Bulgarian Journal of Agricultural Science
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Stress of alpacas caused by shearing in Hungary
Alfréd Kovács, Andrea Prágai
Abstract: Alpacas are primarily kept for their wool in Hungary. Huacaya alpacas are sheared annually, usually in May, before the summer heat. Shearing is important to breeders because the wool is the primary product of the animal. However, it is important also for alpacas to avoid for example heat stress, similarly to sheep. The question has arisen whether shearing causes stress for alpacas. In 2014 we took saliva samples from 10 alpacas before, during and immediately after shearing and 30 min later. Then in 2015 I took samples from 12 animals on the same farm. The method was similar to the previous years, but I collected saliva samples from the alpacas on the day before the shearing as well. Both males and females were involved in the study. Alpacas responded to shearing differently. Compared to females, males were more nervous before they were sheared. This is probably due to their nature as there may be smaller dominance competitions on pasture (where space is wide). For most females it has been found that cortisol level in saliva has increased due to stress caused by shearing. The one named Contessa was the only female that had high cortisol level before shearing and the level decreased subsequently. Based on our preliminary experiment it can be concluded that shearing creates stress for the animals to a slight degree. By appropriate treatment strong stress can be avoided.
Keywords: alpaca; cortisol; Hungary; shearing; stress
Date published: 2020-02-27
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