Many producers of red meat in New Zealand run enterprises consisting of a mix of sheep, beef cattle and deer, with obvious differences in species ratios across regions when aggregated. The aim of this study was to use these regional species ratios to predict livestock number changes in New Zealand in response to climate change. Simple linear regression was performed using mean temperature and species ratio (sheep, beef cattle and deer) for each region. The slopes of these linear equations were used to estimate “business-as-usual” for each region in year 2100 under different models of climate change. An overall decrease in sheep and deer numbers by up to 38% and 75%, respectively, is predicted, along with an increase in beef cattle numbers by up to 60%. Genetics provides an opportunity to select for animals that are adapted to the changing environment through reproductive plasticity, disease resistance, and heat tolerance, and therefore to moderate these predicted changes.

KM, Mcrae, S Rowe, and JC McEwan

New Zealand Journal of Animal Science and Production, Volume 78, Lincoln, 146-150, 2018
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