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Animal Defenders International

The science on suffering: Travelling (3)

Posted: 17 May 2006

2.2.2 Cattle

Transport is thought to be one of the most potent stressors for cattle (Fazio et al., 2005). Stressors involved in the transportation of cattle result in: altered nutritional status and animal behaviour, reduced body weight gain, feed consumption, and immune function, and increased mortality (Coffey, 2001).

  • Long term transportation in cattle has been found to increase secretion of ACTH (adrenocorticotropin), a hormonal regulator of immune responsiveness, and therefore exert a negative effect on the immune system. When the cattle are ‘rested’ and fed on board their transporter when it is stationary, their ACTH levels remain high and are only reduced when the cattle are removed from the truck and rested and fed in stalls for 24 hours (Dixit et al., 2001).
  • Transport stress induces an increase in the activity of thyroid and adrenal function in cattle that is evident after even short distance road transport and continues to increase after long distance transport (Fazio et al., 2005).

  • Studies have found that long term transportation in cattle results in an increase in heart rate and body temperature (Dixit et al., 2001).

2.2.3 Sheep

Transport compromises the welfare of sheep. Some studies have found experiences associated with loading to be particularly stressful.

  • There was an increase in core temperature in sheep after 2.5 hours of road transport (Parrot et al., 1999).
  • Sheep show heart rate and cortisol increases in response to transport (Baldock & Sibly, 1990., Cockram et al, 1996., Hall & Bradshaw, 1998).

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