Journal of Animal Behaviour and Biometeorology
Journal of Animal Behaviour and Biometeorology
Review Article Open Access

Physiological adaptability of livestock to heat stress: an updated review

Veettiparambil Pandarathil Rashamol, Veerasamy Sejian, Madiajagan Bagath, Govindan Krishnan, Payyanakkal Ravindranathan Archana, Raghavendra Bhatta

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Climate change associated heat stress was established to be the crucial factor, which negatively influences animal production. The animals possess several adaptive mechanisms which are helpful for their survival in harsh environmental conditions, but while doing so their productive performances are compromised. Among the various mechanisms, which helps to maintain homeostasis in animals, Physiological adaptability was considered one of the primary response mechanisms by which the heat stressed animals survive the heat stress. This review is therefore an attempt to provide the audience an updated review on the subject to signify the importance of physiological responses in animals and their role in surviving the stressful environment.  Respiration rate (RR), pulse rate (PR), rectal temperature (RT), sweating rate (SR) and skin temperature (ST) are the cardinal physiological variables which helps to maintain the heat balance and homeostasis in the stressed animals. Among the various physiological variables, RR, RT and ST were established to be ideal indicators for quantifying heat stress in several farm animals. Therefore, these variables can be effectively used to assess the severity of heat stress in livestock. Although these variables are considered significant in establishing the heat stress impact in animals, a wide genetic variation was also established in these response mechanisms. Further, variations in physiological adaptability were also established between indigenous, cross bred and pure bred animals. The indigenous livestock breeds were tipped to be exhibiting less physiological variability as compared to their counterparts. These discussions vividly indicate the importance of studying in detail the physiological adaptive mechanisms in different farm animals and these efforts can help the farming community to identify the suitable agro-climatic zone specific livestock breeds which can go in long way to help to ensure climate resilient livestock production.


adaptation, climate change, heat stress, respiration rate, rectal temperature, skin temperature


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