Most farmers also raise livestock. In 2001 there were 816,000 head of cattle, 757,000 goats, 160,000 sheep, and 180,000 pigs. Chickens were also widely raised; in 2001 there were an estimated 1.2 million. About 170,000 cattle were slaughtered in 1999, providing 18,000 tons of beef and veal.
The number of cattle owned by an individual has traditionally been a key indicator of status in Rwanda's social system. This factor has resulted in the accumulation of large herds of poor-quality stock. The government is striving to eliminate excess cattle and to improve the remainder by the introduction of modern stock-raising methods.