Livestock fact check: new series delves into data behind popular figures

by Vanessa Meadu

Facts around livestock feature prominently in debates about the economy, environment and human health, but some of the most commonly cited facts are not rooted in clear evidence. That’s why the Livestock Data for Decisions (LD4D) community of experts are investigating the most widespread claims. Their findings are published today in the first of a series of factsheets known as Livestock Fact Check.

Facts checked (so far):

Fact Check livelihoods
Livestock and livelihoods: Do livestock support the livelihoods of around one billion poor people globally?

Fact Check economy
Livestock and economy: Does the livestock sector make up 40% of total agricultural GDP globally?

Fact Check zoonotic
Livestock and zoonotic disease: Of emerged human disease epidemics, have 75% really been of animal origin? And overall, are 60% of human pathogens of animal origin?

Fact Check disease eradication
Livestock disease eradication: Did global eradication of Rinderpest bring billions of dollars of benefits

Each fact sheet uncovers the origins, calculations and context of commonly cited facts, and points to any gaps in the data, and implications for future research.

The factsheets are designed to inform both critics and advocates who are interested and engaged in discussions around livestock; and aim to ensure these discussions are based on appropriately interpreted  evidence and data.

We welcome your feedback, suggestions and questions – please leave your comments below.

Livestock Fact Check is an ongoing project which investigates and clarifies commonly cited facts about livestock. The livestock factsheets and webinar are produced by the Livestock Data for Decisions (LD4D) community of practice. LD4D aims to drive informed livestock decision-making through better use of existing data and analyses. Learn more at

LD4D is coordinated by the Supporting Evidence Based Interventions project, based at the University of Edinburgh’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies.

Lead photo source: Z. Sewunet (ILRI)

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