Animal husbandry is a key sector of the economy, and the export of hides and skins has long been an important source of foreign exchange. In 2001, the livestock population was estimated at 5,029,000 sheep, 4,453,000 goats, 1,400,000 head of cattle, 500,000 donkeys, and 198,000 camels.
Commercial production of poultry in Yemen began in the mid-1970s. Yemen produces about 95% of its annual consumption of eggs and is emerging as a significant producer of broilers (chicken meat). The brief civil conflict in 1994 hurt the industry by driving up the costs of imported feed and vaccines. About 78,000 tons of poultry were marketed by eight companies in 2001. About 32,000 tons of eggs were marketed in 2001.