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ORIGINAL ARTICLE

REFERENCE VALUES FOR HAEMATOLOGICAL PARAMETERS


OF SHEEP: A REVIEW

NseAbasi NsikakAbasi Etim


Department of Animal Science / Faculty of Agriculture / AkwaIbom State University
/ ObioAkpa Campus / AkwaIbom State/ Nigeria. etimbobo@yahoo.com

ABSTRACT
Background: Blood which is a vital special circulatory tissue is composed of cells suspended in a fluid intercellular substance
(plasma), with the major function of maintaining homeostasis and growth of animals. Objective: The reference values for
haematological parameters of sheep have been examined in this review. Methods: To achieve this goal we analyzed all
articles published on the subject. Haematological examination has been used as one of the methods in the detection of some
changes in health and physiological status, which may not be apparent during physical examination, but which affects the
fitness of the animal. Variations in blood parameters have been reported in animals due to several factors such as attitude,
management, feeding level, age, sex, coat color, health status, method of blood collection haematological techniques used,
diurnal and seasonal variation, ambient temperature and physiological status of the animal. Changes in haematological
parameters are of value in assessing the responses of animals to various physiological and disease condition. Reference
values reported are subjectively averaged from a variety of sources. There is a great range of values reported. This may be
accounted for by variation in age, sex, breed, or strain, sampling techniques and testing methodology. Normal ranges of
values indicate that the vital physiological process has been maintained and were normal.
Keywords: Blood, haematological components, physiology, sheep.

1. INTRODUCTION
Haematology is the study of morphology and physiology of blood [1]. According to Wikihow (2013) haematology is the
branch of biology (physiology) that is concerned with the study of blood, blood-forming organs and blood diseases [2]. Merck
Manual (2012) and Etim et al. (2013) posited that haematology refers to the study of the numbers and morphology of the
cellular elements of the blood the red cells (erythrocyte), white cells (leucocytes), and the platelets (thrombocytes) and the
use of these results in the diagnosis and monitoring of diseases [3,4].
Haematological parameters are those parameters that are related to the blood and blood forming organs [5,6,7]. The
significance of determining haematological indices of domestic animals has been well documented [4]. Haematological traits
are essential parameters for evaluating the health and physiological status of animals and herds [8,9,10,11,4]. Amakiri et al.
(2009) indicated that it is very difficult to assess the current health status of animals without detailed examination of blood
[12]. Examination of blood provides the opportunity to clinically investigate the presence of several metabolites and other
constituents in the body. It plays a vital role in the assessment of physiological, nutritional and pathological status of the
animal. It also helps to distinguish normal state from state of stress [13].
The haematological examination is among methods which may contribute to the detection of some changes in health and
physiological status, which may not be apparent during physical examination, but which affects the fitness of the animal [6].
According to Jawasreh et al. (2009) information gained from blood parameters would substantiate the physical examination
and coupled with medical history help provide excellent basis for medical interventions as the primary index of metabolic
activity in any organ is the blood flow through the organ [14,15].
Haematological studies are important because blood is the major transport system of the body and evaluations of
haematological profile usually furnishes vital information on the bodys response to injury of all forms, including toxic injury
[16,17,18,19]. Haematological constituents reflect the physiological responsiveness of the animal to its internal and external
environments which include feed and feeding [8] as well as drugs [20]. Haematological studies represent a useful process in
the diagnosis of many diseases as well as investigation of the extent of damage to the blood [21,19]. The blood transport or
conveys nutrients and materials to different parts of the body. Therefore, whatever affects the blood; drugs, pathogenic
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organism or nutrition will certainly affect the entire body adversely or moderately in terms of health, growth, maintenance
and reproduction [22]. A readily available and fast means of assessing clinical and nutritional health status of animal on
feeding trails may be the use of blood analysis, because ingestion of dietary components have measurable effects on blood
composition [23, 24] and may be considered as appropriate measure of long term nutritional status [25].
Daramola et al. (2005) reported that haematological values could serve as baseline information for comparison of nutrient
deficiency, physiology and health status of farm animals [26]. Scarcity of information on reference values for haematological
parameters, particularly for sheep could make such comparisons difficult. Therefore, this review examined the reference
values for haematological parameters of sheep.

2. HAEMATOLOGICAL ANALYSIS
Haematological assessment can be considered as a practical diagnostic tool [27, 4]. According to Wikihow (2013) and Etim et
al. (2013) haematological analysis involves the determination of different blood parameters, which can be done using either
the electronic quantification or manual quantification [2, 4]. The electronic quantification can be done with the use of the
auto counter and these displaces about 15 parameters while manual quantification of packed cell volume (PCV) for example
is by use of microhaematocrit centrifuge. This microhaematocrit centrifuge is used to determine the PCV, from which many
parameters can be obtained [4] the best way to determine blood parameter is through the electronic device called auto
counter because it gives accurate values and manual red blood cell counting is obsolete and inaccurate [4]. Although, the
manual quantification is used to confirm whether the values obtained from auto counter correlate with it for PCV. With the
exception of trace element analysis, routine haematology is less frequently performed in farm animal practice than small
animal practices. These haematological investigations tend to be limited to selected test for flock problems and specific
disease presentations in more valuable individuals [28-4].

3. HAEMATOLOGICAL COMPONENTS, FUNCTIONS AND SIGNIFICANCE OF RESULTS


According to Etimet al. (2014a) blood which is a vital special circulatory tissue is composed of cells suspended in a fluid
intercellular substance (plasma), with the major function of maintaining homeostasis and growth of animals [7]. It is
important in ascertaining the ideal physiological, pathological and nutritional status of an animal [29]. Haematological
component which consist of haemoglobin, PCV, platelets cells, white blood cells or leucocytes, mean corpuscular volume,
mean corpuscular haemoglobin and mean corpuscular haemoglobin concentration are valuable in monitoring feed toxicity
especially with feed constitutions that affect the blood as well as the health status of farm animal [30,31]. Red blood cells
(erythrocytes) serve as carriers of haemoglobin. It is the haemoglobin that reacts with oxygen carried in the blood to form
oxyhaemoglobin during respiration [32,33]. Red blood cell is involved in the transport of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the
body. Thus, a reduced red blood cell count implies a reduction in the level of oxygen that could be carried to the tissues as
well as the level of carbon dioxide returned to the lungs [34,29-7].Haemoglobin has the physiological function of transporting
oxygen to tissues of animals for oxidation of digested food so as to release energy for the other body functions as well as
transport carbon dioxide out of the body of animals [35,34-29-7]. Peters et al. (2012) and Etimet al. (2014a) stated that
packed cell volume, haemoglobin and mean corpuscular haemoglobin are indices for evaluating circulatory erythrocytes, and
are significant in the diagnosis of anaemia [36-7]. They also serve as useful indices of the bone marrow capacity to produce
red blood cells as in mammals [37-33]. Furthermore, Chinekeet al. (2006) and Etim et al. (2014a) reported that high packed
cell volume (PCV) reading indicated either an increase in number of red blood cells or reduction in circulating plasma volume
[33-7]. Mean corpuscular haemoglobin and mean corpuscular haemoglobin concentration indicate blood level conditions. A
low level is an indication of anaemia while a high level indicates a normal condition [19].According to Durotoye and Oyewoya
(2000) PCV (%) of 30 and Heamoglobin (Hb) (g/%) of 9.41 for WAD rams are within the normal range [15]. A low intake of
iron is one of the possible causes of observed lower PCV and Hb values in WAD sheep and a decrease in Hb value indicates
that the administration of extract reduced the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood which may result in ischaemia, tissue
and anoxia and death [38]. As reported by Bello and Tsado (2013) haemoglobin values within normal range implies that the
dietary proteins were of high quality [39]. PCV values of 22.9 29.4, 21-35 and 20.10 - 48.00% were reported by [39] for
Yankasa rams, [26] for WAD goats and [14] for Afec-Awassi sheep respectively. Bello and Tsado (2013) and Oyawoya and
Ogunkunle (1998) stated that normal value for PCV suggested that there were no presence of toxic factor (such as
haemaglutinin) which has adverse effect on blood formation [39-30].
The major functions of the white blood cell and its differentials are to fight infections, defend the blood by phagocytosis
against invasion by foreign organisms and to produce or at least transport and distribute antibodies in immune response.
Thus, animals with low white blood cells are exposed to high risk of disease infection. While those with high counts are
capable of generating antibodies in the process of phagocytosis and have high degree of resistance to disease [34-7]and

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enhance adaptability to local environment and disease prevalent conditions [40,41,42,29-7].As reported by Etim et al.
(2014b) immune status is a function of leucocytes, lymphocytes and neutrophils. Lymphocytes are known to play key roles in
immune defense system of both man and animals [31]. According to Etimet al. (2014b) significantly higher leucocytes is
thought to be due to chronic pneumonia and parasitism [31]. When WBC (leucocytes), neutrophils and lymphocytes fall
within the normal range, it indicates that the feeding pattern do not affect the immune system. Most immunological
abnormalities observed in malnutrition are usually corrected after rehabilitation. According to Bello and Tsado (2013) WBC
values within normal range is an indication that there were no microbial infection or presence of foreign bodies or parasites
in the circulatory system of experimental animals [39]. Oyebiyi et al., (2007) and Etim (2010) reported that lower WBC may
mean that the diets mildly suppressed haematopoietic tissues with resultant production of lower WBC, but if it cut across all
the treatment groups including control, it cannot be attributed to the test ingredient [43-19]. Higher WBC count may explain
the reason for disease resistance which has been reported by [44], or the prevalence of disease condition. It may also
explain longevity as reported by [45-19]. Also Ehebaet al. (2008) noted that a decrease in WBC count, however, reflected a
fall in the production of defensive mechanism to combat infection [46]. A significantly lower level of lymphocyte count is an
indication of a reduction in the ability of the experimental animals to produce and release antibodies when infections occur
[47-48]. Furthermore, Reilly (1993) and Etim (2010) opined that normal range of values for WBC indicated that the animals
were healthy because decrease in number of WBC values below normal range is an indication of allergic conditions,
anaphylactic shock and certain parasitism [49-19]. According to Campbell and Lasley (1975) and Etim (2010) a significant
increase in neutrophils proportions relative to lymphocyte accompanies temporary stress conditions in farm animals a few
hours after the removal of the stress [47-19]. An increase in neutrophils is associated with a decrease in lymphocytes and
vice versa. Furthermore, Etim and Oguike (2011) observed increase in all the hematological parametric for rabbit does fed A.
africana compared to the control rabbits [50]. Taziebouet al. (2007) observed increase in values for all the hematological
parameters studied on rats administered with aqueous A. africana extract orally and that the main causes of increased WBC
count are: metabolic disorder stress, menstruation and strenuous exercises [51,52,51].It was further observed that raised
level of erythropoietin can occur in renal disease, cyanotic heart disease; shock [52].
Blood platelets are implicated in blood clothing. Low platelet concentrations suggest that clot formation (blood clotting) will
be prolonged resulting in excessive loss of blood in the case of injury. Packed cell volume (PCV) which is also known as
haematocrit (HT or Hct) or Erythrocyte Volume Fraction (EVF) is the percentage (%) of red blood cells in blood [53-7].
According to Isaac et al. (2013) and Etim et al. (2014b) packed cell volume is involved in the transport of oxygen and
absorbed nutrients [29-7]. Increased packed cell volume shows a better transportation and thus results in an increased
primary and secondary polycythemia. Haemoglobin is the iron containing oxygen transport metalloprotein in the red blood
cells of all vertebrates [54] with the exception of fish family, Channichthyidea [55-7] as well as tissues of invertebrates.

4. CAUSES OF VARIATIONS IN BLOOD PARAMETERS


Radostits (1994) posited that low nutritional pastures among other factors alter blood, values of sheep and goat [56]. Etimet
al. (2014a) reported that haematological traits especially, PCV and Hb were correlated with the nutritional status of the
animal [7]. Adamu et al. (2008) observed that nutrition had significant effect on haematological values like PCV, Hb and RBC
[58]. Togun et al. (2007) reported that increase in PCV coupled with marginal increase in RBC is indicative of a more efficient
erythropoiesis in experimental animals [48].
Changes in haematological parameters are of value in assessing the responses of animals to various physiological and
disease condition [16-58,59]. Changes of these parameters have been studied in Cattle [60]; Sheep [61,62] and Red Sokoto
goats [63]. Variations in blood parameters have been reported in animals due to several factors such as attitude,
management, feeding level, age, sex, coat colour, health status, method of blood collection haematological techniques used,
diurnal and seasonal variation, ambient temperature and physiological status of the [64,65]. Fadare et al. (2012) opined that
sex and coat colour and sex significantly affected RBC and WBC in WAD sheep and that seasonal variation in parameters
were observed except in PCV [66].

5. REFERENCE VALUES FOR HAEMATOLOGICAL PARAMETERS OF SHEEP


Research Animal Resources (RAR) (2009) and Etim et al. (2014a) reported the values below and stated that the values are
subjectively averaged from a variety of sources [67-7]. There is a great range of values reported. This may be accounted for
by variation in age, sex, breed, or strain, sampling techniques and testing methodology. Alonso et al. (1997) and Jawasreh et

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al. (2009) posited that blood laboratory parameters and productive traits are essentially affected by the genetic potential of
individual animals and parameters of homeostasis in the body [68-14].
Table 1: Reference Values for Hematological Parameters of Sheep.
Parameters
Ranges of Values
PCV (%)
Hb (g/dl)
MCV (fl)
MCH (pg)
MCHC (g/dl)
WBC (X103/mm3)
Lymphocytes (%)
Monocytes (%)
Eosinopils (%)
Basophils (%)

24 45
8 16
23 48
8 12
31 38
4 12
40 70
06
04
02

Source: [67-7]

Frandson (1986) posited that a PCV of 32% is normal for sheep [69].Jawasreh et al. (2009) reported the following ranges of
values for hematological parameters for different limes of Awassi sheep and stated that they were within normal ranges for
sheep [14].
Table 2: Hematological values for (Awassi) sheep.
Parameters
Ranges of Values
WBC (X103l)
RBC (X106l)
Hb (g/dl)
PCV (%)
MCV (fl)
MCH (pg)
MCHC (g/dl)

4.3 7.4
8.9 9.3
10.4 10.5
28 31
30 33
11 12
33.5 46

Source: [14];

Table 3: Reference Values for haematological parameters of sheep.


Parameters
Ranges of Values
WBC (X103l) or (X103/mm3)
RBC (X106l) or (X106mm3)
Hb(g/dl)
PCV (%)
MCV (fl)
MCHC (g/dl)
MCH (pg)
Platelet (X103/l)
Lymphocytes (%)
Neutrophils (%)
Monocytes (%)
Eosinophils (%)
Basophils (%)

4 12
9 15
9 15
27 45
28 40
31 34
8 12
100 800
40 75
10 50
79
2.33 2.67
0.83 1.17

Source: [70,71-14]

The following ranges of values were reported by [38] for West Africa Dwarf (WAD) rams of 1824 months, which weighed
2025kg and stated to be within normal range.

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Table 4: Haematological values of West Africa Dwarf rams.


Parameters
Ranges of Values
PCV (%)
Hb (g/dl)
RBC (X1012/L)
WBC (X109/L)
MCH (pg)
MCHC (%)
Neutrophils (%)
Lymphocyte (%)
Monocytes (%)

27.75 36.67
9.13 12.27
10.82 16.11
8.87 19.53
6.00 8.75
33 38
27.75 32.33
67.00 71.75
1.00 2.00

Source: [38]

Table 5: Haematological values of different Species or breeds of animals


Parameters

Ranges of Values

PCV (%)
27.45 29.13
Hb (g/dl)
8.4 9.7
Hb (g/dl)
7.0 15.0l
Hb (g/dl)
8.15 10.7
WBC (x109/l)
3.2 15.80
WBC (x109/l)
7.0 12.9
WBC (x109/l)
6.8 20.1
Source: [26, 72, 73, 14, 39]

Species/breeds
WAD sheep
Yankasa rams
WAD goats
WAD sheep
Afec-Awassi sheep
Yankasa rams
WAD goat

6.CONCLUSION
Haematological component which consist of haemoglobin, PCV, platelets cells, white blood cells or leucocytes, mean
corpuscular volume, mean corpuscular haemoglobin and mean corpuscular haemoglobin concentration have been found to
be valuable in monitoringphysiological changes in farm animals. Haematological parameters are thus, very importance in
determining the physiological status of farm animals. Normal ranges of values indicate that the vital physiological process has
been maintained and were normal.

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Cite this article: NseAbasi NsikakAbasi Etim. Reference values for haematological parameters of sheep: a review. The

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