Heat stress for cattle may cost billions by end of century
Climate change poses a potentially devastating economic threat to low-income cattle farmers in poor countries due to increasing heat stress on the animals. Globally, by the end of this century those producers may face huge financial losses annually.
Farmers in tropical regions – including large parts of South America, Asia and Africa – are likely to suffer significantly, particularly when compared with producers in the world’s wealthier temperate zones, according to a study by an international team of scientists and economists published in the Lancet Planetary Health.
Escalating demand for livestock products in low- and middle-income countries, along with steadily increasing global average temperatures, is an uncomfortable mix, the researchers said. If livestock are to adapt to new thermal environments and increase their productivity, infrastructural investments or adjustments – such as switching to more heat-tolerant cattle breeds, and improving shade, ventilation and cooling systems – will be required.
“Resource-poor farmers in low-income countries depend heavily on their livestock for their livelihoods,” the researchers said. “The adaptation needs are even higher in these countries and those farmers are the ones where the hit is even more severe.”
Technological development is key to bringing equity and social justice to poor farmers throughout the world.