Animal Production Science Animal Production Science Society
Food, fibre and pharmaceuticals from animals

The hydration status of lambs after lairage at two Australian abattoirs

R. H. Jacob A E , D. W. Pethick B , E. Ponnampalam C , J. Speijers A and D. L. Hopkins D

A Department of Agriculture, Baron Hay Court, South Perth, WA 6151, Australia.

B School of Veterinary and Biomedical Science, Murdoch University, Murdoch, WA 6150, Australia.

C Department of Primary Industries, Sneydes Road, Werribee, Vic. 3030, Australia.

D NSW Department of Primary Industries, Centre for Sheep Meat Development, PO Box 129, Cowra, NSW 2794, Australia.

E Corresponding author. Email:

Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 46(7) 909-912
Submitted: 18 November 2005  Accepted: 2 May 2006   Published: 8 June 2006


Urine samples were collected from lambs slaughtered at 2 abattoirs, 1 in Western Australia (WA) and 1 in Victoria (Vic.), for the purpose of estimating hydration status at the time of slaughter. Collections were made from 219 consignments at WA and 57 consignments at Vic., over a 12-month period commencing in July 2003 and finishing in June 2004. The average consignment urine specific gravity was high, suggesting subclinical dehydration was common at both abattoirs. Consignment urine specific gravity was higher at Vic. than WA during the months from January to June. Analyses of demographic data collected at WA suggested that average consignment urine specific gravity was higher in sucker lambs than carry over lambs, highest in August and lowest in January, and higher in lambs from the south-eastern districts compared with other districts within the state.


The authors wish to acknowledge the valuable support of the management and staff at the 2 abattoirs, without which this study could not have occurred. Also the excellent technical assistance provided by Messers Bruce Blight and Paul Weston was very much appreciated. The authors would like to thank Meat and Livestock Australia and the Sheep Cooperative Research Centre for funding this project.


Anon. (2002 a) Australian model code of practice for the welfare of animals: livestock at slaughtering establishments. SCARM Report No. 79. Standing Committee on Agriculture and Resource Management. CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne.

Anon. (2002 b) ‘Year book Australia 2002.’ (Australian Bureau of Statistics: Canberra)

Broom D, Goode J, Hall S, Lloyd D, Parrott R (1996) Hormonal and physiological effects of a 15 hour road journey in sheep: comparison with the responses to loading, handling and penning in the absence of transport. British Veterinary Journal 152, 593–604.
PubMed |
open url image1

Jacob R, Pethick D, Clark P, D’Souza D, Hopkins D, White J (2006) Quantifying the hydration status of lambs in relation to carcass characteristics. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 46, 429–437.
CrossRef | open url image1

Kaneko J , Harvey J , Bruss M (1997) ‘Clinical biochemistry of domestic animals.’ (Academic Press: San Diego)

Luke G (1987) ‘Consumption of water by livestock.’ (Department of Agriculture of Western Australia: Perth)

MacFarlane M, Dolling C, Howard B (1966) Distribution and turnover of water in merino sheep selected for high wool production. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 17, 491–502.
CrossRef | open url image1

Parker AJ, Hamlin GP, Coleman CJ, Fitzpatrick LA (2003) Dehydration in stressed ruminants may be the result of a cortisol-induced diuresis. Journal of Animal Science 81, 512–519.
PubMed |
open url image1

Parrott R, Hall S, Lloyd D, Goode J, Broom D (1998) Effects of maximum permissible journey time (31 h) on physiological responses of fleeced and shorn sheep to transport, with observation on behaviour during a short (1 h) rest-stop. Animal Science 66, 197–207. open url image1

Pugh D (2000) ‘Sheep and goat medicine.’ (WB Saunders company: Philadelphia)

Shirreffs S (2000) Markers of hydration status. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 40, 80–84.
PubMed |
open url image1

Rent Article (via Deepdyve) Export Citation Cited By (16)