Acta Vet. Brno 2022, 91: 51-58

Translocation stress is reflected in corticosterone metabolites in pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) droppings

Martina Volfová1, Rupert Palme2, Zuzana Machovcová1, Eva Voslářová1, Gabriela Lukešová1, Vladimír Večerek1

1University of Veterinary Sciences Brno, Faculty of Veterinary Hygiene and Ecology, Department of Animal Protection and Welfare & Veterinary Public Health, Brno, Czech Republic
2University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Austria

Received October 20, 2021
Accepted November 23, 2021

Translocation (including transportation and experiencing a new environment) represents a significant stressor for animals. The aim of this study was to assess changes in corticosterone metabolite (CM) levels related to translocation in common pheasants (Phasianus colchicus). Sixteen birds (8 males and 8 females) aged 17 weeks were crated and transported for 3.5 h (distance travelled 140 km) to the target customer. Serial individual droppings were collected from 2 days prior until 3 days after transport. Concentrations of CMs in droppings were determined with a non-commercial cortisone enzyme immunoassay (EIA). Transport stress resulted in increased CM concentrations in the droppings in our study. The CM concentrations significantly increased within 2.5 h of transport (P < 0.01) compared to pre-transport levels (747 ng/g vs. 187 ng/g). After additional 3 h, the CM concentrations fell back to the baseline levels (207.7 ng/g). In the new environment, the second peak (median: 1383 ng/g) was determined with CM concentrations increasing (P < 0.01) compared to baseline levels. This increase was likely connected to the stress resulting from the new environment. The CM levels returned back to the baseline level 26 h after the start of transportation. No differences in concentrations of CM between sexes were found in our study. The utilized cortisone EIA proved suited to detect biologically meaningful alterations in adrenocortical activity of pheasants exposed to procedures related to their transport.


We would like to thank our dear colleague Dr. Pavel Forejtek, for making the research possible and for his help with sample collection. Also we would like to thank Edith Klobetz Rassam and Dr. Monika Šebánková for technical assistance with the EIA analysis. This study was supported by the Internal Creative Agency of the University of Veterinary Sciences Brno (Project No. FVHE/Vecerek/ITA2020).


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