Effects of water deprivation on blood components and behavior in sheep and goats
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Given that water withdrawal is one of the major stressors for animals during long-distance transports, it was the aim to study the effects of prolonged water deprivation on different blood and behavioural parameters of goats and sheep under stable conditions. Withdrawal periods corresponded to EU transport regulations, which allow sheep and goats to be transported for a maximum period of 14 hours, followed by a rest period of at least one hour sufficient for them to drink water, if a further 14-h travel is necessary. In the present study tools for authorities to approve the offer of water were evaluated. Fifteen Boer goats and 15 Blackhead mutton sheep were assigned in a 3 x 3 Latin square design to 1 of the following treatments: AL (ad libitum), SHORT (14 h withdrawal - 1 h access - 14 h withdrawal) or LONG (29 h withdrawal). The study was conducted under stable conditions without transporting the animals. Haematological parameters were analysed at 0, 14, 15, and 29 h. Standing, lying, and feeding behaviour were recorded. In sheep, LONG. had lowered packed cell volume (PCV) compared with AL- and SHORT-animals at 14 h (P smaller then 0.05). Serum sodium (Na) was higher in SHORT- and LONG- than in AL-group at 14 h (P smaller then 0.05), and higher in LONG- than in both other groups at 29 h (P smaller then 0.05). During 0-14 h sheep fed greater then 20 min/h and 5 min/h during 15-29 h (P smaller then 0.05). In goats, the SHORT- (at 14 and 15 h) and LONG-group (at 29 h) showed greater haemoglobin values when compared with the AL-group (P smaller then 0.05). Serum Na increased from 0 to 14 h in SHORT- and LONG groups (P smaller then 0.05). Total feeding time was similar to sheep greater then 20 min/h during 0-14 h and 5 min/h during 15-29 h (P smaller then 0.05). In conclusion, the tested parameters showed only limited potential to monitor the fulfilment of transport regulations.