Some 16 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product of the Lao PDR arises from the livestock sector. Almost all output - live animals and products - is from traditional small scale production and about 90 per cent of all households in the country keep one or more species of livestock. Industrial or large scale production is of very minor importance even for pigs and poultry. Considerable international assistance has been provided for livestock development, initially from the Socialist states that were of the same political persuasion as Lao PDR and more recently from multilateral and bilateral development assistance agencies. In general this assistance has not conferred lasting benefits on the sector in part due to the failure of the Lao Government to provide continuing support commensurate with the sector’s contribution to the national economy. Buffalo (1.1 million head in 2004) and cattle (1.3 million head) are the main ruminant species with goats and sheep (140 000 head) occupying a very minor position. Both pigs (1.7 million) and poultry (19.6 million) are major contributors to the household and national economies. Buffalo are now mainly meat producers, their former draught and transport roles having been taken over by mechanical equipment. Cattle, also once used for draught, are almost exclusively producers of beef. Pigs and poultry produce meat and poultry provide eggs. Lao indigenous livestock are mainly kept in low input systems, thus output is also low. Nothing is known of the genetic potential of the indigenous stock which are the victims of poor management, inadequate nutrition and minimal health care. There is strong and rising demand for products of animal origin within the country and in the greater Southeast Asia and East Asia regions. Given suitable and appropriate support the Lao livestock sector would be in a strong position to contribute to supplying this demand.