Lifestyle

Are our sheep seasick?

UQ Gatton student Eduardo Santurtun is studying sea sickness in sheep.
UQ Gatton student Eduardo Santurtun is studying sea sickness in sheep. David Nielsen

COULD sea sickness be killing our sheep?

Eduardo Santurtun, a University of Queensland Gatton PhD student, is conducting world first research to discover just this.

Mortality of sheep in Australian live export occurs mainly in sea transport, where many sheep simply stop eating.

"When transporting livestock there are several stresses involved in transporting the animal from the farm to the consumer," Mr Santurtun said.

"No research has been done into the effects of 'ship-motions' and this project will provide a more thorough understanding of the impact these motions have on sheep," he said.

Mr Santurtun said he had been told by ship workers more sheep died in rough conditions than in calm waters.

The three most important are roll (side to side), pitch (end to end) and heave (up and down).

Mr Santurtun said while it seemed sheep suffer motion sickness in a similar way to humans his research aims to prove it.

The sheep travel from Australia to the Middle East, and beyond, for voyages which take 14-20 days, with a significant mortality rate of about 1%.

"In 2010, 23,000 sheep died, with about one half of these due to failure to eat, which may have been partly due to the motions of the ship," Mr Santurtun said.

"As part of the experiment we use a modified flight simulator to create the roll and pitch motion of the ship and a forklift to create the heave."

While this is happening the sheep's food consumption and balance is monitored.

The final experiment will look at combining all three of the motions.

"This is a more realistic scenario but it is important to understand each of the motions in isolation first so that we can suggest improvements to the transport arrangements," he said.

Mr Santurtun is using a platform similar to that used in a flight simulator to replicate roll, pitch and heave. This research is being supported by the Centre for Animal Welfare and Ethics.

Feeling queasy

Seasickness is caused by the body, inner ear, and eyes sending differing signals to the brain.

The result is a feeling of queasiness that can shut down the digestion process.

Topics:  gatton, live export, university of queensland




Join the Community.

Get your local news, your way.

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Darren Lockyer nails it at big Bunnings opening

BIG NAME: Darren Lockyer dropped in to Bunnings Bundamba for the official opening of the store. He’s pictured with complex manager Nathan Robley (left) and Bunnings managing director Mike Schneider

Lockyer nails it at Bunnings store opening

Backyard fight turns ugly for man linked to Samoan royalty

A man linked to Samoan royalty was sentenced in Ipswich District Court.

Man linked to Samoan royalty escapes spending time behind bars

Pie guys face fraud accusations

Stephen Donnelly

He allegedly embezzled more than $160,000

Latest deals and offers

Dash Cam of Head-on Crash

Head-on crash after overtaking in fog.

Disaster as driver overtakes in fog at night.

Fatal house fire at One Mile

Police and fire investigators at the scene of a fatal house fire in Ipswich on...

Spirit of Tasmania Ferry in Rough Seas

Rough seas toss ferry around.

Passengers scream as ferry rides through high seas.

Demand for acreage lots pushes up property prices

Property values in Cooroy have increased 25%

Property values jump in Cooroy and Peachester.

How a sacked real estate agent made $725k in four months

Agent is now under investigation by the industry watchdog

RBA warns of future apartment oversupply

Toowoomba: Crest Apartments and Burke & Wills, Ruthven Street ( view from Neil Street) Photo Bev Lacey / The Chronicle

RBA says oversupply of apartments poses risk to household finances