Date of this Version
Domestic Animal Endocrinology (2012); doi:10.1016/j.domaniend.2011.12.008
Although livestock experience many stressors throughout their life, one of the most commonly experienced, and most difficult to control, is stress caused by fluctuations in environmental temperatures that extend beyond the thermoneutral (TN) zone for an animal. In swine, cold stress has long been recognized as a main cause of neonatal morbidity and mortality. A possible explanation for this increased morbidity and mortality may be related to their inability to generate a febrile response. Previously, we reported that the acute phase immune response, including the generation of fever, after exposure to lipopolysaccharide (LPS; Escherichia coli O111: B4; Sigma-Aldrich, St Louis, MO, USA) is substantially altered in neonatal pigs maintained in a cold environment (ie, 18°C). Neonatal pigs that were maintained in a cold environment and administered LPS experienced a period of hypothermia coupled with altered endocrine and proinflammatory cytokine responses that could prove detrimental. In cattle, we previously reported differences in the acute phase immune response of two diverse breeds of Bos taurus cattle (Angus and Romosinuano) when maintained under TN conditions and exposed to LPS. More recently we have reported that differences in the stress and immune responses of Angus and Romosinuano heifers varies, depending on whether the cattle were housed at either TN or heat stress air temperatures. Our data clearly show that even intermittent periods of heat stress similar to that experienced in production environments can have significant effects on the stress and innate immune responses of cattle. Understanding the effect of thermal stress on livestock is critical to developing and implementing alternative management practices to improve their overall health and well-being.