The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of long-distance road transport (19 h, from Poland to Italy) during 2 seasons (summer vs. win- ter) on clinical and hematological variables in calves. The environmental temperature range that could com- promise the thermoregulation system (thermal stress) of the calves was tested. For the 7 Holstein calves in each transport, the BW and rectal temperature (RT) were measured, and blood samples were collected at the farm of origin, before loading at the transit center (T2), after unloading at the farm of destination (T3), and 1, 2, 3, and 4 d after arrival. The body temperature (BT) and heart rate (HR) were continuously monitored from T2 to T3. The data were statistically analyzed according to a mixed model that considered the fixed effects of transport (repeated measurements), season of journey, and their interaction. Within the observed temperature-humidity index (THI) range (30 to 80), effective thermoregulation allowed the calves to main- tain their BT with small physiologic changes to pre- vent thermal stress, particularly in the summer. With no seasonal differences, the HR was greater at load- ing than unloading (120 vs. 115 beats per min; P = 0.012). As for the transport effect, the BW was less (P < 0.001) after unloading, and the RT was greater (P = 0.004). This effect was more marked in summer. The hematological variables indicated a moderate ef- fect of transport on the hydration condition, reactive and muscular systems, and metabolism, although he- matocrit (P = 0.004), erythrocytes, cortisol, NEFA, β-hydroxybutyrate, lactate, creatine kinase, lactate de- hydrogenase, and aspartate aminotransferase activity (P < 0.001), and total protein (P = 0.007) were greater after unloading. This was confirmed by a moderate decrease in total leukocytes (P = 0.031) and glucose concentration (P = 0.002). The changes in the clinical variables were similar for both seasons even though in the summer, hematocrit (P < 0.001), urea (P = 0.008), and total protein (P = 0.010) increased and glucose concentration (P = 0.038) decreased. In conclusion, the data did not show a pronounced effect attributable to the season of the journey. Long-distance road transport leads to notable changes in clinical and hematological variables at the end of the journey. However, these vari- ables remained within their physiological ranges and returned to basal values within a few days after the journey.

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Published on 01/01/2012

Volume 2012, 2012
DOI: 10.2527/jas.2011-4113
Licence: CC BY-NC-SA license

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