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The development of methods to assess fatigue in sheep - AW0937

The welfare consequences of the long distance transportation of farm animals remain a controversial topic. Further information is required, especially on fatigue, to provide a scientific basis for legislation on journey structure, maximum journey time and the time required for animals to rest after a journey. Animals that stand for most of a long journey (especially if additional muscular activity is required to deal with postural instability), are at risk of developing muscle fatigue. Muscular fatigue in humans can in some circumstances be associated with an increased risk of injury, muscular ache or pain and mental exhaustion. A range of methods will be applied to assess fatigue in sheep. Fatigue in the muscles of the hind-leg of sheep will be assessed by spectral analysis of electromyogram recordings and by biochemical analysis of blood samples. The behavioural characteristics of fatigue in sheep will be identified by quantitative behavioural recordings of posture and activity during and after treatment and by qualitative, subjective whole animal appraisal post-treatment. Post-treatment fatigue will also be assessed by the willingness and the endurance of the sheep to exercise on a treadmill and by motivational testing of willingness to obtain food versus rest. The project will identify signs of fatigue in physically exhausted sheep following exercise and the time required to recover after exhaustion.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2005

To: 2008

Cost: £179,062
Contractor / Funded Organisations
University - Edinburgh
Animal Welfare              
Plants and Animals              
Fields of Study
Animal Welfare