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Interpretive Summary: Development of adaptability of foreign breeds of water buffalo in Philippine tropical climate

By: Excel Rio S Maylem, Gerald E Ramos, Shanemae M Rivera, Edwin C Atabay, and Eufrocina P Atabay

Heat stress disturbs the body’s normal behavioral, immunological, and physiological functions through direct and indirect actions facilitated by alterations in energy balance. Overall, heat stress impairs animal productivity.

Indigenous and native livestock breeds are the hardiest due to their ability to cope and remain productive in harsh environments. Hence, different breeds have different adaptive potentials. Thermotolerance is primarily owed to physiological and genetic adaptations. Domestic buffaloes in Brazil are naturally selected for adaptation to local climatic conditions such as high temperature and humidity and high direct solar radiation. In contrast, breeds of buffaloes from India and southern Asia can adapt to hot, humid areas of muddy and swampy lands. Albeit heat stress, native breeds maintain their reproductive potential since they have smaller body sizes than larger and exotic breeds with bigger bodies and higher energy requirements.

Using technological devices to monitor animals’ responses to extreme heat can help increase productivity efficiency and contribute to comfort and welfare. Further, genetic selection and breeding heat tolerant to highly productive breeds have gained importance worldwide. Thus, aside from physiological responses, thermotolerant genetic markers are essential in identifying adaptability for future productivity.

In the Philippines, water buffalo farmers are highly aware of the climate change impacts on their animals and are doing small adaptation strategies to sustain production and maintain their income (Escarcha et al., 2018). Thus, efforts should be developed to produce thermotolerant breeds of buffaloes for climate-resilient animal production. Therefore, the adaptability of foreign breeds of buffaloes in different environmental conditions is inevitable to maintain their productivity and overall welfare.

Read the full article in Animal Frontiers.