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Dtsch Tierarztl Wochenschr. 2003 Mar;110(3):120-5.

Special problems of long-distance road transports of cattle.

Author information

  • 1Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, Berlin, Germany. m.marahrens@bfr.bund.de

Abstract

Physiological and behavioural field studies on long distance road transport of 116 heifers, 135 bulls and 64 steers in 10 goose-necked double decked semitrailers from northern Germany to mediteranean ports showed different impacts of handling during pre-transport (i.e. collection of animals, weighing, loading), transport journey itself and post transport handling (i.e. lairage time) on coping strategies of the different categories of cattle. It was found loss of body weight in steers (-6.65%) coming from pasture was higher compared to bulls (-4.6%) during transport, but they recovered during lairage time in a better way. All categories of cattle showed catabolic energy metabolism during transport, but only in bulls and to a farer extent in heifers this leads to a tendency of a ketotic metabolism during second parts of transport and lairage time. During whole transport time no more than 20% of bulls and steers were laying down, and less than 5% were feeding during driving intervals. In all parts of transport general stress parameters like heart rate (with exception to steers) and cortisol were elevated as a part of adaptation to the transport environment, but indicating high physical and emotional loads on the animals with no resting possibilities. In this context animals have to be prepared carefully to be transported, i.e. in reference to energy and fluid balance, and to be feed in sufficient time intervals (breaks) and lengths to maintain fundamental behavioural and physiological needs of the animals during transport. The lairage facilities are very important for the bulls and in the case of heifers the feeding regime during lairage time must be improved to ensure the possibility for a real resting and recovery of the animals after transport.

PMID:
12731113
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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