Abstract #W2

# W2
Better welfare outcomes in lambs subjected to gradual weaning when compared with abrupt weaning.
Cristiane G. Titto*1, Fábio L. Henrique1, Evaldo A. L. Titto1, Adroaldo J. Zanella2, Henrique B. Hooper1, Lina F. P. Rodriguez1, Ana Luisa S. Longo1, Thays M. C. Leme-dos Santos1, Raquel F. Calviello1, Jessica C. Veronezi1, Alfredo M. F. Pereira3, 1Faculdade de Zootecnia e Engenharia de Alimentos, Universidade de São Paulo, Pirassununga, São Paulo, Brazil, 2Faculdade de Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia, Universidade de São Paulo, Pirassununga, São Paulo, Brazil, 3Instituto de Ciências Agrárias e Ambientais Mediterrânicas, Universidade de Évora, Évora, Alentejo, Portugal.

Weaning is a stressful process during the early-life of lambs. The aim of this study was to compare 2 types of weaning on cortisol levels and rectal temperature of 47 crossbreed lambs. During gradual weaning (GW, n = 12 males, n = 10 females), for 6 d, from d 39 to 44, the mothers were removed from the paddock at 7:00AM, and the lambs were kept separated from them until 17:00h. During the GW the same animal groups were maintained and lambs had free access to clean and fresh water, pasture and concentrate. On d 45, the lambs were placed in the feedlot and blood samples for cortisol levels evaluation were taken at 3 different moments: the first during the last contact with the mother (T1), the second 60 min after entering the feedlot (T2) and the third 180 min after entering the feedlot (T3). On d 46 and 47, the samples were taken once a day, 24 h and 48 h after the entry into the feedlot, respectively. The abrupt weaning (AW, n = 9 males, n = 15 females) began at d 45 of age, and the samples were collected in a similar way as reported for GW. Statistical analyses of variance were divided in 2 steps: the first at d 45 for both GW and AW, with fixed effects of sex, type of weaning and sample time and interactions; the second one analyzed the d 45, 46 and 47 and had fixed effects of sex, days of total separation of the mother and type of weaning as their interactions. Means were compared by F test and t-test (PDIFF). On d 45, AW lambs had higher cortisol levels (1.74 µg·dL−1) compared with GW lambs (0.93 µg·dL−1; P < 0.05), and time had no effect on type of weaning. However, the first sample, just after the separation, was 66.6% higher than the T2 and 76.2% higher than T3 (P < 0.05). GW lambs had lower cortisol levels (1.38 µg·dL−1) than AW lambs (2.22 µg·dL−1) on d 45, 46 and 47 (P < 0.05) when they were in the feedlot. Sex had no effect on cortisol levels (P > 0.05). When weaning is done early and lambs are allowed to have a period to adapt to solid feed and to the absence of their mother, there is less activation of the stress axis after total separation and on the beginning of the feedlot period.

Key Words: cortisol, sheep, stress