Fifty-two weanling continental x beef heifers (mean liveweight 269kg) were transported fromIreland to France on a roll-on roll-off ferry (RO-RO), and onwards by road for 3-hours to a Frenchlairage, rested for 24 hours at a staging post and taken by road on an 18-hour journey throughFrance to a feedlot in Spain. Animals transported to France lost 7.6 % of their bodyweight, andgained 3.3 % of their bodyweight by time of arrival in Spain and recovered to pre-transportliveweight values by day 6. Although there was some evidence that transport affected physiologicaland immunological variables, there was no evidence to suggest that it adversely affected the healthor the performance of the animals post transport.Creatine kinase activities were increased but values were still within normal acceptable ranges.Increases in non-esterified fatty acids, beta-hydroxybutyrate and urea concentrations suggested thatthe animals' normal pattern of feeding was disrupted during transport. Increases in albumin, totalplasma protein and osmolality would indicate slight dehydration during transit. However, albuminconcentrations returned to control levels by day 38 of the study. While haematocrit values weredecreased, they are within the range of normal referenced data (24 - 48%). Similarly, changes in theRBC numbers and haemoglobin were within the normal blood referenced ranges ((RBC; 5.0 – 10.0x106 /ml) and (haemoglobin 8-14 g%)(Schalm, 1961)). The only time at which white blood countsincreased above the upper limit of 12, was 12 hours after arrival at the French lairage. Theaspartate transaminase concentrations for the transported animals at arrival in France and Spainwere not significantly different from their pre-transport concentrations but were increased at day 11when compared with baseline levels.Concanavalin-A induced interferon-g levels were lower on arrival in the Spanish feedlot and on Day11 of the study, when compared with pre-transport baseline levels. Compared with pre-transportlevels, keyhole limpet haemocyanin-induced interferon-g levels for the transported animals weresignificantly decreased on the day of arrival in France, with no significant difference on the day ofarrival in Spain or on day 11 of the study. Interferon-g is produced by activated T lymphocytes andnatural killer cells in response to antigen. The percentage (%) of lymphocytes decreased and the %neutrophils increased post-transport indicating a shift in the population of these blood cells relativeto pre-transport baseline values. There was no significant change in plasma cortisol concentrationsin transported animals at arrival in France and in Spain. On Day 11, the plasma cortisolconcentrations of transported animals were significantly higher than control animals.There were significantly higher glucose concentrations on arrival in France, and in samples taken at12 and 24 hours post-arrival in France, on arrival in Spain, and on days 7 and 11 compared withcontrol levels. Transported animals had significantly higher glucose levels at sample 2 on the day ofarrival in France compared with their pre-transport values.Transported animals had significantly higher fibrinogen levels at arrival in France compared withtheir pre-transport baseline concentrations. Inflammation resulting from stress can cause the releaseof acute phase proteins such as haptoglobin and fibrinogen, and acute phase proteins in cattle havebeen associated with immunosuppression, however, much higher levels have been reported ininflammatory conditions. Transported animals had significantly higher non-esterified fatty acid(NEFA) levels on arrival in France and Spain and on day 11 compared with their pre-transportbaseline concentrations. Control animals had significantly higher levels on day 5 compared withtheir pre-transport baseline NEFA concentrations. However, all levels were within the normalacceptable ranges.The study concluded that transport had no adverse effect on animal welfare based on thephysiological, immunological and haematological measurements made.
AGRIP End of Project Reports
Teagasc End-of-Project Reports