PNG Ag. Resources




Livestock Sector 

Livestock contributes 13 per cent of the total domestic food production. Despite an abundance of natural resources suitable for livestock production and enviable low disease risk status, livestock production has not increased significantly in the recent past. On the hand, meat consumption is increasing steadily and is predicted to increase at a conservative rate of 5 per cent per annum. The cost of imported livestock products has increased over the last five years, and at present exceeds K130 million per annum.

The estimated per capita consumption of meat in PNG is 21 kg (compared to 40 kg in the Philippines and 115 kg in Australia), and has not changed since 1990.


Back   Beef
The beef cattle industry has proved its presence for over forty years, but is facing difficulties to maintain sustainable growth despite the existence of favorable natural environment in many parts of the country and no major disease problems.

The industry is based on large-scale ranching and smallholder cattle production. The size of the national herd increased from 1950s and peaked in 1976 to around 153 000 head with more than 1000 smallholder cattle farms holding 50,000, the rest were on large properties. At present there are 28 large properties with an estimated 65 000 head and another 18,000 on 550 smallholder cattle farms. The decline in cattle numbers is attributed to:

  • Poor skills in animal and pasture management.

  • Withdrawal of services, particularly extension support to smallholders.

  • Land ownership disputes due to uncertainty of land tenure.

  • Lark of suitable credit facilities, and

  • Increasing law and order problems.

Reports indicate low herd fertility (50 - 60%) and calf survival percentages are low (about 50 - 60%). Losses also arise from wild dogs being a major problem. Average growth rates and time to reach slaughter weight are long. Annual beef production has been virtually static around 2000 tonnes, but in recent years production has increased slightly through higher turn off and higher carcass weights and is estimated at about 2,800 tonnes. The annual importation of beef is around 13000 tonnes with the canneries accounting for 70 per cent of the imported beef.

The Government will continue to maintain an appropriate beef industry production and protection policy, to ensure that, the local beef producers are not unduly affected by foreign market forces and the local beef market imperfections.

Back     Pork
Like the poultry industry the commercial pig industry developed rapidly under the ban of pig meat imports introduced in 1983. The current industry is based on a small number of large scale piggeries located on the outskirts of the major cities and domestic pigs kept by various families. The industry, as in the case of poultry industry, has a high dependence on imported feed ingredients.

Pig production grew rapidly since 1983 and stabilised between 1000 and 2000 tonnes per year, which satisfies the local demand at the current consumption level. However, there is still growing demand for "baconers", which encouragers small goods processors to import bacon for processing.

Village pig numbers are estimated to be between 1.5 and 2 million, with an production of 6 000 tonnes. Village pigs are good scavengers and represent a significant though underutilised source of protein. They also have a major social and cultural significance, and are used in exchanges and feasting.

To continue to promote improvement in productivity and production efficiency of the pig industry, for it to continue its part in meeting the national demand for pork, and also to enhance food security as well as income for the communities as well as to meet the other social and cultural needs.


Back   Sheep
Although sheep was introduced into PNG in the 1980's, organised sheep development commenced only in 1975 with the establishment of a breeding station in Goroka with technical assistance from the NEW Zealand Government aimed to establish a village based sheep industry in the country. Between 1975 and 1994 temperate sheep were imported and crossed with local tropical breed to develop a suitable breed for the highlands region.

It is estimated that there about 10 000 sheep in the country, and most of the animals are on smallholder farms in the central highlands. demand for breeders are high but Government breeding stations are unable to meet this demand, which is further exacerbated by loses due to stealing of sheep from the breeding stations. to overcome this problem. in collaboration with farmer groups, nucleus sheep breeding farms have been established to multiply and distribute breeders to satellite sheep farms.

Annual import of sheep meat, mostly the cheaper cuts, has increased from 4 000 tonnes in the late 80's to almost to 40 000 tonnes in recent years. This is attributed to a substitution effect as a result of lower price of the sheep meat compared to other meats in the market and increased meat consumption.

To continue to promote sheep husbandry as component of the farming systems, for it to provide an alternative source of income for smallholders; improve the nutritional status of village people; generate income-earning opportunities and for use of by products to provide a means of import substitution.


Back   Goats
Goats were introduced in PNG in late 1800's as a source of meat. More were imported after WW2 and distributed to Missions and small village communities.

It is estimated that at present there about 25 000 goats in the country and mostly found in Morobe, Eastern highlands and Simbu Provinces. Goats are suitable for village production as they do well in poor quality feed; tend to be prolific; less susceptible to internal parasites; fit well in into village lifestyle; can produce milk to improve nutrition of village children and can substitute sheep meat.

Head numbers vary, with many owners having more than 50 goats that usually graze free range. Demand for breeding animal is high. Hitherto no serious efforts have been made to promote goat production in an organised way. Despite this Goat industry has grown considerably due to local interest and to religious direction. Animal numbers are however still small due to high kid mortality and low productivity as a result in breeding, poor feeding and management.

The Government reorganised the importance of goats and potential contribution that they can make to stability and sustainability of the smallholder farming systems and will support a sustainable goat industry specifically to provide the much needed meat and milk to the community.


Back      Rabbits    (Alternate Livestock)

Rabbit farming in Morobe Province

Rabbit was introduce in the early 90's on an experimental basis and has become popular in many villages. Currently there are 2 000 rabbit farmers in the country. And the meat produced is consumed within villages. Rabbit production has shown  great promise as source of meat and income although to date the production is not substantial. Rabbits can be easily integrated into the local farming systems. Other Livestock include dairy cattle, deer, crocodile, guinea pigs, cassowaries, native birds, etc. These animals have social and economic significance and should be researched and developed.

To promote disease free rabbit farming in the villages as an alternative source of meat and income.


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Copyright 2004 PNG Agriculture & Livestock Sector
Last modified: December 29, 2004