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Stress factor in cows

Stress factor in cows

When confined to shelters for long, cows end up suffering chronic stress levels, which lead to health issues, a scientific study has indicated.

Cows in these shelters face health and management issues such as old age, low quality feeding practices, less area/cow, improper flooring and cleanliness, says the study published in the journal Animals.

Hair cortisol & stress levels

Veterinary research is increasingly using hair cortisol levels as a marker for stress levels in animals. The method is painless for the animal and more reliable than the other available techniques for measuring long-term stress.

Cortisol, a lipid-based hormone, is known to be released under physiological stress conditions. Because of the hair sebum’s affinity for lipids, the circulating cortisol gets accumulated in the hair shaft over time, explain researchers G Umapathy and Vinod Kumar of CCMB and Arvind Sharma of Himachal Veterinary University.

They investigated the correlation between hair cortisol levels in these cows, with living conditions in the 54 shelters. The results showed high cortisol levels in the animals.

Checking for physiological stress levels in animals usually involves checking for hormones in blood, saliva, urine or faeces. 

Ruminants  like cows are natural grazers, whose diet is dominated by grasses. It evolved as herd animals so it always grazes in groups. cows often forms bonds with herd mates during grazing. The various factors which influence the grazing behavior are Preferences, Social factors, Grass waste by fecal deposits, Grazing time and water. A cow’s selection of plants is partly instinctive and partly learned with experience of various feeds.

Cattle are group grazers and this behavior is evolved over generations due to the need to keep in groups to avoid predadorts and feed in short time after which they remasticate at peace , mostly during night and some during day which is called cud chewing. Grazing based cattle management plays a very important role in the rural  economy of the India.