[en] The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effect of restraint stress, which is commonly practised in the field, on plasma concentrations of cortisol, progesterone (P4) and bovine pregnancy-associated glycoprotein-1 (boPAG-1) in pregnant heifers between Days 30 to 40 of gestation. Twelve Holstein-Friesian heifers between Days 30 (Day 0 of experiment) and 40 (Day 10 of experiment) of pregnancy in a Hungarian dairy farm were used in the present study. The heifers were exposed to an acute stressor consisting of immobilisation (restraint stress) in a crush for 2 h (Group 1, n = 6) on Day 2 (Hour 48) and for 2 × 2 h (Group 2, n = 6) on Days 2 and 3 (Hour 72) of the experiment. Transrectal ultrasonography (7.5 MHz linear-array rectal transducer) was performed daily from Day 0 to Day 10 of the experiment to detect embryonic heartbeat or the fate of the conceptus. Blood samples were withdrawn before each ultrasonographic examination. Additional blood samples were withdrawn by 1 and 2 h (at Hours 49 and 50 in Groups 1 and 2 and Hours 73 and 74 in Group 2) of the onset of applying the stressor. Plasma cortisol, P4 and boPAG-1 concentrations were measured by radioimmunoassay. Acute restraint stress significantly (P < 0.001) increased the plasma cortisol level in pregnant heifers at 1 h of the exposure to the stressor at Days 2 (48 h) and 3 (72 h) of the experiment. On the other hand, the restraint stress did not affect the concentration of P4 and boPAG-1 concentrations in both groups. In conclusion, restraint stress for 2 h during early pregnancy in heifers increased blood cortisol, but it did not affect the concentrations of P4 and boPAG-1 between Days 30 to 40 of gestation.
Belgian Ministry of Agriculture (Grant S-6069 to JF Beckers)