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Jul 17, 2013 10:58 AM by Elaine Sheridan

Climate change shrinking cattle according to study

Climate change could be shrinking cattle and rancher profits according to a new study by a researcher at Kansas State University.

The study says the reason for the lack of growth is that hotter weather will reduce protein in the soil and the plants that the animals eat. The study was done on bison that are different sizes in different regions. An average 7-year old bison bull in cooler South Dakota weighs 1900 pounds where a a similar bull in warmer Oklahoma only weighs 1300 pounds.

"If we take the difference we see in bison and how they're impacted by the climates, and apply that to cattle, the economic impact that we see is somewhere on the order of a billion dollars in lost income because of smaller animals, less weight for every one and a half degrees Fahrenheit increase in temperature," says researcher Joseph Crain with Kansas State University.

Craine says our climate is already 1-point-5 degrees warmer since 1895 and it's projected to heat up anywhere from 4 to 10 degrees fahrenheit in the next decade. That could mean a 3 to 4 billion dollar loss for the cattle industry.

 

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