The effects of some factors associated with ...



Title The effects of some factors associated with transportation on the behavioural and physiological reactions of farmed red deer
Author(s) P. N. Grigor, P. J. Goddard, M. S. Cockram, S. C. Rennie, A. J. Macdonald
Journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Date 1997
Volume 52
Issue 1
Start page 179
End page 189
Abstract The effects of several aspects of transportation on the behavioural and physiological responses of red deer (Cervus elaphus) were studied. In two experiments conducted in winter and summer, two groups of five adult male castrated red deer (housed at a space allowance of 2.7 m² per deer) were subjected to either 3- or 6-h treatment periods without food and water at a reduced space allowance (0.9 m² per deer). The effect of ambient temperature (9°C, 13°C and 20°C) was also examined in the winter experiment. The deer lost weight during treatment periods, although the rate of loss decreased with time. In experiment 1 (winter), there was a significantly larger increase in sodium concentration at the end of 6-h treatments than after 3-h treatments, although other measures of dehydration were not affected by either the length of treatment period or the ambient temperature. Neither plasma non-esterified fatty acid concentration nor plasma cortisol concentration were significantly affected by treatment periods. Proportionately more time was spent standing and moving during treatment periods than time was spent lying and grooming. Behavioural changes during treatment periods were short-lived, as all activities had returned to (or approached) baseline levels by 3 h after the treatment periods. In experiment 1, a greater proportion of time was spent moving at the two higher temperatures, and there was more pen-directed activity during longer treatment periods. There were only minor between-experiment differences, suggesting that seasonality was not a major influence on the animals' responses. It is concluded that any behavioural and physiological changes were short-lived, and that the welfare of deer was not significantly compromised by the aspects of transport investigated in the present study.

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