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The validation of two types of lateral flow device for measurement of salivary cortisol levels in the domestic pig - AW0506

Increased public awareness and interest in the welfare of domestic animals has resulted in farming practices coming under closer scrutiny. In order to determine the welfare implications of differing systems a simple, effective and non-invasive method needs to be employed. Under a research contract from Animal Welfare Division (AW0504) CSL has developed two types of rapid diagnostic test kits to determine the level of the stress hormone, cortisol in the saliva of a pig.These kits employ lateral flow technology and are similar to those used in home pregnancy tests consisting of a small plastic device containing a sample pad and a viewing window. Four drops of pig saliva are added to the sample pad and after a few minutes the result is read off directly by looking for the presence of blue lines in the windows. The two types of kit produced can determine the amount of cortisol in a semi-quantitative manner: i) Positive/negative testThis lateral flow device (LFD) has two blue lines with the first being a control to indicate that the test has been performed correctly, whilst the presence of another blue line (test line) indicates that the level of cortisol is low. The absence of this second line denotes a high level of cortisol (i.e. >10ng/ml) indicating that the animal is stressed. This can be made more quantitative by the use of a hand-held reader. Cortisol The reader allows the intensity of the test line to be determined which can then be related to actual concentrations of the hormone. These palm-sized readers produce very sensitive and accurate results in a simple format that allow users to make quick on-site measurements of cortisol levels.ii) Ladder lateral flow device The alternative to using readers is the use of a lateral flow device, which in itself is semi-quantitative. The technology used in the ladder device is identical to that of the standard LFD system. However, rather than a simple positive/negative answer the ladder LFD has three test lines which aim to give a result within a defined range. This enables the user to determine the amount of cortisol within a short range of concentrations (eg 0-5, 5-10, >10ng/ml) This proposal would involve the monitoring of salivary levels of cortisol in pigs by use of these two LFD kits under differing farming conditions across the UK and with different end-users. This would be carried out at 25 farms and would include organic, intensive, indoor and outdoor rearing.The main objective of this proposal hence would be the validation of the two LFD kits developed under research contract AW0504. Secondly in the process of this aim, the variability and range of salivary cortisol in pigs under farming conditions would be established. This project would lead to a fully validated kit enabling farmers and related personnel to incorporate this measure into the routine care of livestock. It would provide DEFRA with a rapid, economic, disposable and user-friendly method of assessing the stress levels of domestic animals under farming conditions.
1. To assess salivary cortisol levels in domestic pigs at farming establishments across the UK using the positive/negative LFD and ladder LFD with different end-users.

2. To validate the LFD results with ELISA.

3. To produce an optimised LFD kit.
Project Documents
• Final Report : AW0506 Final Report   (3111k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2004

To: 2005

Cost: £29,582
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Central Science Laboratory
Animal Welfare              
Plants and Animals              
Fields of Study
Animal Welfare