by Dr. Gary Pusillo

Whether showing or selling animals, transportation becomes a necessary part of many production facilities. Anyone who has ever transported animals can attest to the fact that animals typically have an adverse reaction to travel. Considering all the changes in environmental stimuli, that response is not surprising. Most animals, being creatures of habit and highly sensitive to change, respond unfavorable to those changes. that adverse reaction can many times defeat the purposes for which the animal was transported in the first place. Whether being shown or sold, it is important that animals be able to demonstrate their best physical presence. Travel pressures very often diminish the animal’s overall condition, a circumstance not overlooked by judges or potential buyers.

To speak of travel pressures, it is important to be able to correctly use the words “stress” and “strain”. For most people, those two words could be used interchangeably and unfortunately, in our society, stress has become an over used buzz word utilized to convey any thing from a general feeling of anxiety to tension, apprehension, trepidation, disquietude or misgiving. While those synonyms are not entirely incorrect, for scientific purposes, a single, precise definition is needed.

In the scientific arena, a stressor is defined as an individual environmental factor that contributes to the stressful nature of an environment or any environmental factor that provokes an adaptive response. Strain is any adaptive functional, structural or behavioral reaction to an environmental stimulus. An environmental stress is any environmental situation that provokes animal strain. Therefore, according to the above definitions, an animal in a state of stress is undergoing strain in order to cope with adverse aspects of its environment.

Most animals have become accustomed to familiar sights, sounds, smells and handlers and to some sort of routine. Travel disrupts most, if not all that has become familiar. Consider the unusual noises a transported animals must encounter, sort out and respond to. then add the probability of a confined space, crowding, the potential of physical trauma from being jostled around, continual movement, concentration of excrement, changes in temperature, humidity, air flow, lack of food and water, the length of the trip and the unavoidable contact with strangers and one can begin to understand the tremendous potential for strain.

All living organisms, livestock included, strive to achieve a state of homeostasis (balance). when the immediate environment changes radically with multiple factors involved, the maintaining of balance is greatly encumbered. There are number of metabolic changes that occur when the animal is unable to meet all the physiological demands caused by the onslaught of stressors. These changes have a cascading effect, are interrelated and interactive. some of the net results manifest as tissue catabolism (destruction), development of metabolic acidosis caused from ketoacidosis and increased lactic acid production with development of diarrhea, dehydration, rumen stasis, poleoencephalomalasia, laminitis, liver abscesses and increased aldosterone production to identify a few.  In an attempt to achieve homeostatis, the animal will utilize the following vitamins and minerals at a greater rate, often leading to deficiencies if proper supplementation is not given.

Vitamins: Vitamin D, pantothenic acid, niacin, pyridoxine, riboflavin, thiamine, folic acid, vitamin B12, biotin.

Minerals: calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, zinc, copper and salt.

A thorough understanding of all the intricacies and interplays of nutrition is not necessary for a producer to successfully overcome the potential imbalances that are likely to occur with the strain of transportation. It is enough to determine that since certain vitamins and minerals are known to be utilized at a greater rate during these times, specific additional nutrition should be provided.

In addition to the vitamins and minerals, it is important to recognize and remember the impact on the pH of the digestive tract, of particular importance in the ruminant, and address it with a multitude of direct-fed microbials and their metabolites. the live cultures continually reinforce the ranks of the beneficial microbes that keep potential pathogens in check. the metabolites encourage a gut environment that fosters growth of beneficial microbes while maintaining hostility toward pathogens.

A third area that bears addressing is energy. During transportation, food is usually limited and yet tremendous energy is required to cope with adversities. An easily digestible, concentrated energy source should be used to supple that additional demand. Omega- 3 and omega -6 fatty acids are an excellent choice when blended in the right combination.

Field trials utilizing goats transported in temperatures ranges from 60 degrees F to 105 degrees F show that when a stress reduction program is begun one month prior to transportation that involved the addition of:

-highly bioavailable B vitamins

-elevated levels of vitamins/mineral mix developed and balanced for animals (bovine or sheep formulations are NOT adequate) using highly bioavailable vitamins and minerals

-direct -fed microbial product with guaranteed levels of digestive enzymes, Lactobacillus acidophilus, lactobacillus fermentum, Lactobacillus casei, Streptococcus faecium, bacillus subtillis, Saccharomyces cervisae and Aspergillis oryzea

– an energy source using the omega fatty acids

then accelerating the usage of those products two weeks prior to transportation with maximum consumption during transportation and for seven days following, outward manifestations of transportation stress was markedly reduced and in many cases all but absent.

The conclusion that can be drawn from these facts and trials indicate that given specific superior nutrition in anticipation of a known stressful situation, the negative manifestations often seen can be minimized because the animals is able to draw upon adequate stores of nutrition to facilitate its attempt of maintain homeostatis. It can also be noted that transportation is not the only strain that animals are exposed to. Anytime changes are made, the animal is forced to adapt. that adaptation can be made easier by supplying additional, specific nutrition known to facilitate the achievement of hemostasis.

This is for educational purposes only and does not replace the proper diagnosis and treatment resulting from a recognized and documented veterinarian client relationship. This information is provided without any warranty, implied or otherwise. No part of this document may be used for commercial purposes . This document cannot be used in any form unless written permission is provided by the author. Please contact INTI Service at 641-752-3064 for further information regarding the use of any part of this document.