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Indian Journal of Small Ruminants (The)
Year : 2013, Volume : 19, Issue : 1
First page : ( 1) Last page : ( 21)
Print ISSN : 0971-9857. Online ISSN : 0973-9718.

Climate change: Impact on production and reproduction, adaptation mechanisms and mitigation strategies in small ruminants: A review

Sejian V.

Animal Physiology Division, National Institute of Animal Nutrition and Physiology, Adugodi, Bangalore - 560 030, Karnataka. E-mail address: drsejian@gmail.com

Online published on 18 February, 2013.

Abstract

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.

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Keywords

Adaptation, Climate change, Mitigation, Small ruminants.

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