The stresses imposed during the handling, loading and unloading of 250 adult ostriches (Struthio camelus) transported by road were evaluated, weighted, scored and later compared with some objective physiological indices of stress measured after the journey. During handling, the numbers of slips and falls, incidents of aggressive behaviour, the calculated behavioural points, the number of injuries recorded per ostrich and the time spent were significantly (P<0·01) greater than the values recorded during loading and unloading. During handling and loading, 45 per cent of the ostriches had a good score (1·1 to 2 points), 15·5 per cent had a fair score (2·1 to 3 points) and 39·4 per cent had a poor or bad score (more than 3 points). The behavioural scores were significantly and positively correlated with the heterophil:lymphocyte ratio, the rectal temperature and the number of injuries sustained by the ostriches. The results showed that the poorer the behavioural score, the higher the level of stress suffered by the ostriches during handling and loading.
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