Currently, there is growing interest in how livestock projects can contribute to resilience to the effects of climate change. In this article we recommend a shift away from gross productivity to sustainability, via the use of thrifty local breeds, with an additional emphasis on improving survival of young animals. These animals, due to their local adaptations, are more likely to be resilient to climate change. There is a gender dimension to these proposals, since smaller animals and local breeds are more likely to be perceived by communities as suitable for husbandry by women. We recommend a re-orientation towards an explicit gender-equality focus for these projects.