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And Then There Will Be No Milk!

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Cows 1There are many endangered food items in this world but did you ever think that milk could be one of them? If a recent report, presented at the Conference on Climate Change, is to be believed, the environmental upheaval is going to affect the milk production in America to a large extent. This issue is going to have an indirect effect as well. With the changing weather conditions, cows will become unhappy and, thus, will not give as much milk as they should. Eventually, there will be milk shortage in the country, not to think of shortage of milk products like cheese and yogurt.



The Climate Change Report



The study, presented at the conference held at the University of Wisconsin, claims that climate “can have a big effect on milk production.” The study clarifies that cows lead a blissful life when kept in an ideal climate, in other words, a correct mix of temperature and humidity. Scientists behind this study believe that it is this ideal mix that keeps the cows productive. According to the scientists, Northern California is a place in the country, which has this ideal mix. No doubt, the California Milk Advisory Board will feel vindicated. The Board had recently launched an ad on television, which said, “California cows are happy cows.” The thought behind the ad was that the milk and cheese available in California was better because of the balmy weather that the cows enjoyed. While there may not be any scientific evidence that optimum milk production is because cows are happy in their life, those who want to, will definitely find a connection between the two.



Tit for Tat


There has been a lot of debate on global warming phenomenon and a study, released in 2006, even claimed that it was the cows, along with other animals, responsible for the rising levels of carbon emissions. The report, titled “Livestock’s Long Shadow”, estimated that about 18% of the Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) in the world were contributed by cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, camels, pigs, and poultry. A more recent analysis revised the figure from 18% to 51%. This analysis was carried out by Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang and was titled, “Livestock and Climate Change.” No doubt, environmentalists started to look down upon cows and other animals after these reports. But with the study, mentioned above, it seems that cows are as much a victim of global warming as the human beings.



The Bleak Future Cows 2



The scientists have also predicted that if the global warming and the resultant climate change continue to progress at the same rate, there will be a 6% drop in individual milk production of cows by 2080. Since the climate change is showing no signs of receding, it looks like we need to be prepared to reduce our milk consumption in the coming years. The reduction in milk production is being predicted for the cows being raised in the Southern part of the US only because the weather is warmer than is required. The researchers have analyzed data regarding climate and dairy industry to arrive at the conclusion that climate change would affect milk production by Holstein cows, although the production would vary across the country owing to differences in humidity and day &  night temperatures. The study concludes, “Regions that are currently experiencing the greatest losses (in milk production) are also the most susceptible. They are projected to be impacted the most by climate change.” The study author, Yoram Bauman, sums it up for all of us, “Cows are happy in parts of Northern California and not in Florida.”



The scientists are not limiting their analysis to just cows. In fact, just like global warming is being blamed upon other animals too, the researchers are also focusing on animals such as pigs, among the barnyard population. That makes sense because it has also been reported that climate change may also affect the future of haggis. So, keep waiting to hear more bad news in this regard.


Image Courtesy: thefarmersstand, optimalfunctioning


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And Then There Will Be No Milk!