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Does Stress Imposed on Pregnant Goats Affect the Stress Physiology and Behaviour of Their Kids?

Author(s): Sabine Roussel | Alain Boissy | Joseph Tessier | 3Paul Hamilton | Hemsworth Christine | Duvaux-Ponter

Journal: Journal of Animal and Veterinary Advances
ISSN 1680-5593

Volume: 4;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 287;
Date: 2005;
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Females of farm species can be exposed during their pregnancy to various stressors such as thermal stressors, social stressors, transports and aversive handling. In rats and primates, prenatal stress increases emotional reactivity, delays development as well as decreases birth weight. However, the effects of prenatal stress on goat kid behaviour are still unknown. The present experiment was designed to test if prenatal stress alters emotional reactivity in goat kids. Twelve pregnant dairy goats were transported 6 times for 1 hour during the last 5 weeks of pregnancy, while twelve pregnant goats were left undisturbed and served as controls. The kids were individually exposed to a novel environment and to social isolation at 10 and 30 days of age. Their basal cortisol concentrations were measured at 8 days of age together with their cortisol response to an ACTH injection at 30 days of age. In response to a novel environment (novel arena test and separation test in an unfamiliar environment), motor activity of prenatally stressed kids was decreased compared to control kids. They also sniffed more the environment and shivered more often than control kids. When the social separation test occurred in the familiar environment, prenatally stressed kids vocalised more. The basal cortisol concentration was significantly higher for prenatally stressed kids compared to controls. There was no difference in cortisol response to ACTH injection. It is concluded that in kids, prenatal stress increased both their reactivity to a novel environment and their social awareness in a familiar situation.
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