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Effects of a 15h Journey Followed by Either I2h Starvation Orad Libitum Hay on the Behaviour and Blood Chemistry of Sheep

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In a 2x2 factorial design, (n=6) sheep were either transported by road for 15h or kept in their home pens, and then either starved for 12h with access to water or offered hay and libitum, with access to water. All groups were offered hay and water 12h after transport. Behavioural observations and measurements of dehydration and feed restriction were made before, during, and for 24h post-transport, to evaluate the implications of these procedures for the welfare of sheep.

After the journey, the immediate priority for the sheep was to eat. Consumption of hay increased water intake and reduced the time spent lying down. The plasma cortisol concentration was greater in sheep which had been starved during the 12h post-transport period, than in those offered hay during this time; and the plasma free fatty acid concentration was greater in sheep which had been transported than in those which had not. Although transported sheep kept without hay during the first 12h post-transport drank more water than those which had not been transported, the mean time before they drank was greater than 7h. During the transport period, there was less lying behaviour in transported sheep than in non-transported sheep but transported sheep did not lie down more post-transport than non-transported ones. This work suggests that sheep should be offered both feed and water after a 15h journey. However, when feed was not available after a 15h journey, drinking and resting did not appear to be immediate priorities.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1999-05-01

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