Stress response in dairy cows related to rectal examination

  • Cingi C
  • Baser D
  • Karafakioglu Y
 et al. 
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Background: Currently, rectal palpation is the cheapest and most
convenient method which is using for detecting most of internal
diseases, gynecologic conditions and artificial inseminations in dairy
cows. However, rectal palpation procedure is probably painful, resulting
in physiological and behavioral stress reactions. The life and metabolic
activity can be affected by the oxidative stress which is one of the
stress-related negative outcomes and characterized by the accumulation
of radical oxygen species. Many factors such as stress, diet,
antibiotics and husbandry practices effect animals' health and growth
performance. The aim of the study was emphasized to the effects of
rectal palpation related to stress response and oxidant/antioxidant
status in dairy cows.
Materials, Methods & Results: The study was conducted on ten 3-4 years
old, non-pregnant Holstein dairy cows. The rectal palpation procedure
was performed in a closed area using the traditional method. Blood
samples were taken from each animal, an hour before and just after the
rectal palpation procedure for detecting white blood cell, red blood
cell, hemoglobin levels, hematocrit value, total antioxidant status,
total oxidant status and nitric oxide, glucose and total cholesterol
levels, as well as the plasma cortisol concentrations. WBC, RBC, Hct and
Hb values were measured from whole blood by using an automatic blood
count device. Plasma TAS and TOS levels were determined using a
commercially available kit. Nitric oxide decomposes rapidly in aerated
solutions to form stable nitrite/nitrate products. Plasma
nitrite/nitrate concentration was measured by a modified method of
Griess assay. Plasma cortisol concentrations were determined using an
ELISA kit. Glucose and total cholesterol levels were analyzed in serum
by using an auto-analyzer. White blood cell levels and hematocrit values
were significantly increased just after the rectal palpation procedure
compared to the baseline values (P < 0.05) whereas no significant
difference was found in red blood cell levels and hemoglobin
concentrations. Serum cholesterol concentrations have decreased after
rectal palpation, serum glucose and cortisol concentrations have
significantly and markedly increased (P < 0.05), the relevant variation
factors were 13.41% and 23.26% respectively. Moreover, a remarkable
and significant increase in the circulating TOS compared to the baseline
values (P < 0.05 variation factor 31.78%) was observed after rectal
palpation. In parallel, the nitric oxide concentrations were also
significantly increased after rectal palpation procedure (P < 0.05
variation factor: 13.51%) On the other hand, the total plasma
antioxidant status was depressed and the variation intensity remained
weak (variation factor: -7.24%).
Discussion: In the present study the results indicate that the rectal
palpation procedure will be considered as a stressful condition, as
evidenced by the strong increases in circulating cortisol, TOS and NOx
concentrations associated with decreases in TAS concentrations. In
addition, increased plasma cortisol concentrations in response to rectal
palpation could be an additional factor responsible for the oxidative
stress amplification. A more comprehensive identification of the
physiological changes during rectal palpation could be beneficial for
further researches in terms of accurate management practices in cattle
practices and industry. Moreover, the determination of the oxidative
stress parameters could provide novel approaches for the evaluation the
stress in cattle.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Cortisol
  • Dairy cow
  • Rectal palpation
  • Total antioxidant status
  • Total oxidant status

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  • PUI: 365941397
  • SGR: 84868031931
  • SCOPUS: 2-s2.0-84868031931
  • ISSN: 16780345


  • Cenker Cagri Cingi

  • Durmus Fatih Baser

  • Yasemin Sunucu Karafakioglu

  • Abdurrahman Fatih Fidan

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