In 7 experiments, cattle of different sex classes (bulls, steers, and cows), age (2-10 years), and breed (Angus, Hereford, and Braford) were subjected, one at a time, to restraint by a standard squeeze chute (cattle crush) or a novel 'breeding box' in order to compare each method's effects on heart rate and cortisol. The breeding box held 2 cattle in adjacent stalls and was covered with plywood to limit outside disturbances and light. The cattle were held in either the squeeze chute or the breeding box for 3 min while 5 heart rate samples were recorded at 0.5, 1, 1.5, and 2.5 min after entering the treatment; in 4 of the experiments, one tail vein blood sample was taken at 3 min for plasma cortisol analysis. In one of the experiments, heart rate responses were greater for the chute restrained cows than for the cows restrained in the breeding box. In a second experiment, cortisol response was also greater for the chute restrained cows than for the cows restrained in the breeding box. No differences were found for cortisol and heart rate responses in the other five experiments. Because breed, sex, and age were consistent between four of the experiments, data were combined and the results indicate that mean plasma cortisol concentrations were greater for the squeeze chute treatment than for breeding box, but no differences were found for heart rate. Angus cattle tended to have greater mean plasma cortisol concentrations than Hereford cattle for the combined experiments. The Angus cattle also had greater rates than the Hereford cattle in one experiment. The results from this research indicate that restraining cattle in a breeding box that was new to them was as stressful as being restrained in a squeeze chute in which they had been subjected to routine production producers. The stress resulting from being restrained in a new breeding box when cattle are artificially bred may contribute to the variable conception rates reported by ranchers.
|Publication Title||Applied Animal Behaviour Science|
|Author Address||Department of Animal Science, Texas A & M University and Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, College Station, TX 77843, USA.|
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