Haematological and serum biochemical values were measured in blood samples collected over a 12-mo period from 37 unsedated chital deer (Axis axis). Stags and hinds, ranging in age from birth to maturity, were sampled. Haemoglobin, total erythrocyte and haematocrit values were low at birth and sex differences were not apparent in neonates and juveniles, but were in adults. Chital stags had higher erythrocyte parameters (P < 0.001) and lower erythrocyte indices than hinds, and the total leucocyte count was higher in stags (P < 0.01). Some parameters (erythrocytes, muscle enzymes, glucose, cortisol) decreased over successive serial sampling. The differential leucocyte count of older stags decreased during the initial handling period. The major rutting period in February and March was characterised by changes in the differential leucocyte count, elevations in serum muscle enzymes, and lower serum cortisol levels. Alkaline phosphatase activity in serum reflected the annual antler cycle of chital stags. Serial sampling over many weeks, either weekly or tri-weekly, produced haematological and biochemical changes in successive samples which may have reflected a reduction in stress and excitement associated with restraint.
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Vol. 27 • No. 3