As many as 25 percent of livestock worldwide are lost annually because of heat stress or lack of water. Iowa State University researchers believe a solution lies in one of the hottest, driest areas on earth.

Max Rothschild, co-director of the Iowa State University-led Global Food Security Consortium, is leading a research project to study goats, sheep, and camels in Egypt. His team will be able to decipher which genes cause these animals to thrive in the hot, dry Egyptian climate.

Rothschild believes the studies will allow breeders to introduce genes to improve the stress tolerances for livestock in other parts of the world, including southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa where large livestock species are rare and where famine is a common threat to the population. It can have huge implications for swine and poultry producers in North America, who also suffer extensive losses during heat waves.

“There is a lot of work to do. Feeding the human population with small ruminants is very important,” he said.