Friday, August 1, 2008

Climate change help for UK farmers

I-Stock (UK): North East farmers can get advice on tackling the problems caused by climate change thanks to the English Beef and Lamb Executive (Eblex). Tackling problems such as heat stress and managing livestock in drought or flood conditions are the subjects of a new series of climate change Action for Profit sheets from Eblex.

The seven factsheets, available from, have been produced as a result of the group's work with the Farming Futures climate change initiative. In a survey published by Farming Futures in May this year, 60% of beef producers and 64% of sheep producers questioned believed climate change was already having an impact on their farm.

Each Action for Profit topic sheet offers advice to producers on identifying the impact of adverse weather conditions on livestock growth rates, performance and welfare. Also included are preventative tips on feeding and general management, advice on water intake and body condition targets. Liz Genever, Eblex beef and sheep scientist, said producers needed to be aware of the impact that prolonged periods of hot weather or extreme rainfall could have on livestock. Infection from contaminated water supplies and large numbers of animals concentrated on wet ground are problems that can occur during flooding - as well as injuries from debris and collapsed buildings.

She said: "Heat stress in cattle and sheep can have a big impact on feed intakes, growth rate and fertility, so access to water and shade is crucial - as is handling and moving livestock during cooler times of day.

"Feeding during periods of drought can also be a problem as sward heights become low and the quality deteriorates - so producers should look at drought-resistant forage options such as chicory or cocksfoot. Another alternative might be to accept lower performance rates during such adverse conditions and rely on compensatory growth when forage becomes available."…

Please pay attention -- this is complicated: Cartoon shows America (represented by a man with feathered cap) cutting the horns off a cow (representing British commerce) which is being milked by a Dutchman, two men (representing France and Spain) are standing toward the rear of the cow holding bowls of milk. In the foreground, on the right, lies the British lion asleep, a small dog is standing on the lion's back urinating. A distraught Englishman is standing to the left of the lion. In the background, across an expanse of water, is a city labeled "Philadelphia," to the left of the city is a ship, the "Aigle" (i.e., Eagle) laid-up in dry dock, Admiral Howe is sitting at a table, out of sight of his flag ship, with his brother General Howe, a keg is on the ground to the left and wine bottles on the ground to the right of the table. Includes a legend in French which corresponds to the numbered figures in the print. Wikimedia Commons

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