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General Agriculture

Concepts of Adaptation and Acclimatization of Animal Production

When it comes to Animal Production, Due to the super-imposing influence of the environment on the survival, behavior, character (expressed as performance, productivity and responses) of farm animals, great consideration is often given to modifying the environment by livestock owner to ensure its suitability.

Equally of primary importance is the need for adaptation and acclimatization of the hereditary and physical features of the animal itself to the predominating environment if stock must survive under favorable and harsh environment conditions.

Adaptation and acclimatization of the animal to the environmental condition form the basis for any modification or adjustment required on the part of farmer to apply into the management system for survive and improved productivity of the stock. In other words, an animal must first and foremost undergo natural selection for survivals in an environed before improve growth, reproduction, and other productive traits can be contemplated.

By natural selection therefore, the genes favorable for survival in that environment interact interrelate, associate and coordinate with the environment to ensure the survival of the animal.

This condition is known as adaptive norm which is an array of related genotype capable of adjusting to demands of the environment. It embodies heterosis, adaptive polymorphism and homeostasis. From the genetic point in view, fitness is the ability to produce offspring which will survive and produce their likes .Thus a biologically fit population is one that is capable of adapting to its environment in such a way that it can survive and reproduce.

The fitness of animal includes more than their ability to survive but also to withstand the demands of future environment. These criteria of fitness or ability will depend on adaptation variability, stability and rate of environmental change. It is important to note that while domestication improves on all criteria of fitness, diseases negate and reduce fitness to almost nil.

It may be deduced from the foregoing that living system not only respond to the environment but also control and regulate their reactions towards environmental effect. This is the concept of homeostasis.

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Homeostasis in Animal Production

Homeostasis is the constancy of the internal environment of an animal and the mechanism by which such constancy is maintained. It involves regulation of many internal body variables as temperature, Pᴴ, salt, water content, nutrient and chemical composition etc. mammals and birds that occupy the highest evolutionary scale, possess the greatest regulatory capacity and regulate the greatest number of internal factors with the best precision through a deployment of appropriate physiological adaptation and compensation.

Physiological Adaptation in Animal Production

Any change in internal condition of an organism which favors its survival during changes in the environment is known as physiological adaptation. Physiological adaptation involves the possession mechanisms and capacity that allow organism to adjust itself to other living organisms and to external physical environment. Physiological adaptation may manifest as acclimatization, acclimation habituation, learning and conditioning.

Acclimatization: Acclimatization refers to a long term adaptive physiological adjustment which results in an increased tolerance to continuous or repeated exposure to complex climatic conditions occurring under natural condition.

Acclimation:  Acclimation refers to adaptive changes to a single climatic variable normally produces in an artificial environment e.g. increasing temperature in a climatic chamber.

Habituation: Habituation is a gradual change which may lead to a loss of response as a result of repeated stimulation.

Learning: Learning is the acquisition of a new response or a qualitative change of an existing response which may be inform of inhibition or increase of an existing response by a new stimulation.

Conditioning: Conditioning is the transfer of an existing response of new stimulus. Besides physiological adaptation, other forms of adaptations in organisms include biological and genetic adaptation.

Concepts of Adaptation and Acclimatization of Animal Production

Biological Adaptation in Animal Production

Biological adaptation involves the morphological, anatomical, physiological, biochemical and behavioral characteristic of animal which promote welfare and favors survival in a specific environment.

Read More: Indirect Effects of Climate on Animal Production

Genetic Adaptation in Animal Production

Genetic adaptation refers to the heritable animal characteristics, which favor the survival of population in a particular environment; such favorable characters are derived from evolutionary changes over many generations.

It is important to note that individual animal has limit to its ability to regulate its reaction according to genetic make-up. Animal has a defined range of environment variation within it can live. This is referred to as Zone or Range of Tolerance, beyond which the animal will exhibit some resistance, suffer some damage, and eventually succeed. The Zone or Range of tolerance has upper and lower limits at either ends also known as Upper and Lower Incident level at which death occurs.

The micro-climatic environment has the most profound influence on animal production, physiology and behavior. It is determined by such meteorological factors as: air temperature, air pressure, relative humidity of air, wind density and air density as well as radiation (defined as the heating and cooling of the atmospheric air).

Man can modify his micro-climate by building houses, offices, traveling in cars, planes, ships, wearing clothes etc. animal on the other hand modify the micro-climate by burrowing or moving into or from these meteorological factors in searching of warmth, cold or calm.

The behavioral entrance or escape from inclement meteorological condition is, however, limited in providing the required optimum body condition at all times. The primary means by which animal control, or response to variations in the meteorological factors, and thereby maintain it body condition, is through the flow of energy or total energy exchange between the animal and environment.

Energy is the ability to do work. It is regarded biologically as the source of the life and movement. All life process involves in one way or other the expenditure of energy through work. An animal cannot continuously gain or loss energy to the environment, otherwise it will die. Thu animal tolerance energy gain or losses from their immediate environment only within certain in the Zone or Range of Tolerance.

An animal exchange its energy with its environment (micro-climate) through radiation, convention, condition, evaporation and metabolism. The pathways of energy flow are many and characterized by direct interaction between animal and its environment. In order to survive in a given environment over a long period of time, the energy gain of an animal must be equal to energy loss.

The energy balance of an animal is therefore expressed as:

Ra – Re ± Cv ± Cd ± Ev ± Mh = 0 (thermo-neutrality)


Ra = Radiation absorbed

Re = Radiation emitted

Cv = Convection

Cd = Conduction

Ev = Evaporation

Mg = Metabolic heat

NB: The positive signs represent gain of energy and the negative signs depict loss of energy. After a long term, the total must add up to zero, but within a short period there can be loss or gain of energy while an animal is cooling down or warming up.

Related: The Concept of Animal Energy Balance in the Physical Environment

Modes of Energy Transfer in Animal Production

1) Radiation: Radiation is a form of energy transfer in wavelength by electromagnetic waves. Radiant energy is ubiquitous (i.e. found everywhere) and is emitted from all objects whenever the surface temperature of the object exceeds absolute zero. Energy loss by radiation is one of the primary sources of heat loss by animal.

Objects at ambient temperature (23-25°C) radiate mostly infrared rays at long wavelength and beyond. Objects at very high temperature e.g. the sun radiate shorter wavelength in the ultraviolet and blue region. The amount of energy radiated is proportional to the 4th power of the surface temperature in absolute degree i.e.

Ea T°⁴

E =  δ T°⁴

Where δ = Stetan  – Boltzman Constant

            E = Total radiated /M²/S

            T = Temperature (Absolute) of surface radiation


           E = e δ T⁴

Where = Emissivity

Radiation in the natural environment is derived from 2- main source: High temperature of the sun (direct source) and the extended source which is the thermal radiation from the ground, trees clouds or atmosphere. An animal exposed to direct solar radiation, absorbs certain quantity of incident energy depending on the surface.

The absorbance of the surface determines the greatest percentage of the incident radiation absorbed. An animal with a black body surface absorbs all the incident energy and its body temperature is such more affected by the quantity of radiation falling on its surface.

2) Conduction: When an object is in contact with another, molecular motion can be transferred from one object to another by a process of bombardment similar to diffusion activity. Such transfer to molecular motion is known as thermal conduction.

Air for example, is a poor thermal conductor while water is a good one. Conduction however occurs only from regions of higher to region of lower temperature. It is only the heat that is transferred and not the material.

3) Convection: This is a special form of heat transfer by conduction. It occurs where the surrounding medium is fluid e.g. air or water. Upon increase in temperature air or water rises due to its decreasing density (becoming less dense) and the layer of fluid next to the warm object is replaced by another mass of cooler (more dense) fluid. The exchange of energy by convection is proportional to.

  1. Surface area
  2. Temperature differential between animal surface and free air beyond the boundary layer
  3. Convection coefficient

C a A (Ts – Tc)

C = hcA (Ts – Tc)

Where hc = Coefficient of convection which depends on thermal conductivity and thickness of the boundary.

A = Surface area

Ts – Tc = Temperature differential between animal surface and free air beyond the boundary layer.

The Boundary layer plays an important role in maintaining body temperature. The concept of Boundary Layer is given as: just immediately to the surface of the animal is a bound layer of air which is more or less stationary and it is the transfer zone between the integument temperature (skin temperature) and temperature of the free air beyond boundary  layer.

 As it is already known heat is always transferred along the temperature gradient occur between the surface temperature of animal and air temperature of short distance away from the surface. The rate of heat conduction across the boundary layer is dependent on:

  • The thickness of the layer
  • The temperature differential between the skin and fluid
  • The thermal conductivity of the fluid
  • Movement or stillness of air

Transfer of energy across the boundary in animal production involves two methods: by molecular conduction across boundary layer and into the free air and by mass movement of air. Natural convection occurs when there is to wind or free air while forced convection occurs when there is wind to transfer energy  

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Benadine Nonye is an agricultural consultant and a writer with several years of professional experience in the agriculture industry. - National Diploma in Agricultural Technology - Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science - Master's Degree in Science Education - PhD Student in Agricultural Economics and Environmental Policy... Visit My Websites On: 1. - Your Comprehensive Practical Agricultural Knowledge and Farmer’s Guide Website! 2. - For Effective Environmental Management through Proper Waste Management and Recycling Practices! Join Me On: Twitter: @benadinenonye - Instagram: benadinenonye - LinkedIn: benadinenonye - YouTube: Agric4Profits TV and WealthInWastes TV - Pinterest: BenadineNonye4u - Facebook: BenadineNonye

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