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Environmental Physiology

The climate climate of any place is the condition of the weather over a long period. Weather is the day to day condition of the atmosphere. Climatic factors include rainfall, temperature, pressure, wind, humidity and sunlight. The main climatic factors which affect crop and animal husbandry in West Africa are rainfall, temperature, light and wind.

These climatic factors polarize major farm animals into regions of production for maximum performance.

Effects of Climate on Growth Of Animals

In west Africa there is marked variation in the climatic condition from one region to another. The equatorial region is characterized by high temperature and heavy rainfall throughout the year. Here, thick evergreen forest develop. Further north of the equator that is the savanna region, there is high temperature, low rainfall and low relative humidity. The vegetation here ranges from rain-forest to savanna grassland. High temperature, high rainfall and high sunshine present a harsh environmental condition for farm animals to thrive in. Growth rate of farm animal in such condition is hampered and a reduction in the size of the animals. Climatic factors play a great role in the reduced size of farm animals indigenous to West African dwarf goat, pig and local breeds of poultry. The breeds of these animals from the temperate regions are usually bigger and growth  rate is more rapid due to the more favorable climatic conditions there.

Effect on Reproduction

Although different animals tolerate wide range of temperature, there are optimum range for reproduction. Excessive temperature can cause abortion in farm animals and high mortality rate. The cool shady forest belt of West Africa provides good condition to animal that dislike heat such as pigs. However, the forest zone is pervaded by sleeping sickness, transmitted by tsetse fly, which render this area uninhabitable by most breeds of goats, sheep and cows.

Effect on Milk Production

The West African dwarf cow, goat or sheep are low in milk production and this is attributable among other factors to climatic conditions of the area. High temperature brings about a reduction in body functions in lactating animals in low milk production.

Effect on Egg Production

An increase in environmental temperature leads to a reduction in food intake by laying birds. Consequently, at high ambient temperature a reduction occurs in the number of eggs produced by laying hens. The effect of high ambient temperature on physiology of the birds results in a reduction in egg weight. When considering the effect of tropical temperature on poultry it is important not just to take into account average annual temperature but seasonal and diurnal variation and also the modifying effect of air, humidity and wind speed. Another important factor that affect laying birds is the day length. All breeding poultry are influenced by changes in day length but the effect is more important on laying hen and to some extent for the turkey and the duck. Increase in day length stimulate an increase in egg production while shorter day length can result in a cessation of production and to the birds molting.

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