Effect of Restricted Suckling or Temporal Weaning on Some Physiological and Behavioural Stress Parameters in Zebu Cattle (Bos indicus)

  • Acevedo, N. (Facultad de Ciencias Agropecuarias, Universidad Autonoma del Estado de Morelos) ;
  • Hernandez, C. (Facultad de Ciencias Agropecuarias, Universidad Autonoma del Estado de Morelos) ;
  • Orihuela, A. (Facultad de Ciencias Agropecuarias, Universidad Autonoma del Estado de Morelos) ;
  • Lidfors, L.M. (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Environment and Health) ;
  • Berg, C. (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Environment and Health)
  • Received : 2004.05.19
  • Accepted : 2005.01.28
  • Published : 2005.08.01


This study investigated the effects of restricted suckling (RS) on some physiological and behavioural stress parameters compared to temporal weaning (TW). Twenty Brahman (Bos indicus) cow-calf pairs were assigned to one of two groups: Calves in the RS group were limited to suckle their dams once daily for 30 min during days 30 to 33, while calves in the TW group were removed from their dams during days 59 to 62 postpartum. Heart and respiratory rates, serum cortisol concentration and body temperature were registered in cows and calves. In addition, the number of steps was also registered in calves. All parameters were recorded 24, 48 and 72 h after the beginning of the two treatments, respectively. In TW calves, higher (p<0.05) cortisol concentration and number of steps were recorded in the 1st samples and 1$^{st}$ and 2$^{nd}$ observations, respectively. No difference was found in body temperature between treatments. However, respiration and heart rates differed in the 1$^{st}$ and 2$^{nd}$ observations, respectively. In general, a significant decrease (p<0.05) in these three parameters was observed over time. In cows, no differences were found in cortisol concentration or body temperature between treatments or with time. Heart and respiratory rates were lower (p<0.05) in the TW treatment only 24 h after beginning of treatment. It was concluded that (a) RS resulted in less behavioural and physiological indices of distress compared to TW in calves, although in general, differences were found only in some variables, mainly during the 1$^{st}$ day following start of the treatment, and there in a chance of age effects. (b) Cows were less affected than their young, regardless of the treatment applied.


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