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Do antiemetics attenuate the behavioural responses of sheep to simulated ship motion?

By Eduardo Santurtun, Grisel Navarro, Clive J. C. Phillips

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Abstract

During actual and simulated ship transport, vessel roll (sideways) and heave (vertical) movements produce behavioural responses in sheep, typically positional and feeding changes. Antiemetics may moderate these responses, hence sheep were exposed to these two movements of similar amplitude and period to a commercial livestock vessel to test effects on feeding, heart rate and body posture, with and without antiemetics to potentially attenuate the motion effects. Six sheep were restrained in pairs with a mesh between them on a moveable programmable platform, generating roll, with heave created by a forklift. Treatments were applied daily for 60 min in a changeover design over 12 consecutive days. No effects on feed intake were detected but in the Heave treatment sheep ate faster (p = 0.006). These sheep also had a faster biting rate whilst prehending food, but only when the antiemetic was provided (P = 0.002). The antiemetic reduced feed prehending time. Sheep in Heave also took fewer mastication bites than those in the Control, but only when no antiemetic was provided (P = 0.002). Thus the antiemetic facilitated feed intake which was taken with fewer bites, and alleviated the reduced mastication in Heave, which was probably in compensation for increased prehension bites. Sheep in Heave also spent longer with their head against the mesh than those in the Control treatment, perhaps to aid balance. The antiemetic reduced time spent with their head on the mesh. Roll in particular increased stepping frequency, but antiemetics reduced the frequency of stepping behaviour, particularly during Roll movement. It is concluded that simulated ship motion had adverse effects on feeding behaviour and balance, which appeared to be attenuated by antiemetics.

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 223
Pages 104924
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2019.104924
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Tags
  1. Feed intake
  2. Medication
  3. sea transport
  4. Sheep