Coping with Climate Change

UK - Tackling problems such as heat stress and managing livestock in drought or flood conditions are the subjects of a new series of climate change Action for Profit sheets from English Beef and Lamb Executive (EBLEX).
calendar icon 31 July 2008
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The seven factsheets, available from www.eblex.org.uk have been produced as a result of EBLEX's work with the Farming Futures climate change initiative.

In a survey published by Farming Futures in May this year, 60% of beef producers and 64% of sheep producers questioned believed climate change was already having an impact on their farm.

Each Action for Profit topic sheet offers advice to producers on identifying the impact of adverse weather conditions on livestock growth rates, performance and welfare. Also included are preventative tips on feeding and general management, advice on water intake and body condition targets.

Liz Genever, EBLEX Beef and Sheep Scientist, said producers needed to be aware of the impact that prolonged periods of hot weather or extreme rainfall could have on livestock.

Infection from contaminated water supplies and large numbers of animals concentrated on wet ground are problems that can occur during flooding - as well as injuries from debris and collapsed buildings.

She said: "Heat stress in cattle and sheep can have a big impact on feed intakes, growth rate and fertility, so access to water and shade is crucial - as is handling and moving livestock during cooler times of day."

"Feeding during periods of drought can also be a problem as sward heights become low and the quality deteriorates - so producers should look at drought-resistant forage options such as chicory or cocksfoot. Another alternative might be to accept lower performance rates during such adverse conditions and rely on compensatory growth when forage becomes available."

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