Timed environmental exposure indicates sample stability for reliable noninvasive measurement of fecal cortisol metabolite concentrations in sheep

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Abstract

The use of noninvasive techniques to evaluate stress responses in animals has become an increasingly popular method of animal welfare assessment in both production animals and wildlife. In particular, using fecal samples to measure fecal cortisol metabolites (FCMs) as a quantitative measure has proven ideal as samples can be collected remote to the animal after defecation without the need for invasive procedures. Colorimetric enzyme immunoassays (EIAs) have been shown to have a high level of selectivity and sensitivity for FCM concentration analysis, equivalent to the traditionally used radioimmunoassay. Regardless of the assay system used, species- and sample-specific validation must be undertaken to ensure the reliability of results, particularly where sampling is undertaken in a novel species or where environmental conditions might impact FCM stability in the fecal sample. To determine the limit of environmental exposure acceptable for analysis of FCM concentrations in ovine scat samples collected from a paddock under conditions of stable heat and humidity, this study quantified FCMs in ovine feces shortly after defecation (2–7 h) and after timed environmental exposure (1–9 d). Samples were determined to show stable FCM concentrations for up to 5 d by this analysis. Understanding the impacts of environmental exposure, and therefore the viability of remote fecal collection methods for quantitative analysis of FCM by EIA, is important to assess the utility of noninvasive measures of endocrine status in animals where the exact timing of defecation may not be known.
Original languageEnglish
Article number106423
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalDomestic Animal Endocrinology
Volume72
Early online date17 Dec 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020

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