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In order to map quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for allometries of body compositions and metabolic traits in chicken, we phenotypically characterize the allometric growths of multiple body components and metabolic traits relative to BWs using joint allometric scaling models and then establish random regression models (RRMs) to fit genetic effects of markers and minor polygenes derived from the pedigree on the allometric scalings. Prior to statistically inferring the QTLs for the allometric scalings by solving the RRMs, the LASSO technique is adopted to rapidly shrink most of marker genetic effects to zero. Computer simulation analysis confirms the reliability and adaptability of the so-called LASSO-RRM mapping method. In the F2 population constructed by multiple families, we formulate two joint allometric scaling models of body compositions and metabolic traits, in which six of nine body compositions are tested as significant, while six of eight metabolic traits are as significant. For body compositions, a total of 14 QTLs, of which 9 dominant, were detected to be associated with the allometric scalings of drumstick, fat, heart, shank, liver and spleen to BWs; while for metabolic traits, a total of 19 QTLs also including 9 dominant be responsible for the allometries of T4, IGFI, IGFII, GLC, INS, IGR to BWs. The detectable QTLs or highly linked markers can be used to regulate relative growths of the body components and metabolic traits to BWs in marker-assisted breeding of chickens.
Each species is subject to various biotic and abiotic factors during growth. This paper formulates a deterministic model with the consideration of various factors regulating population growth such as age-dependent birth and death rates, spatial movements, seasonal variations, intra-specific competition and time-varying maturation simultaneously. The model takes the form of two coupled reaction–diffusion equations with time-dependent delays, which bring novel challenges to the theoretical analysis. Then, the model is analysed when competition among immatures is neglected, in which situation one equation for the adult population density is decoupled. The basic reproduction number
is defined and shown to determine the global attractivity of either the zero equilibrium (when
) or a positive periodic solution (
) by using the dynamical system approach on an appropriate phase space. When the immature intra-specific competition is included and the immature diffusion rate is neglected, the model is neither cooperative nor reducible to a single equation. In this case, the threshold dynamics about the population extinction and uniform persistence are established by using the newly defined basic reproduction number
as a threshold index. Furthermore, numerical simulations are implemented on the population growth of two different species for two different cases to validate the analytic results.
The combined addition of branched-chain volatile fatty acids (BCVFAs) and folic acid (FA) could improve growth performance and nutrient utilization by stimulating ruminal microbial growth and enzyme activity. This study was conducted to evaluate the effects of BCVFA and FA addition on growth performance, ruminal fermentation, nutrient digestibility, microbial enzyme activity, microflora and excretion of urinary purine derivatives (PDs) in calves. Thirty-six Chinese Holstein weaned calves (60 ± 5.4 days of age and 107 ± 4.7 kg of BW) were assigned to one of four groups in a randomized block design. Treatments were control (without additives), FA (with 10 mg FA/kg dietary DM), BCVFA (with 5 g BCVFA/kg dietary DM) and the combined addition of FA and BCVFA (10 mg/kg DM of FA and 5 g/kg DM of BCVFA). Supplements were hand-mixed into the top one-third of total mixed ration. Dietary concentrate to maize silage ratio was 50 : 50 on a DM basis. Dietary BCVFA or FA addition did not affect dry matter intake but increased average daily gain (ADG) and feed conversion efficiency. Ruminal pH and ammonia N were lower, and total volatile fatty acids (VFAs) concentration was higher for BCVFA or FA addition than for control. Dietary BCVFA or FA addition did not affect acetate proportion but decreased propionate proportion and increased acetate to propionate ratio. Total tract digestibility of DM, organic matter, CP and NDF was higher for BCVFA or FA addition than for control. Dietary BCVFA or FA addition increased activity of carboxymethyl cellulase and cellobiase, population of total bacteria, fungi, Ruminococcus albus, R. flavefaciens, Fibrobacter succinogenes and Prevotella ruminicola as well as total PD excretion. Ruminal xylanase, pectinase and protease activity and Butyrivibrio fibrisolvens population were increased by BCVFA addition, whereas population of protozoa and methanogens was increased by FA addition. The BCVFA × FA interaction was significant for acetate to propionate ratio, cellobiase activity and total PD excretion, and these variables increased more with FA addition in diet without BCVFA than in diet with BCVFA. The data indicated that supplementation with BCVFA or FA increased ADG, nutrient digestibility, ruminal total VFA concentration and microbial protein synthesis by stimulating ruminal microbial growth and enzyme activity in calves.
This paper presents a numerical approach to predict the thermal residual stresses in polymer nanocomposites reinforced with a periodic array of wavy carbon nanotubes. A three dimensional unit cell model is established to accurately account for the waviness of the nanotube. Periodic boundary conditions are determined for the unit cell with a pair of curved surfaces. Appropriate methods to evaluate the macroscopic stresses and strains are also determined for the unit cell model in which the interior pores of the nanotubes are explicitly included. It is demonstrated that the macroscopic behavior of the nanocomposites is orthotropic due to the symmetries manifested. By employing material properties of the two constituents, the thermal residual stresses and strains induced by high temperature curing and cooling-down are predicted for an epoxy/wavy-nanotube composite. It is also demonstrated that the curing process tends to increase the waviness of the nanotube and the waviness has a significant influence on the distribution of the microscopic residual stresses.
Muscle fiber characteristics comprise a set of complex traits that influence the meat quality and lean meat production of livestock. However, the genetic and biological mechanisms regulating muscle fiber characteristics are largely unknown in pigs. Based on a genome-wide association study (GWAS) performed on 421 Large White × Min pig F2 individuals presenting well-characterized phenotypes, this work aimed to detect genome variations and candidate genes for five muscle fiber characteristics: percentage of type I fibers (FIB1P), percentage of type IIA fibers (FIB2AP), percentage of type IIB fibers (FIB2BP), diameter of muscle fibers (DIAMF) and number of muscle fibers per unit area (NUMMF). The GWAS used the Illumina Porcine SNP60K genotypic data, which were analyzed by a mixed model. Seven and 10 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were significantly associated with DIAMF and NUMMF, respectively (P < 1.10E-06); no SNP was significantly associated with FIB1P, FIB2AP or FIB2B. For DIAMF, the significant SNPs on chromosome 4 were located in the previously reported quantitative trait loci (QTL) interval. Because the significant SNPs on chromosome 6 were not mapped in the previously reported QTL interval, a putative novel QTL was suggested for this locus. None of the previously reported QTL intervals on chromosomes 6 and 14 harbored significant SNPs for NUMMF; thus, new potential QTLs on these two chromosomes are suggested in the present work. The most significant SNPs associated with DIAMF (ALGA0025682) and NUMMF (MARC0046984) explained 12.02% and 11.59% of the phenotypic variation of these traits, respectively. In addition, both SNPs were validated as associated with DIAMF and NUMMF in Beijing Black pigs (P < 0.01). Some candidate genes or non-coding RNAs, such as solute carrier family 44 member 5 and miR-124a-1 for DIAMF, and coiled-coil serine rich protein 2 for NUMMF, were identified based on their close location to the significant SNPs. This study revealed some genome-wide association variants for muscle fiber characteristics, and it provides valuable information to discover the genetic mechanisms controlling these traits in pigs.
Enhancing the supply of arginine (Arg), a semi-essential amino acid, has positive effects on immune function in dairy cattle experiencing metabolic stress during early lactation. Our objective was to determine the effects of Arg supplementation on biomarkers of liver damage and inflammation in cows during early lactation. Six Chinese Holstein lactating cows with similar BW (508 ± 14 kg), body condition score (3.0), parity (4.0 ± 0), milk yield (30.6 ± 1.8 kg) and days in milk (20 ± days) were randomly assigned to three treatments in a replicated 3 × 3 Latin square design balanced for carryover effects. Each period was 21 days with 7 days for infusion and 14 days for washout. Treatments were (1) Control: saline; (2) Arg group: saline + 0.216 mol/day l-Arg; and (3) Alanine (Ala) group: saline + 0.868 mol/day l-Ala (iso-nitrogenous to the Arg group). Blood and milk samples from the experimental cows were collected on the last day of each infusion period and analyzed for indices of liver damage and inflammation, and the count and composition of somatic cells in milk. Compared with the Control, the infusion of Arg led to greater concentrations of total protein, immunoglobulin M and high density lipoprotein cholesterol coupled with lower concentrations of haptoglobin and tumor necrosis factor-α, and activity of aspartate aminotransferase in serum. Infusion of Ala had no effect on those biomarkers compared with the Control. Although milk somatic cell count was not affected, the concentration of granulocytes was lower in response to Arg infusion compared with the Control or Ala group. Overall, the biomarker analyses indicated that the supplementation of Arg via the jugular vein during early lactation alleviated inflammation and metabolic stress.
Seasonal influenza virus epidemics have a major impact on healthcare systems. Data on population susceptibility to emerging influenza virus strains during the interepidemic period can guide planning for resource allocation of an upcoming influenza season. This study sought to assess the population susceptibility to representative emerging influenza virus strains collected during the interepidemic period. The microneutralisation antibody titers (MN titers) of a human serum panel against representative emerging influenza strains collected during the interepidemic period before the 2018/2019 winter influenza season (H1N1-inter and H3N2-inter) were compared with those against influenza strains representative of previous epidemics (H1N1-pre and H3N2-pre). A multifaceted approach, incorporating both genetic and antigenic data, was used in selecting these representative influenza virus strains for the MN assay. A significantly higher proportion of individuals had a ⩾four-fold reduction in MN titers between H1N1-inter and H1N1-pre than that between H3N2-inter and H3N2-pre (28.5% (127/445) vs. 4.9% (22/445), P < 0.001). The geometric mean titer (GMT) of H1N1-inter was significantly lower than that of H1N1-pre (381 (95% CI 339–428) vs. 713 (95% CI 641–792), P < 0.001), while there was no significant difference in the GMT between H3N2-inter and H3N2-pre. Since A(H1N1) predominated the 2018–2019 winter influenza epidemic, our results corroborated the epidemic subtype.
Crystal structure and electronic structure of YMnO3 were investigated by X-ray diffraction and transmission electron microscopy related techniques. According to the density of states (DOS), the individual interband transitions to energy loss peaks in the low energy loss spectrum were assigned. The hybridization of O 2p with Mn 3d and Y 4d analyzed by the partial DOS was critical to the ferroelectric nature of YMnO3. From the simulation of the energy loss near-edge structure, the fine structure of O K-edge was in good agreement with the experimental spectrum. The valence state of Mn (+3) in YMnO3 was determined by a comparison between experiment and calculations.
Space Infrared Telescope for Cosmology and Astrophysics (SPICA), the cryogenic infrared space telescope recently pre-selected for a ‘Phase A’ concept study as one of the three remaining candidates for European Space Agency (ESA's) fifth medium class (M5) mission, is foreseen to include a far-infrared polarimetric imager [SPICA-POL, now called B-fields with BOlometers and Polarizers (B-BOP)], which would offer a unique opportunity to resolve major issues in our understanding of the nearby, cold magnetised Universe. This paper presents an overview of the main science drivers for B-BOP, including high dynamic range polarimetric imaging of the cold interstellar medium (ISM) in both our Milky Way and nearby galaxies. Thanks to a cooled telescope, B-BOP will deliver wide-field 100–350
m images of linearly polarised dust emission in Stokes Q and U with a resolution, signal-to-noise ratio, and both intensity and spatial dynamic ranges comparable to those achieved by Herschel images of the cold ISM in total intensity (Stokes I). The B-BOP 200
m images will also have a factor
30 higher resolution than Planck polarisation data. This will make B-BOP a unique tool for characterising the statistical properties of the magnetised ISM and probing the role of magnetic fields in the formation and evolution of the interstellar web of dusty molecular filaments giving birth to most stars in our Galaxy. B-BOP will also be a powerful instrument for studying the magnetism of nearby galaxies and testing Galactic dynamo models, constraining the physics of dust grain alignment, informing the problem of the interaction of cosmic rays with molecular clouds, tracing magnetic fields in the inner layers of protoplanetary disks, and monitoring accretion bursts in embedded protostars.
Nitroethane (NE), 2-nitroethanol (NEOH) and 2-nitro-1-propanol (NPOH) were investigated in order to determine their inhibitory effects on in vitro ruminal fermentation and methane (CH4) production of a hay-rich substrate (alfalfa hay: maize meal = 4:1, w/w). The rumen liquor collected from cannulated Holstein dairy cows was incubated at 39 °C for 72 h. The addition of NE, NEOH and NPOH slowed down the fermentation process and notably decreased molar CH4 proportion by 96.8, 96.4 and 35.0%, respectively. The abundance of total methanogen and methanogens from the order Methanobacteriales were all decreased with NE, NEOH and NPOH supplementation. Meanwhile, the nitrocompound addition reduced mcrA gene expression, coenzyme F420 and F430 contents. The correlation analysis showed that CH4 production was correlated positively with the population abundance of total methanogens, Methanobacteriales, mcrA gene expression, coenzyme contents of F420 and F430. The nitrocompound addition decreased acetate concentration and increased propionate and butyrate concentrations in the culture fluid. In summary, both NE and NEOH addition presented nearly the same inhibitory effectiveness on in vitro CH4 production; they were more effective than NPOH. The results of the current study provide evidence that NE, NEOH and NPOH can dramatically decrease methanogen population, mcrA gene expression and the coenzyme content of F420 and F430 in ruminal methanogenesis.
The effects of pantothenic acid (PA) and folic acid (FA) addition on digestibility coefficient, ruminal fermentation and urinary purine derivative (PD) excretion in dairy bulls were evaluated. Eight rumen-cannulated Holstein dairy bulls were allocated to a replicated 4 × 4 Latin square design according to a 2 × 2 factorial arrangement. Diets were supplemented with two levels of FA (0 or 8.0 mg/kg dietary dry matter [DM]) and two of PA (0 or 60 mg/kg DM). The PA × FA interaction was not significant for all variables. Both supplements increased DM intake and average daily gain, but decreased a feed conversion ratio. Digestibility of DM, organic matter, crude protein and neutral detergent fibre increased, but ether extract digestibility was unchanged for both supplements. Digestibility of acid detergent fibre only increased with FA supplementation. For both supplements, ruminal pH and ammonia nitrogen (N) decreased, but total volatile fatty acid (VFA) concentration increased. Acetate proportion only increased with FA supplementation. Propionate proportion decreased for both supplements. Consequently, the acetate to propionate ratio increased. For both supplements, activity of xylanase and pectinase, population of Ruminococcus albus, R. flavefaciens, Fibrobacter succinogenes and Ruminobacter amylophilus and total PD excretion increased. Additionally, activity of carboxymethylcellulase, cellobiase, α-amylase and protease, and population of total bacteria, fungi, protozoa, methanogens, Butyrivibrio fibrisolvens and Prevotella ruminicola increased with FA addition. The results suggested that PA and FA supplementation stimulated ruminal microbial growth and enzyme activity, resulting in an increased digestibility coefficient and ruminal total VFA concentration in dairy bulls.
The COllaborative project of Development of Anthropometrical measures in Twins (CODATwins) project is a large international collaborative effort to analyze individual-level phenotype data from twins in multiple cohorts from different environments. The main objective is to study factors that modify genetic and environmental variation of height, body mass index (BMI, kg/m2) and size at birth, and additionally to address other research questions such as long-term consequences of birth size. The project started in 2013 and is open to all twin projects in the world having height and weight measures on twins with information on zygosity. Thus far, 54 twin projects from 24 countries have provided individual-level data. The CODATwins database includes 489,981 twin individuals (228,635 complete twin pairs). Since many twin cohorts have collected longitudinal data, there is a total of 1,049,785 height and weight observations. For many cohorts, we also have information on birth weight and length, own smoking behavior and own or parental education. We found that the heritability estimates of height and BMI systematically changed from infancy to old age. Remarkably, only minor differences in the heritability estimates were found across cultural–geographic regions, measurement time and birth cohort for height and BMI. In addition to genetic epidemiological studies, we looked at associations of height and BMI with education, birth weight and smoking status. Within-family analyses examined differences within same-sex and opposite-sex dizygotic twins in birth size and later development. The CODATwins project demonstrates the feasibility and value of international collaboration to address gene-by-exposure interactions that require large sample sizes and address the effects of different exposures across time, geographical regions and socioeconomic status.
Estimating the feed intake of grazing herbivores is critical for determining their nutrition, overall productivity and utilization of grassland resources. A 17-day indoor feeding experiment was conducted to evaluate the potential use of Medicago sativa as a natural supplement for estimating the total feed intake of sheep. A total of 16 sheep were randomly assigned to four diets (four sheep per diet) containing a known amount of M. sativa together with up to seven forages common to typical steppes. The diets were: diet 1, M. sativa + Leymus chinensis + Puccinellia distans; diet 2, species in diet 1 + Phragmites australis; diet 3, species in diet 2 + Chenopodium album + Elymus sibiricus; and diet 4, species in diet 3 + Artemisia scoparia + Artemisia tanacetifolia. After faecal marker concentrations were corrected by individual sheep recovery, treatment mean recovery or overall recovery, the proportions of M. sativa and other dietary forages were estimated from a combination of alkanes and long-chain alcohols using a least-square procedure. Total intake was the ratio of the known intake of M. sativa to its estimated dietary proportion. Each dietary component intake was obtained using total intake and the corresponding dietary proportions. The estimated values were compared with actual values to assess the estimation accuracy. The results showed that M. sativa exhibited a distinguishable marker pattern in comparison to the other dietary forage species. The accuracy of the dietary composition estimates was significantly (P < 0.001) affected by both diet diversity and the faecal recovery method. The proportion of M. sativa and total intake across all diets could be accurately estimated using the individual sheep or the treatment mean recovery methods. The largest differences between the estimated and observed total intake were 2.6 g and 19.2 g, respectively, representing only 0.4% and 2.6% of the total intake. However, they were significantly (P < 0.05) biased for most diets when using the overall recovery method. Due to the difficulty in obtaining individual sheep recovery under field conditions, treatment mean recovery is recommended. This study suggests that M. sativa, a natural roughage instead of a labelled concentrate, can be utilized as a dietary supplement to accurately estimate the total feed intake of sheep indoors and further indicates that it has potential to be used in steppe grassland of northern China, where the marker patterns of M. sativa differ markedly from commonly occurring plant species.
Co-receptor tropism has been identified to correlate with HIV-1 transmission and the disease progression in patients. A molecular epidemiology investigation of co-receptor tropism is important for clinical practice and effective control of HIV-1. In this study, we investigated the co-receptor tropism on HIV-1 variants of 85 antiretroviral-naive patients with Geno2pheno algorithm at a false-positive rate of 10%. Our data showed that a majority of the subjects harboured the CCR5-tropic virus (81.2%, 69/85). No significant differences in gender, age, baseline CD4+ T-cell counts and transmission routes were observed between subjects infected with CXCR4-tropic or CCR5-tropic virus. The co-receptor tropism appeared to be associated with the virus genotype; a significantly more CXCR4-use was predicted in CRF01_AE infections whereas all CRF07_BC and CRF08_BC were predicted to use CCR5 co-receptor. Sequences analysis of V3 revealed a higher median net charge in the CXCR4 viruses over CCR5 viruses (4.0 vs. 3.0, P < 0.05). The predicted N-linked glycosylation site between amino acids 6 and 8 in the V3 region was conserved in CCR5 viruses, but not in CXCR4 viruses. Besides, variable crown motifs were observed in both CCR5 and CXCR4 viruses, of which the most prevalent motif GPGQ existed in both viral tropism and almost all genotypes identified in this study except subtype B. These findings may offer important implications for clinical practice and enhance our understanding of HIV-1 biology.
The second Singapore Mental Health Study (SMHS) – a nationwide, cross-sectional, epidemiological survey - was initiated in 2016 with the intent of tracking the state of mental health of the general population in Singapore. The study employed the same methodology as the first survey initiated in 2010. The SMHS 2016 aimed to (i) establish the 12-month and lifetime prevalence and correlates of major depressive disorder (MDD), dysthymia, bipolar disorder, generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and alcohol use disorder (AUD) (which included alcohol abuse and dependence) and (ii) compare the prevalence of these disorders with reference to data from the SMHS 2010.
Door-to-door household surveys were conducted with adult Singapore residents aged 18 years and above from 2016 to 2018 (n = 6126) which yielded a response rate of 69.0%. The subjects were randomly selected using a disproportionate stratified sampling method and assessed using World Health Organization Composite International Diagnostic Interview version 3.0 (WHO-CIDI 3.0). The diagnoses of lifetime and 12-month selected mental disorders including MDD, dysthymia, bipolar disorder, GAD, OCD, and AUD (alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence), were based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) criteria.
The lifetime prevalence of at least one mood, anxiety or alcohol use disorder was 13.9% in the adult population. MDD had the highest lifetime prevalence (6.3%) followed by alcohol abuse (4.1%). The 12-month prevalence of any DSM-IV mental disorders was 6.5%. OCD had the highest 12-month prevalence (2.9%) followed by MDD (2.3%). Lifetime and 12-month prevalence of mental disorders assessed in SMHS 2016 (13.8% and 6.4%) was significantly higher than that in SMHS 2010 (12.0% and 4.4%). A significant increase was observed in the prevalence of lifetime GAD (0.9% to 1.6%) and alcohol abuse (3.1% to 4.1%). The 12-month prevalence of GAD (0.8% vs. 0.4%) and OCD (2.9% vs. 1.1%) was significantly higher in SMHS 2016 as compared to SMHS 2010.
The high prevalence of OCD and the increase across the two surveys needs to be tackled at a population level both in terms of creating awareness of the disorder and the need for early treatment. Youth emerge as a vulnerable group who are more likely to be associated with mental disorders and thus targeted interventions in this group with a focus on youth friendly and accessible care centres may lead to earlier detection and treatment of mental disorders.
Imprinted genes uniquely drive and support fetoplacental growth by controlling the allocation of maternal resources to the fetus and affecting the newborn’s growth. We previously showed that alterations of the placental imprinted gene expression are associated with suboptimal perinatal growth and respond to environmental stimuli including socio-economic determinants. At the same time, maternal psychosocial stress during pregnancy (MPSP) has been shown to affect fetal growth. Here, we set out to test the hypothesis that placental imprinted gene expression mediates the effects of MPSP on fetal growth in a well-characterized birth cohort, the Stress in Pregnancy (SIP) Study. We observed that mothers experiencing high MPSP deliver infants with lower birthweight (P=0.047). Among the 109 imprinted genes tested, we detected panels of placental imprinted gene expression of 23 imprinted genes associated with MPSP and 26 with birthweight. Among these genes, five imprinted genes (CPXM2, glucosidase alpha acid (GAA), GPR1, SH3 and multiple ankyrin repeat domains 2 (SHANK2) and THSD7A) were common to the two panels. In multivariate analyses, controlling for maternal age and education and gestational age at birth and infant gender, two genes, GAA and SHANK2, each showed a 22% mediation of MPSP on fetal growth. These data provide new insights into the role that imprinted genes play in translating the maternal stress message into a fetoplacental growth pattern.
The aim of the study was to investigate any association between extrauterine growth restriction (EUGR) and intestinal flora of <30-week-old preterm infants. A total of 59 preterm infants were assigned to EUGR (n=23) and non-EUGR (n=36) groups. Intestinal bacteria were compared by using high-throughput sequencing of bacterial rRNA. The total abundance of bacteria in 344 genera (7568 v. 13,760; P<0.0001) and 456 species (10,032 v. 18,240; P<0.0001) was significantly decreased in the EUGR group compared with the non-EUGR group. After application of a multivariate logistic model and adjusting for potential confounding factors, as well as false-discovery rate corrections, we found four bacterial genera with higher and one bacterial genus with lower abundance in the EUGR group compared with the control group. In addition, the EUGR group showed significantly increased abundances of six species (Streptococcus parasanguinis, Bacterium RB5FF6, two Klebsiella species and Microbacterium), but decreased frequencies of three species (one Acinetobacter species, Endosymbiont_of_Sphenophorus_lev and one Enterobacter_species) compared with the non-EUGR group. Taken together, there were significant changes in the intestinal microflora of preterm infants with EUGR compared to preterm infants without EUGR.
Music or other background sounds are often played in barns as environmental enrichment for animals on farms or to mask sudden disruptive noises. Previous studies looking at the effects of this practice on non-human animal well-being and productivity have found contradictory results. However, there is still a lack of discussion on whether piglets have the ability to distinguish different types of music. In this study, we exposed piglets to different music conditions to investigate whether the piglets preferred certain music types, in which case those types would have the potential to be used as environmental enrichment. In total, 30 piglets were tested for music type preference to determine whether growing pigs respond differently to different types of music. We used music from two families of instruments (S: string, W: wind) and with two tempos (S: slow, 65 beats/min (bpm); F: fast, 200 bpm), providing four music-type combinations (SS: string-slow; SF: string-fast; WS: wind-slow; WF: wind-fast). The piglets were given a choice between two chambers, one with no music and the other with one of the four types of music, and their behaviour was observed. The results showed that SS and WF music significantly increased residence time (P<0.01) compared with the other music conditions. Compared with the control group (with no music), the different music conditions led to different behavioural responses, where SS music significantly increased lying (P<0.01) and exploration behaviour (P<0.01); SF music significantly increased tail-wagging behaviour (P<0.01); WS music significantly increased exploration (P<0.01); and WF music significantly increased walking, lying, standing and exploration (all P<0.01). The results also showed that musical instruments and tempo had little effect on most of the behaviours. Fast-tempo music significantly increased walking (P=0.02), standing (P<0.01) and tail wagging (P=0.04) compared with slow-tempo music. In conclusion, the results of this experiment show that piglets are more sensitive to tempo than to musical instruments in their response to musical stimulation and seem to prefer SS and WF music to the other two types. The results also suggest a need for further research on the effect of music types on animals.
Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology offers a real-time solution to monitor behavioral responses of individual animals to various stimuli, which provides crucial implications on farm management and animal well-being. The objectives of this study were to (1) develop and describe an ultra-high frequency radio frequency identification (UHF-RFID) system for continuously monitoring feeding and drinking behaviors of individual broilers in group settings; and (2) validate the performance of the UHF-RFID system against video analysis in determining the instantaneous bird number (IBN) and time spent (TS) at feeder and drinker. The UHF-RFID system consisted of cable-tie tags, antennas, a reader and a data acquisition (DAQ) system. The antennas generated electromagnetic fields where tags were detected and registered by the DAQ system. Electromagnetic fields of the antennas were modified to cover areas of concern (i.e. tube feeders and nipple drinkers) through a series of system evaluations and customizations including tag sensitivity test, power adjustment, radio wave shielding, and assessment of interference by add-ons (e.g. plastic wraps for protecting antennas and an empty carton box for zoning out broilers) and feed/feeder. System validation was performed in two experimental rooms, each with 60 tagged broilers. The results showed that the max reading distances of tags with an identical manufacturer’s specification were markedly different, indicating large variations in sensitivity among the tags. Desired electromagnetic fields could be achieved by adjusting the power supplied to antennas and by partially shielding antennas with customized stainless steel sheets. The protection materials and fully loaded feeder had little effect on electromagnetic fields of the antennas. The accuracies of the UHF-RFID system for determining IBN and TS were, respectively, 92.5±4.2% and 99.0±1.2% by the feeder antennas and 94.7±4.2% and 93.7±6.9% by the drinker antennas. It is concluded that the UHF-RIFD system can accurately detect and record feeding and drinking behaviors of individual broilers in group settings and thus is a useful tool for investigating impacts of resource allocations and management practices on these behaviors.