We conducted a systematic literature review to document the scientific knowledge about climate change impacts and adaptation in livestock systems, and to identify research gaps. The analysis was built from the premise that livestock offers substantial opportunities for food security and sustainable development if adaptation to climate change is appropriated. In examining 126 suitable peer-reviewed publications we discovered five research gaps: (1) a lack of research in Asia and South America; (2) a lack of mutual investigation and linkages between impacts and adaptation; (3) a lack of emphasis on mixed crop-livestock systems; (4) a lack of emphasis on monogastric livestock; and (5) an underrepresentation of quantitative methods including yield impact models. The findings suggest that the research on climate change impacts and adaptation in livestock systems needs to move beyond certain geographical contexts and consider key vulnerability priorities, particularly from developing countries. It is pivotal that research begins to jointly look at climate change impacts and the livestock keepers’ adaptation to draw out policy implications and to effectively target support for impact-specific adaptation options. Only if such evidence is established, adaptation will be appropriated accordingly to the needs of the livestock sector, and provision for the growing demand of animal-based products will be secured.