Dairy cows experience a number of potentially stressful situations, such as being handled by humans, being transported or left alone, as part of their everyday life. There is evidence for genetic and individual variation in approachability and temperament (review by Burrows, 1997) and other behaviour related traits in cattle (LeNeindre et al. 1995). The ability of individuals to cope with stressors has shown genetic variation in laboratory species (e.g. mice, Popova et al. 1993). The response to stressors involves activation of the hypothalamuspituitary-adreno-axis (HPA-axis). Milk production involves a number of endocrine systems, which interact with the HPA-axis. As dairy cattle populations are subjected to intensive selection for production, a correlated response in traits of the HPA-axis is obviously possible. The aim of this study was to examine the genetic variation in the HPA-axis' response of dairy cattle when 1) isolated in an unfamiliar environment (social isolation), 2) handled, and 3) subjected to i.v. injection with corticotropin releasing factor (CRF). The responses were measured as plasma concentrations of cortisol and adrenocorticotropic hormone, ACTH.
Proceedings of the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Volume 2002. Session 14, , 14.03, 2002
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