One of the central questions facing South African agricultural and rural policy makers is whether poor rural households would take opportunities afforded to them through increased public expenditures in these areas. This study spotlights the rural livestock sub-sector in the poor semi-arid areas of Limpopo province and investigates the factors behind the decision by households to keep livestock and also the rationale to keep given herd sizes. It tests the central hypothesis that poor households would invest in livestock when there are opportunities for them to do so in the form of infrastructure and other support services. The study finds that these poor households indeed do respond positively in cases where there are such opportunities by investing in livestock. These findings illuminate the need for deliberate investments aimed at promoting agricultural (particularly livestock) growth, and thereby creating opportunities for sustainable livelihoods in these areas.