Lumpy skin disease (LSD) is a severe disease of cattle caused by a Capripoxvirus and often caused epidemics in Ethiopia and many other countries. This study was undertaken to quantify the transmission between animals and to estimate the infection reproduction ratio in a predominantly mixed crop–livestock system and in intensive commercial herd types. The transmission parameters were based on a susceptible-infectious-recovered (SIR) epidemic model with environmental transmission and estimated using generalized linear models. The transmission parameters were estimated using a survival rate of infectious virus in the environment equal to 0·325 per day, a value based on the best-fitting statistical model. The transmission rate parameter between animals was 0·072 (95% CI 0·068–0·076) per day in the crop–livestock production system, whereas this transmission rate in intensive production system was 0·076 (95% CI 0·068–0·085) per day. The reproduction ratio (R) of LSD between animals in the crop–livestock production system was 1·07, whereas it was 1·09 between animals in the intensive production system. The calculated R provides a baseline against which various control options can be assessed for efficacy.