Cyril Roy, currently completing his PhD at the Atlantic Veterinary College, gave an overview of his research into making good welfare assessments of horses during and after transportation at the Animal Transport Association’s conference in March. He mentioned that the temporal aspects of his research are challenging and a good place to start is to measure the risk factors that can affect welfare during and after transport.
Some of the common risk factors are space allowance, trailer design, ramp design, and food and water provisions during transport.
Other researchers studying transport stress measured physiological indicators (including cortisol, lactate, glucose, creatin kinase, packed cell volume, osmolarity, total protein, heart rate, and respiratory rate) to try to find potential changes that might indicate maximum journey durations for recommending to transporters. Most physiological indicators might not provide us the overall welfare status of the animal.
Roy reviewed previous work for his presentation. He referenced a 2010 journal publication by Schmidt that listed transport as a short-term stressor, measuring cortisol responses and found that repeated transport also showed an increase in the cortisol response, demonstrating a physiological impact that all of us are aware of when we are hauling our horses during the show season–they get stressed. Just about anyone transporting horses wants to learn how to minimize those effects from the veterinarians and scientists. This was my purpose for attending the conference.
In Roy’s research, he is looking at critical points fro