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Heat Stress Effects On Sheep: Are Hair Sheep More Heat Resistant?

C. McManus, D. Faria, C. M. Lucci, H. Louvandini, S. A. Pereira, S. Paiva
Published 2020 · Medicine, Biology

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Climatic variables can trigger physiological, biochemical, haematological and hormonal alterations that influence the maintenance of homeothermy and can affect production and productivity in sheep. Different mechanisms are responsible for tolerance to heat stress (HS) including coat and skin colour, body size, fat distribution, physiological reactions and not just coat type (hair/wool). This review looks at physical, physiological, molecular and genetic aspects of heat tolerance in sheep and how they affect hair and wool sheep. We propose that it is the adaptation to hot environments and not the type of coat (wool/hair) itself that determines the capacity of the resistance of the animal to HS, due to modifications in essential pathways such as energy metabolism, physiological responses and body size. When studied in similar environments, commercial wool breeds tend to show higher heat stress, but hair breeds tend not to differ from wool breeds that are adapted to hot environments.
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