To analyse nutrient use efficiencies in peri-urban cattle and sheep production of West Africa with their complex combination of free grazing and homestead feeding, data on demographic events, live weight changes and milk offtake as well as types and amounts of feedstuffs provided at the homestead and manure deposited there were collected over 18 months in 9 cattle (C) and 13 sheep (S) herds in Sikasso, the second largest city of Mali. Herds were either grazing only (go; cattle: 4, sheep: 5) or grazing and supplemented at the homestead (gs; cattle: 5, sheep: 8). Bi-monthly collected samples of supplement feeds and manure were analyzed for their nutrient contents. In cattle, herd growth was higher in Cgs than in Cgo (P < 0.05), while it was similar in the two sheep groups. Live weight gains of cattle and sheep were higher in the rainy than in the dry season (P < 0.05), but in both seasons Cgo performed better than Cgs (P < 0.05), due to periodic short-distance transhumance of the former. Similarly across groups, the quantity of dry manure deposited at the homestead per animal and night ranged from 550 to 880 g in cattle and 50 to 135 g in sheep. Only 15–58 % of the dry matter and nutrients provided through the supplement feeds were recovered in manure at the homestead. We conclude that the current ruminant production systems around Sikasso are still very extensive in nature and not taking sufficiently advantage of the rising market potential for animal products.