University Of Tasmania

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The impact of extreme climate events on pasture-based dairy systems: a review

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 14:17 authored by Chang-Fung-Martel, J, Matthew HarrisonMatthew Harrison, Richard RawnsleyRichard Rawnsley, Smith, AP, Holger MeinkeHolger Meinke

Extreme climatic events such as heat waves, extreme rainfall and prolonged dry periods are a significant challenge to the productivity and profitability of dairy systems. Despite projections of more frequent extreme events, increasing temperatures and reduced precipitation, studies on the impact of these extreme climatic events on pasture-based dairy systems remain uncommon. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has estimated Australia to be one of the most negatively impacted regions with additional studies estimating Australian production losses of around 16% in the agricultural sector and 9–19% between the present and 2050 in the south-eastern dairy regions of Australia due to climate change.

Here we review the literature on the impact of climate change on pasture-based dairy systems with particular focus on extreme climatic events. We provide an insight into current methods for assessing and quantifying heat stress highlighting the impacts on pastures and animals including the associated potential productivity losses and conclude by outlining potential adaptation strategies for improving the resilience of the whole-farm systems to climate change. Adapting milking routines, calving systems and the introduction of heat stress tolerant dairy cow breeds are some proposed strategies. Changes in pasture production would also include alternative pasture species better adapted to climate extremes such as heat waves and prolonged periods of water deficit. In order to develop effective adaptation strategies we also need to focus on issues such as water availability, animal health and associated energy costs.


Department of Agriculture


Publication title

Crop and Pasture Science










Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA)


CSIRO Publishing

Place of publication


Rights statement

Copyright 2017 CSIRO

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Dairy cattle