Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Climate Change and Cattle

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Climate Change and Cattle

Article excerpt

Kansas State University's Joseph Craine, research assistant professor in the Division of Biology, and K.C. Olson, associate professor of animal sciences and industry, have teamed up with other scientists from across the United States to look into the possible effects of climate change on cattle nutrition.

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Comparing grasslands and pastureland in different regions in the United States, the study, published in Global Change Biology, discusses data from more than 21,000 different fecal samples collected during a 14-year period and analyzed at the Texas A&M University Grazingland Animal Nutrition Lab for nutritional content.

"Owing to the complex interactions among climate, plants, cattle grazing, and land management practices, the impacts of climate change on cattle have been hard to predict," says Craine, principal investigator for the project. The lab measured the amount of crude protein and digestible organic matter retained by cattle in the different regions. The pattern of forage quality observed across regions suggests that a warmer climate would limit protein availability to grazing animals, Craine says.

"This study assumes nothing about patterns of future climate change; it's just a what if," Olson says. "What if there was significant atmosphere enrichment of carbon dioxide? …

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