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The stress response in sheep during routine handling procedures

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

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Five routine handling treatments (shearing, crutching, drenching, dipping and drafting) were imposed on groups of 30 Merino wethers. Haematocrit and plasma cortisol were measured as an indication of the physiological stress response. Both parameters were significantly elevated after shearing compared with untreated sheep, but had declined to basal levels 90 minutes after treatment, when the final blood sample was taken. By comparison, the response to crutching was not as great, and the return of basal levels of haematocrit was more rapid. Drafting resulted in an increase in plasma cortisol, but not haematocrit. There was a transient and equivocal rise in response to dipping, and no change in either indicator after drenching. It is concluded that sheep perceive shearing, crutching and drafting as more stressful than drenching and dipping.

Date 1990
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 26
Issue 1-2
Pages 83-90
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Language English
Author Address Animal Production Section, School of Agriculture and Forestry, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Vic. 3052, Australia.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal diseases
  3. Animal husbandry
  4. Animal physiology
  5. Blood
  6. Cortisol
  7. Fleecing
  8. Glucocorticoids
  9. Handling
  10. Hormones
  11. Hydrocortisone
  12. Mammals
  13. peer-reviewed
  14. shearing
  15. Sheep
  16. Stress
  1. peer-reviewed