Urinary catecholamine concentrations in three beef breeds at slaughter
Animal welfare has become an important determinant of meat quality with poor animal temperament leading to huge economic losses to the meat industry due to carcass bruising and condemnation. Handling and transport of live animals is a stressful experience for animals. The temperaments of cattle affect their behaviour and differ between breeds, i.e. studies have shown that Bos indicus types are more temperamental than Sanga and Bos taurus types. Catecholamines (CAT’s) are considered as indicators of stress, because higher concentrations of CAT’s in brain tissue were noted in animals that are better adapted to stressful situations. In the present study, urinary CAT’s of three beef breeds were determined immediately post mortem. Brahman cattle represented Bos indicus types, Simmentaler cattle represented Bos taurus types and Nguni cattle represented the Sanga type. Nguni steers showed higher urinary norepinephrine (NE) and epinephrine (E) concentrations than Brahman and Simmentaler steers. Simmentaler steers showed a higher concentration of urinary dopamine (DA) than Br and Ng. The results suggest that Nguni cattle are less stress sensitive compared to the other beef breeds studied. These observations may be due to the process of domestication and selection for specific genes that influence tameability and consequently resulting in a shift in circulating concentrations of urinary CAT’s.
Keywords: Animal welfare, breed divergence, animal temperament, stress