Description: Department Seminar: Marin Skidmore (University of Illinois)
Location: 368A Heady Hall
Contact Person: David Hennessy
Abstract: Climate change poses a threat to global livestock production as extreme weather conditions become more frequent. We quantify the impact of heat stress on the dairy industry throughout the Midwestern United States in the years 2012-2016 using animal-level production data. When temperature and humidity increase above critical levels, dairy cows become heat stressed and eat less which causes a drop in milk production. We estimate a total of $174 million in lost revenue in our sample over a five year period; this equates to 0.5% of the sample’s total revenue in the period. These losses are mostly due to moderate-intensity heat events, though we find the largest per-event losses following high-intensity events. Losses are largest on small farms, while large farms appear to mitigate the effects of low-intensity heat events. Crucially, certain types of dairy cattle are more susceptible than others: dairy cows that have given birth multiple times and are early in their production cycle are the most productive but also the most vulnerable to heat stress. We estimate that these cattle lose about between 3-6% of their milk production in a heat wave as opposed to at most 2% for other cattle.