Effect of a maximum permissible journey time (31 h) on physiological responses of fleeced and shorn sheep to transport, with observations on behaviour during a short (1 h) rest-stop

Parrott, Bob and Hall, Stephen and Lloyd, David and Goode, Janet and Broom, Don (1998) Effect of a maximum permissible journey time (31 h) on physiological responses of fleeced and shorn sheep to transport, with observations on behaviour during a short (1 h) rest-stop. Animal Science, 66 (1). pp. 197-207. ISSN 1357-7298

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Abstract

Concern for the welfare of export lambs during long-distance road transport has prompted much research and a recommended change in procedure. The latter envisages an absolute maximum journey time of 31 h and includes a rest-stop (minimum duration 1 h) for feeding and watering. In the present experiment, the physiological and behavioural responses to this new protocol have been investigated in fleeced and shorn lambs (no. = 10 per group) provided with venous catheters and heart rate monitors. The two groups were loaded on a vehicle into separate adjacent pens and driven for 14 h; then unloaded into a lairage, where their behaviour was recorded. After 1 h they were reloaded and driven for a further 15•5 h, finally arriving at a slaughterhouse where carcass condition was evaluated. Blood samples collected at 30- or 60-min intervals by experimenters travelling with the animals were analysed to determine haematocrit, plasma osmolality, plasma concentrations of glucose, creatinine phosphokinase (CPK), and the stress-responsive hormones, cortisol, prolactin, adrenaline and noradrenaline. The results showed that haematocrit increased after loading although the general trend during transport, as with osmolality, was a decline (P < 0•05). No significant changes in plasma glucose were detected but CPK increased in fleeced lambs after loading (P < 0•05). Cortisol release was stimulated by loading, especially in fleeced sheep (P < 0•001) but returned to home pen values within 6 h; heart rates changed in a similar manner. Transport did not markedly affect prolactin release although concentrations were consistently greater in fleeced sheep (P < 0•001). Noradrenaline, however, tended to be higher in shorn animals (P < 0•05). In lairage, both groups readily consumed hay, and especially concentrates, but the shorn lambs spent more time eating (P < 0•001). None of the shorn sheep, and only a few fleeced animals, drank water. There was no evidence for differences in weight loss between the two groups during the experiment and carcass quality at slaughter was within the normal expected range. The implications of these, and other related studies, for future transport policy are discussed, with particular reference to rest-stop duration and handling procedures.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Concern for the welfare of export lambs during long-distance road transport has prompted much research and a recommended change in procedure. The latter envisages an absolute maximum journey time of 31 h and includes a rest-stop (minimum duration 1 h) for feeding and watering. In the present experiment, the physiological and behavioural responses to this new protocol have been investigated in fleeced and shorn lambs (no. = 10 per group) provided with venous catheters and heart rate monitors. The two groups were loaded on a vehicle into separate adjacent pens and driven for 14 h; then unloaded into a lairage, where their behaviour was recorded. After 1 h they were reloaded and driven for a further 15•5 h, finally arriving at a slaughterhouse where carcass condition was evaluated. Blood samples collected at 30- or 60-min intervals by experimenters travelling with the animals were analysed to determine haematocrit, plasma osmolality, plasma concentrations of glucose, creatinine phosphokinase (CPK), and the stress-responsive hormones, cortisol, prolactin, adrenaline and noradrenaline. The results showed that haematocrit increased after loading although the general trend during transport, as with osmolality, was a decline (P < 0•05). No significant changes in plasma glucose were detected but CPK increased in fleeced lambs after loading (P < 0•05). Cortisol release was stimulated by loading, especially in fleeced sheep (P < 0•001) but returned to home pen values within 6 h; heart rates changed in a similar manner. Transport did not markedly affect prolactin release although concentrations were consistently greater in fleeced sheep (P < 0•001). Noradrenaline, however, tended to be higher in shorn animals (P < 0•05). In lairage, both groups readily consumed hay, and especially concentrates, but the shorn lambs spent more time eating (P < 0•001). None of the shorn sheep, and only a few fleeced animals, drank water. There was no evidence for differences in weight loss between the two groups during the experiment and carcass quality at slaughter was within the normal expected range. The implications of these, and other related studies, for future transport policy are discussed, with particular reference to rest-stop duration and handling procedures.
Keywords:animal welfare, sheep
Subjects:D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D328 Animal Welfare
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:5670
Deposited By: Stephen Hall
Deposited On:24 May 2012 06:29
Last Modified:02 Sep 2014 09:21

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