Grazing of sheep and cattle began in the Lake Eyre Basin in the early 1860s. Pastoralism remains the dominant land use in the Basin today, and is concentrated on leasehold lands.
In the South Australian portion of the Basin gross annual value of pastoral production ranges from $47 million to $97 million and represents 22.5 percent of the State's beef and 4.5 percent of sheep and wool production. In the Queensland portion of the Basin, the 1994-95 gross value of primary production was $273.4 million, being 10 percent of Queensland's beef and 39 percent of sheep and wool production. Production from the Northern Territory portion of the Basin is almost exclusively cattle and from the New South Wales is almost exclusively sheep production, primarily for wool.