Relationship between different livestock managements and stress response in dairy ewes

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Abstract

The gradual diffusion of intensive and semi-intensive production systems, especially in dairy sheep breeds, has led to the growing concern of consumers about the life conditions of farmed animals. Space allowance and structures of sheep houses are described as the main potential sources of discomfort for housed flocks, together with inappropriate milking procedures and human-animal interactions. The aim of the present study was to evaluate whether the structure relative to milking room could represent a stressor in Sarda dairy ewes. Animals were divided into two groups according to their farm of origin. Group A (n Combining double low line 40) was from a farm whose milking room was an old warehouse with a waiting area limited and located outdoors and at a different level with respect to the milking room. The passageway of the entrance in the milking room was narrow and perpendicular to the milking positioning so the animal must bend 90° to enter in the room. Group B (n Combining double low line 40) was from a farm whose milking room was wide and modern with a large waiting area located at the same level. From all animals blood samples were collected at T0 (2 h before milking procedure at 06:00), at T1 (immediately after the animals entered the milking room, about 08:00) and at T2 (after milking procedure). In addition plasma cortisol and glucose values were evaluated. Statistical analysis showed significant effect of milking room (P < 0.001) and of sampling time (P < 0.05) on cortisol and glucose levels. The results obtained in the present study suggest that, in addition to milking, the characteristics of the room where this procedure occurs represent stressful stimuli that could influence negatively the productivity and welfare of dairy ewes.

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Carcangiu, V., Arfuso, F., Luridiana, S., Giannetto, C., Rizzo, M., Paolo Bini, P., & Piccione, G. (2018). Relationship between different livestock managements and stress response in dairy ewes. Archives Animal Breeding, 61(1), 37–41. https://doi.org/10.5194/aab-61-37-2018

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