Past and Future Climate Change: Heat Stress Impacts on Southern Idaho Dairy Milk Production
Dr. Jennifer Pierce
Idaho is one of the largest dairy producing states in the nation, with the majority of the dairy production coming from the southern semi-arid regions of the state. Due to low humidity levels, Southern Idaho is a excellent location for dairy production. However, the hot summers do create periods when cattle will experience heat stress, which has negative impacts on production levels and the health of the cattle. The amount of heat stress cattle endure is determined by the Temperature Humidity Index (THI). This study finds quantitative estimates of the levels of heat stress that cattle have historically endured in Southern Idaho dairies. Results find that the THI levels have corresponded with the levels of milk production, which have led to moderate economical losses. Future projections of the increased THI levels find that heat stress and milk production losses will continue to rise into the future unless adequate adaptations are made.