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.
|Publication Title||Applied Animal Behaviour Science|
|Author Address||Animal Production Section, School of Agriculture and Forestry, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Vic. 3052, Australia.|
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