Climate Change, Heat Stress, and U.S. Dairy Production

Nigel Key, Stacy Sneeringer, and David Marquardt
Created: 1/28/2019 -

Abstract

In the United States, climate change is likely to increase average daily temperatures and the frequency of heat waves, which can reduce meat and milk production in animals. Methods that livestock producers use to mitigate thermal stress—including modifications to animal management or housing—tend to increase production costs and capital expenditures. Dairy cows are particularly sensitive to heat stress, and the dairy sector has been estimated to bear over half of the costs of current heat stress to the livestock industry. In this report, we use operation-level economic data coupled with finely scaled climate data to estimate how the local thermal environment affects U.S. dairies’ effectiveness at producing outputs with a given level of inputs. We use this information to estimate the potential decline in milk production in 2030 resulting from climate change-induced heat stress. For four climate model scenarios, the results indicate modest heat stress-related production declines over the next 20 years, with the largest declines occurring in the South.

Published On

Organization(s)

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) works to support the American agricultural economy to strengthen rural communities; to protect and conserve our natural resources; and to provide a safe, sufficient, and nutritious food supply for the American people. The Department’s wide range of programs and responsibilities touches the lives of every American every day. This factsheet provides information about some of our agencies and offices, their missions, responsibilities, and services they provide.

Keywords

Scale
National / Federal
Sector Addressed
Agriculture
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy
Capacity Building
Conduct / Gather additional research, data, and products
Target Climate Changes and Impacts
Temperature
Region
United States