Frequency of dehydration and metabolic depletion in cattle and water buffalo transported from India to a livestock market in Bangladesh
The effects of presumed long distance transport on blood parameters were examined in cattle and water buffalo exported from India to Bangladesh. The aim was to assess the welfare of the animals in terms of the frequency of dehydration, metabolic depletion and muscle injury or activation, when they reached their destination. The physiological indicators were total plasma protein, serum sodium, plasma glucose, serum non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA) and serum creatine kinase (CK). Ninety-eight cattle and 57 water buffalo were randomly selected from 24 trucks as they arrived at the market between 0700 and 1000h each day during the hot season (April). In the majority of animals, all five blood variables were higher than published normal values. In all the cattle, total plasma protein concentration, serum NEFA concentration and serum CK activity were higher than the normal range and these values were higher than normal in over 84% of the buffalo. Seventy-two percent of all the animals were hypernatraemic. About 90% of the buffalo and 86% of the cattle were hyperglycaemic. There were no differences in total plasma protein and serum sodium between cattle and water buffalo. By contrast, cattle had significantly higher NEFA and CK and lower glucose than water buffalo. It was evident that this long distance export trade was associated with dehydration, lipolysis and muscle injury or activation. It is recommended that both cattle and water buffalo are given adequate feed and water whenever they are off-loaded from vehicles during the course of journeys.
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