Climate change affecting livestock production – Ngaruka
WINDHOEK, MAR 6 – Technical Officer for Livestock within Agribank’s Agri Advisory Services Division Erastus Ngaruka, has reiterated that livestock play a major role in the agricultural sector in developing nations, all the while contributing to the agricultural GDP.
The most significant direct impact of climate change on livestock production comes from the heat stress. Heat stress results in a significant financial burden to livestock producers through decrease in milk component and milk production, meat production, reproductive efficiency and animal health.
However, with the current climate change, Ngaruka stated that the agricultural output is primarily driven by climatic events, and these have adverse effects on both food and water availability in agro-ecosystems, hampering sustainable crop and Livestock productivity, as well as farmers’ livelihoods.
“The climate change effects can be direct or indirect. Livestock productivity is directly reliant on range-land productivity which in turn is determined by soil moisture availability and environmental temperature,” said Ngaruka.
Furthermore, Ngaruka noted that the heat stress forces animals to reduce their exhaustive physical activities which also includes mating. The female animal’s reproductive system as well as the sperm production process in male animals can be adversely affected by high temperature.
He added that during the current drought, farmers would be relocating their animals to ‘greener pastures,’ adding that it was important that the animals be transported during the cooler hours of the day, and to have stop-overs along the way for them to rest or even drink water especially when trekking.
Ngaruka explained that if animals have to adapt to new environments, they will have a lot to change in response, be it food preference, foraging time, respiration rate, and water intake amongst others. On that a farmer should as well adjust the management regime to respond to the animals’ demand or requirements. – NDN Staffer