Projected heat stress challenges and abatement opportunities for U.S. Milk production

Kpoti M. Gunn, Michael A. Holly, Tamie L. Veith, Anthony R. Buda, Rishi Prasad, C. Alan Rotz, Kathy J. Soder, Anne M.K. Stoner

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37 Scopus citations


Cost-effective heat mitigation strategies are imperative for maintaining milk production and dairy farm profitability in the U.S. with projected climate change. This study investigated the cost-effectiveness of four heat abatement strategies, including Minimal (open barn or shading), Moderate (forced ventilation), High (fans and misting), and Intense (air conditioning). Heat stress and subsequent impacts on milk production per cow were predicted across nine climatic regions in the U.S. for early (2015 to 2034), mid (2045 to 2064) and late (2081 to 2100) 21st century, using downscaled climate projections. Heat abatements were used to adjust predicted milk production losses and illustrate the potential to reduce milk production losses due to heat stress. Economic analysis included a cost-benefit ratio calculation associated with the implementation of each heat abatement. Results showed that milk production losses were expected to accelerate across the U.S. at a mean rate of 174±7 kg/cow/decade, with the fastest rate in the Southeast region. Relative to Minimal heat abatement, Moderate, High, and Intense heat abatements increased annual milk production per cow by 3%, 4%, and 6% during early-21st century, 3%, 6%, and 11% during mid-21st century, and 3%, 8%, and 21% during late-21st century, respectively. The cost effectiveness of different heat abatement strategies generally increased with subsequently stronger heat abatements. In mid- and late-21st century, mean annual net values of High and Intense heat stress abatement implementation approached -$30 to $190 /cow and -$20 to $590 /cow, respectively, with the largest net annual benefit in late-21st century under Intense abatement. Findings from the study demonstrate the value of using downscaled climate projections to shed light on local and regional strategies to abate heat stress on cattle and mitigate potential milk production losses due to climate change.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0214665
JournalPloS one
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2019


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