Conclusions

Understanding the social dynamics of a herd and the behavioral repertoire of individual goats is the key to improving animal well-being and productivity. Conditioning goats with positive reinforcement for routine laboratory procedures will facilitate easy handling with minimum animal stress. Environmental enrichment with cost-effective materials may improve welfare and productivity of goats in intensive management conditions. Goats are highly social animals; therefore, isolating an individual animal from its group will increase stress levels, particularly if it is not able to maintain visual contacts with other goats. Long journeys under adverse weather conditions not only increase stress in goats, but also increase economic losses due to live-weight loss, susceptibility to infections, and mortality. Dietary antiox-idant supplementation may help goats combat the negative effects of corticosteroid release on immune function during stress. Mixing different social groups, combined with feed deprivation, is likely to increase agonistic encounters and bruising in goats. Preslaughter stress in goats also depletes muscle glycogen levels and can negatively affect meat quality.

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