Decent Rural Employment

NEW: FAO publication on children’s work in the livestock sector


Worldwide, some 60 percent of child labourers work in the agriculture sector, one of the most dangerous in terms of fatalities, injuries and occupational diseases. Livestock forms a considerable subsector within agriculture, contributing 40 percent of the global value of agricultural output, and is one of the fastest growing segments of the agricultural economy with global demand for animal products rising. In rural communities, livestock keeping has deep historical and cultural roots, and the involvement of children is often very common.

Children engage in a wide variety of activities in the livestock sector, from herding cattle to watering camels to caring for pigs. Children participate not just in the production of livestock, but in upstream activities such as collecting feed or building poultry sheds as well as in processing and marketing activities including milk collection and sale and work in slaughterhouses. Some children working in the livestock sector are trapped in bonded labour or have been trafficked into situations of exploitation. Child labour in the livestock sector can be hazardous to children’s healthy development and/or interfere with their education.

However, work performed by children and child labour are not necessarily the same thing. While child labour should be abolished because it impairs children’s well-being by hindering their education, development and future livelihoods, there is work that is not harmful to children and can even be beneficial to them. A critical first step towards reducing child labour in the livestock sector is to understand what constitutes hazardous work.

The FAO publication, Children's work in the livestock sector: Herding and beyondstrengthens the knowledge base on children’s work in the livestock sector. It brings together information from a range of countries, examining not only the types of work in which girls and boys are engaged, but also the socio-economic contexts, the interactions with education and the occupational health and safety risks faced by children. It identifies avenues for further research and avenues for action.

This document was prepared by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in the framework of its participation in the International Partnership for Cooperation on Child Labour in Agriculture.


  • Click here to read the full press release from the FAO Media Centre.





  • Video: Interview with Eve Crowley, FAO Deputy Director for the Gender, Equity and Rural Employment Division, FAO.



  • Audio: Interview with Bernd Seiffert, FAO focal point on child labor, Gender, Equity and Rural Employment Division, FAO.