Two commercial lorry consignments of 500 sheep were followed from the United Kingdom to their destinations in southern France, one journey of 800 miles taking 18 hours and the other of 950 miles taking 24 hours. Measurements were made of liveweight and skinfold thickness, and blood samples were taken from 100 sheep in each consignment, two days before departure and again immediately after the journeys. The results from each consignment were similar. High levels of plasma beta-hydroxybutyrate, free fatty acids and urea, both before and after the journeys, indicated that the animals were in a catabolic state. Before the journey this was probably as a result of their marketing through livestock auctions. After the journey the animals showed evidence of dehydration, indicated by increased levels of plasma total protein and albumin, and increases in plasma osmolality and skinfold thickness. The behaviour of the sheep after the journeys indicated that they were all alert and physically fit; they showed great interest in any food that was available and were only secondarily interested in drinking, and then resting.
- British Veterinary Association. All rights reserved.
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