Studies of total factor productivity in livestock production are rare, but when available provide useful information especially in the context of developing countries such as China where livestock is becoming more important in the domestic agricultural economy. We estimate total factor productivity (TFP) for four major livestock products in China and by employing the random coefficient frontier approach, decompose productivity growth into its technical efficiency and technical progress components. Efforts were made to adjust and augment the available livestock statistics. The results show that growth in TFP and its components varied between the 1980s and the 1990s as well as over production structures. While there is evidence of considerable technical innovation in China's livestock sector, technical efficiency improvement was relatively slow.