Assessment of the welfare of cows of the Rhodopean shorthorn breed using blood biochemical parameters

Vasil Nikolov, Svetoslav Karamfilov, Radka Malinova and Svetoslav Nikolov
Agricultural University of Plovdiv, Faculty of Agronomy, Department of Animal Science 4000 Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Abstract

Nikolov, V., Karamfilov, S., Malinova, R. & Nikolov, S. (2022). Assessment of the welfare of cows of the Rhodopean shorthorn breed using blood biochemical parameters. Bulg. J. Agric. Sci., 28 (Supplement 1), 21–30

The blood chemical parameters of 43 free range cows and heifers from 2 farms reared without additional feeding were tested at the end of the pasture period. The cows were from the local, autochthonous Bulgarian Rhodope Shorthorn cattle breed. It was ascertained that the animals exhibited energy deficit with an attempt to compensate it by metabolizing the fat and protein, and a tendency towards pathological processes development. Deficit was also ascertained with reference to the phosphorus content in the ration. It was found that the animals examined had a hyperproteinemia (average values in the farms 78.7-95.0 g/L), hyperglobulinemia (average values 46.7-65.6 g/L) at normal albumin values (average values 29.4-31.9 g/L). The ТG (0.414 g/L) LDH (1011.7 U/L), CK (628.1 U/L), ALT (51.86 U/L), GGT U/L (in 32.4% of the animals), AST U/L(in 16.2% of the animals), ALP U/L (in 10.8% of the animals) values were elevated in the farm which displayed more significant deviations of the globulin and the total protein. Considering the characteristics of the region, we can attribute the reasons for the abnormal values to one or a combination of factors connected to: dehydration caused by the decreased intake or excessive excretion of fluids, plant intoxication due to the possible consumption of poisonous plants as a result of poor grazing, fasciolosis infestation in most cases. The authors recommend that in case of free-range breeding of animals without permanent human intervention, the systematic reasons leading to animal discomfort such as underfeeding, thirst, infestation, plant intoxication et al be differentiated and the animals- placed under constant monitoring. The purpose of the above is an early farmer and controlling organizations alert for the arising distress so as timely prevention measures to be taken.

Keywords: animal welfare; comfort; autochthonous breed; hematological parameters; pasture breeding

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