Goats undergo stress when transported. This affects their health and productivity. Studies have shown that vitamin C supplements help reduce stress in goats. But the strategy did not prove effective when the goats were transported for long durations.
Nazir Ahmad Mir, SKUAST and Ashutosh Ashutosh from the National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal wondered if jaggery would help. Stress releases corticosteroid hormones which burn up sugar and jaggery can replenish body sugars. Jaggery is also rich in minerals and vitamins.
The researchers fed vitamin C and jaggery to one group of goats, only vitamin C to another and only jaggery to a third. One control group was transported without any supplements and another control group was neither supplemented nor transported.
The duo took blood samples from all goats 5 days before transportation, while loading them onto the vehicle, at unloading after ten hours of transportation and then at different intervals for up to five days post transportation. They checked body weight, skin temperature, blood cell count, minerals, hormones, glucose, and critical enzymes in blood at different intervals.
The experiment was repeated in three seasons: winter, dry summer and humid months.
The researchers found higher levels of corticosteroids after transportation. The group fed vitamin C, however, did not show higher levels of cortisol.
All transported goats showed high red blood cell count and neutrophils – a response to increased oxygen demand during transport stress. This was more pronounced in the hot dry season.
Temperature, pulse and respiration rate were high in all seasons. Vitamin C-supplemented goats showed lower rectal temperature in winter.
There was no significant decrease in body weight in groups fed with supplements whereas the control group which was not supplemented but was transported showed reduced body weight in the hot dry season. So, winter seems more favourable for transporting goats.
“Jaggery is easily available at low cost. So it is an easy method for farmers and butchers who transport goats”, says Nazir Ahmad Mir, SKUAST-K, Jammu & Kashmir.
“Vitamin C and jaggery work well for reducing the impact of stress when given alone. But, when they are combined, the effect is even better”, says Ashutosh Ashutosh, NDRI, Karnal.
The researchers recommend 200 grams of jaggery and vitamin C at the rate of 180 milligrams per kilogram body weight for five days before transportation for optimum results.
Biological Rhythm Research, 51 (6): 847-857 (2020);
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