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The mark of the beast: tradition or stress?
Date:9/28/2011

e behaviour. It seems, then, that the immediate behavioural and physiological changes caused by both methods are extremely similar. Furthermore, they appear at least in part to be caused by handling and fixation of the foals and not by the actual marking procedures.

Not surprisingly, branding caused a skin burn that lasted for about a week. However, branding was also found to be accompanied by a generalized increase in skin temperature that lasted for several days. This is comparable to the response of humans to severe burn injuries. These changes were not found in foals that were not branded but instead marked by means of a microchip. The new results thus show that tissue damage caused by branding in foals is far more pronounced than expected.

Unlike adult horses, then, foals suffer very similar levels of stress immediately after they are branded or have a microchip implanted. However, branding induces more prolonged alterations in foals than implantation of a microchip. As Aurich points out, "branding but not microchip implantation causes a necrotizing burn wound and a generalized increase in superficial body temperature, which together are indicative of significant tissue damage." Studies that focus solely on the acute stress response thus underestimate the effect of branding on the welfare of the animals.


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Contact: Professor Christine Aurich
christine.aurich@vetmeduni.ac.at
43-664-602-576-400
University of Veterinary Medicine -- Vienna
Source:Eurekalert

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