Female farm animals are exposed to a great variety of environmental and management related stressors. As a consequence, their reproductive and maternal abilities may be compromised through mechanisms acting on the hypothalamic, pituitary, ovarian and uterine function. Responses to short- and long-term stressors may differ as short-term stressors often fail to affect reproduction or even may have stimulatory effects. Thus, the stress response induces diverse neuroendocrine reactions that can either increase or decrease the probability of an animal reproducing depending on the specific situation. The aim of the present review is to summarise the current knowledge on the stress concept and its implications on behaviour and reproductive performance in cows and female pigs as phenomena reported in laboratory animals are unable to explain all effects encountered in domesticated farm animals.