The effect of stress on haematologic response and physicochemical parameters of muscle meat in rabbits

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Maintaining high standards of farm animal's welfare during transportation, lairage and slaughter, requires appropriate equipment and supervision of employees (Becerril‐Herrera, Alonso‐Spilsbury, et al., 2009; Becerril‐Herrera, Mota‐Rojas, et al., 2009; Mota‐Rojas et al., 2014). Rabbits are one of the most sensitive domestic animals to stress inductions (Liste et al., 2009) and temperature changes (De la Fuente, Díaz, Ibáñez, & González de Chavarri, 2007). The ante‐mortem transportation of rabbits from the farm to the trail alters both the behaviour and the physiological variables of the organism; presenting signs of fear, anxiety, fasting, dehydration, injuries on the body (Buil, Maria, Villarroel, Liste, & López, 2004), changes of rectal temperature and increase of blood glucose and lactate (Fazio & Casella, 2015). This behaviour ranges from mild to severe, largely depending on the number of rabbits introduced in the boarding cages, noise and speed as well as the manoeuvering of the vehicle. While undergoing stress induced by transportation, the organism of animals tries to activate physiological mechanisms to stabilise these hemodynamic changes. In recent years, analyses of the physio metabolic profiles have been used to assess the degree and impact of transport‐induced stress and the lairage period, prior to slaughter in other species (Becerril‐Herrera, Alonso‐Spilsbury, et al., 2009; Becerril‐Herrera et al., 2010; Becerril‐Herrera, Mota‐Rojas, et al., 2009; Mota‐Rojas et al., 2009, 2011; Uetake, Ishiwata, Tanaka, & Sato, 2011). Some of the physiological constants that have alterations as a result of the stress produced by transportation in domestic animals are temperature, respiratory rate, energy level, haemoglobin and haematocrit concentrations (Becerril‐Herrera et al., 2010; Mota‐Rojas et al., 2012; Tadich, Gallo, Brito, & Broom, 2009).
The response of the physiological mechanisms described above during transport can influence the physicochemical parameters of the meat. In cattle, sheep and pigs, the effect of stress on meat quality is documented (Miranda de Lama et al., 2012; Schwartzkopf et al., 2012). In rabbits, information is limited (Lambertini, Vignola, Badiani, Zaghini, & Gormigoni, 2006; María et al., 2006), because it is one of the least studied species worldwide. The aim of this study was to evaluate the changes in metabolites, blood gases and electrolytes. Also, some physicochemical parameters related to the immediate response to stress in the muscle meat of rabbits, which were previously induced stress by vehicular transport and movement simulations, are divided into two stress intensities, both low (30 min) and high (60 min).
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