Ethiopia has the largest livestock population in Africa, and this subsector accounts for 40% of gross agricultural output. In normal years, animal husbandry provides a living for 75% of the population. The number of cattle (zebu type) was estimated at 35.4 million in 2001; about three-fifths of them primarily work animals. The country lacks facilities for fattening cattle brought in to slaughter, an adequate veterinary service, and breeding herds. Meat production was estimated at 548,000 tons in 2001. Milk production from cows was an estimated 1,450,000 tons in 2001; from sheep, 28,600 tons; and from goats, 17,100 tons. The number of sheep and goats was estimated at 11.4 million and 9.6 million, respectively, but periodic drought may have made the actual number much lower. The number of horses was estimated at 1,254,000, mules at 630,000, donkeys at 3,414,000, and camels at 326,000. These were primarily pack animals.
Hides and skins constitute the country's second-largest export item and generally command high prices on the world market. In 1999, production of cattle hides was 56,000 tons; sheepskins, 14,000 tons; and goatskins, 13,000 tons. In 2001, Ethiopia produced 28,000 tons of honey, more than any other nation in Africa.