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Effects of freeze or hot-iron branding of Angus calves on some physiological and behavioural indicators of stress

By D. C. Lay, T. H. Friend, K. K. Grissom, C. L. Bowers, M. E. Mal

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Twenty-four Angus calves averaging 293 +or- 38 kg either hot-iron branded (H), freeze branded (F), or served as a sham (S). Calves were grouped for temperament, weight, and sex, and randomly assigned to day and order in which treatments were applied. To reduce stress from handling at treatment time, each calf was herded through the squeeze chute for 5 days before the experiment. Jugular cannulae were established in each calf 1 day before application of treatment. Blood samples and heart rate were obtained at -5 and -3 min before and 0, 0.5, 1, 3, 5, 10, 15 and 20 min after calves were branded on the hip. Mean plasma cortisol concentration increased for all treatments during the sampling times. Mean plasma epinephrine concentration was greater for H calves at 0.5 min after branding either S or F calves. Hot-iron branded calves had greater mean heart rate during branding and 30 s post-branding than either S or F calves. The escape-avoidance reaction of H calves, quantified as the amount of vertical movement the calf exhibited during banding, was also greater than either the F or S calves. Five H calves, 4 F calves and 0 S calves vocalized during treatment. The greater escape-avoidance reaction as well as the elevated heart rate and plasma epinephrine concentration of the H calves indicate that a greater pain sensation is perceived by hot-iron branded Angus cattle.

Date 1992
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 33
Issue 2-3
Pages 137-147
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Language English
Author Address Department of Animal Science, Texas A & M University and Texas Agricultiral Experiment Station, College Station, TX 77843, USA.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Adrenal glands
  2. Animal behavior
  3. Animal diseases
  4. Animal husbandry
  5. Animal injuries
  6. Branding
  7. Cattle
  8. Epinephrine
  9. Freezing
  10. Glucocorticoids
  11. identification
  12. Mammals
  13. peer-reviewed
  14. Stress
  1. peer-reviewed