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Effect of gradual transition from maternal to reconstituted milk on behavioural, endocrine and immune responses of lambs

By A. Sevi, F. Napolitano, D. Casamassima, G. Annicchiarico, T. Quarantelli, R. de Paola

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18-24 h after parturition, 20 Comisana lambs were separated from their dams and were subsequently offered a commercial milk substitute (Sub) or were subjected to a gradual transition from maternal to reconstituted milk over 10 days (Mix). Lambs had free access to milk for 3 h a day. A further 10 lambs remained with their dams and were suckled (control). At 21 days of age, all groups were supplemented with alfalfa hay and concentrates. In vivo cell-mediated immune response of lambs to phytoheamagglutinin percutaneous injection was evaluated at 5, 15 and 25 days of age. At 10 and 20 days of age, all lambs were subjected to 15 min isolation tests, during which latency time to move, duration of movement and number of bleats were recorded. Blood samples were collected immediately before and 15 and 60 min after the test. In addition, weight gains of all lambs and milk intakes of test lambs were recorded during the first 35 days at weekly intervals. The Sub group had a lower immune response (P<0.01) and, at 10 days of age, increased levels of plasma cortisol (P<0.001) as well as a reduced duration of movement (P<0.001) and a longer latency time to move (P<0.001) than the control and Mix groups. There were no significant differences between the control and Mix groups for immune, cortisol and behavioural responses. Mix lambs consumed more milk (P<0.006) and had higher weight gains (P<0.001) than Sub lambs. However, Mix lambs gained less weight on average (P<0.05) than controls.

Date 1999
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 64
Issue 4
Pages 249-259
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/S0168-1591(99)00042-8
Language English
Author Address Istituto di Produzioni e Preparazioni Alimentari, Universita di Bari, via Napoli, 25, 71100 Foggia, Italy.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal husbandry
  3. Animal nutrition
  4. Artificial rearing
  5. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  6. Cells
  7. Cortisol
  8. Dairy animals
  9. Hand rearing
  10. Hydrocortisone
  11. Immune response
  12. Immunity reactions
  13. Immunological reactions
  14. Lambs
  15. Mammals
  16. Milk and dairy products
  17. milk substitutes
  18. peer-reviewed
  19. Resistance and Immunity
  20. Ruminants
  21. Sheep
  22. Stress
  1. peer-reviewed