Nineteen West African Dwarf (WAD) goats were used to investigate the physiological and behavioural responses of dams and kids to short-term separation. The dams were naturally mated with bucks and after parturition the kids remained with their respective dams for 5 weeks. Thereafter, the dams were separated from their kids for 10 minutes / week for three weeks (week 5 – 7). Physiological indicators, namely, eye temperature (ET), heart rate (HRT) and blood glucose (GLUC) were taken from each dam, while the ET and HRT were taken from the kids before and after the separation. The behaviours of the dams and kids were recorded during the separation period at the 7th week. Changes (before minus after) in the physiological parameters (ET, HRT and GLU) for the three weeks were analysed using repeated measures ANOVA while the behavioural data were analysed using non parametric test (SPSS statistical package). The ΔGLUC of WAD dams was greater at the 5th than 7th week. At the 5th week also, the ΔET was greater in dams with single kids than those with twins. Litter size did not influence the behaviour of the dams during separation. A significant correlation was established between ΔHRT and urination in dams. Although sex of the kids had no significant effect on both the physiological and behavioural indicators monitored, negative correlations were established between vocalization bouts and escape attempts (r = −0.516, P < 0.01), duration of vocalisation and escape attempts (r = −0.427, P < 0.05). In conclusion, only WAD dams showed physiological responses indicative of stress during the period of separation.

Publication timeframe:
Volume Open
Journal Subjects:
Life Sciences, Plant Science