Kailas Ramasamy gently guides his cows into a hangar-sized shed, tethers them to their posts, lays out their fodder and cleans the floor. Then, as he steps out, he flips a switch: ceiling fans begin to blow air on the cattle.
Ramasamy’s dairy farm is an hour outside southern India’s Bengaluru city. Usually known for its moderate weather, the region has witnessed a sharp rise in temperature compared with earlier decades. Elsewhere in India, temperatures have reached 50C (122F) this year.
That is bad news for India’s dairy industry, with heat stress leading to reduced appetite, lower weight gain and decreased fertility in cattle. Rising temperatures could reduce milk output by up to 25% in India’s hotter areas by 2085, according to recent research published in the Lancet.
Heat stress is a global problem, with thousands of cattle reported to have died last week in the US state of Kansas as temperatures of more than 37C were compounded by high levels of humidity.
But for India, any significant decline in milk production could be devastating for food security if it ends self-sufficiency in dairy in the world’s second most populous country.
The Tamil Nadu Cooperative Milk Producers’ Federation Ltd has fixed a procurement target of 6.93 lakh litres of milk per day to the Tiruchi District Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union, popularly known as Tiruchi Aavin.
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