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  • 1 Szent István University Ethology and Animal Welfare Group, Department of Agri-Environmental Management Páter K. u. 1 H-2100 Gödöllő Hungary
  • | 2 Research Institute for Animal Breeding and Nutrition Division of Small Animal Research Gödöllő Hungary
  • | 3 University of West Hungary Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences Mosonmagyaróvár Hungary
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Feather production is realised by gathering feathers from geese right as they start their natural moulting. The adequate gathering time coincides with the time of moulting. There is still scarce information as to whether or not gathering causes distress and pain to geese. A series of experiments was carried out by our research group to determine the effect of gathering on plasma corticosterone level in growing geese. In the present experiment, the reactions of five groups (two gathered and three not gathered groups) of 9-week-old Babat Hungarian Upgraded geese were compared regarding gathering. Blood samples were taken right before, during and 5 min, 1 and 3 h after gathering into heparinised tubes from all groups. The plasma concentration of corticosterone was determined by radioimmunoassay (RIA). The results show that the plasma concentration of corticosterone is high in the first sample of all groups but is significantly lower at subsequent blood samplings compared to the first samples, especially in gathered geese. Compared to the first sampling, we observed higher corticosterone levels in samples collected 1 and 3 h after gathering. This was true only for groups which were not gathered, especially for the group which was not given any antistress material. From these results it can be concluded that the handling of geese causes an elevation in plasma corticosterone level and that feather gathering does not result in a higher corticosterone level than the handling or catching of the bird. Therefore, it can be concluded that feather gathering — especially when it is done adequately in time — does not cause more distress than the handling or catching of the bird.

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