As of 2001, Sa'udi Arabia had an estimated 8,049,000 sheep, 4,600,000 goats, 415,000 camels, 620,000 head of cattle, 100,000 donkeys, and 3,000 horses. As imports of animal foodstuffs have increased and as greater varieties of agricultural products have been produced locally, camels have declined steadily in importance as a source of food. Arabia has long been famed for its horses, but the importance of the Arabian horse as an export item is now virtually nil. Donkeys and mules are still valued as pack animals, and the white donkeys of Al-Ahsa are well known. Sheep are found in all parts of Sa'udi Arabia where pasturage is available; they are raised for milk, as well as for meat and wool. Goats are kept for milk; their hair is used in rugs and tents, and the skins serve as water bags. Traditional farmers account for 80% of the kingdom's sheep production. Overall sheep production is expected to significantly increase in the next few years as a result of expansion by existing farms and establishment of new sheep breeding and fattening projects. About seven million head of live sheep are imported every year. The import level is expected to remain about the same in upcoming years, partly as a result of the increasing number of pilgrims who come to Mecca for the Hajj. Beef has not been a significant part of the Sa'udi diet and most beef and veal is consumed by expatriates, as traditional Saudis prefer camel meat. The concern over BSE (the so-called "Mad Cow" disease) in 1996 led the government to ban beef imports from Ireland, the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, and Portugal.
The output of poultry and eggs doubled during 1975–80, and in 1998, Sa'udi Arabia had an estimated 125 million poultry. Sa'udi Arabia is self-sufficient in milk production—in 2001, 740,000 tons were produced. There is no hog raising, and importation of pork products is banned as contrary to Islamic law.