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ARS Home » Midwest Area » West Lafayette, Indiana » Livestock Behavior Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #347199

Research Project: Protecting the Welfare of Food Producing Animals

Location: Livestock Behavior Research

Title: Heat stress: Impact on livestock well-being and productivity and mitigation strategies to alleviate the negative effects

Author
item Johnson, Jay

Submitted to: Animal Production Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/23/2018
Publication Date: 5/9/2018
Citation: Johnson, J.S. 2018. Heat stress: Impact on livestock well-being and productivity and mitigation strategies to alleviate the negative effects. Animal Production Science. 58(8):1404-1413. https://doi.org/10.1071/AN17725.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1071/AN17725

Interpretive Summary: Heat stress (HS) is a multi-factorial problem that negatively impacts livestock health and productivity and is closely linked with animal welfare. As knowledge of the negative impacts of HS on livestock performance and welfare increases, so will the development of effective mitigation strategies to support maintenance of productivity during times of high thermal heat loads and preserve appropriate animal welfare standards.

Technical Abstract: Heat stress (HS) is a multi-factorial problem that negatively impacts livestock health and productivity and is closely linked with animal welfare. While HS may not be harmful when animals are able to adapt, the physiological changes that occur to ensure survival may impede the efficient conversion of feed energy into animal products. This adaptive response can be variable and is often based on previous HS exposure, genetics, species, and production stage. When the heat load becomes too great for adaptive responses to compensate, the subsequent strain response causes reduced productivity and welfare and in severe cases mortality. The effects of HS on livestock productivity are well-documented and range from decreased feed intake and body weight gain, to reduced reproductive efficiency and altered carcass composition and meat quality. In addition, researchers are beginning to elucidate the effects of prenatal HS on postnatal livestock performance and welfare. As knowledge of the negative impacts of HS on livestock performance and welfare increases, so will the development of effective mitigation strategies to support maintenance of productivity during times of high thermal heat loads and preserve appropriate animal welfare standards.