Focusing on livestock improvement strategies that enhance adaptive and coping mechanisms in the context of climate change in southern Africa


  • Never Assan Zimbabwe Open University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Agriculture Management, Bulawayo Region, Box 3550, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe


Livestock improvement, Adaptive, Coping, Climate change, Southern Africa


Climate change and variability is among the first and crucial limiting factors of sustainable livestock production in southern Africa. This is on the background that southern Africa is one of the most vulnerable sub regions to climate change and climate variability, a situation aggravated by the interaction of the multiple stresses that occur at various levels and the agricultural systems’ low adaptive capacity. However, it is undisputable that many poor resource livestock farmers who are the majority in southern Africa are wholly or partially dependent on livestock for their livelihood, and livestock keepers will need to adapt to climate change for their survival. This development has spurred the need for creation and implementation of livestock improvement strategies aimed at overcoming the negative effect of climate change on livestock production. In addition, climate change induced environmental stressors will further accentuate heat, disease and water stress-related problems.  The review explores some of the likely impacts of climate change on livestock production and discusses measures to react to the expected changes in climate through livestock improvement. This is followed by a discussion of how climate change may alter the approach to genetic improvement. The report then analyses the specific issue of selection and crossbreeding systems and their implication for livestock improvement. It is suggested that the focus on livestock improvement strategies will need to take into account the alleviation of heat and water stress in the context of semi arid  livestock production systems. Livestock improvement based on livestock adaptive strategies and coping mechanisms  in the context of climate change are critical in this context. This is a result of the understanding that livestock productivity decline has become a problematic issue in southern Africa, particularly due to the long term effect of climate change. Climate change has risen to become one of the most challenging issues confronting the sub region through decline of livestock productivity. In order to lessen the extent of livestock vulnerability to climate change livestock improvement strategies should take into cognizance of enhancing adaptive  and coping mechanisms  in livestock production. In recognition of this threat to the sub region, this paper  further discusses some of the pertinent issues which proffers possible solutions aimed at aiding appropriate livestock improvement in the context of climate change. Accordingly, developing new and innovative livestock improvement strategies to understand the relationship between climate change induced stressful environment and animal productivity, while highlighting livestock improvement strategies and livestock traits to target. Promoting local animal genetic resources will be part of the mitigation strategy.


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How to Cite

Assan, N. . (2015). Focusing on livestock improvement strategies that enhance adaptive and coping mechanisms in the context of climate change in southern Africa. Scientific Journal of Animal Science, 4(6), 72-80. Retrieved from



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