Social Isolation

Isolation of goats from their social group can cause increased emotional stress or fearfulness, as reflected by elevated cortisol concentrations.[6] Plasma cortisol concentration is a reliable indicator of stress in goats. To study the responses to social isolation in goats, Kannan et al.[6] conducted an experiment in which individual does were blood-sampled after imposing one of three isolation treatments: a 15-min isolation with no visual contact with other does (I); a 15-min isolation with visual contact (IV); or no isolation (control, C). The stress levels, as indicated by plasma cortisol concentrations, were higher in the I group compared to the IV and C groups. Cortisol concentrations in the IV and C groups were not significantly different (Fig. 1).

Social isolation also causes stress in sheep. However, based on social interactions initiated per unit time and on the behaviors exhibited when socially isolated, goats are more social than sheep.[7] Although plasma glucose and nonesterified fatty acid (NEFA) concentrations were not influenced by handling treatment, the trends were similar to that of cortisol (Fig. 1). Plasma NEFA concentrations increase in goats as a result of stress, probably due to epinephrine-induced lipolysis. Goats can be easily conditioned to routine laboratory procedures such as isolation

n = 4/Isolation treatment

Isolation treatment

Fig. 1 Effect of isolation treatment (isolation with no visual contact with other goats, I; isolation with visual contact with other goats, IV; control, C) on (A) plasma cortisol, (B) plasma glucose, and (C) plasma nonesterified fatty acid (NEFA) concentrations in Spanish does. Bars with different letters are significantly different (P<0.05) by LSD. (Modified from Ref. 6.) (View this art in color at www.dekker.com.)

n = 4/Isolation treatment

Isolation treatment

Fig. 1 Effect of isolation treatment (isolation with no visual contact with other goats, I; isolation with visual contact with other goats, IV; control, C) on (A) plasma cortisol, (B) plasma glucose, and (C) plasma nonesterified fatty acid (NEFA) concentrations in Spanish does. Bars with different letters are significantly different (P<0.05) by LSD. (Modified from Ref. 6.) (View this art in color at www.dekker.com.)

caused by loading and unloading, noise, vibration, and social disruption. Loading onto the transport trailer increases stress in goats, and transportation further increases physiological stress responses.1-3-1

The pattern of decline in stress responses in Spanish goats after a 2.5-hour transportation is depicted in Fig. 2. In this study, stocking density during transportation did not influence the physiological stress responses measured. Although the cortisol concentrations decreased within 1 h after transportation, plasma glucose concentrations remained elevated until 2 h after transportation and started declining around 3 h after transportation.1-3-1 If the stressor is severe enough, the elevation of plasma cortisol is followed by an elevation of plasma glucose,[9] probably as a result of the breakdown of liver glycogen. The elevation of plasma CK activity noticed after transportation (Fig. 2) is due to physical stress and injuries such as bruising. After Spanish goats encounter a physical stressor, their plasma CK activity increases after a lag time of about 2 h.[3-

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