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Hair cortisol detection in dairy cattle by using EIA: protocol validation and correlation with faecal cortisol metabolites

  • O. Tallo-Parra (a1) (a2), X. Manteca (a1), M. Sabes-Alsina (a2), A. Carbajal (a2) and M. Lopez-Bejar (a2)...


Hair may be a useful matrix to detect cumulative cortisol concentrations in studies of animal welfare and chronic stress. The aim of this study was to validate a protocol for cortisol detection in hair from dairy cattle by enzyme immunoassay (EIA). Seventeen adult Holstein–Friesian dairy cows were used during the milking period. Hair cortisol concentration was assessed in 25-day-old hair samples taken from the frontal region of the head, analysing black and white coloured hair separately. Concentrations of cortisol metabolites were determined in faeces collected twice a week during the same period of time. There was a high correlation between cortisol values in faeces and cortisol in white colour hair samples but such correlation was not significant with the black colour hair samples. The intra- and inter-assay coefficients of variation were 4.9% and 10.6%, respectively. The linearity showed R 2=0.98 and mean percentage error of −10.8±1.55%. The extraction efficiency was 89.0±23.52% and the parallelism test showed similar slopes. Cortisol detection in hair by using EIA seems to be a valid method to represent long-term circulating cortisol levels in dairy cattle.


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