Relationship between plasma cortisol level and bodyweight and antler size in farmed fallow deer

Author: K. Dziki-Michalska, K. Tajchman, S. Kowalik & M. Bogdaszewski
Year: 2021
Issue: 3
Volume: 51
Page: 355 - 361

The aim of this study was to demonstrate the relationship between the plasma cortisol level and bodyweight and antler size in farmed male fallow deer (Dama dama) of various ages. The study involved 33 animals divided into three age groups: one year old, three years old, and older. Their bodyweight was measured and blood samples were taken twice a year during antler growth (May) and before the rut (September). Whole antlers were collected in September to measure their length and weight. The plasma cortisol concentration was determined with an immunoenzymatic method. The correlations between cortisol level and bodyweight were significant and positive in both May and September (P ≤0.05). There was a negative correlation between weight gain and change in cortisol levels (P ≤0.05). Thus, fallow deer with large seasonal changes in cortisol gained less weight from May to September. The results of the present study indicated that calmer animals with lower cortisol fluctuations should be selected for breeding, which would contribute to greater stability of weight gain.

Keywords: Dama dama, glucocorticoids, seasonal breeding, Stress, veterinary treatments, weight gain
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