Tropical Animal Health and Production

, Volume 50, Issue 3, pp 525–530 | Cite as

Minor corral changes and adoption of good handling practices can improve the behavior and reduce cortisol release in Nellore cows

  • Maria Lúcia Pereira Lima
  • João Alberto Negrão
  • Claudia Cristina Paro de Paz
  • Temple Grandin
Regular Articles


Inadequate corral facilities and improper handling are major causes of stress in beef cattle. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of minor changes in the corral and adoption of good handling practices on the behavior, cortisol release, and time spent taking blood samples in Nellore cows. Minor corral changes included obstructing the cow’s vision when the handler walked deep into the animal’s flight zone and the elimination of bright objects, color contrasts, puddles, shadows, and darkness in the corral. Handling was improved by eliminating dogs, electric goads (prods), and yelling, as well as adopting a calm behavior. A total of 141 Nellore cows from two typical extensive livestock farms were studied. The cows were evaluated individually before and after the corral changes. Blood samples were collected in the restraint device for cortisol measurement. The minor corral changes and the adoption of good handling practices result in better results for all variables studied. The results showed differences in the interactions between treatment and ranch for chute score (P = 0.0091) and exit score (P < 0.0001). The cortisol release was lower (P < 0.001) and better for the improved methods, resulting in calmer cows compared to cortisol released before the minor changes (41.03 ± 2.9 vs 60.40 ± 3.8 ng/mL). Minor changes made in the corrals and the adoption of good handling practices were effective in improving cow behavior in the chute and in reducing exit velocity, cortisol released, and the time spent taking blood samples.


Bovine Facilities Handling Stress 



The data collection was made in Carpa Serrana and Fazenda Três Marias, which are gratefully acknowledged.

Compliance with ethical standards

All procedures were conducted in accordance with Ethics Committee of the Animal Science Institute of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centro APTA Gado de CorteInstituto de ZootecniaSertãozinhoBrazil
  2. 2.Department of Basic Sciences, Faculty of Animal Science and Food EngineeringUniversity of Sao PauloPirassunungaBrazil
  3. 3.Department of GeneticsFMRP-USP (School of Medicine of Ribeirao Preto–University of São Paulo)Ribeirao PretoBrazil
  4. 4.Department of Animal ScienceColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA

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