Will heat stress take its toll on milk production in China uri icon

abstract

  • There are clear signs that milk production growth is leveling off, and recently even declining, in China. Heat stress is one of the main reasons for the recent reduction in milk production. In this study, we computed the change in milk production as a result of heat stress in major milk production areas in China. We constructed a temperature-humidity index (THI) spatial layer to understand the monthly distribution of heat and moisture. We documented specific areas in northern China where cattle were at high risk to heat stress in specific months. THI values exceeded the threshold above which milk production declines during months of June, July, and August. Especially during July, the THI value was higher than the production threshold in recent years (2008 to 2016) and in projected future scenarios (2050 and 2070). THI-based milk yield losses were up from 0.7 to about 4 kg per cow per day in July 2016. These losses are projected to increase from 1.5 to 6.5 kg in 2050 and 2 to 7.2 kg in 2070 (representing production losses between 15 and 50%). These results suggest that climate change will have significant consequences for the dairy sector in major milk-producing areas in China. Our results are useful in identifying areas susceptible to heat stress where adaptive livestock management practices are needed to prevent significant production decreases.

publication date

  • 2020
  • 2020