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A. Ngegba
Senior Livestock Extension Officer
Veterinary Department, Kenema, Sierra Leone


The Republic of Sierra Leone has a population of 3.7 million and an area of 73 326 km2. Broadly speaking the country falls into four physical regions: interior plateau hill region, interior plains, coastal swamps and the Western Peninsula.

For administrative purposes, the country is divided into four areas, namely Northern, Eastern, Southern and Western.

Although small ruminants (sheep and goats) represent a very important source of protein, and produce other products such as skins, their present contribution to the total production of the agricultural and natural resources sector in Sierra Leone is only 3 percent. Sheep and goats are found at village level throughout the country, but little attention has so far been paid to their improvement or the use of improved animal husbandry practices including health care. Because of low maintenance costs and relatively high productivity rates and potential offtake, sheep and goats constitute a very advantageous part of small-scale farm operations. Valuable benefits can be obtained from even modest improvement programmes within a short space of time. Furthermore, the prices of mutton and goat meat are generally higher than that of beef.

The estimated population of sheep and goats in Sierra Leone is 420 000 of which half are to be found in the Northern province.

Southern province61 45436 83319 861 km2
Eastern province37 05922 77118 710 km2
Northern province142 54576 62634 053 km2
 241 058136 23072 624 km2


  1. Animal health problems limit productivity especially in the humid and sub-humid zones. The principal problems encountered are:

    1. Internal parasites (Haemonchus, Bunostomum, etc.)
    2. Fascioliasis occurs throughout the year
    3. Parasitic bronchitis
    4. Contagious caprine pleuropneumonia
    5. Sarcoptic mange
    6. Hydatid cyst
    7. Pustular dermatitis, endemic
    8. Foot-rot

    These diseases are diagnosed and treated by a veterinary extension service present at the village level in almost all districts.

  2. Poor husbandry and management.

  3. Marketing - Small ruminants may be sold directly to a consumer, to a trader or sold at an auction. In Sierra Leone farmers sell to a trader or middle man and animals may pass through the hands of many traders before reaching the consumer. The middleman is much maligned; he is accused of giving a low price to the farmer and making large profits. However, the trader provides a selling service to the farmer who may be unable to go to the market. Marketing cooperatives such as those operating in Botswana and Ethiopia could help to bypass the middleman.

  4. No improved production system.

  5. No development of village level sheep and goat production.


Small ruminant production can be an important step in increasing the productivity of the smallholder agro-pastoralist system. Increased livestock production provides the small farmer with a surplus for sale, which can be used to generate cash income to buy the inputs needed to increase grain production.

The strategies and recommendations to use to achieve this and to overcome the aforementioned constraints would be:

  1. Strengthen the veterinary care to combat the major diseases that limit productivity.

  2. Improve the husbandry and management of sheep and goats at the village level.

  3. Improve the marketing system by organizing cooperatives in order to improve the overall farmer profit.

  4. Knowledge gained from the L.I.B.C. needs to be taken to the village and imparted.

  5. Village level sheep and goats production should be encouraged as this is the principal production system.

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