Twenty-four castrated male cattle aged between 12 and 18 months were transported by road for five, 10 or 15 hours, over distances of 286, 536 and 738 km. Half the animals were of Hereford x Friesian breeding and half of 'continental' type. The animals transported for five hours lost 4.6 per cent of their bodyweight, those transported for 10 hours lost 6.5 per cent and those transported for 15 hours lost 7.0 per cent; recovery to pre-transport values took five days. There was little evidence from changes in blood composition that a 15-hour journey was more stressful than a 10-hour journey. The cortisol concentrations were increased by the stresses of loading and the first part of the journey but then recovered as the journey continued. Creatine phosphokinase (CPK) activities increased progressively with the longer journeys and CPK, urea, albumin and osmolality levels recovered more slowly after the longer journeys. Increases in free fatty acids, beta-hydroxybutyrate and urea concentrations and the continued increase in urea levels after the end of the journeys suggested that the animals' normal pattern of feeding was disrupted. Increases in albumin, total plasma protein and osmolality indicated slight dehydration during transit which was quickly rectified by access to water. The two breed types responded similarly to transport, except that the increases in CPK were greater in the continental breeds, possibly as a result of their greater muscularity or greater sensitivity to stress. Based on the physiological measurements made and the subjective observations of behaviour a 15-hour transport period under good conditions is not unacceptable from the viewpoint of animal welfare.
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