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Extreme Heat and Livestock Production: Cost and Adaptation in the U.S. Dairy Sector

Event Type
Joint Workshop: FACS and PERE (Food Agriculture & Commodities with Program in Environmental & Resource Economics)
426 Mumford Hall
wifi event
Oct 2, 2023   12:00 - 1:00 pm  
Marin Skidmore, Assistant Professor, Illinois Dept ACE
Originating Calendar
ACE Seminars

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 $6.79 billion in lost profit over a five-year 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. One low-cost form of adaption dairy farmers can use to mitigate these losses is changing the time of year that cattle can give birth. We estimate the frequency and effectiveness of this form of adaption as a mitigation strategy.

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