The Impact of Climate Change on Small Ruminant Performance in Caribbean Communities

The Impact of Climate Change on Small Ruminant Performance in Caribbean Communities

Cicero H. O. Lallo (The University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago), Sebrena Smalling (The University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago), Audley Facey (Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Jamaica) and Martin Hughes (The University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5487-5.ch010

Abstract

Many Caribbean small ruminant management systems are forage-based, relying on rain to sustain pastures for feed. Animal performance is thus heavily dependent on forage availability. The nutritive value of pasture was highest during the intermediate season and lowest during the dry season, leading to under nutrition, and declined flock performance in the dry season. Climate change will therefore seriously hamper pasture availability and nutritive value. Hair sheep on pasture, without shade or water, experienced increased respiration rate, they were under chronic heat stress. However, where adequate shade and water were provided, heat stress was reduced. The current system of small ruminant production is prone to the negative impacts of climate change events due to its effect on nutrition, growth and reproduction. Immediate actions are needed to prepare farmers to respond by mitigation methods, to maintain and enhance animal productivity if the envisaged protein security goals set for this sector are to be realized.
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Importance Of Small Ruminant To The Caribbean Community

The small ruminant sector plays a significant role in protein security both nationally and regionally. It is also important to national economies and socio-economic development in most countries. Small ruminants, because of their multi-functionality, play a vital role for resource poor farmers in terms of livelihood and poverty alleviation. However, the thermal challenge associated with climate variability and change will have negative socio-economic impacts on farmers and their livelihood (Pant, 2011).

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