A set of hormonal, haematological and biochemical parameters was used to evaluate the physiological response and welfare
status of 14 finishing Marchigiana bulls treated for 49 days with a low daily dosage (0.75 mg/head per day) of dexamethasone
per os. Compared to the Control group, dexamethasone decreased cortisol concentrations (42.3 v. 5.7 nmol/l; s.e.d.54.17;
P,0.001), and led to the reversal of the leukocyte formula in the animals treated (P,0.05). Total serum proteins (70.2v.
73.9 g/l; s.e.d.51.55;P,0.05), in particularb1globulins (7.5v.9.1 g/l; s.e.d.50.24;P,0.01) and fibrinogen (199v. 258 mg/dl;
s.e.d.532.70;P,0.05), increased as a consequence of treatment. Prolonged dexamethasone administration led the bulls to
an apparently chronic stress condition. Moreover, the study indicated various blood parameters that might be used by health
officials as effective tools in identifying beef cattle suspected of being illegally treated with dexamethasone.