More than one-third of the total land area is suitable for pasture. Livestock produced in the central, southern, and southeastern states are mostly native breeds of general-purpose cattle; in the northern and northwestern states, Herefords and other improved breeds are raised for export, mainly to the US.
In 2001, the livestock population was estimated at 30.6 million head of cattle, 16.5 million hogs, 9 million goats, 6.4 million sheep, 6.25 million horses (third in the world), 3.26 million donkeys, 3.27 million mules, and 498 million chickens. Output of livestock products in 2001 included 9,472,000 tons of cows' milk, 140,000 tons of goats' milk, 1,444,000 tons of beef and veal, 1,975,000 tons of poultry meat, 1,056,000 tons of pork, and 1,892,000 tons of eggs. In 1996, cattle inventories declined due to lower birth rates of calves, high slaughter rates, and increased exports. One of the worst droughts in decades in northern Mexico (combined with unfavorable weather in southern Mexico) was also responsible for the decline in livestock inventories.