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Effect of short-term separations on weaning stress in foals

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Abstract
Early-life events can modify the HPA-axis’ responsiveness to stressors. In rodents shortterm separations and handling lead to intensified mother-pup interactions which in turn lead to a reduced stress response later in life. We investigated the impact of shortterm separations on the response of foals to weaning. We hypothesized that separations would aid foals in regaining homeostasis post-weaning. Beginning at approximately two weeks old, five Quarterhorse foals (T; 3 female, 2 male) underwent six ten-minute separations from their dam at two-week intervals. A control group (C; 3 female, 2 male) of five foals was not separated. Foals were weaned in pairs (1T, 1C) in separate stalls. Behavioral and physiological measurements were collected on the days pre-, during, and post-weaning. Behavioral observations occurred between 7.00-9.00h, 11.00-13.00h, and 15.00-17.00h. Heart rate (HR; Beats per minute, BPM) was measured from 6.30-18.30h and saliva samples for cortisol measurement were collected prior to observations and at 18.30h. All data were analyzed using ANOVA. Seven behaviors, chosen for consistency between observations, were analyzed. Weaning caused a significant increase from day 1 to days 2 and 3 in the frequency of vocalizing (F2,61=60.41; p<0.0001), defecating (F2,61=6.72; p=0.0023), pawing (F2,61=10.41; p=0.0001), investigating (F2,61=4.32; p=0.0176), looking forward (F2,61=54.46; p<0.0001), standing (F2,61=33.39; p<0.0001), and walking (F2,61=51.91; p<0.0001). There were no consistent behavioral differences between treatment and control animals. Cortisol levels did not differ between separated and non-separated foals. The first sample after weaning showed the highest cortisol level (mean 6.57±2.26 nmol/l). Weaning caused a significant increase in HR from day 1 to days 2 and 3 (F4,54=6.48; p=0.0002). This study thoroughly assessed weaning stress in foals. In contrast to other species, maternal separations did not affect the short-term response to weaning.
Keywords
foals, horses, behaviour, short-term separation, cortisol, weaning

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Chicago
Moons, Christel, and Adroaldo J Zanella. 2001. “Effect of Short-term Separations on Weaning Stress in Foals.” In Proceedings of the 35th International Congress of the ISAE, ed. Joe P Garner, Joy A Mench, and Sue P Heekin, 39–39. Davis, CA, USA: University of California-Davis. Center for Animal Welfare.
APA
Moons, C., & Zanella, A. J. (2001). Effect of short-term separations on weaning stress in foals. In J. P. Garner, J. A. Mench, & S. P. Heekin (Eds.), Proceedings of the 35th International Congress of the ISAE (pp. 39–39). Presented at the 35th Congress of the ISAE, Davis, CA, USA: University of California-Davis. Center for Animal Welfare.
Vancouver
1.
Moons C, Zanella AJ. Effect of short-term separations on weaning stress in foals. In: Garner JP, Mench JA, Heekin SP, editors. Proceedings of the 35th International Congress of the ISAE. Davis, CA, USA: University of California-Davis. Center for Animal Welfare; 2001. p. 39–39.
MLA
Moons, Christel, and Adroaldo J Zanella. “Effect of Short-term Separations on Weaning Stress in Foals.” Proceedings of the 35th International Congress of the ISAE. Ed. Joe P Garner, Joy A Mench, & Sue P Heekin. Davis, CA, USA: University of California-Davis. Center for Animal Welfare, 2001. 39–39. Print.
@inproceedings{1908695,
  abstract     = {Early-life events can modify the HPA-axis{\textquoteright} responsiveness to stressors. In rodents shortterm separations and handling lead to intensified mother-pup interactions which in turn lead to a reduced stress response later in life. We investigated the impact of shortterm separations on the response of foals to weaning. We hypothesized that separations would aid foals in regaining homeostasis post-weaning.
Beginning at approximately two weeks old, five Quarterhorse foals (T; 3 female, 2 male) underwent six ten-minute separations from their dam at two-week intervals. A control group (C; 3 female, 2 male) of five foals was not separated. Foals were weaned in pairs (1T, 1C) in separate stalls. Behavioral and physiological measurements were collected on the days pre-, during, and post-weaning. Behavioral observations occurred between 7.00-9.00h, 11.00-13.00h, and 15.00-17.00h. Heart rate (HR; Beats per minute, BPM) was measured from 6.30-18.30h and saliva samples for cortisol measurement were collected prior to observations and at 18.30h. All data were analyzed using ANOVA.
Seven behaviors, chosen for consistency between observations, were analyzed. Weaning caused a significant increase from day 1 to days 2 and 3 in the frequency of vocalizing (F2,61=60.41; p{\textlangle}0.0001), defecating (F2,61=6.72; p=0.0023), pawing (F2,61=10.41; p=0.0001), investigating (F2,61=4.32; p=0.0176), looking forward (F2,61=54.46; p{\textlangle}0.0001), standing (F2,61=33.39; p{\textlangle}0.0001), and walking (F2,61=51.91; p{\textlangle}0.0001). There were no consistent behavioral differences between treatment and control animals. Cortisol levels did not differ between separated and non-separated foals. The first sample after weaning showed the highest cortisol level (mean 6.57{\textpm}2.26 nmol/l). Weaning caused a significant increase in HR from day 1 to days 2 and 3 (F4,54=6.48; p=0.0002).
This study thoroughly assessed weaning stress in foals. In contrast to other species, maternal separations did not affect the short-term response to weaning.},
  author       = {Moons, Christel and Zanella, Adroaldo J},
  booktitle    = {Proceedings of the 35th International Congress of the ISAE},
  editor       = {Garner, Joe P and Mench, Joy A and Heekin, Sue P},
  isbn         = {9780967938905},
  keyword      = {foals,horses,behaviour,short-term separation,cortisol,weaning},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {Davis, CA, USA},
  pages        = {39--39},
  publisher    = {University of California-Davis. Center for Animal Welfare},
  title        = {Effect of short-term separations on weaning stress in foals},
  year         = {2001},
}