Abstract A study was conducted to characterize the cattle production systems in Nyagatare District, Eastern Province of Rwanda using pre-tested questionnaires, interviews with key informants as well as focus group discussions in a period of two months. The respondents were selected by multi-stage sampling at Sector and Cell1 levels. Based on the procedure to determine the overall sample size, the result indicated that the majority (98.3%) of farms were privately owned by big families of five to seven members and most farmers (53.9%) had only primary education. Most respondents (52.6%) were in the age range of 41-50 years and were mainly (48.3%) located within three km from trading centres. The farm size averaged 6.5 ± 0.8 ha and most farms (64.7%) were fenced except in Rukomo Sector (50%) where zero grazing prevailed. Natural pastures (savanna grass land) were the main feed resource, tethering (9%) and communal grazing had diminished. Vita-mineral and salt blocks supplements, hay and crop residues were the predominant supplementary feed stuffs used except in Karangazi and Rwemiyaga Sectors where only vita-mineral block predominated. However maize and rice brans were reported to be the main feed stuffs used in supplementary feeding of lactating cows. Most farmers (89.7%) reported shortage of water as most of the farmers trekked their cattle to the nearest valley dams (59.2%), rivers (21.1%) and a few 6% had water on farms. Indigenous cattle were predominant (67.03%) followed by cross-breeds (28.37%) and exotics (4.6%) while all farmers kept small ruminants. Natural breeding predominated (74.9%) and most farms (60.6%) had animal houses most of which were (52.8%) temporary. The reported mean age at first calving (AFC) was highest (40.2 ± 0.33) for Ankole and the lowest (29.1 ± 0.50) months for exotic cattle. Calving interval were lower in local breeds than 65.7 ± 3.0 in exotic. The mean dairy milk yield was lowest for Ankole cattle 2.4 ± 0.08 as compared to the exotics (10.42 ± 0.36) and their crosses (7.2 ± 0.34). The main challenges were diseases, shortage of water and feeds and inadequate extension services same results was reported.