This paper is based on data collected under the Livelihood Options Project, a three year DFID funded policy study located in the Indian States of Andhra Pradesh (AP) and Madhya Pradesh (MP). The purpose of this project is to identify factors promoting or impeding diversification out of low productivity livelihoods, and identify the policy changes necessary to support upward trajectories and prevent downward ones. It explores the role of livestock in rural livelihoods and its potential to assist people in escaping poverty using a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods. Main topics of discussion include economic importance of livestock; macro level trends in AP and MP; and variations in income and livestock keeping. Three study findings are presented. These are Broad patters-lists livestock and farmer category, and livestock types by caste categories; Who keeps what and why? This finding discusses overviews of Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh and discusses goats as an increasingly popular accumulative option. The last Study finding - Does livestock provide a useful coping mechanism to vulnerable households and individuals - outlines migration and livestock case studies, and village accounts of livestock keeping patterns. The paper ends with conclusion and policy implications.