Genetic Selection for Thermotolerance in Ruminants
Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC 3010, Australia
Department of Animal Science, University of Ghana, Legon, Accra, Ghana
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 September 2019 / Revised: 5 November 2019 / Accepted: 5 November 2019 / Published: 11 November 2019
Ruminants make important contributions to agricultural production, protein food security, livelihoods, and socio-cultural values, particularly in the developing world. Changing climate has dire consequences on animal agriculture and presents a real challenge for humankind. Increasing temperatures, solar radiation, humidity, and resultant heat waves, low rainfall, and drought compromise the availability of forage and water. These environmental factors adversely affect animal growth and reproduction and increase disease incidence as well as threaten biodiversity. The mitigation of such effects has been confined to location or breeds and is often expensive and not always sustainable in view of continuous variations in the climatic data. In this review we have proposed that genetic selection and breeding of thermotolerant ruminants provide a sustainable means of minimizing the effect of climate change on their production. Given the variation in the ability of ruminants to tolerate heat stress and the availability of genomic tools to pursue this agenda, heat stress can be minimised. This is a shared responsibility, requiring action by stakeholders across all sectors of society.