Although sheep and goat herds have been increasing since independence, especially when contrasted with grain production levels, the viability of the livestock sector as a whole depends heavily on such factors as improvement of breeding methods, disease control, and imported feed--feed grain imports rose sharply in the 1980s. Whereas meat production increased through the 1970s, growth tapered off during the 1980s, and the government was concerned about the failure to meet the production target of 228,000 tons in 1989. At least 60 percent of milk requirements were imported in 1990. Poultry production scored remarkable successes and reached self-sufficiency by the mid1980s . Earlier, the agrarian revolution had tried to restructure the system of grazing on the high plateaus but failed to change the pattern of livestock ownership: 5 percent of herders in 1990 owned 50 percent of the total herds. In 1990, according to United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates, Algeria had about 1.4 million head of cattle, 3.7 million goats, and 13.4 million sheep. The majority of livestock spend the winter on the open range and the spring and summer in the grain-raising area grazing on what is left after the wheat and barley harvests.
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