© FAO/Ami VitaleClimate change has direct effects on livestock productivity as well as indirectly through changes on the availability of fodder and pastures. It determines the type of livestock most adapted to different agro-ecological zones and therefore the animals that are able to sustain rural communities.  Climate change is expected to affect livestock at the species level.

Livestock emissions throughout the livestock commodity-chains, contribute to 9% of the total anthropogenic carbon-dioxide emission,  37% of methane, and 65% of nitrous oxide.  Technical options are available to mitigate emissions of the sector such as restoring organic carbon and carbon sequestration through agro-forestry, improve livestock diets, better manure management, careful nutrient management.  The use of biogas technology is a way to reduce emissions from mature management while increasing farm profit, and providing environmental benefits.

FAO's activities

FAO can assist in monitoring both the direct (animal genetic resources) and indirect (availability of fodder and pastures) effect of climate change on livestock, provide early warnings to the various climatic zones and assist countries in adapting livestock policies. In addition, FAO can work with farmers who know by experience which types of animal breeds or varieties can best resist changing conditions, to mitigate the negative impact of ruminants on greenhouse gas emissions through recommending animal husbandry changes such as ruminant diets and stocking ratios.

FAO is working on a multidonor project called the Livestock, Environment and Development Initiative.  Its purpose is to devise and promote ecologically sustainable livestock production strategies and practices while at the same time being concerned with reducing poverty. LEAD focuses on four broad areas of livestock-environment interactions: the role of livestock in deforestation, the pollution of water and soil through the intensification and geographical concentration of livestock production in rapidly industrializing countries, land degradation and desertification through extensive livestock production systems, and the coexistence and competition of livestock with wildlife.


Tackling climate change through livestock 26 September 2013 As renewed international efforts are needed to curb greenhouse gas emissions, the livestock sector can contribute its part. An important emitter of greenhouse gas, it also has the potential to significantly reduce its emissions. This report provides a unique global assessment of the magnitude, the sources and pathways of emissionsfrom different livestock production systems and supply chains. Relying on life cycle assessment, statistical analysis and scenario building, it also provides estimates of the sector’s mitigation potential and identifies concrete options to reduce emissions. The report is a useful resource for stakeholders from livestock producers to policy-makers, researchers and civil society representatives, which also intends to inform the public debate on the role of livestock supply chains in climate change and possible solutions. [more]
Balanced feeding for improving livestock productivity: Increase in milk production and nutrient use efficiency and decrease in methane emission 21 June 2013 In developing countries feed shortages notwithstanding, considerable potential exists to increase production levels across a range of growing, lactating and beef animals by addressing the problem of imbalanced nutrition. The data on improving milk production efficiency in dairy animals through balanced feeding suggests that there is considerable scope for enhancing milk production with strategic use of the existing feed resources. This is possible through the transfer of scientific knowledge, in an easy-to-use and easy-to-implement manner to milk producers. The aim should be to promote feeding of a balanced ration in sufficient quantities and containing all essential nutrients. This paper outlines an approach used by National Dairy Development Board, India to balance rations at the doorsteps of smallholder farmers. This initiative has relevance for many other developing countries. [more]
Mitigation of Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Livestock Production - A review of technical options for non-CO2 emissions 21 June 2013 This report presents a unique and exhaustive review of current knowledge on mitigation practices for greenhouse gas emissions in the livestock sector. It focuses specifically on non-CO2 emissions from enteric fermentation and manure management. It is part of a stream of activities being carried out by FAO to identify low greenhouse gas emission pathways for the livestock sector. The report references over 900 publications on the mitigation of direct nitrous oxide and methane emissions and highlights the most promising options, given their demonstrated effectiveness and feasibility for adoption. The review was deliberately limited to in vivo experiments to reflect what can be achieved with available mitigation practices. This in-depth assessment will inform the livestock industry, academia, governmental and non-governmental organizations that are interested in identifying and designing mitigation interventions for the sector. It will also help to identify research and development priorities in the area. [more]
FAO. 2009. Review of evidence on Dryland Pastoral Systems and Climate Change: Implications and Opportunities for Mitigation and Adaptation 24 March 2010 In light of global concerns over the impacts of climate change and climate variability, this document provides an overview of opportunities for adaptation and mitigation in dryland pastoral and agropastoral systems. It makes a case for a concerted global effort to promote mitigation practices that also have benefits for adaptation and livelihoods ofpastoralists and agropastoralists in drylands. [more]

last updated:  Wednesday, December 5, 2012