This paper presents a case study of how livestock policies are made and implemented in a national context, and how they can be improved to better serve the interests of the poor. The government estimates that nearly 85 percent of Burkinabè households rely upon livestock for some portion of their income. Furthermore, livestock accounts for approximately 25 percent of the country's exports. Socially, livestock provides a way for young adults to learn the responsibilities of adulthood, a method for family members to fulfill social obligations, and a means for women to support their families. Considering its social and economic significance, livestock must take center stage in efforts to improve Burkinabè livelihoods. The study used the key informant method supplemented with official documents, newspaper sources and recently published research on the livestock sector. Interviews helped reveal policymakers' concerns, whereas field trips allowed the researcher to talk to farmers and learn their perspectives from the bottom. Newspapers and published research analyzed various political, institutional and technical aspects of policymaking in the sector. The author highlights three potential constraints - weak livestock producer organizations, poor animal health service provision, and commercial weaknesses - on the potential contribution of the livestock sector to improving poor people's livelihoods and recommends strategic actions for overcoming each of them.