Veterinary Research Communications

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 127–139 | Cite as

Measurement of Cortisol Metabolites in Faeces of Ruminants

  • E. Möstl
  • J.L. Maggs
  • G. Schrötter
  • U. Besenfelder
  • R. Palme


Twenty-one metabolites were detected in faecal samples collected after infusion of (14C)cortisol into the jugular vein of sheep, using high-performance liquid chromatography/radiometric analysis plus mass spectrometry. One group of metabolites had molecular weights of between 302 and 308, and another group of 350, which indicates that the substances have a C19O3 or a C21O4 structure. Therefore, an enzyme immunoassay against 5β-androstane-3α-o1-11,17-dione-17-CMO:BSA was established. Faecal samples were collected from 10 cows immediately after transport and then during a course in which non-invasive diagnostic procedures were being taught (course 1). For comparison, faeces were sampled from another 5 cows that were being used for teaching invasive procedures (course 2). Six cows from a university farm served as controls. In the animals used in course 1, the highest concentrations of cortisol metabolites were measured immediately after transport to the university (median value: 2.2 μmol/kg faeces). During the first 5 days at the university, the concentrations decreased to 0.52 μmol/kg (median) and remained at this level during the rest of the course. The median concentration in the samples that were taken during course 2 (collected about 2 months after transport) was 0.48 μmol/kg. There was no significant difference in the excretion of cortisol metabolites between these cows and the controls. We conclude from these data that, using the enzyme immunoassay against 5β-androstane-3α-o1-11,17-dione-17-CMO, we were able to detect transport/novel environment stress but not the potential disturbance that cows experience during diagnostic procedures.

animal welfare cortisol cow diagnosis faeces sheep stress 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Möstl
    • 1
  • J.L. Maggs
    • 2
  • G. Schrötter
    • 3
  • U. Besenfelder
    • 4
    • 5
  • R. Palme
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für Biochemie and Ludwig Boltzmann Institut für Veterinärmedizinische EndokrinologieViennaAustria
  2. 2.Department of Pharmacology and TherapeuticsUniversity of LiverpoolUK
  3. 3.II. Medizinische Universitätsklinik für KlauentiereViennaAustria
  4. 4.Institut für Tierzucht und GenetikViennaAustria
  5. 5.IFA Tulln, Abt. TierproduktionTullnAustria

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