Journal of animal science, October 2011, Vol.89(10), pp.3272-85
The present study evaluated whether feed deprivation can increase reactivity to stressful events, such as those that can occur at slaughter. Therefore, effects of 30 h of feed deprivation on behavior, including reactions to psychological stressors, and physiological status in cattle were determined. Sixteen Holstein cows (Exp. 1) and 32 Holstein heifers (Exp. 2) were either fed (FE) or 30-h feed deprived (FD). Throughout the first day of feed deprivation and during evening feed distribution to control animals, FD heifers and cows were more active than controls (P 〈 0.05). In Exp. 1, during a feeding test, in response to a sudden air blast arising from the bucket from which the cow was feeding, FD cows showed a longer latency to return to feed (P = 0.0002), spent less time in the bucket air blast zone (P = 0.008) and less time motionless (P = 0.03), and tended to withdraw over a longer distance (P = 0.07) than FE cows. In Exp. 2, during a reactivity test, FD heifers spent more (P = 0.0001) time motionless in response to social isolation than FE heifers. In Exp. 2, one-half of the FE and FD heifers were subjected to an additional physical and psychological stressor just before the reactivity test by driving them for 5 min through a labyrinth. Within heifers subjected to the additional stressor, FD heifers were less accepting of being detained (P = 0.05) and stroked (P = 0.003) by a familiar stockperson in a corner of the test arena. Compared with FE animals, FD heifers and FD cows had greater plasma cortisol concentrations (P 〈 0.05). Feed-deprived cows also had reduced β-hydroxybutyrate concentrations (P = 0.02) compared with FE cows. Thus, in cattle, FD influenced some of the classical indicators of energy metabolism and exacerbated reactivity to sudden events. In addition, when additional stressors were applied, FD cattle were more reluctant to accept handling. Results indicate that a multifactorial origin of stressors during the slaughter period may synergistically increase psychological stress of cattle.
Behavior, Animal -- Physiology ; Cattle -- Physiology ; Food Deprivation -- Physiology
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