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Impact of climate change on livestock productivity

  • Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Veterinary Education and Research Puducherry

Abstract and Figures

There is considerable research evidence showing substantial decline in animal performance inflicting heavy economic losses when subjected to heat stress. With the development of molecular biotechnologies, new opportunities are available to characterize gene expression and identify key cellular responses to heat stress. These tools will enable improved accuracy and efficiency of selection for heat tolerance. Systematic information generated on the impact assessment of climate change on livestock production may prove very valuable in developing appropriate adaptation and mitigation strategies to sustain livestock production in the changing climate scenario. As livestock is an important source of livelihood, it is necessary to find suitable solutions not only to maintain this industry as an economically viable enterprise but also to enhance profitability and decrease environmental pollutants by reducing the ill-effects of climate change.
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N°24 February 2016
Veerasamy Sejian 1,2,Gaughan, J. B.2, Raghavendra Bhaa1
and Naqvi, S. M. K.3
1 ICAR-Naonal Instute of Animal Nutrion and Physiology,
Adugodi, Bangalore-560030, India
2 School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, The University of
Queensland, Gaon 4343 QLD, Australia
3ICAR-Central Sheep and Wool Research Instute, Avikanagar,
Rajasthan-304501, India
Livestock play a major role in the agricultural sector in
developing naons, and the livestock sector contributes 40% to
the agricultural GDP. Global demand for foods of animal origin
is growing and it is apparent that the livestock sector will need
to expand (FAO, 2009). Livestock are adversely aected by the
detrimental eects of extreme weather. Climac extremes and
seasonal uctuaons in herbage quanty and quality will aect
the well-being of livestock, and will lead to declines in
producon and reproducon eciency (Sejian, 2013).
Climate change is a major threat to the sustainability of
livestock systems globally. Consequently, adaptaon to, and
migaon of the detrimental eects of extreme climates has
played a major role in combang the climac impact on
livestock (Sejian et al., 2015a). There is lile doubt that climate
change will have an impact on livestock performance in many
regions and as per most predicve models the impact will be
detrimental. Climate change may manifest itself as rapid
changes in climate in the short term (a couple of years) or
more subtle changes over decades. Generally climate
change is associated with an increasing global
temperature. Various climate model projecons suggest
that by the year 2100, mean global temperature may be
1.16.4 °C warmer than in 2010. The diculty facing
livestock is weather extremes, e.g. intense heat waves,
oods and droughts. In addion to producon losses,
extreme events also result in livestock death (Gaughan and
Cawsell-Smith, 2015). Animals can adapt to hot climates,
however the response mechanisms that are helpful for
survival may be detrimental to performance. In this arcle
we make an aempt to project the adverse impact of
climate change on livestock producon.
Direct eects of climate change on livestock
The most signicant direct impact of climate change on
livestock producon comes from the heat stress. Heat
stress results in a signicant nancial burden to livestock
producers through decrease in milk component and milk
producon, meat producon, reproducve eciency and
animal health. Thus, an increase in air temperature, such
as that predicted by various climate change models, could
directly aect animal performance.
Fig.1 describes the various impacts of climate change on
livestock producon.
Broadening Horizons
Indirect eects of climate change on livestock
Most of the producon losses are incurred via indirect impacts
of climate change largely through reducons or non-availability
of feed and water resources. Climate change has the potenal to
impact the quanty and reliability of forage producon, quality
of forage, water demand for culvaon of forage crops, as well
as large-scale rangeland vegetaon paerns. In the coming
decades, crops and forage plants will connue to be subjected to
warmer temperatures, elevated carbon dioxide, as well as wildly
uctuang water availability due to changing precipitaon
paerns. Climate change can adversely aect producvity,
species composion, and quality, with potenal impacts not only
on forage producon but also on other ecological roles of
grasslands (Giridhar and Samireddypalle, 2015). Due to the wide
uctuaons in distribuon of rainfall in growing season in
several regions of the world, the forage producon will be
greatly impacted. With the likely emerging scenarios that are
already evident from impact of the climate change eects, the
livestock producon systems are likely to face more of negave
than the posive impact. Also climate change inuences the
water demand, availability and quality. Changes in temperature
and weather may aect the quality, quanty and distribuon of
rainfall, snowmelt, river ow and groundwater. Climate change
can result in a higher intensity precipitaon that leads to greater
peak run-os and less groundwater recharge. Longer dry periods
may reduce groundwater recharge, reduce river ow and
ulmately aect water availability, agriculture and drinking
water supply. The deprivaon of water aects animal
physiological homeostasis leading to loss of body weight, low
reproducve rates and a decreased resistance to diseases (Naqvi
et al., 2015). More research is needed into water resources
vulnerability to climate change in order to support the
development of adapve strategies for agriculture. In
addion, emerging diseases including vector borne
diseases that may arise as a result of climate change will
result in severe economic losses.
Concept of mulple stressor impacts on livestock
Animals reared in tropical environments are generally
subjected to more than one stressor at a me. Mulple
stressors greatly aect animal producon, reproducon
and immune status. Most studies which have invesgated
the eects of environmental stress on livestock have
generally studied one stressor at a me because
comprehensive, balanced mulfactorial experiments are
technically dicult to manage, analyze, and interpret
(Sejian et al., 2010). When the animals were subjected to
heat and nutrional stress as separate stressors the impact
of these was not as detrimental to growth and
reproducve performance, as was the case when the
animals were subjected to both stressors at the same me
(Sejian et al., 2011). The combined stressors had major
eects on growth and reproducve parameters. In
addion, the adapve mechanisms exhibited by these
animals were dierent for individual stressors compared to
combined (heat and nutrional) stressors (Sejian et al.,
2010). Hence, when two stressors occur simultaneously,
the impact on the biological funcons necessary for
adapon and maintenance during the stressful period may
be severe (Sejian et al., 2013). Hence any research
pertaining to climate change eects on livestock must
address mulple stressors.
and to the creaon of therapeuc drugs and treatments that
target aected genes (Collier et al., 2012). Studies evaluang
genes idened as parcipang in the cellular acclimaon
response from microarray analyses or genome-wide associa-
on studies have indicated that heat shock proteins are play-
ing a major role in adaptaon to thermal stress.
Impact of climate change on livestock diseases
Variaons in temperature and rainfall are the most signi-
cant climac variables aecng livestock disease outbreaks.
Warmer and weer weather (parcularly warmer winters)
will increase the risk and occurrence of animal diseases, be-
cause certain species that serve as disease vectors, such as
bing ies and cks, are more likely to survive year-round.
The movement of disease vectors into new areas e.g. malar-
ia and livestock ck borne diseases (babesiosis, theileriosis,
anaplasmosis), Ri Valley fever and bluetongue disease in
Europe has been documented. Certain exisng parasic dis-
eases may also become more prevalent, or their geograph-
ical range may spread, if rainfall increases. This may contrib-
ute to an increase in disease spread for livestock such as
ovine chlamydiosis, caprine arthris (CAE), equine infecous
anemia (EIA), equine inuenza, Mareks disease (MD), and
bovine viral diarrhea. There are many rapidly emerging dis-
eases that connue to spread over large areas. Outbreaks of
diseases such as foot and mouth disease or avian inuenza
aect very large numbers of animals and contribute to fur-
ther degradaon of the environment and surrounding com-
munieshealth and livelihood.
There is considerable research evidence showing substanal
decline in animal performance inicng heavy economic
losses when subjected to heat stress. With the development
of molecular biotechnologies, new opportunies are availa-
ble to characterize gene expression and idenfy key cellular
responses to heat stress. These tools will enable improved
accuracy and eciency of selecon for heat tolerance. Sys-
temac informaon generated on the impact assessment of
climate change on livestock producon may prove very valu-
able in developing appropriate adaptaon and migaon
strategies to sustain livestock producon in the changing
climate scenario. As livestock is an important source of liveli-
hood, it is necessary to nd suitable soluons not only to
maintain this industry as an economically viable enterprise
but also to enhance protability and decrease environmental
pollutants by reducing the ill-eects of climate change.
Future perspecves
Responding to the challenges of global warming necessitates
a paradigm shi in the pracce of agriculture and in the role
of livestock within farming systems. Science and technology
are lacking in themac issues, including those related to cli-
mac adaptaon, disseminaon of new understandings in
rangeland ecology (matching stocking rates with pasture
producon, adjusng herd and water point management to
altered seasonal and spaal paerns of forage producon,
managing diet quality, more eecve use of silage, pasture
Impact of climate change on livestock producon
Animals exposed to heat stress reduce feed intake and increase
water intake, and there are changes in the endocrine status
which in turn increase the maintenance requirements leading
to reduced performance (Gaughan and Cawsell-Smith, 2015).
Environmental stressors reduce body weight, average daily gain
and body condion of livestock. Declines in the milk yield are
pronounced and milk quality is aected: reduced fat content,
lower-chain fay acids, solid-non-fat, and lactose contents; and
increased palmic and stearic acid contents are observed. Gen-
erally the higher producon animals are the most aected. Ad-
aptaon to prolonged stressors may be accompanied by pro-
ducon losses. Increasing or maintaining current producon
levels in an increasingly hosle environment is not a sustaina-
ble opon. It may make beer sense to look at using adapted
animals, albeit with lower producon levels (and also lower
input costs) rather than try to infuse stress tolerancegenes
into non-adapted breeds (Gaughan, 2015).
Impact of climate change on livestock reproducon
Reproducve processes are aected by thermal stress. Concep-
on rates of dairy cows may drop 2027% in summer, and heat
stressed cows oen have poor expression of oestrus due to
reduced oestradiol secreon from the dominant follicle devel-
oped in a low luteinizing hormone environment. Reproducve
ineciency due to heat stress involves changes in ovarian func-
on and embryonic development by reducing the competence
of oocyte to be ferlized and the resulng embryo (Naqvi et al.,
2012). Heat stress compromises oocyte growth in cows by al-
tering progesterone secreon, the secreon of luteinizing hor-
mone, follicle-smulang hormone and ovarian dynamics dur-
ing the oestrus cycle. Heat stress has also been associated with
impairment of embryo development and increase in embryonic
mortality in cale. Heat stress during pregnancy slows growth
of the foetus and can increase foetal loss. Secreon of the hor-
mones and enzymes regulang reproducve tract funcon may
also be altered by heat stress. In males, heat stress adversely
aects spermatogenesis perhaps by inhibing the proliferaon
of spermatocytes.
Impact of climate change on livestock adaptaon
In order to maintain body temperature within physiological
limits, heat stressed animals iniate compensatory and adap-
ve mechanisms to re-establish homeothermy and homeo-
stasis, which are important for survival, but may result reduc-
on in producve potenal.
The relave changes in the various physiological responses i.e.
respiraon rate, pulse rate and rectal temperature give an indi-
caon of stress imposed on livestock. The thermal stress aects
the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis. Corcotropin-
releasing hormone smulates somatostan, possibly a key
mechanism by which heat-stressed animals have reduced
growth hormone and thyroxin levels. The animals thriving in
the hot climate have acquired some genes that protect cells
from the increased environmental temperatures. Using func-
onal genomics to idenfy genes that are up- or down-
regulated during a stressful event can lead to the idencaon
of animals that are genecally superior for coping with stress
seeding and rotaon, re management to control woody thick-
ening and using more suitable livestock breeds or species), and
a holisc understanding of pastoral management (migratory
pastoralist acvies and a wide range of biosecurity acvies
to monitor and manage the spread of pests, weeds, and dis-
eases). Integrang grain crops with pasture plants and live-
stock could result in a more diversied system that will be
more resilient to higher temperatures, elevated carbon dioxide
levels, uncertain precipitaon changes, and other dramac
eects resulng from the global climate change. The key the-
mac issues for eecvely managing environment stress and
livestock producon include (Sejian et al., 2015b):
development of early warning system;
research to understand interacons among mulple
stressors;development of simulaon models;
development of strategies to improve water-use e-
ciency and conservaon for diversied producon sys-
exploitaon of genec potenal of nave breeds; and
research on development of suitable breeding pro-
grammes and nutrional intervenons.
The integraon of new technologies into the research and
technology transfer systems potenally oers many opportu-
nies to further the development of climate change adapta-
on strategies. Epigenec regulaon of gene expression and
thermal imprinng of the genome could also be an ecient
method to improve thermal tolerance.
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Veerasamy Sejian 1,2,Gaughan, J. B.2, Raghavendra
Bhaa1 and Naqvi, S. M. K.3 Impact of climate change on
livestock producvity
1 ICAR-Naonal Instute of Animal Nutrion and Physiolo-
gy, Adugodi, Bangalore-560030, India
2 School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, The University
of Queensland, Gaon 4343 QLD, Australia
3 ICAR-Central Sheep and Wool Research Instute,
Avikanagar, Rajasthan-304501, India
... March 337 çevresel faktörlere daha fazla hassasiyet göstermektedir ve özellikle sıcaklık artışı sıcaklık stresine neden olarak süt verimini önemli ölçüde azaltmaktadır (Bernabucci et al., 2010;Sejian et al., 2016). ...
... Climate change and global warming have negative impacts on livestock growth, reproductive efficiency, and productive potential thereby results in severe economic losses in livestock sector across the world. [1][2] Global warming enhances earth's surface temperature to such an extent that it becomes unbearable for livestock to adapt and perform efficiently in high ambient temperature. This significant spike in earth's surface temperature leads to heat stress. ...
The present study was attempted to unveil the impact of heat stress on transcription pattern of major heat shock response genes in caprine cardiac fibroblasts. Cardiac tissues (n = 6) were collected and primary cardiac cell culture was done. Cultured cardiac fibroblasts were kept in an atmosphere of 5% CO2 and 95% air at 38.5 °C. Cardiac cells achieved 70-75% confluence after 72 hours of incubation. Heat stress was induced on confluent cardiac fibroblasts at 42 °C for 0 (control), 20, 60, 100 and 200 min. Quantitative RT-PCR for β2m (internal control), HSP60, HSP70, HSP90, and HSP110 was done and their transcription pattern was assessed by Pfaffl method. HSP60, HSP90, and HSP110 transcription did not differ at 20 min, up-regulated (p < 0.05) from 60 to 200 min and registered highest at 200 min of heat exposure. HSP70 transcription was gradually escalated (p < 0.05) time dependently from 20 to 200 min and reached zenith at 200 min of heat exposure. Differential induction in transcription of key molecular chaperones at various durations of heat exposure might reduce cardiac fibroblasts apoptosis and thus could maintain cardiac tissue function during heat stress.
... Indigenous animals can cope with heat stress effectively when the feed is not compromised. However, climate change could indirectly affect livestock production due to the reduction in the quantity and quality of fodder and natural pastures (Sejian et al., 2016). This deterioration in fodder quality could impose severe nutritional stress on grazing animals. ...
This chapter is an attempt to collect and synthesize information pertaining to climate change associated feed production constraints for livestock and also addresses in detail the various concepts associated with climate resilient livestock production. The chapter would give an overview on the subject and the information generated and presented should be very useful for different stakeholders involved in climate change associated livestock production. Apart from contributing significantly to the gross domestic product (GDP) of many countries, the livestock industries also ensure food and nutritional security. The associated adverse impacts of climate change in particular the projected increases in temperature are predicted to be more severe in tropical regions, especially in developing countries that rely heavily on livestock and other agricultural sectors. Therefore, this chapter attempts to collate and synthesize information about the climate change associated feed production constraints that limit livestock production. Increased temperature, photoperiod and rainfall changes associated with climate change can hurt animal production. Climate change can result in multiple environmental stressors, which if manifested will severely hamper animal production. The altered temperature and precipitation patterns, increased frequency of extreme temperature and precipitation events, and the invasion pressure of weeds, pest and pathogens can offset pasture availability. Factors such as deterioration of soil characteristics, lack of inventories for feed resources, and insufficient water for producing livestock feed are attributed to negatively influencing feed and fodder resources available for animal production. Screening of indigenous livestock breeds for climate resilience would aid in identifying agro-ecological zone-specific breeds, which can ensure maximum output to farmers. Advances in biotechnology and animal breeding have led to identifying potential biomarkers to incorporate into advanced animal breeding programs like marker-assisted selection (MAS) and genomic selection (GS) for inducing climate-resilient potential in livestock. Further, to ensure the optimum economic return to the farmers, climate-smart livestock production needs to be practiced by integrating crops, livestock, fishery, forestry, horticulture, and other activities related to agriculture. Finally, the policy makers need to focus on developing adaptation strategies comprising improving fodder production, water conservation, nutritional interventions, shelter management, and refining the existing breeding programs with more diversified traits to sustain livestock production in the changing climate scenario.
... Indigenous animals can cope with heat stress effectively when the feed is not compromised. However, climate change could indirectly affect livestock production due to the reduction in the quantity and quality of fodder and natural pastures (Sejian et al., 2016). This deterioration in fodder quality could impose severe nutritional stress on grazing animals. ...
The animal husbandry sector plays a vital role in subsistence food security in India. The intensive selection of livestock species for higher production makes them more vulnerable to heat stress. These animals further experience climatic stress in the present times of climate change when extreme climatic events are becoming common. The climatic stress leads to production and reproduction losses in high-producing animals leading to economic losses. The present chapter discusses in detail various strategies to mitigate hot as well as cold stress. The mitigation strategies like the modification of the microenvironment, selection of thermotolerant breeds, and nutritional modification will help to sustain the animals in adverse climatic conditions along with optimal production and reproduction.
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This study examines the perception of the pastoral community on climate change and performance, resilience and adaptive capacity of livestock under climatic stress in southeastern Ethiopia. The study used a mixed research approach whereby quantitative and qualitative data were gathered from multiple sources to address the impacts of climate variability on livestock production and livelihood of pastoral-agro-pastoral communities of Guji zone. Data about pastoralist perception on climate change were collected from 198 randomly selected households using a semi-structured questionnaire. Furthermore, climate data were obtained from the national meteorological agency, and climatic water balance was assessed. The household survey result indicated increasing patterns of temperature (82.8%)and drought intensity (84.8%). Majority of respondents perceived decreasing trends of rainfall and feed availability. Similarly, the trend analysis of rainfall showed declining trends of annual (-4.7 mm/year), autumn (-4.5 mm) and winter (-0.54 mm). Rainfall Anomaly Index identifies 13 drought years over the past 32 years, of which 53.85% occurred between 2007- 2017. Significantly higher (p<0.01) cattle and small ruminants than camel per household died during the disastrous drought occurred in 2008/9 and 2015/16. Nonetheless, the result indicated significantly higher (p<0.01) amounts of milk yield (3.32 litre/day) of dairying camel during dry periods than cattle and small ruminants. Camel and goats are perceived as drought-resistant livestock species and cattle keepers shifting to have more camel and goat in response to prevailing drought in the study area. Poor attention is given to identify climate-smart/resilient livestock species and strains. Therefore, extensive investigations are required to select and identify purpose-specific camel and goat strains for drought-prone areas.
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The aim of this research is to investigate behavioral adaptation to climate change among livestock breeders in Iran by using an exploratory sequential mixed-methods approach. Considering the different effects of climate change in Varamin city, one of the most important livestock ecosystems in Iran, design of an adaptation pattern to climate change for livestock breeders in this region is necessary. Based on the axial coding paradigm model in qualitative research, adaptation strategies used by livestock breeders were found. The theoretical basis for the structural model in the quantitative investigation was Ajzen’s theory of planned behavior. The awareness variable derived from the results of the qualitative section was added to the model. The results indicate that awareness on attitude is the greatest driver of livestock breeders’ adaptive behavior in the region. Awareness, attitude, social norms, and perceived behavioral control can predict 68% of the changes in the livestock breeders’ climate change–related adaptive behavior. Eventually, the information and results of this study can help authorities, financial supporters, staff, and executive experts understand the situation of livestock breeders, enabling them to develop future plans and to make a more detailed choice about regulation at the macro level. Mixed-methods research, such as that used in this study, can produce a clearer, more societally relevant understanding of how the climate is changing and the human livelihood adaptations to these changes.
Many studies in recent years have investigated the effects of climate change on the future of biodiversity. In this chapter, the authors first examined the different possible effects of climate change that can operate at individual, population, species, community, ecosystem, notably showing that species can respond to climate challenges by shifting their climatic change. Climate change is one of the most important global environmental challenges that affect all the natural ecosystems of the world. Due to the fragile environment, mountain ecosystems are the most vulnerable to the impact of climate change. Climatic change will affect vegetation, humans, animals, and ecosystem that will impact on biodiversity. Mountains have been recognized as important ecosystems by the Convention on Biological Diversity. Climate change will not only threaten the biodiversity, but also affect the socio-economic condition of the indigenous people of the state. Various activities like habitat loss, deforestation, and exploitation amplify the impact of climate change on biodiversity.
The livestock sector faces an important challenge in the medium and long term since it must satisfy an increasing demand for animal products as a result of the increase in population and the world economy but safeguarding natural resources and at the same time minimizing the environmental contamination, especially the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions attributed to livestock husbandry. For Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), this becomes more relevant given the importance of the sector for the food security of rural communities, particularly for small-scale producers. In this manuscript, we address the main challenges of LAC in this context, from a global perspective that includes the demographic, economic, cultural, and environmental effects. The biggest global challenge for the LAC livestock sector for the coming decades is how to satisfy the growing human demand for animal protein in a sustainable way maintaining the food security of their communities. The efforts to achieve these goals require focusing on improving the efficiency of both animal husbandry and production systems. Therefore, it is necessary to implement technologies of sustainable intensification and it is urgent that those who make political decisions become aware of these issues.
In the agriculture sector, livestock are considered extremely resilient to climate change and are tipped to play a significant role in ensuring food security to meet the increased demands of growing human population by 2050. Compared to other domestic species, goats are considered the ideal animal model for climate change due to its high thermal and drought resilience, ability to survive on limited pastures, and high disease resistance. This review is therefore a revisit to the advantages of rearing goats over other livestock species under current and future trends of changes in climate, particularly to cope with recurrent multiple stressors such as heat load, and lack of water and feed. In summary, goats, also called as poor man’s cow, are preferred by the small-scale landless farmers due to their low input and assured higher output system, as they require low initial investment, with minimum specialized facilities and labors. Furthermore, they perceive goats as better resilient animal to cope with multiple stressors such as heat load, and water and feed scarcity, and possess better skills to cope with bush, when compared with sheep and cattle. The unique capacity for employing behavioral plasticity and morphological features of goats gives them clear advantage over sheep and cattle, when coping with seasonal biotopes, and experiences of water and feed shortage. When facing with low-quality feed, they also are superior to cattle and sheep to digest dry matter and to recycle nitrogen. Additionally, goats have superior ability to desiccate feces and concentrate urine, when compared with sheep and cattle. These advantages make goat the go-to species for efficiently countering the adversities associated with climate change and to optimize appropriate economic return through sustained production. Therefore, goats are tipped to be the future animals with extreme potential to counter the projected alarming climate change impacts and expected to play a significant role in ensuring food security to meet the demands of the growing human population by the end of this century.
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A study was conducted to assess the combined effect of heat stress and nutritional restriction on growth and reproductive performances in Malpura rams. Twenty-eight adult Malpura rams (average body weight (BW) 66.0 kg) were used in this study. The rams were divided into four groups: CON (n = 7; control), HES (n = 7; heat stress), NUS (n = 7; nutritional stress) and COS (n = 7; combined stress). The study was conducted for a period of 2 months. CON and HES rams had ad libitum access to their feed while NUS and COS rams were under restricted feed (30% intake of CON rams) to induce nutritional stress. The HES and COS rams were kept in climatic chamber at 42 °C and 55% relative humidity for 6 h a day between 10 : 00 h and 16 : 00 h to induce heat stress. Body weight increased significantly (p < 0.05) in CON as compared to NUS and COS. When compared within groups, scrotal width morning, scrotal width afternoon, scrotal circumference morning and scrotal circumference afternoon were significantly (p < 0.05) larger in CON while smaller in COS rams. The higher testicular length was recorded both during morning (p < 0.05) and afternoon (p < 0.01) in COS rams while the lowest in NUS rams. The highest plasma testosterone concentration was recorded in CON and lowest in COS rams. Semen volume and mass motility also differed significantly (p < 0.05) between the groups. The highest semen volume and mass motility was recorded in CON and NUS while lowest in both HES and COS rams. It can be concluded from this study that when two stressors occur simultaneously, they may have severe impact on reproductive performance of rams.
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Given that the livestock production system is sensitive to climate change and at the same time itself a contributor to the phenomenon, climate change has the potential to be an increasingly formidable challenge to the development of the livestock sector in the world. This chapter provides the salient findings established by various researchers in their field of specialization and also elaborates on the future research priorities that are available before the researchers in the field of climate change and livestock production. In the changing climatic scenario, apart from high ambient temperature, air movement, solar radiation, wind speed, and relative humidity are other critical attributes of the climatic variables that hamper livestock production. The direct effects on livestock production are primarily mediated through increased temperature, altered photoperiod, and changes in rainfall pattern. The indirect effects on livestock production are mediated through sudden disease outbreaks, less feed and water availability, and low grazing lands. There are different adaptive mechanisms by which livestock respond to fluctuations of climatic changes including physiological, blood biochemical, neuroendocrine, cellular, and molecular mechanisms of adaptation, respectively. Globally, the livestock sector contributes 18 % of global GHG emissions. Hence, understanding of GHG emissions by sources and removal by sinks in animal agriculture is critical to take appropriate mitigation and adaptation strategies and to estimate and develop inventory of GHGs. The chapter also signifies that considerable research efforts are needed to modify the existing shelter design to make them more suitable for the current climate change scenario. The chapter also calls for multidisciplinary approach to develop suitable technological interventions to cope up to climate change for the ultimate benefit of livestock farmers who rely heavily on livestock resources for their livelihood security. If one attempts improving livestock production under the changing climate condition, research efforts are needed to develop strategies encompassing adaptation, mitigation, and amelioration strategies simultaneously, apart from strengthening the existing extension system.
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Water is an essential production factor in agriculture, both for crops and for livestock. Climate change will have a signifi cant impact on agriculture in terms of affecting both water quantity and quality. It is known that changing climate will affect the water resource availability and global hydrological cycle. Livestock particularly in arid and semiarid region are mostly reared under extensive or traditional pastoral farming systems. The animals have different water requirements in different ambient temperatures. The requirement of water varies breed to breed according to their adaptability in a particular region and ambient temperature. Livestock of arid and semiarid region face the problem of water scarcity in most of the time of the year. So the animals need to take adaptive mechanism to overcome the water deprivation in different physiological stages. The animals exhibit several adaptive mechanisms to cope up to the less availability of water. These mechanisms include reduced plasma and urine volume, reduced faecal moisture, reduced body weight and reduced feed intake. The blood biochemical changes include increased haemoglobin, increased blood cholesterol and urea concentration, reduced protein concentration and increased sodium and potassium concentration. The endocrine changes include increased cortisol and reduced insulin, T3, T4and leptin concentration in livestock. In addition, water deprivation in rumen also plays an important role in maintaining homeostasis in adapted animals. An adequate and safe water supply is essential for the normal and healthy production of livestock. Generally, surface or groundwater is supplied to the animals. This water source should be protected from microorganisms, chemicals and other pollutant contaminations. Keeping in view the adverse water scarcity predicted in the future, strategies have to be developed to improve water-use effi ciency and conservation for diversifi ed production system in different locations. More research is needed into water resources’ vulnerability to climate change and in order to support the development of adaptive strategies for agriculture.
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This chapter provides an overview of the impact of climate change on livestock production and its adaptation and mitigation. Animal agriculture is the major contributor to increasing methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) concentrations in Earth’s atmosphere. Generally there are two-way impacts of livestock on climate change. The fi rst part is the livestock contribution to climate change, while the second part is concerned with livestock getting affected by climate change. Hence, improving livestock production under changing climate scenario must target both reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emission from livestock and reducing the effect of climate change on livestock production. These efforts will optimize livestock production under the changing climate scenario. The role of livestock on climate change is primarily due to enteric CH4emission and those from manure management. Various GHG mitigation strategies include manipulation of rumen microbial ecosystem, plant secondary metabolites, ration balancing, alternate hydrogen sinks, manure management, and modeling to curtail GHG emission. Adapting to climate change and reducing GHG emissions may require signifi cant changes in production technology and farming systems that could affect productivity. Many viable opportunities exist for reducing CH4emissions from enteric fermentation in ruminant animals and from livestock manure management facilities. To be considered viable, these emission reduction strategies must be consistent with the continued economic viability of the producer and must accommodate cultural factors that affect livestock ownership and management. The direct impacts of climate change on livestock are on its growth, milk production, reproduction, metabolic activity, and disease occurrences. The indirect impacts of climate change on livestock are in reducing water and pasture availability and other feed resources. Amelioration of environmental stress impact on livestock requires multidisciplinary approaches which emphasize animal nutrition, housing, and animal health. It is important to understand the livestock responses to the environment and analyze them, in order to design modifi cations of nutritional and environmental management, thereby improving animal comfort and performance.
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Reproductive fitness may be regarded as the most important criteria for studying or evaluating animal adaptation. Body systems activated by stress are considered to influence reproduction by altering the activities of the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, or gonads. Activation of stress pathways may directly affect the activity of Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons within the hypothalamus or higher neural centers which in turn affects the synthesis or secretion of GnRH into the hypophysial portal blood. It is also possible that stress directly influences the responsiveness of gonadotrophin cells in the anterior pituitary gland via the action of GnRH. A further potential action of stress is to alter the feedback actions of sex steroids in the hypothalamus or pituitary and inhibin in the anterior pituitary gland. Reproduction processes in animals may be impacted during heat exposure and glucocorticoids are paramount in mediating the inhibitory effects of stress on reproduction. Glucocorticoids are capable of enhancing the negative feedback effects of estradiol and reducing the stimulation of GnRH receptor expression by estrogen. Glucocorticoids may also exert direct inhibitory effects on gonadal steroid secretion and sensitivity of target tissues to sex steroids. Heat stress (HS) influences estrous incidences and embryo production. The birth weights of lambs of heat stressed ewes are generally lower than the unstressed animals. This could be attributed to the fact that HS may cause a temporal impairment of placental size and function, resulting in a transient reduction in fetal growth rate. Secretion of the hormones regulating reproductive tract function may also be altered by HS. Further, HS can inhibit 3-beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3β HSD) thereby minimizing progesterone secretion from luteal cells. Aromatase is an enzyme that converts androgens into estrogens and is present in the granulosa cells. By inhibiting the expression of this enzyme, HS may induce follicular atresia and consequently anestrus. Effects of steroid hormones on reproductive tract tissue could be reduced during exposure to HS due to increased synthesis of heat shock proteins (HSPs)—HSP 70 and HSP 90. Increased synthesis of HSP might alter assembly, transport, or binding activities of steroid receptors. Further, increased magnitude of these stresses will increase secretion of prostaglandin and reduce the secretion of interferon tau which affects the maternal recognition of pregnancy. In male, HS adversely affects spermatogenesis by inhibiting the proliferation of spermatocytes. This chapter will address the effect of environmental stresses on livestock reproduction.
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Climate change impacts on agriculture and livestock are being witnessed all over the world, but in the developing countries like India, its effect is much more drastic as a large section of the population depends on agriculture for livelihood. In Indian subcontinent, heat stress is the most important climatic stress which adversely affects the livestock and sometimes even threatens the survival of the animals. Small ruminants are critical to the development of sustainable and environmentally sound production systems. Among the climatic components that may impose stress on the productive and reproductive performance traits of sheep and goats are ambient temperature, humidity, air movement, photoperiod, solar radiation, wind speed, etc, of which the ambient temperature is the most important variable. Heat stress affects performance and productivity of small ruminants in all phases of production. Climate affects small ruminant production in four ways: (a) the impact of changes in small ruminant’s pasture availability; (b) impacts on pastures and forage crop production and quality; (c) changes in the distribution of diseases and pests; and (d) the direct effects of weather and extreme events on health, growth and reproduction. Further, changes in temperature and precipitation regimes may result in spread of disease and parasites in new regions or produce high incidence of diseases and mortality with concomitant decrease in small ruminant’s productivity. Animal possesses its own adaptive mechanism to counter the environmental extremes under the changing climatic conditions. The principle adaptive mechanisms of small ruminants are: physiological, neuro-endocrinological, biochemical, cellular and molecular mechanisms. Several mitigation strategies are presently being targeted to improve small ruminant’s production under the changing climate scenario. Generally, three basic management schemes for reducing the effect of thermal stress have been suggested: (a) physical modification of the environment; (b) genetic modifications to improve thermo tolerance and (c) improved nutritional management schemes. Key words: Adaptation, Climate change, Mitigation, Small ruminants
Although there is a good amount of knowledge about the physiological aspects, the effects of heat stress at the cellular and genetic level still remain unrevealed. Functional genomics research is providing new knowledge about the impact of heat stress on livestock production and reproduction. Using functional genomics to identify genes that are up- or down-regulated during a stressful event can lead to the identification of animals that are genetically superior for coping with stress and toward the creation of therapeutic drugs and treatments that target affected genes. Given the complexity of the traits related to adaptation to tropical environments, the discovery of genes controlling these traits is a very difficult task. With the development of molecular biotechnologies, new opportunities are available to characterize gene expression and identify key cellular responses to heat stress. These new tools will enable to improve the accuracy and the efficiency of selection for heat tolerance. Studies evaluating genes identified as participating in the cellular acclimation response from microarray analyses or genome-wide association studies have indicated that heat shock proteins are playing a major role in adaptation to thermal stress. Additional genes of interest which two or more studies have identified are the genes for fibroblast growth factor, solute carrier proteins, interluekins, and tick resistance genes. Genes which have only been identified by microarray analysis but not by genome-wide association studies include genes associated with cellular metabolism (phosphofructo kinase, isocitrate dehydrogenase, NADH dehydrogenase, glycosyltransferase, transcription factor, and mitochondrial inositol protein). Other genes of importance were thyroid hormone receptor, insulin-like growth factor II, and annexin. © Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012. All rights are reserved.
Climate change has the potential to impact the quantity and reliability of forage production, quality of forage, water demand for cultivation of forage crops, as well as large-scale rangeland vegetation patterns. The most visible effect of climate change will be on the primary productivity of forage crops and rangelands. Developing countries are more vulnerable to climate change than developed countries because of the predominance of agriculture in their economies and their warmer baseline climates, besides their limited resources to adapt to newer technologies. In the coming decades, crops and forage plants will continue to be subjected to warmer temperatures, elevated carbon dioxide, as well as wildly fl uctuating water availability due to changing precipitation patterns. The interplay among these factors will decide the actual impact on plant growth and yield. Elevated CO2levels are likely to promote dry matter production in C3plants more as compared to C4plants, and the quantum of response is dependent on the interactions among the nature of crop, soil moisture, and soil nutrient availability. Due to the wide fl uctuations in distribution of rainfall in growing season in several regions of the world, the forage production will be greatly impacted. As the agricultural sector is the largest user of freshwater resources, the dwindling water supplies will adversely affect the forage crop production. With proper adaptation measures ably supported by suitable policies by the governments, it is possible to minimize the adverse impacts of climate change and ensure livestock productivity through optimum forage availability.
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 fi nancial security. The impact of climate change on livestock production systems especially in developing countries is not known, and although there may be some benefi ts 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 longterm 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.
Animals live in complex environments in which they are constantly confronted with short- and long-term changes due to a wide range of factors, such as environmental temperature, photoperiod, geographical location, nutrition, and socio-sexual signals. Homeostasis, the state of relative physiological stability in an organism, is a prerequisite to survive. Despite changes in environmental conditions, many living species have the ability to maintain their homeostasis within fixed limits by means of a set of specific innate repertoire of counter regulatory behavioral and physiological mechanisms. When the individual innate and acquired repertoire of counter regulatory mechanisms are overridden by environmental or internal perturbations a state of stress is reached and the ‘stress responsive systems’ are activated. The ‘stress system’ consists of neuroanatomical and functional structures that produce the behavioral, physiological, and biochemical changes directed toward maintaining homeostasis, when threatened. The environment surrounding livestock plays a significant role in influencing their productivity. Among the environmental variables affecting livestock, heat stress seems to be one of the most intriguing factors making difficult animal production in many of the world areas. Though the animals live in a complex world but researchers most often study the influence of only one stress at a time since comprehensive, balanced multifactorial experiments are technically difficult to manage, analyze, and interpret. There is, in general, a strong relationship between agro-climatic conditions, population density, cropping systems, and livestock production. Rangelands are the largest land use systems on the Earth. They predominate in semi-arid tropical areas of the world. These pastoral systems are those in which people depend entirely on livestock for their livelihoods. The key constraints of arid and semi-arid tropical environment are their low biomass productivity, high climatic variability, and limited availability of water. All these constraints make these regions difficult for sustainable livestock production. Research agendas need to take into account the trade-offs and synergies arising from these livestock population in tropical environments so that the poor are able to reap the multiple benefits provided by these ecosystems.