Scientists found that plants growing in warmer conditions are tougher and have lower nutritional value to grazing livestock. This in turn can lower production output and increase methane output.
Higher amounts of methane are produced when plants are tougher to digest. In the study, researchers from Scotland and Germany mapped the regions where methane produced by cattle will increase to the greatest extent as the result of reductions in plant nutritional quality.
Methane production is generally expected to increase all around the world, with hotspots identified in North America, Central and Eastern Europe, and Asia, where the effects of climate change may be the most severe. Many of these regions are where livestock farming is growing most rapidly. For example, meat production has increased annually by around 3.4% across Asia, compared with a more modest 1% increase across Europe.
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Emmy Koeleman studied Animal Sciences at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. She is the editor of Dairy Global and All About Feed.