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. Livestock is a sector with a great potential for growth compared to other sectors in agriculture. However, appropriate policies and institutions that allow the poor to tap this growth potential may not exist or may be inadequate. In some cases, existing policies may actually hinder the poor from doing so. 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 a few peasants and learn their perspectives from the bottom. Newspapers contained many lively stories of how well-intentioned policies went awry at the implementation stage, while published research analyzed various political, institutional and technical aspects of policymaking in the sector. The author concludes that despite economic reform policymaking and implementation is still hindered by a political ambivalence about rural development in general. This results in a restrictive land policy that inhibits the potential of rural producers while restricting the growth of off-farm employment opportunities that may benefit the poor. Despite official rhetoric that calls for increased assistance to the poor, policies lack effective mechanisms to realize their participation in productive activities. Four strategic entry points are recommended that can both improve the performance of the sector and the participation of the poor in productive activities. With sufficient resources to back up programs and efforts to identify political allies for the cause, it may be possible to make livestock policies better serve the interests of the poor.