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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2012

Effect of Transport Time and Handling on Physiological Responses of Cattle

Gebresenbet, Girma; Wikner, Isabelle; Bobobee, Emmanuel; Maria, Gustavo; Villaroel, Morris


The objective of this work was to determine the effect of transport time (up to 11 hours) on animal welfare. 540 animals(cows, bulls and calves), three transport times of 2, 4 to 6, and 10 to11 hours, and two space allowances (2 m2 and 1.5 m2 per animalfor cows and bulls; and 1.2 m2 and 0.8 m2 per animal for calves) were used for the experiment during transport from farms to theabattoir in Uppsala, Sweden. Measurements were made on five animals on each trip. Stress response parameters considered werecortisol, glucose, lactate, creatine kinase and heart rate. Blood samples were taken before and after transport. Heart rate sensors weremounted on the animals at least 30 minutes before loading and measurements were made continuously from farms to the abattoirsuntil stunning. The results of heart rate measurement indicated that loading, un-loading and forced movement in the stunning boxwere the most stressful events. However, the results of statistical analysis confirmed that transport time doesn't have significanteffect (P ≤ 0.05) on heart rate. Concentration level of cortisol increased by 10 folds during short transport. However, cortisolconcentration decreased with an increase of transport times (P ≤ 0.01). Glucose concentrations increased with transport time in allanimal categories (P ≤ 0.01). Transport time has significant effect on concentration levels of glucose (P ≤ 0.01), creatine kinase (P ≤0.001) and lactate (P ≤ 0.01) particularly after 6 hours journey time.


Transport time, cattle, welfare, physiological parameters

Published in

Journal of agricultural science and technology. A
2012, Volume: 2, number: 6A, pages: 800-814