Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Indoor space allowance: effects on growth, behaviour, adrenal and immune responses of finishing beef heifers

  • A. D. Fisher (a1) (a2), M. A. Crowe (a2), D. J. Prendiville (a1) and W. J. Enright (a1)

The objective was to determine the daily live-weight gain, behaviour, adrenal and immune responses of finishing beef heifers housed at two different space allowances. Heifers (no. = 32) with a mean live weight of466 (s.e. 3·6) kg were assigned to either 1·5 or 3·0 m2 average individual space allowance in four slatted-floor pens (two per treatment) for a period of 104 days. On days 5, 40, 68 and 96, heifers (no. = eight per treatment, four per pen) were challenged with 1·98 i.u. ACTH per kg M0·75, and serial blood samples were analysed for plasma cortisol concentrations. The other 16 heifers were immunized against keyhole limpet haemocyanin (KLH) on day 28, and blood samples collected on days 28, 42, 56, 70, 84 and 98 were analysed for anti-KLH immunoglobulin (Ig) concentrations. All heifers were blood sampled on days 0, 14, 56 and 98, and red and white blood cell numbers, packed cell volume (PCV) and plasma concentrations of creatine kinase (CK), non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA) and urea were determined. Behavioural observations were conducted on days 8, 43, 71 and 99 by scan sampling for 24 h (10-min intervals), and continuous 4-h observations were conducted on days 100 and 101.

Heifers at 1·5 m2 space allowance had a lower daily live-weight gain compared with those at 3·0 m2 (0·60 v. 0·87 (s.e. 0·04) kg; P < 0·001). Heifers at 1·5 m2 had lower pre-ACTH baseline cortisol concentrations (P < 0·05) and lower post-ACTH peak cortisol concentrations (P < 0·05). There were no effects of treatment on serum anti-KLH IgG1 or IgG2 responses (P > 0·05). Heifers at 1·5 m2 had lower plasma NEFA concentrations (P < 0·05). Red and white blood cell numbers, PCV, CK and urea were not affected by treatment (P > 0·05). The time spent lying down was lower for heifers at 1·5 m2 (10·0 v. 21·1 h/day; P < 0·05). Social interactions were fewer (P < 0·05), and incidence of head-resting behaviour was higher (P < 0·05) among heifers at 1·5 m2 compared with 3·0 m2 space allowance. In conclusion, the restricted space allowance resulted in a substantial decrease in daily live-weight gain, and changes in adrenal response and behaviour.

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

D. M. Broom 1988. The scientific assessment of animal welfare. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 20: 519.

T. H. Friend , F. C. Gwazdauskas and C. E. Polan 1979. Change in adrenal response from free stall competition. Journal of Dairy Science 62: 768771.

T. H. Friend , C. E. Polan , F. C. Gwazdauskas and C. W. Heald 1977. Adrenal glucocorticoid response to exogenous adrenocorticotropin mediated by density and social disruption in lactating cows. Journal of Dairy Science 60: 19581963.

K. L. Ingvartsen and H. R. Andersen 1993. Space allowance and type of housing for growing cattle. Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Section A 43: 6580.

K. W. Kelley , C. A. Osborne , J. F. Evermann , S. M. Parish and C. T. Gaskins 1982. Effects of chronic heat and cold stressors on plasma immunoglobulin and mitogen-induced blastogenesis in calves. Journal of Dairy Science 65: 15141528.

F. J. Kenny and P. V. Tarrant 1987a. The physiological and behavioural responses of crossbred Friesian steers to short-haul transport by road. Livestock Production Science 17: 6375.

F. J. Kenny and P. V. Tarrant 1987b. The behaviour of young Friesian bulls during social re-grouping at an abattoir. Influence of an overhead electrified wire grid. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 18: 233246.

F. J. Kenny and P. V. Tarrant 1988. The effect of oestrous behaviour on muscle glycogen concentration and dark-cutting in beef heifers. Meat Science 22: 2131.

J. Ladewig , M. C. Schlichting , B. Beneke , E. von Borell , I. Stuhec and D. Smidt 1985. Physiological aspects of social space in heifers and pigs. In Social space for domestic animals (ed. R. Zayan ), pp. 151159. Martinus Nijhoff, The Netherlands.

J. Ladewig and D. Smidt 1989. Behavior, episodic secretion of cortisol and adrenocortical reactivity in bulls subjected to tethering. Hormones and Behavior 23:344360.

P. Martin and P. Bateson 1986. Measuring behaviour. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

J. E. Morley and A. S. Levine 1982. Corticotropin releasing factor, grooming and ingestive behavior. Life Sciences 31: 14591464.

H. Murata 1989. Suppression of lymphocyte blastogenesis by sera from calves transported by road. British Veterinary Journal 145:257262.

J. M. Pollock , T. G. Rowan , J. B. Dixon , S. D. Carter and R. Fallon 1992. Effects of weaning on antibody responses in young calves. Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology 33:2536.

Y. Ruckebusch and C. H. Malbert 1986. Stimulation and inhibition of food intake in sheep by centrally-administered hypothalamic releasing factors. Life Sciences 38: 929934.

P. C. Sakellaris and J. Vernikos-Danellis 1975. Increased rate of response of the pituitary-adrenal system in rats adapted to chronic stress. Endocrinology 97: 597602.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Animal Science
  • ISSN: 1357-7298
  • EISSN: 1748-748X
  • URL: /core/journals/animal-science
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 11 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 119 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 20th August 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.