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Impact Of Climate Change On Livestock Production And Reproduction

J. Gaughan, A. J. Cawdell-Smith
Published 2015 · Environmental Science

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There is little doubt that climate change will have an impact on livestock performance in many regions and for most predictive models the impact will be detrimental. The real challenge is how do we mitigate and adapt livestock systems to a changing climate? Livestock production accounts for approximately 70 % of all agricultural land use, and livestock production systems occupy approximately 30 % of the world’s ice-free surface area. Globally 1.3 billion people are employed in the livestock (including poultry) sector and more than 600 million smallholders in the developing world rely on livestock for food and financial security. The impact of climate change on livestock production systems especially in developing countries is not known, and although there may be some benefits arising from climate change, however, most livestock producers will face serious problems. Climate change may manifest itself as rapid changes in climate in the short term (a couple of years) or more subtle changes over decades. The ability of livestock to adapt to a climatic change is dependent on a number of factors. Acute challenges are very different to chronic long-term challenges, and in addition animal responses to acute or chronic stress are also very different. The extents to which animals are able to adapt are primarily limited by physiological and genetic constraints. Animal adaptation then becomes an important issue when trying to understand animal responses. The focus of animal response should be on adaptation and management. Adaptation to prolonged stressors will most likely be accompanied by a production loss, and input costs may also increase. Increasing or maintaining current production levels in an increasingly hostile environment is not a sustainable option.
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