Researchers from Scotland’s Rural College have discovered that different breeds of animals react differently to ever changing weather conditions. Their study (part of the Horizon2020 project, iSAGE whose goal is to future proof the goat and sheep farming industry) observed average daily temperature and humidity, together with animal performance records, to better understand how best to breed sheep and goats to handle climate change.
They identified a fluctuation in responses between different animals in the same weather conditions, albeit some of the animals were not affected at all, therefore deeming them more climate change resistant. The researchers construed that animal resistance to weather change could be improved through selective breeding as the observed variation seemed to be inherited and genetic.
“Researchers have discovered that different breeds of animals react differently to ever changing weather conditions.“
Georgios Banos, SRUC Professor, stated: “Climate is changing, bringing about increased weather volatility, and farm animals have different capacities to cope with this change. We investigated the genetic mechanisms that make an animal resilient to weather conditions, allowing it to maintain performance when challenged with weather volatility. This will enable us to continue selectively breeding for enhanced performance, such as high production and health and, at the same time, breed for performance stability when external environmental conditions change.”