Climate change and livestock production An insight

There is a difficult connection between climate change and livestock sector, climate change is dangerous to human health as well as to animal life.

Climate change and livestock production An insight

Climate is weather condition that flourishes in specific area for long duration, which is the biggest planet’s hazard. Domesticated animals are raised to yield meat, milk, leather, fur and wool. All these domesticated animal are termed as Livestock.

Livestock production covers about forty five percent of the earths land area, and its share in value addition in agriculture is about 56% and in GDP (Gross domestic Production) is nearly 11%. It shows major support of livestock production to agriculture.

Livestock production depends upon quality of production, stability of production and natural resources. There are great impacts of climate changes on livestock production.

It is a contributor to climate change and a likely victim of it. Livestock production contribute to greenhouse gases emission and it is the reason livestock production face global pressure.

Climate change is dangerous to human health as well as to animal life throughout the world. Factors like temperature, precipitation, rate and severity of life-threatening occasions are linked with climate change. These all factors affect the livestock production. Livestock products are very important in human food.  Livestock is an important source of income for millions of people all over the world.

Why we need technologies to improve livestock production?

Livestock production is performed all over the world, that is the main source of income and livelihood for millions of farmer families. It shows an important part in the development of rural areas and in the reducing the poverty.

In rural areas livestock production mainly depends upon the natural resources especially grassland and water, where it is a key for their livelihood. Damage of livestock resources can cause failure into chronic poverty in rural areas. This type of damage has great effects on their livelihood. Now, population of the world is about 8 billion. Livestock production demand will become double in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia in 2050.  

Population of the world has increased and now different people have different eating habits. Animal’s protein demand has increased. Protein is essential part of our diet. It is the reason that in food supply chain animal production plays a key role. Livestock production demand has become high. So, there is a great chance for all kinds of farmers to earn a good amount of money. Different technologies can help us to improve the livestock production.

Main objective of this article is to understand the relationship between climate change and livestock production. Technical solutions and policy interventions are vital to address the effects of climate change on livestock production and vice versa.  

The impact of livestock on climate change

Livestock add to climate change by greenhouse gases emission, its production cause increase in temperature by greenhouse gases emission. IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on climate change) clearly said that in last century global average surface temperature has increased.

Ocean temperature has also increased due to melting of snow and ice in glacial region. Greenhouse gases and halocarbons are responsible for most of the observed temperature increase. These gases release directly from enteric fermentation.

Cutting the plants and trees to create new pasture also increase the emission of these gases. All the main steps of the livestock production can produce greenhouse gases (GHGs).

A great quantity of carbon comes to atmosphere due to cutting the plants and trees. A good management is necessary to turn ruined land into pasture and cropland. Nitrous oxide release from manure and due to enteric fermentation at farm level. Methane is the by-product of fermentation process. 

 Livestock products are very important in human foods. Livestock is an important source of income for millions of people all over the world. It is important to know the climate change mitigation solution and strategies.

Mitigation adaptations

Methane emission from livestock can be reduced by several ways:

  • We can use methane as fuel in the form of dry dun cakes. 
  • Green fodder like leguminous fodder can reduce methane production by 5.7%
  • Methane gas production will decrease, if we use low forage and high concentration
  • Making silage of fodder, it increase digestibility and can reduced methane production
  • Culling of unproductive animals can be the best option for those countries which have large number of livestock and wants to reduce methane production
  • By improving manure management
Impacts of climate change on livestock production

Climate change has bad impacts on animal production because it affect the choice and fodder productivity. Production of rangelands decreased by increase in temperature and decrease in rainfall. When rainfall decreased and frequency of drought increased, it cause reduction in primary productivity of rangelands. It cause overgrazing and dreadful conditions. If climate is warm then the cost of keeping animal cool will increase this is among the important impacts of climate change on livestock production.

Direct impacts

Climate change can cause increase in occurrence and degree of famine and floods, increase in frequency of life-threatening weather. Rise in temperature causes physiological stress, as a result production decreases. When temperature increases animal eat less, energy require increases and it leads to lower milk production.

Thermal neutral zone is the range of surroundings environmental temperature. Each animal has specific thermal neutral zone. Temperature above or below this thermal neutral range creates stress condition in animal. The major factor which affects milk production in dairy cows especially in high productive cows is environmental temperature. High productive cows are more sensitive to thermal stress. It is the reason that there production decrease more.

Animals can adapt the harsh environment. However the response mechanism is necessary for survival but are harmful to reproductive and productive performances. Reproduction becomes comfortable and suitable when the animal is in right physiological state. Heat stress can cause infertility and reproductive system problems in farm animals. Climate change affect reproduction functions of both male and female.

Heat stress has negative affect on reproduction because it affects the GnRH (Gonadotrophin releasing hormone) production from hypothalamus. GnRH is responsible for FSH and LH production. Climate change has a direct impact on the growth of edible grasses and the regeneration of fodders.

Due to decrease in rainfall fodder decreases in forest and pasture. It leads to unavailability in the quality of livestock fodder and variety. When fodder decrease, animal eat less, that’s why milk and meat production also becomes low. Due to climate change water availability can decrease or increase according to region. 

Indirect impacts

 Climate change affects meat, dairy and wool production systems and also increase the development of parasites and pathogens. According to FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization) climate change has direct effects on rainfall patterns, temperature and degree of new diseases.

Climate change cause transmission of new diseases in both developing and developed countries. Both countries felt their effects. However, developing countries will be more affected. Because these countries have lack of knowledge, resources, extension services, and research technology development.

Lowering production of grain will change productive land to unproductive. Host-pathogen interaction change which can arise widespread diseases. Outbreak of new borne diseases occurs due to increase in temperature.

Temperature affects the quantity and distribution of disease causing vectors. Incidence of diseases among livestock and other animals also increases due to climate change.  Because ticks and flies number increases in ambient temperature, they transmit diseases.

Nematode worm infections in cattle, horse, goat and sheep also increases. Because developmental stages of these worms are helped by climate change. Impacts of climate change on malaria distribution are likely to be largest in Africa and Asia. 

Climate change can cause increase in resources price. If climate is warm then the cost of keeping animal cool will increase. Increase climate changeability and Global environmental changes inspire us to adapt different ways and strategies to minimize the risks.

When impacts of climate change occurs faster than natural selection, adaptation of new breeds and the risk of survival becomes greater. Adaptation strategies can provide heat tolerance to livestock. But also improve their ability to grow, reproduce and survive in conditions of diseases, poor nutrition and parasites. It is necessary to adapt climate change due to its harmful effects.

Implementation of following strategies can be adopted by farmers of developing countries:

  • Identify the local breeds which are adapted to local climate stress and feed resources
  • Improve local genetics through cross breeding with disease and heat tolerant breeds. Practice cheap and efficient adaptations. Such as provide water and shade to lower the heat stress effects due to increase in temperature. 
  • Provide natural (low cost) shade instead of high cost.
  • Management of water resourced should be improved i.e. rain water can be stored by building underground dams and tanks connected to the roof of the house. 

In addition to this the government of developing countries should come up with appropriate programmes, such programmes are construction of larger earth dams and water canals etc. Construction of dams and canals will provides drinking water for living species. 

  • Proper resource management practice
  • Spreading livestock types
  • Alternative feed production technologies
  • Use of embryo transfer technology is consider best to minimize the heat stress effects on bovine reproduction
  • In hot weather grazing can be done at night
  • Highly digestible high- energy ration should be given in summer, it helps the body to control body temperature
  • Bypass fat can reduce heat stress around 18-20%
  • Growing plants and trees will help in climate temperature


I am a student of doctor of veterinary medicine at university of veterinary and animal sciences, Lahore