Regional effects of climate change on California animal agriculture and options for farmers to respond through husbandry adaptation and greenhouse gas mitigation

Maurice Pitesky, Jeremy James, Pramod Pandey, Frank Mitloehner, Myrna Cadena, Sharif S Aly

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Climate change will pose challenges for the world’s food supply in the coming decades. As a leading agricultural state with a diverse agricultural portfolio, California will face its own unique regional challenges due to its complex agricultural inter-dependencies. As veterinarians and animal scientists with livestock and poultry clientele in the Central Valley of California, we are starting to observe changes in food safety, production efficiency, welfare and disease that can be linked to the effects of climate change. For example, in California drought has reduced access to rice hulls which are commonly used as bedding for poultry which have necessitated the use for recycling rice hulls. Our results have shown an 11.08 × greater risk (P < 0.5) of Salmonella in poultry raised on litter recycled more than 3 × versus poultry raised on fresh litter material. While these types of challenges can be mitigated through adapting husbandry, it is also important to recognize that there are opportunities for the farmers to focus on mitigation of greenhouse gases via the alternative usage of agricultural ‘waste’ products with a focus on increasing baseload renewable energy from anaerobic digestion (AD). Specifically, the further targeted integration of methane digesters in the Central Valley of California could play a significant role in renewable energy production from carbon-based agricultural ‘waste’ material. To that point, geographic information system-based maps were made showing the spatial location of major livestock and crop production areas laid over the current natural gas pipeline network for Fresno County (the most productive agricultural county in the USA). Refinement and further development of these types of maps are integral in order to visualize and develop a robust and commercially viable AD network into our current energy infrastructure. This review aims to describe current scenarios spanning food safety, welfare and the connection between animal disease and production efficiency in California livestock and poultry production with respect to how climate change affects California livestock and poultry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number14
JournalCAB Reviews: Perspectives in Agriculture, Veterinary Science, Nutrition and Natural Resources
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • California
  • Climate change
  • Energy
  • Livestock
  • Poultry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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