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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Prenatal and Neonatal Stress in Livestock: Consequences for Production and Well-Being

Author
item Lay, Jr, Donald

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: March 14, 2002
Publication Date: March 14, 2002
Citation: LAY JR, D.C. PRENATAL AND NEONATAL STRESS IN LIVESTOCK: CONSEQUENCES FOR PRODUCTION AND WELL-BEING. MEETING ABSTRACT. 2002. ABSTRACT P. 150.

Technical Abstract: The deleterious effects of stress on animals are well known. Impaired immune function, gastric ulcers, impaired growth, dysfunctional reproduction, abnormal behavior, and disease are all known to occur when animals become overly stressed. Even less understood is the effect stress may have on the developing individual. The time of fetal and neonatal development is critical to the integrity and normal function of all animals. Slight changes in the typical developmental scheme can have profound effects on the developing fetus. Because stress removes the animal from homeostasis, exposure to stress during fetal and neonatal life may also have significant effects on the physiology and anatomy of the offspring in question. The concern as to whether exposing animals to stress during pregnancy will affect their developing offspring is important because many livestock are exposed to stress during gestation. If the developing fetus is exposed to "stress" hormones during development, then its hypothalamic pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis could be permanently altered by such a mechanism. Likely, many species are physiologically immature at birth and their HPA axis continues to mature during the neonatal period, as is seen for the rodent and humans. It is apparent that a great deal more research is required for us to understand this phenomenon. However, if exposing livestock to stress during development can increase their ability to cope with stressful situations, tehn manipulation of this phenomenon in a controlled manner will allow producers to 'program' stock for specific management systems. By matching the animal's stress response to its environment, animal well being will be increased.

Last Modified: 7/23/2014
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