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Livestock

In 1984 the livestock sector of agriculture occupied a minor position in the monetary GDP. Its most important contribution was in poultry raising, egg production, and a generally limited output of pork and beef. Goats and sheep were found in the traditional economy, and there were usually some chickens around the villages. Horses were virtually absent because of the presence of the tsetse fly. Although cattle were found in various parts of the country, their raising was also seriously hampered by the same disease vector; moreover, there was also a shortage of good grazing areas. Substantial expenditures of foreign assets were regularly made to satisfy urban requirements for imported beef.

The most common cattle in Liberia are a native West African shorthorn breed. Brown or black in color, they are relatively small animals that forage on the natural vegetation and are generally resistant to tropical diseases. Each of them attains a maximum weight of about 500 pounds. A slightly larger animal of the Ndama strain has been introduced from Guinea. This breed is particularly resistant to sleeping sickness (trypanosorniasis) transmitted by the tsetse fly. The Ministry of Agriculture, after considerable experimentation with different breeds and strains for adaptability to Liberian conditions, has recommended raising the Ndama. Herds are found in the coastal savanna in the area of Monrovia, where they provide a source of beef for the city.

Sheep and goats are found throughout the country; they are small breeds kept primarily for meat. In the mid-1980s there were also about 100,000 hogs. Some pig farms operated on a commercial basis near the large urban centers, but they were relatively small, hampered by the lack of proper domestic feeds. The government had promoted hog raising, and efforts have been made to improve the small native animal, which seldom exceeds 100 pounds in weight. In 1984 an American~owned flour mill in the Monrovia area had proposed construction of a feed mill that would use residue from its flour milling operations, together with other domestic materials and some imported grains, to produce feeds for commercial pig farms.

Chickens, which are kept by rural families throughout the country, are of native breed, small in size, and poor layers, producing only about 50 eggs a year partly because of feed deficiencies. During the 1960s a number of Liberians established commercial chicken farms with government aid to supply meat and eggs to urban areas. By the end of the decade, egg production was reported to meet urban requirements. Most commercial operations in 1984 were located in the vicinity of Monrovia. The price of chicken meat was high in early 1984 well over $1 a pound for whole birds. A major problem in raising poultry commercially was the cost of feed, most of which had to be imported. The proposed feed mill at Monrovia would reduce the dependence on imports and presumably encourage expanded production of broilers.

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