Research Station Agroscope Reckenholz-Tänikon ART, CH-8046 Zurich

Climate change affects welfare of dairy cows

Climate change is leading to higher temperatures across Switzerland, increasing the risk of heat stress in livestock. Analyzing a «Temperature-Humidity Index» at various locations, it could be shown that the risk for dairy cows already grew substantially on a daily average over the past 30 years, whereas the maximum of the index did not change much. Future trends of the index were analyzed on the basis of two climate scenarios for the time period 2036–2065. These projections show that, at the warmer sites in particular, future risks could be substantial. Especially marked is the increase in the number of days with heat stress. The results emphasize the need for measures to be taken in order to adapt animal husbandry to future climate change.

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