Hormones as indicators of stress

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Animal welfare is of increasing importance and absence of chronic stress is one of its prerequisites. During stress, various endocrine responses are involved to improve the fitness of the individual. The front-line hormones to overcome stressful situations are the glucocorticoids and catecholamines. These hormones are determined as a parameter of adrenal activity and thus of disturbance. The concentration of glucocorticoids (or their metabolites) can be measured in various body fluids or excreta. Above all, fecal samples offer the advantage that they can be easily collected and this procedure is feedback free. Recently, enzyme immunoassays (EIA) have been developed and successfully tested, to enable the measurement of groups of cortisol metabolites in animal feces. The determination of these metabolites in fecal samples is a practical method to monitor glucocorticoid production.