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Asian-Australasian journal of animal sciences

Effect of Suckling Systems on Serum Oxytocin and Cortisol Concentrations and Behavior to a Novel Object in Beef Calves.


PMID 26580289

Abstract

We investigated differences between effects of natural- and bucket-suckling methods on basal serum oxytocin (OT) and cortisol concentrations, and the effect of OT concentration on affiliative and investigative behavior of calves to a novel object. Ten Japanese Black calves, balanced with birth order, were allocated evenly to natural-suckling (NS) and bucket suckling (BS) groups. Blood samples were collected at the ages of 1 and 2 months (1 week after weaning) calves, and serum OT and cortisol concentrations were measured using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and enzymeimmunoassay tests, respectively. Each calf at the age of 2 months (2 weeks after weaning) was released into an open-field with a calf decoy, and its investigative and affiliative behaviors were recorded for 20 minutes. In 1-month-old calves, the basal serum OT concentration (25.5±4.9 [mean±standard deviation, pg/mL]) of NS was significantly higher than that of BS (16.9±6.7) (p<0.05), whereas the basal cortisol concentration (5.8±2.5 [mean±standard deviation, ng/mL]) of NS was significantly lower than that in BS (10.0±2.8) (p<0.05). Additionally, a negative correlation was noted between serum OT and cortisol concentrations in 1-month-old calves (p = 0.06). Further, the higher serum OT concentration the calves had at 1 month old, the more investigative the calves were at 2 months old but not affiliative in the open-field with a calf decoy. Thus, we concluded that the natural suckling method from a dam elevates the basal serum OT concentration in calves, and high serum OT concentrations induce investigative behavior and attenuate cortisol concentrations.

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