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Economic pressures continue to mount on modern-day livestock farmers, forcing them to increase herds sizes in order to be commercially viable. The natural consequence of this is to drive the farmer and the animal further apart. However, closer attention to the animal not only positively impacts animal welfare and health but can also increase the capacity of the farmer to achieve a more sustainable production. State-of-the-art precision livestock farming (PLF) technology is one such means of bringing the animals closer to the farmer in the facing of expanding systems. Contrary to some current opinions, it can offer an alternative philosophy to ‘farming by numbers’. This review addresses the key technology-oriented approaches to monitor animals and demonstrates how image and sound analyses can be used to build ‘digital representations’ of animals by giving an overview of some of the core concepts of PLF tool development and value discovery during PLF implementation. The key to developing such a representation is by measuring important behaviours and events in the livestock buildings. The application of image and sound can realise more advanced applications and has enormous potential in the industry. In the end, the importance lies in the accuracy of the developed PLF applications in the commercial farming system as this will also make the farmer embrace the technological development and ensure progress within the PLF field in favour of the livestock animals and their well-being.
Better understanding of interplay among symptoms, cognition and functioning in first-episode psychosis (FEP) is crucial to promoting functional recovery. Network analysis is a promising data-driven approach to elucidating complex interactions among psychopathological variables in psychosis, but has not been applied in FEP.
This study employed network analysis to examine inter-relationships among a wide array of variables encompassing psychopathology, premorbid and onset characteristics, cognition, subjective quality-of-life and psychosocial functioning in 323 adult FEP patients in Hong Kong. Graphical Least Absolute Shrinkage and Selection Operator (LASSO) combined with extended Bayesian information criterion (BIC) model selection was used for network construction. Importance of individual nodes in a generated network was quantified by centrality analyses.
Our results showed that amotivation played the most central role and had the strongest associations with other variables in the network, as indexed by node strength. Amotivation and diminished expression displayed differential relationships with other nodes, supporting the validity of two-factor negative symptom structure. Psychosocial functioning was most strongly connected with amotivation and was weakly linked to several other variables. Within cognitive domain, digit span demonstrated the highest centrality and was connected with most of the other cognitive variables. Exploratory analysis revealed no significant gender differences in network structure and global strength.
Our results suggest the pivotal role of amotivation in psychopathology network of FEP and indicate its critical association with psychosocial functioning. Further research is required to verify the clinical significance of diminished motivation on functional outcome in the early course of psychotic illness.
l-Carnitine is essential for mitochondrial β-oxidation and has been used as a lipid-lowering feed additive in humans and farmed animals. d-Carnitine is an optical isomer of l-carnitine and dl-carnitine has been widely used in animal feeds. However, the functional differences between l- and d-carnitine are difficult to study because of the endogenous l-carnitine background. In the present study, we developed a low-carnitine Nile tilapia model by treating fish with a carnitine synthesis inhibitor, and used this model to investigate the functional differences between l- and d-carnitine in nutrient metabolism in fish. l- or d-carnitine (0·4 g/kg diet) was fed to the low-carnitine tilapia for 6 weeks. l-Carnitine feeding increased the acyl-carnitine concentration from 3522 to 10 822 ng/g and alleviated the lipid deposition from 15·89 to 11·97 % in the liver of low-carnitine tilapia. However, as compared with l-carnitine group, d-carnitine feeding reduced the acyl-carnitine concentration from 10 822 to 5482 ng/g, and increased lipid deposition from 11·97 to 20·21 % and the mRNA expression of the genes involved in β-oxidation and detoxification in the liver. d-Carnitine feeding also induced hepatic inflammation, oxidative stress and apoptosis. A metabolomic investigation further showed that d-carnitine feeding increased glycolysis, protein metabolism and activity of the tricarboxylic acid cycle and oxidative phosphorylation. Thus, l-carnitine can be physiologically utilised in fish, whereas d-carnitine is metabolised as a xenobiotic and induces lipotoxicity. d-Carnitine-fed fish demonstrates increases in peroxisomal β-oxidation, glycolysis and amino acid degradation to maintain energy homeostasis. Therefore, d-carnitine is not recommended for use in farmed animals.
In this study, the pull-in phenomenon of a Nano-actuator is investigated employing a nonlocal Bernoulli-Euler beam model with clamped-clamped conditions. The model accounts for viscous damping, residual stresses, the van der Waals (vdW) force and electrostatic forces with nonlocal effects. The hybrid differential transformation/finite difference method (HDTFDM) is used to analyze the nonlocal effects on a graphene sheet nanobeam, which is electrostatically actuated under the influence of the coupling effect, the von Kármán nonlinear strains and the fringing field effect. The pull-in voltage as calculated by the presented model deviates by no more than 0.29% from previous literature, verifying the validity of the HDTFDM. Furthermore, the nonlocal nonlinear behavior of the electrostatically actuated nanobeam is investigated, and the effects of viscous damping, residual stresses, and length-gap ratio are examined in detail. Overall, the results reveal that small scale effects significantly influence the characteristics of the graphene sheet nanobeam actuator.
To compare and validate neurocognitive tests in the Harmonized Cognitive Assessment Protocol (HCAP) for the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS), and to identify appropriate tests to be administered in future waves of CHARLS.
We recruited 825 individuals from the CHARLS sample and 766 subjects from hospitals in six provinces and cities in China. All participants were administered the HCAP-neurocognitive tests, and their informants were interviewed regarding the respondents’ functional status. Trained clinicians administered the Clinical Dementia Rating scale (CDR) to assess the respondents’ cognitive status independently.
The testing protocol took an average of 58 minutes to complete. Refusal rates for tests of general cognition, episodic memory, and language were less than 10%. All neurocognitive test scores significantly correlated with the CDR global score (correlation coefficients ranged from 0.139 to 0.641). The Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) - telephone interview for cognitive status (TICS), community screening instrument for dementia (CSI-D) for respondent, episodic memory and language tests each accounted for more than 20% of the variance in global CDR score (p < 0.001) in bivariate tests. In the CHARLS subsample, age and education were associated with neuropsychological performance across most cognitive domains, and with functional status.
A brief set of the CHARLS-HCAP neurocognitive tests are feasible and valid to be used in the CHARLS sample and hospital samples. It could be applied in the future waves of the CHARLS study, and it allows estimating the prevalence of dementia in China through the population-based CHARLS.
We consider the role of heating and cooling in the steady drawing of a long and thin viscous thread with an arbitrary number of internal holes of arbitrary shape. The internal holes and the external boundary evolve as a result of the axial drawing and surface-tension effects. The heating and cooling affects the evolution of the thread because both the viscosity and surface tension of the thread are assumed to be functions of the temperature. We use asymptotic techniques to show that, under a suitable transformation, this complicated three-dimensional free boundary problem can be formulated in such a way that the transverse aspect of the flow can be reduced to the solution of a standard Stokes flow problem in the absence of axial stretching. The solution of this standard problem can then be substituted into a system of three ordinary differential equations that completely determine the flow. We use this approach to develop a very simple numerical method that can determine the way that thermal effects impact on the drawing of threads by devices that either specify the fibre tension or the draw ratio. We also develop a numerical method to solve the inverse problem of determining the initial cross-sectional geometry, draw tension and, importantly, heater temperature to obtain a desired cross-sectional shape and change in cross-sectional area at the device exit. This precisely allows one to determine the pattern of air holes in the preform that will achieve the desired hole pattern in the stretched fibre.
Shortening or omitting the dry period improves the energy balance and metabolic status of dairy cows in early lactation. Metabolic, behaviour and welfare effects throughout lactation, however, are unclear. The current paper reviews long-term metabolic and welfare consequences of short and no dry period, as well as feeding strategies and individual cow characteristics that could support in optimising management of cows with a short or no dry period. The paper will conclude with impacts of short and no dry periods at herd level and in practice. Energy balance after no or a short dry period is more positive during the complete subsequent lactation. After the initial improvement in early lactation, cows after no dry period tend to fatten and may have a too low lactation persistency to be continuously milked until the onset of the subsequent lactation. Reducing dietary energy level for cows with no dry period reduced fattening during the complete lactation but did not improve lactation persistency. Feeding a more lipogenic diet for cows with a short or no dry period did not affect the energy balance or lactation persistency during the complete lactation, although a lipogenic diet resulted in lower plasma insulin and IGF-1 concentration and greater plasma growth hormone concentration, compared with a glucogenic diet. Effects of dry period length on udder health are ambiguous, whereas short and no dry periods improved fertility in most studies. Omission of the dry period changed behaviour of cows both before and after calving, with a longer lying time and greater feed intake after calving, suggesting a better adaptation to a new lactation. Individual cow characteristics like parity, genotype, prepartum body condition score, and milk yield level determined the metabolic response of cows to a short or no dry period. In conclusion, short or no dry periods increase the energy balance in the complete lactation. Feeding strategies can be used to limit fattening of cows with no or short dry period, but the studied feeding strategies did not increase lactation persistency. Improved fertility and behavioural changes around calving suggest a better adaptation to a new lactation in case of no dry period. Customised dry period lengths for individual cows could improve metabolic status of cows at risk of a severe negative energy balance while minimising milk losses.