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Livestock Production and Climate Change

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In a changing climate, livestock production is expected to exhibit dual roles of mitigation and adaptation in order to meet the challenge of food security. This book approaches the issues of livestock production and climate change through three sections: I. Livestock production, II. Climate change and, III. Enteric methane amelioration. Section I addresses issues of feed quality and availability, abiotic stress (heat and nutritional) and strategies for alleviation, livestock generated nitrogen and phosphorus pollution, and approaches for harnessing the complex gut microbial diversity. Section II discusses the effects of climate change on livestock diversity, farm animal reproduction, impact of meat production on climate change, and emphasising the role of indigenous livestock in climatic change to sustain production. Section III deals with the most recent approaches to amelioration of livestock methane such as breeding for low methane emissions, reductive acetogenesis, immunization/vaccine-based concepts and archaea phage therapy.

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1 Overview




C.S. Prasad,* P.K. Malik and R. Bhatta

National Institute of Animal Nutrition and Physiology, Bangalore,


1.1 Livestock Sector

Worldwide livestock are an integral component of agriculture that contribute directly or indirectly to the populace by providing food, value-added products, fuel and transport, enhancing crop production and generating incomes, livelihoods, etc. In addition, livestock also diversify production and income, provide year-round employment and reduce risk. Livestock play an important role in crop production, especially in developing countries, through providing farmyard manure and draught power to cultivate around 40% of arable land. There are 1526 million cattle and buffalo and 1777 million small ruminants in the world (FAO,

2011). Worldwide, these animals are scattered under grazing (30%), rainfed mixed (38.5%), irrigated mixed (30.15%) and landless/industrial (1.15%) production systems. There are interregional differences, too, in the distribution of livestock, attributed to the agroecological features, human population density and cultural norms. SubSaharan Africa, Latin America and the Near


2 Feed Resources vis-à-vis Livestock and Fish Productivity in a Changing Climate



Feed Resources vis-à-vis

Livestock and Fish Productivity in a Changing Climate

Michael Blümmel,1* Amare Haileslassie,1 Mario

Herrero,2 Malcolm Beveridge,3 Michael Phillips4 and

Petr Havlik5


Livestock Research Institute, Patancheru, India;

St Lucia, Australia; 3World Fish, Lusaka, Zambia; 4World

Fish, Penang, Malaysia; 5International Institute for Applied Systems

Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria



Globally, livestock contributes 40% to agricultural gross domestic product (GDP), employs more than 1 billion people and creates livelihoods for more than 1 billion poor. From a nutritional standpoint, livestock contributes about 30% of the protein in human diets globally and more than 50% in developed countries. Aquaculture accounts for nearly 50% of global seafood production and employs more than 100 million people. As outlined in the livestock revolution scenario, consumption of animalsourced food (ASF) will increase substantially, particularly in the so-called developing countries in response to urbanization and rising incomes, offering opportunities and income for smallholder producers and even the landless, thereby providing pathways out of poverty. It is important to recognize that the increasing demand for ASF pertains to ruminants


3 Strategies for Alleviating Abiotic Stress in Livestock



Strategies for Alleviating Abiotic

Stress in Livestock

V. Sejian,1* Iqbal Hyder,2 P.K. Malik,1 N.M. Soren,1 A.

Mech,1 A. Mishra,1 and J.P. Ravindra1


Institute of Animal Nutrition and Physiology, Bangalore,

India; 2NTR College of Veterinary Science, Gannavaram, Andhra

Pradesh, India


The livestock sector accounts for 40% of the world’s agriculture gross domestic product

(GDP). It employs 1.3 billion people and creates livelihoods for 1 billion of the population living in poverty. Climate change is seen as a major threat to the survival of many species and ecosystems, and the sustainability of livestock production systems in many parts of the world. On the one hand, the current trend for the demand of livestock products is increasing, which offers market opportunities for small, marginal and landless farmers, while on the other hand, livestock production is facing the negative implications of environmental change, where abiotic stress is noteworthy.

For animals, heat stress is the most stressful among all the abiotic stressors. Reducing the impact of abiotic stress on livestock requires a multidisciplinary approach with emphasis on nutrition, housing and health.


4 Nitrogen Emissions from Animal Agricultural Systems and Strategies to Protect the Environment



Nitrogen Emissions from Animal

Agricultural Systems and

Strategies to Protect the


Richard A. Kohn*

University of Maryland, College Park, USA


Animal production systems are among the largest contributors of reactive nitrogen to the environment. Nitrogen (N) is lost from animal agriculture through volatilization to the atmosphere (NH3, N2O, NO) and runoff and leaching to water resources (NH4+,

NO3–, organic N). Most N losses from agriculture are in a form (NH4+, NH3, NO3–) that does not directly affect climate change.

However, these compounds have serious environmental consequences of their own, including contributing to haze, acidity of rain, eutrophication of surface water bodies and damage to forests. In addition, a significant amount of nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions result from animal agriculture because the ammonium and nitrates from agriculture are converted to N2O during manure storage and crop production. N2O is a potent greenhouse gas. Although animals emit very little nitrogen directly to the air, animal excreta (urine and faeces) contains environmentally reactive nitrogen, which begins moving to the air and water from the moment it leaves the animal, unless it is incorporated into a crop or converted to molecular nitrogen (N2). Nitrogen is lost from the barn floor or pen, storage facility and from cropland during manure application and crop growth. Additional nitrogen is lost to the environment when


5 Nutritional Strategies for Minimizing Phosphorus Pollution from the Livestock Industry



Nutritional Strategies for

Minimizing Phosphorus Pollution from the Livestock Industry

P.P. Ray* and K.F. Knowlton

Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, USA


5.1 Introduction

Livestock manure traditionally has been considered and used as a valuable resource by farmers to improve crop production.

Livestock manure is rich in nutrients

(nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P)) and thus has been land applied to enrich soils. But land application of manure nutrients in excess of crop requirements can lead to saturated soil and loss of nutrients to surface water via runoff. Environmental concerns with P from animal agriculture are significant because livestock manure has always been land applied to meet crops’ N requirement, resulting in P application in excess of crops’

P requirement. The problem is aggravated with the intensification of livestock production, and now animal agriculture has been identified as a primary source of water quality impairment in many regions. But intensification and continuous advancement of livestock production is required to meet the increasing demand of food supply to feed a growing global population. Therefore, management strategies are needed that will improve livestock production while supporting the environmental and social pillars of sustainability. Nutritional strategies are economically and environmentally efficient tools to reduce P excretion by livestock. This chapter discusses nutritional strategies including precision feeding, phase feeding and approaches to improve feed P availability.


6 Metagenomic Approaches in Harnessing Gut Microbial Diversity



Metagenomic Approaches in

Harnessing Gut Microbial Diversity

A. Thulasi,* Lyju Jose, M. Chandrasekharaiah, D.

Rajendran and C.S. Prasad

National Institute of Animal Nutrition and Physiology, Bangalore,



6.1 Introduction

The mechanisms involved in the digestive process of the rumen are complex, and are accomplished by a diverse and dynamic group of microbes. Microbial diversity in the rumen has been predicted to enhance the resistance of the network of metabolic pathways by increasing the number of genes encoding the pathway, enabling the ecosystem to stabilize more rapidly after change to a new equilibrium. The more resistant metabolic pathways, and the more diverse source of novel pathways, will make the microbial system more resilient. A variety of molecular methods based on direct isolation and analysis of nucleic acids, proteins and lipids from environmental samples have been discovered, and they reveal structural and functional information about microbial communities. Molecular approaches such as genetic fingerprinting, metagenomics, metaproteomics, metatranscriptomics and proteogenomics are vital for discovering and characterizing the vast diversity of microbes and understanding their interactions with biotic and abiotic environmental factors. In this chapter, efforts are made to discover the possible applications of metagenomic tools for exploring the complex microbial diversity of ruminal microbes. 


7 Proteomics in Studying the Molecular Mechanism of Fibre Degradation



Proteomics in Studying the

Molecular Mechanism of Fibre


N.K. Singh*

University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, USA


The degradation of plant cell walls by ruminants is of major economic importance in the developed as well as the developing world. Rumen fermentation and degradation of cell wall relies on the cooperation between the microorganisms that produce fibrolytic enzymes and the host animal, which provides an anaerobic fermentation chamber. From the 19th century, the efficiency with which the rumen microbiota degrades fibre has been the subject of extensive research. In this chapter, we will discuss various proteomic approaches such as protein fractionation (chromatography, isoelectric focusing), protein separation

(two-dimensional gel electrophoresis, SDS polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis), in-gel digestion to peptides (matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization, mass spectrometry or electrospray mass spectrometry), peptide separation (two-dimensional liquid chromatography), complex protein solution digestion to peptides (electrospray ionization or MALDI-tandem MS) and proteomics of fibrolytic bacteria, which can be used to improve our knowledge of the functional framework of plant cell wall degradation in the rumen.


8 Perspective on Livestock-Generated GHGs and Climate



Perspective on LivestockGenerated GHGs and Climate

J. Takahashi*

Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, Obihiro,



The greenhouse gases (GHGs) attributed to agriculture and animal agriculture are methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). The relative absorptivity of the infrared radiation of carbon dioxide (CO2) is about 21-fold and

310-fold higher than for each molecule of

CH4 or N2O, respectively. As the absorptivity in both gases is not saturated like CO2, the contribution of CH4 and N2O to the greenhouse effect have therefore been prospectively increasing linearly, because atmospheric increases in the concentration of both gases correlate closely with human activities, and the world population is currently expanding to more than 7 billion.

Rumen CH4 production emitted to the atmosphere can be accounted as the biggest anthropogenic source. The abatement mechanism of rumen CH4 emission may be divided into direct and indirect suppression of methanogens in the rumen. The most significant strategy to mitigate rumen CH4 emission in an indirect manner is to promote alternative metabolic pathways to dispose of the reducing power, competing with methanogenesis for H2 uptake. In an attempt to identify natural manipulators with the efficacy to mitigate rumen CH4 emission, efficient prebiotics and probiotics have been developed in various institutions instead of ionophores in respect to food safety. The relatively lower molecular weight compounds produced by Lactobacillus plantarum have recently revealed the ability to suppress


9 Carbon Footprints of Food of Animal Origin



Carbon Footprints of Food of

Animal Origin

Gerhard Flachowsky*

Institute of Animal Nutrition, Braunschweig, Germany


Animal production contributes substantially to global greenhouse gas emissions (about

14.5%). So-called carbon footprints (CFs) consider the greenhouse gas potential of climate-relevant gases (e.g. CO2 u 1; CH4 u

23; N2O u 296), which is given in carbon dioxide (CO2)-equivalent g–1 or kg–1 of product or unit of edible protein. CFs may help to assess the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production of food of animal origin such as milk, meat, eggs or fish, and they may contribute to sensitizing producers and consumers to a more resource-efficient and environmentally friendly production and consumption of food of animal origin and to avoiding food wastage. The highest CFs per unit edible protein are calculated for products of growing ruminants (beef and lamb), followed by milk, pork, eggs and poultry meat, with the lowest values. Discrepancies in the results of various studies are explained mainly by different system boundaries, allocation methods and computation of emissions, especially with regard to land-use changes, enteric methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions. A more standardized approach for CF calculations would be a very useful tool to compare CFs between production systems, regions and countries, and as an indicator for food labelling. The production of food of animal origin is a very complex process, and a selective consideration, i.e. focusing on single factors,


10 Carbon Sequestration and Animal-Agriculture: Relevance and Strategies to Cope with Climate Change



Carbon Sequestration and

Animal-Agriculture: Relevance and Strategies to Cope with

Climate Change

C. Devendra*

Consulting Tropical Animal Production Systems Specialist,

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


Carbon sequestration is an important pathway to stabilize the environment with minimum effects of climate change. Farming systems provide a non-compensated service to society by removing atmospheric carbon generated from fossil fuel combustion, feed production, land restoration, deforestation, biomass burning and drainage of wetlands.

The resultant increase in the global emissions of carbon is calculated at 270 Gt, and increasing at the rate of 4 billion tonnes year–1. Strategies to maximize carbon sequestration through enhanced farming practices, particularly in crop–animal systems, are thus an important priority to reduce global warming. These pathways also respond to agricultural productivity in the multifaceted, less favoured rainfed environments. Sustainable animal-agriculture requires an understanding of crop–animal interactions and integrated natural resource management (NRM), demonstrated in the development of underestimated silvopastoral systems (tree crops and ruminants).


11 Climate Change: Impacts on Livestock Diversity in Tropical Countries



Climate Change: Impacts on

Livestock Diversity in Tropical


S. Banik,1* P.K. Pankaj2 and S. Naskar1


Research Centre on Pig, Guwahati, India; 2Central

Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture, Hyderabad, India


The effect of changing climate will not only be confined to limited production, and the productivity of agricultural commodities, but will also have far-reaching consequences on dairy, meat, wool and other animal products.

The impact of climate change on the livestock sector as a whole will be felt more in tropical countries compared to temperate countries, largely because of the structure of production system and economics. The resultant pressure, both direct and indirect, is likely to result in further dilution of livestock diversity, which would specially affect the nutritional security and livelihood of small and marginal farmers. The challenge is to sustain genetic diversity and productivity by different adaptation strategies like production adjustment, breeding strategies, alteration of management systems, developing appropriate policies, scientific intervention and capacity building of livestock owners. In light of concerns over the impacts of climate change and climate variability, this chapter provides an overview of the opportunities for adaptation and mitigation strategies in tropical climatic conditions.


12 Climate Change: Effects on Animal Reproduction



Climate Change: Effects on

Animal Reproduction

Jyotirmoy Ghosh,1* Sujoy K. Dhara2 and P.K.



Institute of Animal Nutrition and Physiology,

Bangalore, India; 2Indian Veterinary Research Institute,

Izatnagar, India


The amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have been increased as a result of human activity, causing rise in climatic temperature. In recent times, climate has been changing faster than ever; as a result, plants and animals are exposed to more adverse conditions and are finding it difficult to adjust in temperate and tropical regions.

The existence of some animals and plants is threatened. Threat to existence is due mostly to low or no reproduction. Photoperiodic action is mediated through the hypothalamus; however, nutrition and stress affect the entire hypothalamus–pituitary and gonadal axis of both male and female systems. The effects are: aberrant gametogenesis, folliculogenesis and ovulation, reduced male and female sexual behaviour, low conception rates, increased embryo and pregnancy loss, delayed post-partum recovery, increased calving intervals, lowered perinatal vigour and increased perinatal mortality and morbidity, etc. These losses are difficult to recognize and diagnose, and the consequence is expensive maintenance of animals with reduced reproductive efficiency.


13 Climate Change: Impact of Meat Production



Climate Change: Impact of Meat


Levi Mugalavai Musalia*

Chuka University, Chuka, Kenya


Between 1961 and 2009, the world recorded a continued increase in the demand for meat, driven by the fast growth in population, economic improvement, changes in eating habits and rapid urbanization. This has resulted in improved livestock production that is projected to continue even into the future. However, raising animals for food has been identified as a major contributor to climate change. As more meat is produced to satisfy the increasing demand, it is important to understand its effect on climate change, which continues to be a threat to food security. Livestock production contributes

14.5% of the total greenhouse gases (GHGs) that originate directly from the animal in the form of enteric emissions (39%), or indirectly from activities in the meat production value chain like animal feed production and processing (45%), manure decomposition (10%) and slaughter, processing and transportation of animal products (6%). The amount of GHGs emitted in meat production depends on the type of feed and the capability of the animals to digest and utilize feeds, thus minimizing the amount of waste excreted. The production of meat is a very inefficient system where animal proteins require 11 times more fossil fuel compared to plant protein. The efficiency of meat production reduces in the order of fish, poultry, pork and beef. Efficient meat production systems also cut down on the


14 Indigenous Livestock Resources in a Changing Climate: Indian Perspective



Indigenous Livestock Resources in a Changing Climate: Indian


S.P.S. Ahlawat, Pushpendra Kumar,* Kush

Shrivastava and N.R. Sahoo

Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Izatnagar, India


14.1 Introduction

Biological diversity, the variability of life on earth, exists in the form of different species and breeds within the animal kingdom. This diversity is created in the process of molecular/biochemical/metabolic reactions, and acts as a critical measure of adaptation in changing climatic conditions. Indigenous breeds have adapted to climatic variations since time immemorial, and hence have acquired unique traits that make them suitable in given agroclimatic zones; for example, the Indian cattle breeds,

Tharparkar and Sahiwal, are heat and tick resistant. Similar cases have also been observed worldwide in Asia, Africa, Europe,

Latin America, North America and the south-west Pacific region, having a total of

1144, 1300, 345, 104 and 108 breeds of major livestock species, respectively. Native breeds, namely N’Dama cattle, Red Massai sheep, etc., have developed trypanosomiasis resistance and gastrointestinal nematode tolerance by continuous natural selection.


15 Enteric Methane Emission: Status, Mitigation and Future Challenges – An Indian Perspective



Enteric Methane Emission:

Status, Mitigation and Future

Challenges – An Indian


Raghavendra Bhatta,* P.K. Malik and C.S. Prasad

National Institute of Animal Nutrition and Physiology, Bangalore,



Atmospheric CH4 is increasing at a rate of

1% per annum. To stabilize this greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, global CH4 production needs to be reduced by 10–20%. Ruminants fed on low-quality feed/fodder produce over

75% of the CH4 generated by ruminants worldwide. Strategic supplementation to improve digestive efficiency in these animals could halve this CH4 production per unit of feed consumed. Supplementation to improve the efficiency of feed utilization coupled with increased product output may thus reduce CH4 production per unit of milk or meat by a factor of 4–6. The dietary/ nutritional strategy that improves productivity with no potential negative effects on livestock health and production is cost-effective and has a better chance of being adopted. Other strategies (biotechnologies, additives) are promising, but the diversity and plasticity of the functions of the rumen bacterial and methanogenic communities may be the limiting factor for their successful application. In addition, the environmental impacts of strategies should also be taken into consideration. A global vision of production systems that considers all greenhouse gas emissions from the animal up to the farm scale, as well as


16 Thermodynamic and Kinetic Control of Methane Emissions from Ruminants



Thermodynamic and Kinetic

Control of Methane Emissions from Ruminants

Richard A. Kohn*

University of Maryland, College Park, USA


CH4 emissions occur directly from animal digestion (enteric) and from animal waste that is stored under anaerobic conditions. In both regards, CH4 emissions depends on kinetic and thermodynamic factors. With kinetic control, the profile of products formed depends on the relative rates of the different competing reactions. In turn, the rates of reactions depend on substrate concentrations and enzyme activities, and these enzyme activities depend on microbial growth or enzyme synthesis. With thermodynamic control, which pathway branches are available and the direction of metabolite flow depends on the concentrations of reactants and products. Biologists have focused on controlling the kinetic elements of fermentation such as enzyme function, microbial activity, gene expression or provision of substrates. However, fermentation is often controlled by thermodynamics.


17 Ionophores: A Tool for Improving Ruminant Production and Reducing Environmental Impact



Ionophores: A Tool for Improving

Ruminant Production and

Reducing Environmental Impact

Natasha Bell,1 Tryon Wickersham,1 Vijay Sharma2 and Todd Callaway3*


A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA;

Research Service, USDA, Ames, Iowa, USA;

3Agricultural Research Service, USDA, College Station, Texas,




17.1 Introduction

Ruminal fermentation is an inherently inefficient process converting up to 12% of dietary carbon and energy into end products

(e.g. CH4) that are largely unusable by the animal. Ruminant nutritionists seek to modify fermentation, specifically by increasing ruminal propionic acid yield, reducing methanogenesis and decreasing ruminal proteolysis and deamination of dietary proteins in order to improve production efficiency. To date, a variety of methods have been investigated in an effort to meet these objectives. Carboxylic polyether compounds, ‘ionophores’, are an effective means of decreasing enteric CH4 emissions when included in ruminant diets.

Although ruminant nutritionists have historically focused on feeding ionophores to increase efficiency and profitability, recent attention has focused on the ability of ionophores to impact global greenhouse gas production. This chapter examines the use of ionophores in cattle diets for the mitigation of enteric CH4 production. Issues like ionophore resistance and the impact of ionophore feeding on human health are also addressed.


18 Residual Feed Intake and Breeding Approaches for Enteric Methane Mitigation



Residual Feed Intake and

Breeding Approaches for Enteric

Methane Mitigation

D.P. Berry,1* J. Lassen2 and Y. de Haas3


and Grassland Research and Innovation Centre,

Teagasc, Fermoy, Co. Cork, Ireland; 2Aarhus University, Tjele,

Denmark; 3Wageningen UR Livestock Research, Lelystad, the



The expanding world human population will require greater food production within the constraints of increasing societal pressure to minimize the resulting impact on the environment. Breeding goals in the past have achieved substantial gains in environmental load per unit product produced, despite no explicit inclusion of environmental load (and in most instances, even feed efficiency) in these goals. Heritability of feed intake-related traits in cattle is moderate to high, implying that relatively high accuracy of selection can be achieved with relatively low information content per animal; however, the genetic variation in feed intake independent of animal performance is expectedly less than other performance traits. Nonetheless, exploitable genetic variation does exist and, if properly utilized, could augment further gains in feed efficiency. Genetic parameters for enteric methane (CH4) emissions in cattle are rare. No estimate of the genetic variation in enteric CH4 emissions independent of animal performance exists; it is the parameters for this trait that depict the scope for genetic improvement. The approach to the inclusion of feed intake or


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