A recent article published by Nature Food predicted that rising temperatures are set to affect lambing rates and birth weights in sheep flocks in Australia.

The research shows that in locations that are semi-arid, arid, and tropical, animals are particularly prone to heat stress during important stages of their reproductive cycle.

Currently heat stress is considered to lead to 2.1m less lambs each year. Researchers at the University of Adelaide state that this number could rise to 3.3m less lambs if temperatures reach three degrees warmer.

As stated in the article: “Thermal environment is the largest single stressor affecting the development, growth and reproduction of sheep, especially those managed in extensive pasture-based systems typical of Australia and other countries including China, India, Nigeria, Sudan and Iran,"

According to researchers at South Australian Research and Development Institute and the Government of South Australia, heat stress during tupping season already equates to nine percent less lambs, adding up to a loss of 97m lambs a year. There is potential for this to escalate to 14% fewer lambs as temperatures rise another three degrees meaning up to 166m less lambs born each year.

However, reproduction is not the only concern, as temperatures exceed three degrees lamb survival rates after weaning are likely to cost $184.67m US dollars in losses.