Effect of Housing on Physiological Responses and Energy Expenditure of Sheep in a Semi-arid Region of India

  • Bhatta, Raghavendra (Division of Animal Nutrition, Central Sheep and Wool Research Institute) ;
  • Swain, N. (Division of Animal Nutrition, Central Sheep and Wool Research Institute) ;
  • Verma, D.L. (Division of Animal Nutrition, Central Sheep and Wool Research Institute) ;
  • Singh, N.P. (Division of Animal Nutrition, Central Sheep and Wool Research Institute)
  • Received : 2004.09.22
  • Accepted : 2005.03.02
  • Published : 2005.08.01


An investigation was carried out to study the effect of two housing systems on physiological responses and energy expenditure of sheep in a semi-arid region of India. Two types of housing management were adopted. First was a shed- $6{\times}3\;m^2$ structure with all the four sides of 1.8 m chain link fencing with a central height of 3 m. The roof was covered with asbestos sheets and with mud floorings. Second was an open corral- $6{\times}3\;m^2$ open space with all the four sides covered with 1.8 m chain link fencing. Thirty-four (32 ewes and 2 rams) sheep of native Malpura breed aged about 18 months (body weight 28 kg ewes; 35 kg rams) were grazed together on a 35 ha plot of native range. All the sheep were grazed as a flock from 08.00 to 17.00 h during a yearlong study. The flock was divided into two groups (16 ewes+1 ram) in the evening and housed as per the systems (Shed and Open Corral). Dry and wet temperatures were recorded at 06.00 h and 21.00 h using a wet and dry bulb-thermometer both inside the shed and in the open corral and temperature humidity index (THI) was calculated. There was significant (p<0.05) difference in the THI between shed and open corral in all the seasons, indicating that shed was always warmer compared to open corral. Rectal temperature (RT) of both the groups of sheep was similar during morning as well as evening throughout the seasons. There were significant (p<0.05) differences in the skin temperature (ST) and respiration rate (RR) between the two groups at both the measurements in all the seasons. Highest energy expenditure (EE) was recorded inside the shed at 21.00 h (224 kJ/h) during monsoon and lowest at 6.00 h during winter (119 kJ/h). There was a significant (p<0.05) difference between the EE inside the shed and that in the open corral. It was concluded that housing had significant effects on the physiological responses and EE of sheep. Provision of housing at night was stressful during monsoon (with less rainfall) and summer, whereas it was protecting the sheep from acute cold during winter in a semi-arid region of India.

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