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Changes in heart rate, plasma cortisol and haematocrit of sheep during a shearing procedure

By A. L. Hargreaves, G. D. Hutson

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Abstract

Nine Merino wethers were individually subjected to a series of 8 handling treatments of increasing complexity, culminating in partial shearing. The treatments were control, separation from other sheep, isolation, human presence, blood sampling, up-ending, exposure to shearing noise, and wool removal. Heart rate was recorded before, during and for 60 minutes after each treatment. Shearing was the only treatment which elevated heart rate significantly above pre-treatment values. Blood samples were taken before and after isolation in human presence, exposure to shearing noise, and wool removal. Haematocrit and plasma cortisol both increased significantly after shearing, but not after isolation. The response to shearing noise alone was less pronounced than to the actual wool removal. It is concluded that wool removal is more stressful than any of the other manipulations involved in the conventional system of shearing.

Date 1990
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 26
Issue 1-2
Pages 91-101
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Language English
Author Address Animal Production Section, School of Agriculture and Forestry, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Vic 3052., Australia.
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Tags
  1. Animal diseases
  2. Animal husbandry
  3. Animal physiology
  4. Blood
  5. Clipping
  6. Cortisol
  7. Fleecing
  8. Hematocrit
  9. Hormones
  10. Hydrocortisone
  11. Mammals
  12. peer-reviewed
  13. shearing
  14. Sheep
  15. Stress
  16. Wool
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  1. peer-reviewed