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Effect of transportation during periods of high ambient temperature on physiologic and behavioral indices of beef heifers

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  • 1 Department of Diagnostic Medicine and Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506.
  • | 2 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506.
  • | 3 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506.
  • | 4 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506.
  • | 5 Department of Diagnostic Medicine and Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506.
  • | 6 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506.
  • | 7 Department of Diagnostic Medicine and Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506.

Abstract

Objective—To determine the effect of transportation during periods of high ambient temperature on physiologic and behavioral indices of beef heifers.

Animals—20 heifers (mean body weight, 217.8 kg).

Procedures—Ten heifers were transported 518 km when the maximum ambient temperature was ≥ 32.2°C while the other 10 heifers served as untransported controls. Blood samples were collected from transported heifers at predetermined intervals during the transportation period. For all heifers, body weights, nasal and rectal temperatures, and behavioral indices were measured at predetermined intervals for 3 days after transportation. A week later, the entire process was repeated such that each group was transported twice and served as the control twice.

Results—Transported heifers spent more time near the hay feeder on the day of transportation, had lower nasal and rectal temperatures for 24 hours after transportation, and spent more time lying down for 2 days after transportation, compared with those indices for control heifers. Eight hours after transportation, the weight of transported heifers decreased 6%, whereas that of control heifers increased 0.6%. At 48 hours after initiation of transportation, weight, rectal temperature, and time spent at various pen locations did not differ between transported and control heifers. Cortisol concentrations were higher 4 hours after initiation of transportation, compared with those determined just prior to transportation.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results indicated transportation during periods of high ambient temperatures caused transient changes in physiologic and behavioral indices of beef heifers.

Abstract

Objective—To determine the effect of transportation during periods of high ambient temperature on physiologic and behavioral indices of beef heifers.

Animals—20 heifers (mean body weight, 217.8 kg).

Procedures—Ten heifers were transported 518 km when the maximum ambient temperature was ≥ 32.2°C while the other 10 heifers served as untransported controls. Blood samples were collected from transported heifers at predetermined intervals during the transportation period. For all heifers, body weights, nasal and rectal temperatures, and behavioral indices were measured at predetermined intervals for 3 days after transportation. A week later, the entire process was repeated such that each group was transported twice and served as the control twice.

Results—Transported heifers spent more time near the hay feeder on the day of transportation, had lower nasal and rectal temperatures for 24 hours after transportation, and spent more time lying down for 2 days after transportation, compared with those indices for control heifers. Eight hours after transportation, the weight of transported heifers decreased 6%, whereas that of control heifers increased 0.6%. At 48 hours after initiation of transportation, weight, rectal temperature, and time spent at various pen locations did not differ between transported and control heifers. Cortisol concentrations were higher 4 hours after initiation of transportation, compared with those determined just prior to transportation.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results indicated transportation during periods of high ambient temperatures caused transient changes in physiologic and behavioral indices of beef heifers.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Anderson's present address is Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996.

Dr. Coetzee's present address is Department of Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011.

This manuscript represents a portion of a dissertation by the first author to the Kansas State University Department of Diagnostic Medicine and Pathobiology as partial fulfillment of the requirements for a Doctor of Philosophy degree.

Supported by Merck Animal Health.

Presented as an oral presentation at the Phi Zeta Day of Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kan, March 2012; and as an oral presentation at the 27th World Buiatrics Congress, Lisbon, June 2012.

The authors thank Dr. John Jaeger and Wayne Schmidtberger for providing livestock-working facilities during the transportation periods.

Address correspondence to Dr. White (bwhite@vet.k-state.edu).