication of the above is that respondents do not go beyond their immediate environment. This may have been as a result of the problem of cost and availability of transportation in some of these places (NAERLS 1999). This usually affects the profit level, as they would make more profit by selling at the urban market (NAERLS 1999). Sixty five percent of the farmers claimed that they sold their products live, while 17% sold them slaughtered and 8% sold them in cooked form. This goes to support earlier findings that most farmers in South-western Nigeria sell their animals live through the village market (Oladele and Adenegan 1998).

From Figure 6, it was observed that 42% of the farmers obtained their finance from friends, 18% from personal savings and 3% from loans (co-operative and banks). Most of them claimed to have raised loans from friends because of the interest-free rates and the fact that it is also easy to obtain. The loan obtained from friends is usually small since they are mainly used in small-scale production and this placed a limitation on further expansion of production.

Figure 6. Financial sources of livestock producers

In most instances, they do not have the required collateral to enable them to take loans from banks. Furthermore, their low savings in co-operative societies militated against obtaining loans, which could support large-scale production.

Biological Constraints to Livestock Production

Eighty-two percent of the farmers responded that pests and disease were the major problems in their livestock production activities. The reason could be because the study area is a tropical rainforest zone that favours growth of most of these diseases and pests. Pests and diseases have led to increases in cost of production, according to 60% of the respondents. Twenty five percent stated that incidence of pests and diseases was responsible for reduction in the number of animals kept by them (Figure 7), while 14% of the respondents claimed it affected the birth rate of their animals. However, the increase in cost of production could be attributed to additional costs incurred in transporting and treating the sick animals, as well as cost of pest and disease control to prevent epidemic outbreak.

Figure 7. Effect of pests and diseases on livestock production

Visits of extension agents as a constraint

The study revealed that 94% of the farmers had access to extension services through visits of extension agents and that such visits have enhanced their production (Figure 8). This could be as a result of the activities of Agricultural Development Projects established in each of the states of the federation to strengthen the Unified Agricultural Extension System practiced in Nigeria. This has been reported to reduce the Farmer - Extension ratio from about 1: 2000 to 1: 600 (Oladele and Adenegan 1998).

Figure 8. Relevance of extension services

The extension agents visit the farmers fortnightly to disseminate information to them on the most effective management system and advise the farmers on sources of inputs and credit facility for their production while problems confronting the farmers are taken to the scientists/researchers for solutions.

Effect of Ceremonial and Traditional Use of Livestock on Production

Forty five percent of the respondents stated that the use of livestock for ceremonies such as religious festivals, social ceremonies (e.g. marriages, naming ceremony) and worship of idols, has no effect on their production (Figure 9). This could be because all these socio-cultural events come up occasionally while 38%, who claimed that it has an effect, stated that it motivated them to increase production as they make more profit selling the animals during these periods. 'Emergency cash source' has been reported as the major motivating factor for ruminant production as it serves as 'savings account' for their keepers (Ajala 2004).

There were no significant relationships between effect of traditional/social use, income from sale of cattle, sheep and goat, cost of production of cattle, sheep and goat production (Table 2). This implies that these variables do not have significant influence on the production of the selected livestock. The reason could be because most of the respondents produce these animals at subsistence level, as 55% of the respondents indicated that they use the free- range (extensive) management system. The cost of production with this management system is low (Oladele and Adenegan. 1998; Ajala 2004).

Figure 9. Effect of Ceremonial and Traditional use of Livestock on Production

The farmers have indigenous methods for controlling diseases as 34% of the respondents confirmed this. Most of the respondents also produce livestock at subsistence level; hence they bother less on the income realized. The implication is that inputs influenced livestock production. This could be because there can never be production without regular and timely supply of inputs, since production is based on this.

Table 2. Pearson correlation analysis showing relationships of some factors and livestock production


R’ calculated value

Table ‘R’ value


Effect of traditional/social use



Not significant





Income from sale of sheep and goat



Not Significant

Income from sale of cattle



Not Significant

Pest and disease



Not Significant

Cost of production of sheep and goat



Not Significant

Cost of production of cattle



Not Significant

Availability of extension services




During the study, 74% of the respondents had reported that timely and regular supply of inputs helped increase their production. Availability of extension services was also found to influence livestock production. This could have emanated from the fact that information that will enhance production was disseminated to the respondents through the extension service delivery system of the Agricultural Development Projects (ADPs).



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Received 5 March 2004; Accepted 29 June 2004

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