Animal Production

Research Article

Cold Exposure of Southdown and Welsh Mountain Sheep. 2. Effects of breed, plane of nutrition and previous acclimatization to cold upon skin temperature, heart rate, shivering and respiration rate

A. R. Sykesa1 p1 and J. Sleea1

a1 A.R.C. Animal Breeding Research Organisation, West Mains Road, Edinburgh 9


Shorn Southdown and Welsh Mountain sheep on high or maintenance levels of nutrition were subjected to two acute (−20°C; 4 mph wind) cold exposures in climate chambers. Before and between exposures the sheep were kept in either a cold (+8°C) or a thermoneutral (+30°C) environment.

1. At +8°C, all the sheep shivered and showed sustained vasoconstriction and elevated heart rates.

2. At + 30°C, heart rates, skin temperatures on the extremities and muscular tone were all consistently higher in sheep which had previously been kept at +8°C.

3. During cooling, the onset of vasoconstriction and increase in heart rate were both delayed in sheep previously kept at + 8°C.

4. These effects (2, 3) were retained for at least 2 days but less than 12 days after the sheep returned to thermoneutrality. They decayed faster than the increased resistance to body cooling produced simultaneously in the same sheep (Sykes and Slee, 1969), since this was still detectable after 2 weeks.

5. Breed differences were mainly small.

6. It was concluded that acclimatization induced by chronic cold exposure was associated with a temporary increase in basal metabolic rate.

(Received June 19 1968)


p1 Present address: Moredun Research Institute, Edinburgh 9.