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Project Description

Pigs and poultry are predominantly kept in confined livestock buildings in Austria. By modelling the relationship between animals, building, and the ventilation system, the indoor thermal climate, air quality, and airborne emissions will be simulated. The simulation of the indoor climate (thermal parameters and air quality) for the confined livestock houses for poultry and pigs are driven by the meteorological parameters. Therefore two time periods, a reference (1985-2010) and the future dataset (2036-2065), are selected to setup the outdoor parameters with a temporal resolution of one hour on the basis of climate models. These calculations will be performed for two model areas with high density of pig and poultry farms in Upper Austria (Wels) and in Styria (Feldbach). By the simulation model of the indoor climate of the livestock buildings the environmental situation of the animals and the effectiveness to reduce heat stress for animals will be evaluated to increase the resilience of livestock husbandry.

The heat stress of animals can be assessed by animal specific thermal indices which can be used to estimate animal welfare. Animal performance will be expressed by daily weight gain, feed conversion, laying performance, mortality etc. The environmental impact can be assessed by the annual emission rate of NH3 and odour. The management of livestock offers a wide range of control measures like feeding strategies, adaptation of the animal density, high pressure fogging, evaporative cooling, earth-air heat exchange tubes, inverting the diurnal pattern (resting during daytime, feeding during night-time), and selecting more adapted breeds.

Results on the biometeorological and biological processes – i.e. climate change impacts and adaptation effects – feed into bio-economic farm models. These models are developed for representative farms in both case study regions. The resilience of farm enterprises is determined mainly by their economic performance. Farmers will play a crucial role in the livestock value chain when it comes to climate change adaptation. Based on the model results, impacts and adaptation effects can be valued monetarily. The project will reveal optimal management and investment decisions subject to animal welfare standards.