History & Production
Animal production in the Cook Islands has been going on for many generations now. The main animals produced are; pigs, goats, chickens, horses and a few cattle. Most of these animals are for food security, cultural and church obligations except for the horse which was used for transport and work animal in the past, but mainly for tourism/horse-back riding these days. According to the Agriculture Census 2011, of the 2,334 households, 1595 (68%), of these households keeps Livestock, while 739, (32%), do not. This may be due to migrant, outer islanders living on the Rarotonga with no land issues. Of this 68%, households, the most popular livestock raised was pigs with 85% of all households recorded. Around 36% of households were reported as raising goats, 44% chickens, 1% Ducks and 4% cattle. In terms of numbers of animals, the number of chickens in the Cook Islands at the time of census is estimated at some 34,427 followed by pigs (13,951), goats (4,388), cattle (240), Ducks (291), and horses (13).
The Livestock industry in the Cook Islands is mainly for subsistence and catering for the local market in order to substitute meat imports. According to the 2011 Census an average of 5.5 million Dollars, worth of beef, mutton and frozen chickens and lean pork meat are imported into the Country each year. We may be self-sufficient on pork meat and eggs but we still do import these products.
Please refer to Agriculture Census 2011 for more information – Click Download
Livestock also play an important role in our customary way of life and this is the main reason that 92% of all households in the Cook Islands keep animals. These are for battering, church obligations, weddings, hair cutting etc. Goat meat is a delegacy among the locals and also a substitute for pork meat on religious grounds, e.g. for Seven Day Adventist followers.
Through field extension visits, workshops and study tours, the Ministry of Agriculture encourages farmers to keep livestock for both home consumption and sales.
As indicated in the to the OIE, Disease Database, the Cook Islands is free of List A and List B diseases. (These are contagious and zoonotic diseases which can damage the livestock industry and in extreme cases, transfer to Humans too). However, It has been a long time an overall survey and reporting is done to all animal species in the Country to provide us with useful information for future references and to confirm our Status on the OIE Pest list database
We also do border control and surveillance on all ports of entry. Passive and syndromic surveillance are also encouraged to the farmers and the public to help with identification any unusual events concerning our livestock. As for Active Diagnostic Services, we rely heavily on outside agencies like; New Zealand and SPC, (South Pacific Communities), in Fiji for the usage of their Laboratories, Diagnostic Services and expert advice, which are very much appreciated.
Click the button below to download and read the population of livestock in the Cook Islands by type as of 2011.