The objectives of this study were to determine 1) the time required for food and water consumption of late-gestation pregnant sheep to stabilize after a 6- to 7-h shipment by truck and 2) whether the duration of laboratory acclimation altered food and/or water consumption of pregnant sheep after fetal and maternal vascular catheterization. We used a semi-quantitative scale and a retrospective study design to determine food and water consumption as a function of acclimation time in post-shipping and post-surgery animals. These animals had been in our research facility for 2, 3, 4, and 5 or more days prior to surgical catheterization of the fetus and mother. We used a quantitative scale and a prospective study design to determine food and water consumption in post-surgery animals that had been in the laboratory for either 2 or > or = 7 days at the time of surgery. We used two- and three-factor repeated measures analyses of variance to determine the statistical significance of any differences. Although food and water consumption in post-shipping animals were significantly (p < 0.001) lower on day 1 than other days, we attributed this difference to the fact that "day 1" was shorter than 24 hours because the animals arrived in the laboratory at noon. Further, the post-surgery decrease and subsequent recovery in food and water consumption did not depend on the duration of the acclimation prior to surgery. We conclude that differences in pre-surgery, post-transportation acclimation periods ranging from 48 hours to > or = 7 days do not affect post-operative recovery from fetal surgery in sheep.