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The use of a field portable XRF analyzer incorporating a semiconductor, mercuric iodide, energy dispersive spectrometer is described with emphasis on the benefits of high resolution x-ray detection for rapid screening of hazardous metallic wastes. Results are presented of “in-situ” and “prepared sample” soil measurement for different sites to show the potential of Fundamental Parameter analysis to obtain acceptable quality data with minimum calibration effort, obviating the need for site-specific standards.
Although food from grazed animals is increasingly sought by consumers because of perceived animal welfare advantages, grazing systems provide the farmer and the animal with unique challenges. The system is dependent almost daily on the climate for feed supply, with the importation of large amounts of feed from off farm, and associated labour and mechanisation costs, sometimes reducing economic viability. Furthermore, the cow may have to walk long distances and be able to harvest feed efficiently in a highly competitive environment because of the need for high levels of pasture utilisation. She must, also, be: (1) highly fertile, with a requirement for pregnancy within ~80 days post-calving; (2) ‘easy care’, because of the need for the management of large herds with limited labour; (3) able to walk long distances; and (4) robust to changes in feed supply and quality, so that short-term nutritional insults do not unduly influence her production and reproduction cycles. These are very different and are in addition to demands placed on cows in housed systems offered pre-made mixed rations. Furthermore, additional demands in environmental sustainability and animal welfare, in conjunction with the need for greater system-level biological efficiency (i.e. ‘sustainable intensification’), will add to the ‘robustness’ requirements of cows in the future. Increasingly, there is evidence that certain genotypes of cows perform better or worse in grazing systems, indicating a genotype×environment interaction. This has led to the development of tailored breeding objectives within countries for important heritable traits to maximise the profitability and sustainability of their production system. To date, these breeding objectives have focussed on the more easily measured traits and those of highest relative economic importance. In the future, there will be greater emphasis on more difficult to measure traits that are important to the quality of life of the animal in each production system and to reduce the system’s environmental footprint.
In order to control and optimize chicken quality products, it is necessary to improve the description of the responses to dietary amino acid (AA) concentration in terms of carcass composition and meat quality, especially during the finishing period. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of Lysine (Lys, i.e. a limiting AA used as reference in AA nutrition) and AA other than Lys (AA effect). In total, 12 experimental diets were formulated with four levels of digestible Lys content (7, 8.5, 10 and 11.5 g/kg) combined with either a low (AA−), adequate control (AAc) and high (AA+) amount of other essential AA (EAA) expressed as a proportion of Lys. They were distributed to male Ross PM3 from 3 to 5 weeks of age. No significant AA×Lys interaction was found for growth performance or carcass composition. Body weight and feed conversion ratio were significantly improved by addition of Lys but were impaired in broilers receiving the AA− diets, whereas breast meat yield and abdominal fat were only affected by Lys. No additional benefit was found when the relative amount of other EAA was increased. There was a significant AA×Lys interaction on most of the meat quality traits, including ultimate pH, color and drip loss, with a significant effect of both AA and Lys. For example, AA− combined with reduced Lys level favored the production of meat with high ultimate pH (>6.0), dark color and low drip loss whereas more acid, light and exudative meat (<5.85) was produced with AA+ combined with a low Lys level. In conclusion, growth performance, carcass composition and meat quality are affected by the levels of dietary Lys and AA in finishing broilers. In addition, interactive responses to Lys and AA are found on meat quality traits, leading to great variations in breast pHu, color and drip loss according AA balance or imbalance.
Understanding how critical sow live-weight and back-fat depth during gestation are in ensuring optimum sow productivity is important. The objective of this study was to quantify the association between sow parity, live-weight and back-fat depth during gestation with subsequent sow reproductive performance. Records of 1058 sows and 13 827 piglets from 10 trials on two research farms between the years 2005 and 2015 were analysed. Sows ranged from parity 1 to 6 with the number of sows per parity distributed as follows: 232, 277, 180, 131, 132 and 106, respectively. Variables that were analysed included total born (TB), born alive (BA), piglet birth weight (BtWT), pre-weaning mortality (PWM), piglet wean weight (WnWT), number of piglets weaned (Wn), wean to service interval (WSI), piglets born alive in subsequent farrowing and sow lactation feed intake. Calculated variables included the within-litter CV in birth weight (LtV), pre-weaning growth rate per litter (PWG), total litter gain (TLG), lactation efficiency and litter size reared after cross-fostering. Data were analysed using linear mixed models accounting for covariance among records. Third and fourth parity sows had more (P<0.05) TB, BA and heavier BtWT compared with gilts and parity 6 sow contemporaries. Parities 2 and 3 sows weaned more (P<0.05) piglets than older sows. These piglets had heavier (P<0.05) birth weights than those from gilt litters. LtV and PWM were greater (P<0.01) in litters born to parity 5 sows than those born to younger sows. Sow live-weight and back-fat depth at service, days 25 and 50 of gestation were not associated with TB, BA, BtWT, LtV, PWG, WnWT or lactation efficiency (P>0.05). Heavier sow live-weight throughout gestation was associated with an increase in PWM (P<0.01) and reduced Wn and lactation feed intake (P<0.05). Deeper back-fat in late gestation was associated with fewer (P<0.05) BA but heavier (P<0.05) BtWT, whereas deeper back-fat depth throughout gestation was associated with reduced (P<0.01) lactation feed intake. Sow back-fat depth was not associated with LtV, PWG, TLG, WSI or piglets born alive in subsequent farrowing (P>0.05). In conclusion, this study showed that sow parity, live-weight and back-fat depth can be used as indicators of reproductive performance. In addition, this study also provides validation for future development of a benchmarking tool to monitor and improve the productivity of modern sow herd.
Milk mineral concentration is important from both the perspective of processing milk into dairy products and its nutritive value for human consumption. Precise estimates of genetic parameters for milk mineral concentration are lacking because of the considerable resources required to collect vast phenotypes quantities. The milk concentration of calcium (Ca), potassium (K), magnesium (Mg), sodium (Na) and phosphorus (P) in the present study was quantified from mid-IR spectroscopy on 12 223 test-day records from 1717 Holstein-Friesian cows. (Co)variance components were estimated using random regressions to model both the additive genetic and within-lactation permanent environmental variances of each trait. The coefficient of genetic variation averaged across days-in-milk (DIM) was 6.93%, 3.46%, 6.55%, 5.20% and 6.68% for Ca, K, Mg, Na and P concentration, respectively; heritability estimates varied across lactation from 0.31±0.05 (5 DIM) to 0.67±0.04 (181 DIM) for Ca, from 0.18±0.03 (60 DIM) to 0.24±0.05 (305 DIM) for K, from 0.08±0.03 (15 DIM) to 0.37±0.03 (223 DIM) for Mg, from 0.16±0.03 (30 DIM) to 0.37±0.04 (305 DIM) for Na and from 0.21±0.04 (12 DIM) to 0.57±0.04 (211 DIM) for P. Genetic correlations within the same trait across different DIM were almost unity between adjacent DIM but weakened as the time interval between pairwise compared DIM lengthened; genetic correlations were weaker than 0.80 only when comparing both peripheries of the lactation. The analysis of the geometry of the additive genetic covariance matrix revealed that almost 90% of the additive genetic variation was accounted by the intercept term of the covariance functions for each trait. Milk protein concentration and mineral concentration were, in general, positively genetically correlated with each other across DIM, whereas milk fat concentration was positively genetically correlated throughout the entire lactation with Ca, K and Mg; the genetic correlation with fat concentration changed from negative to positive with Na and P at 243 DIM and 50 DIM, respectively. Genetic correlations between somatic cell score and Na ranged from 0.38±0.21 (5 DIM) to 0.79±0.18 (305 DIM). Exploitable genetic variation existed for all milk minerals, although many national breeding objectives are probably contributing to an indirect positive response to selection in milk mineral concentration.
Early detection of karyotype abnormalities, including aneuploidy, could aid producers in identifying animals which, for example, would not be suitable candidate parents. Genome-wide genetic marker data in the form of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are now being routinely generated on animals. The objective of the present study was to describe the statistics that could be generated from the allele intensity values from such SNP data to diagnose karyotype abnormalities; of particular interest was whether detection of aneuploidy was possible with both commonly used genotyping platforms in agricultural species, namely the Applied BiosystemsTM AxiomTM and the Illumina platform. The hypothesis was tested using a case study of a set of dizygotic X-chromosome monosomy 53,X sheep twins. Genome-wide SNP data were available from the Illumina platform (11 082 autosomal and 191 X-chromosome SNPs) on 1848 male and 8954 female sheep and available from the AxiomTM platform (11 128 autosomal and 68 X-chromosome SNPs) on 383 female sheep. Genotype allele intensity values, either as their original raw values or transformed to logarithm intensity ratio (LRR), were used to accurately diagnose two dizygotic (i.e. fraternal) twin 53,X sheep, both of which received their single X chromosome from their sire. This is the first reported case of 53,X dizygotic twins in any species. Relative to the X-chromosome SNP genotype mean allele intensity values of normal females, the mean allele intensity value of SNP genotypes on the X chromosome of the two females monosomic for the X chromosome was 7.45 to 12.4 standard deviations less, and were easily detectable using either the AxiomTM or Illumina genotype platform; the next lowest mean allele intensity value of a female was 4.71 or 3.3 standard deviations less than the population mean depending on the platform used. Both 53,X females could also be detected based on the genotype LRR although this was more easily detectable when comparing the mean LRR of the X chromosome of each female to the mean LRR of their respective autosomes. On autopsy, the ovaries of the two sheep were small for their age and evidence of prior ovulation was not appreciated. In both sheep, the density of primordial follicles in the ovarian cortex was lower than normally found in ovine ovaries and primary follicle development was not observed. Mammary gland development was very limited. Results substantiate previous studies in other species that aneuploidy can be readily detected using SNP genotype allele intensity values generally already available, and the approach proposed in the present study was agnostic to genotype platform.
The overall objective of a series of experiments to investigate ‘metabolic stress’ was to examine the relationships between ‘metabolic load’, disease and other parameters associated with the welfare of the dairy cow. In the main, these used several well controlled herd based studies complimented with more basic and strategic investigations. In this paper we compare and contrast practical aspects of health and welfare in two high genetic merit herds managed at the extremes of inputs and outputs for dairy farming in south-west Scotland. The hypothesis was that high output herds would have more health and welfare problems than low input herds. Two herds (70 Holstein-Friesian cows each) at SAC Acrehead Dumfries of a similar genetic background (overall in the top 5% of UK cows by PIN and ITEM), were housed in identical buildings and tended by the same herdsman. Both herds had autumn- and spring-calving cattle. The ‘low input’ herd (LI) was given a minimum of concentrate (approx. 0.5 t per cow per year) and milked twice a day and had a restricted quota of 385 000 l. The ‘high output’ herd (HO) was managed for high yields (unrestricted quota) and was given concentrates (2 t per cow per year) and forage ad libitum and milked three times daily. In 1995-96 the sole source of winter forage was grass/clover silage (LI) or grass silage (HO) but in 1996-1998 ensiled cereal and fodder beet were included in both diets. ‘Metabolic load’ could only be inferred from overall inputs, milk outputs, weight loss, body condition score and behaviour. There were significant differences in 305-day lactation yields between herds, and season of calving especially in 1995-96 (LI autumn; 5952 l at 30 g/kg protein (P); LI spring; 5741 l, 32.5 g/kg P; HO autumn; 9541 l at 32.8 g/kg P; HO spring; 8402 l, 32.6 g/kg P). LI weight and body condition-score losses were greatest in this year and behavioural studies showed substantial differences in feeding time (HO < LI, P < 0.05) and total lying time (LI < HO; P < 0.05). However these differences were much less marked in subsequent years. There was a significant difference in the prevalence and incidence of clinical lameness between herds (HO > LI; P < 0.05) and season (autumn > spring P < 0.05) but not for mastitis or metabolic disease. An in-depth study of subclinical claw horn lesion development in first calving heifers showed significant differences between herds in 1996-97 (LI > HO, P < 0.05) but none in 1995-96. There was a significant difference for season in both years (autumn > spring, P < 0.05). Analysis of blood biochemistry parameters of samples taken at approximately 1 month after calving showed some significant differences between LI and HO generally indicating a greater ‘metabolic load’ for LI. Although the full effects of ‘metabolic load’ on immune function and reproduction are dealt with elsewhere our preliminary data showed no significant differences between herds for the former but some significant differences for the latter, in particular there were differences in aspects of the progesterone profiles between herds and more importantly between seasons. However these latter differences were not clearly reflected in conception rates. It was concluded that the hypothesis was not fully sustained and that both systems had pitfalls in terms of welfare. The three major areas causing difficulties for both systems were the need first to ensure adequate intake of forage; secondly to limit the environmental challenge to the feet and udder and finally to marry these systems to the factors limiting reproduction, primarily calving season and ability of reproduction management.
Interest is accruing in indicator traits as predictors of fertility which: 1) can be more easily recorded; 2) can be measured early in life; and, 3) possess a co-heritability that is larger than the heritability of the fertility traits. Potentially interesting indicator traits include body condition score (BCS) and body weight (BW). The objective of this study was to estimate genetic (co) variances between BCS, BCS change, BW, BW change, and fertility traits in dairy cattle.
Discovery of strongly-lensed gravitational wave (GW) sources will unveil binary compact objects at higher redshifts and lower intrinsic luminosities than is possible without lensing. Such systems will yield unprecedented constraints on the mass distribution in galaxy clusters, measurements of the polarization of GWs, tests of General Relativity, and constraints on the Hubble parameter. Excited by these prospects, and intrigued by the presence of so-called “heavy black holes” in the early detections by LIGO-Virgo, we commenced a search for strongly-lensed GWs and possible electromagnetic counterparts in the latter stages of the second LIGO observing run (O2). Here, we summarise our calculation of the detection rate of strongly-lensed GWs, describe our review of BBH detections from O1, outline our observing strategy in O2, summarize our follow-up observations of GW170814, and discuss the future prospects of detection.
Accurate genomic analyses are predicated on access to a large quantity of accurately genotyped and phenotyped animals. Because the cost of genotyping is often less than the cost of phenotyping, interest is increasing in generating genotypes for phenotyped animals. In some instances this may imply the requirement to genotype older animals with greater phenotypic information content. Biological material for these older informative animals may, however, no longer exist. The objective of the present study was to quantify the ability to impute 11 129 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotypes of non-genotyped animals (in this instance sires) from the genotypes of their progeny with or without including the genotypes of the progenys’ dams (i.e. mates of the sire to be imputed). The impact on the accuracy of genotype imputation by including more progeny (and their dams’) genotypes in the imputation reference population was also quantified. When genotypes of the dams were not available, genotypes of 41 sires with at least 15 genotyped progeny were used for the imputation; when genotypes of the dams were available, genotypes of 21 sires with at least 10 genotyped progeny were used for the imputation. Imputation was undertaken exploiting family and population level information. The mean and variability in the proportion of genotypes per individual that could not be imputed reduced as the number of progeny genotypes used per individual increased. Little improvement in the proportion of genotypes that could not be imputed was achieved once genotypes of seven progeny and their dams were used or genotypes of 11 progeny without their respective dam’s genotypes were used. Mean imputation accuracy per individual (depicted by both concordance rates and correlation between true and imputed) increased with increasing progeny group size. Moreover, the range in mean imputation accuracy per individual reduced as more progeny genotypes were used in the imputation. If the genotype of the mate of the sire was also used, high accuracy of imputation (mean genotype concordance rate per individual of 0.988), with little additional benefit thereafter, was achieved with seven genotyped progeny. In the absence of genotypes on the dam, similar imputation accuracy could not be achieved even using genotypes on up to 15 progeny. Results therefore suggest, at least for the SNP density used in the present study, that it is possible to accurately impute the genotypes of a non-genotyped parent from the genotypes of its progeny and there is a benefit of also including the genotype of the sire’s mate (i.e. dam of the progeny).
A range of precision farming technologies are used commercially for variable rate applications of nitrogen (N) for cereals, yet these usually adjust N rates from a pre-set value, rather than predicting economically optimal N requirements on an absolute basis. This paper reports chessboard experiments set up to examine variation in N requirements, and to develop and test systems for its prediction, and to assess its predictability. Results showed very substantial variability in fertiliser N requirements within fields, typically >150 kg ha−1, and large variation in optimal yields, typically >2 t ha−1. Despite this, calculated increases in yield and gross margin with N requirements perfectly matched across fields were surprisingly modest (compared to the uniform average rate). Implications are discussed, including the causes of the large remaining variation in grain yield, after N limitations were removed.
Optimising oilseed rape canopy size through correct management is crucial for maximising yield. Plant growth regulators (PGRs) and nitrogen (N) fertiliser are generally applied at a flat rate, however variable applications may be useful for the optimisation of canopy size. The aim of this paper was to understand the potential for spectral reflectance indices to predict green area index (GAI) and crop N content in winter oilseed rape, with specific focus on the Fritzmeier Isaria Crop Sensor. Three large oilseed rape chessboard experiments were set up in 2015 and 2016 in the UK. The results show good correlations between the Isaria indices and both GAI and crop N content, suggesting that the Isaria may be a useful tool for variably applying PGRs and N fertiliser to oilseed rape.
Military personnel generally under-consume n-3 fatty acids and overconsume n-6 fatty acids. In a placebo-controlled, double-blinded study, we investigated whether a diet suitable for implementation in military dining facilities and civilian cafeterias could benefit n-3/n-6 fatty acid status of consumers. Three volunteer groups were provided different diets for 10 weeks. Control (CON) participants consumed meals from the US Military’s Standard Garrison Dining Facility Menu. Experimental, moderate (EXP-Mod) and experimental-high (EXP-High) participants consumed the same meals, but high n-6 fatty acid and low n-3 fatty acid containing chicken, egg, oils and food ingredients were replaced with products having less n-6 fatty acids and more n-3 fatty acids. The EXP-High participants also consumed smoothies containing 1000 mg n-3 fatty acids per serving, whereas other participants received placebo smoothies. Plasma and erythrocyte EPA and DHA in CON group remained unchanged throughout, whereas EPA, DHA and Omega-3 Index increased in EXP-Mod and EXP-High groups, and were higher than in CON group after 5 weeks. After 10 weeks, Omega-3 Index in EXP-High group had increased further. No participants exhibited changes in fasting plasma TAG, total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, mood or emotional reactivity. Replacing high linoleic acid (LA) containing foods in dining facility menus with similar high oleic acid/low LA and high n-3 fatty acid foods can improve n-6/n-3 blood fatty acid status after 5 weeks. The diets were well accepted and suitable for implementation in group feeding settings like military dining facilities and civilian cafeterias.
Angus and Hereford beef is marketed internationally for apparent superior meat quality attributes; DNA-based breed authenticity could be a useful instrument to ensure consumer confidence on premium meat products. The objective of this study was to develop an ultra-low-density genotype panel to accurately quantify the Angus and Hereford breed proportion in biological samples. Medium-density genotypes (13 306 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs)) were available on 54 703 commercial and 4042 purebred animals. The breed proportion of the commercial animals was generated from the medium-density genotypes and this estimate was regarded as the gold-standard breed composition. Ten genotype panels (100 to 1000 SNPs) were developed from the medium-density genotypes; five methods were used to identify the most informative SNPs and these included the Delta statistic, the fixation (Fst) statistic and an index of both. Breed assignment analyses were undertaken for each breed, panel density and SNP selection method separately with a programme to infer population structure using the entire 13 306 SNP panel (representing the gold-standard measure). Breed assignment was undertaken for all commercial animals (n=54 703), animals deemed to contain some proportion of Angus based on pedigree (n=5740) and animals deemed to contain some proportion of Hereford based on pedigree (n=5187). The predicted breed proportion of all animals from the lower density panels was then compared with the gold-standard breed prediction. Panel density, SNP selection method and breed all had a significant effect on the correlation of predicted and actual breed proportion. Regardless of breed, the Index method of SNP selection numerically (but not significantly) outperformed all other selection methods in accuracy (i.e. correlation and root mean square of prediction) when panel density was ⩾300 SNPs. The correlation between actual and predicted breed proportion increased as panel density increased. Using 300 SNPs (selected using the global index method), the correlation between predicted and actual breed proportion was 0.993 and 0.995 in the Angus and Hereford validation populations, respectively. When SNP panels optimised for breed prediction in one population were used to predict the breed proportion of a separate population, the correlation between predicted and actual breed proportion was 0.034 and 0.044 weaker in the Hereford and Angus populations, respectively (using the 300 SNP panel). It is necessary to include at least 300 to 400 SNPs (per breed) on genotype panels to accurately predict breed proportion from biological samples.
Information on the genetic diversity and population structure of cattle breeds is useful when deciding the most optimal, for example, crossbreeding strategies to improve phenotypic performance by exploiting heterosis. The present study investigated the genetic diversity and population structure of the most prominent dairy and beef breeds used in Ireland. Illumina high-density genotypes (777 962 single nucleotide polymorphisms; SNPs) were available on 4623 purebred bulls from nine breeds; Angus (n=430), Belgian Blue (n=298), Charolais (n=893), Hereford (n=327), Holstein-Friesian (n=1261), Jersey (n=75), Limousin (n=943), Montbéliarde (n=33) and Simmental (n=363). Principal component analysis revealed that Angus, Hereford, and Jersey formed non-overlapping clusters, representing distinct populations. In contrast, overlapping clusters suggested geographical proximity of origin and genetic similarity between Limousin, Simmental and Montbéliarde and to a lesser extent between Holstein, Friesian and Belgian Blue. The observed SNP heterozygosity averaged across all loci was 0.379. The Belgian Blue had the greatest mean observed heterozygosity (HO=0.389) among individuals within breed while the Holstein-Friesian and Jersey populations had the lowest mean heterozygosity (HO=0.370 and 0.376, respectively). The correlation between the genomic-based and pedigree-based inbreeding coefficients was weak (r=0.171; P<0.001). Mean genomic inbreeding estimates were greatest for Jersey (0.173) and least for Hereford (0.051). The pair-wise breed fixation index (Fst) ranged from 0.049 (Limousin and Charolais) to 0.165 (Hereford and Jersey). In conclusion, substantial genetic variation exists among breeds commercially used in Ireland. Thus custom-mating strategies would be successful in maximising the exploitation of heterosis in crossbreeding strategies.
The increased demand for animal-derived protein and energy for human consumption will have to be achieved through a combination of improved animal genetic merit and better management strategies. The objective of the present study was to quantify whether differences in genetic merit among animals materialised into phenotypic differences in commercial herds. Carcass phenotypes on 156 864 animals from 7301 finishing herds were used, which included carcass weight (kg), carcass conformation score (scale 1 to 15), carcass fat score (scale 1 to 15) at slaughter as well as carcass price. The price per kilogram and the total carcass value that the producer received for the animal at slaughter was also used. A terminal index, calculated in the national genetic evaluations, was obtained for each animal. The index was based on pedigree index for calving performance, feed intake and carcass traits from the national genetic evaluations. Animals were categorised into four terminal index groups on the basis of genetic merit estimates that were derived before the expression of the phenotypic information by the validation animals. The association between terminal index and phenotypic performance at slaughter was undertaken using mixed models; whether the association differed by gender (i.e. young bulls, steers and heifers) or by early life experiences (animals born in a dairy herd or beef herd) was also investigated. The regression coefficient of phenotypic carcass weight, carcass conformation and carcass fat on their respective estimated breeding values (EBVs) was 0.92 kg, 1.08 units and 0.79 units, respectively, which is close to the expectation of one. Relative to animals in the lowest genetic merit group, animals in the highest genetic merit group had, on average, a 38.7 kg heavier carcass, with 2.21 units greater carcass conformation, and 0.82 units less fat. The superior genetic merit animals were, on average, slaughtered 6 days younger than their inferior genetic merit contemporaries. The superior carcass characteristics of the genetically elite animals materialised in carcasses worth €187 more than those of the lowest genetic merit animals. Although the phenotypic difference in carcass traits of animals divergent in terminal index differed statistically by animal gender and early life experience, the detected interactions were generally biologically small. This study clearly indicates that selection on an appropriate terminal index will produce higher performing animals and this was consistent across all production systems investigated.
The relative weighting on traits within breeding goals are generally determined by bio-economic models or profit functions. While such methods have generally delivered profitability gains to producers, and are being expanded to consider non-market values, current approaches generally do not consider the numerous and diverse stakeholders that affect, or are affected, by such tools. Based on principles of respondent anonymity, iteration, controlled feedback and statistical aggregation of feedback, a Delphi study was undertaken to gauge stakeholder opinion of the importance of detailed milk quality traits within an overall dairy breeding goal for profit, with the aim of assessing its suitability as a complementary, participatory approach to defining breeding goals. The questionnaires used over two survey rounds asked stakeholders: (a) their opinion on incorporating an explicit sub-index for milk quality into a national breeding goal; (b) the importance they would assign to a pre-determined list of milk quality traits and (c) the (relative) weighting they would give such a milk quality sub-index. Results from the survey highlighted a good degree of consensus among stakeholders on the issues raised. Similarly, revelation of the underlying assumptions and knowledge used by stakeholders to make their judgements illustrated their ability to consider a range of perspectives when evaluating traits, and to reconsider their answers based on the responses and rationales given by others, which demonstrated social learning. Finally, while the relative importance assigned by stakeholders in the Delphi survey (4% to 10%) and the results of calculations based on selection index theory of the relative emphasis that should be placed on milk quality to halt any deterioration (16%) are broadly in line, the difference indicates the benefit of considering more than one approach to determining breeding goals. This study thus illustrates the role of the Delphi technique, as a complementary approach to traditional approaches, to defining breeding goals. This has implications for how breeding goals will be defined and in determining who should be involved in the decision-making process.
The increasing use of unconventional feedstuffs in chicken’s diets results in the substitution of starch by lipids as the main dietary energy source. To evaluate the responses of genetically fat or lean chickens to these diets, males of two experimental lines divergently selected for abdominal fat content were fed isocaloric, isonitrogenous diets with either high lipid (80 g/kg), high fiber (64 g/kg) contents (HL), or low lipid (20 g/kg), low fiber (21 g/kg) contents (LL) from 22 to 63 days of age. The diet had no effect on growth performance and did not affect body composition evaluated at 63 days of age. Glycolytic and oxidative energy metabolisms in the liver and glycogen storage in liver and Sartorius muscle at 63 days of age were greater in chicken fed LL diet compared with chicken fed HL diet. In Pectoralis major (PM) muscle, energy metabolisms and glycogen content were not different between diets. There were no dietary-associated differences in lipid contents of the liver, muscles and abdominal fat. However, the percentages of saturated (SFA) and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) in tissue lipids were generally higher, whereas percentages of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) were lower for diet LL than for diet HL. The fat line had a greater feed intake and average daily gain, but gain to feed ratio was lower in that line compared with the lean line. Fat chickens were heavier than lean chickens at 63 days of age. Their carcass fatness was higher and their muscle yield was lower than those of lean chickens. The oxidative enzyme activities in the liver were lower in the fat line than in the lean line, but line did not affect energy metabolism in muscles. The hepatic glycogen content was not different between lines, whereas glycogen content and glycolytic potential were higher in the PM muscle of fat chickens compared with lean chickens. Lipid contents in the liver, muscles and abdominal fat did not differ between lines, but fat chickens stored less MUFA and more PUFA in abdominal fat and muscles than lean chickens. Except for the fatty acid composition of liver and abdominal fat, no interaction between line and diet was observed. In conclusion, the amount of lipids stored in muscles and fatty tissues by lean or fat chickens did not depend on the dietary energy source.
Eight winter oilseed rape and two spring oilseed rape field experiments were performed in the UK in harvest years 2009–12. Each experiment consisted of at least one hybrid and one open-pollinated variety grown at five seed rates from 10 or 20 seeds/m2 to 160 or 200 seeds/m2. Linear plus exponential curves were used to describe the yield response to seed rate and to calculate economically optimal seed rates. Plant counts were then used to derive optimal plant population densities. These ranged from <10 to 39 plants/m2 for six winter oilseed rape experiments between 73 and >155 plants/m2 in two winter oilseed rape experiments with severe spring droughts, and from 47 to 65 plants/m2 for spring oilseed rape. Optimal plant population densities were lower for hybrid than for open-pollinated varieties, due to a combination of the higher cost of hybrid seed and, for some experimental sites, hybrid varieties compensating better for low plant populations. Across all sites, sowing winter oilseed rape at 30 seeds/m2 rather than common commercial rates of 70 seeds/m2 for hybrids and 100 seeds/m2 for open-pollinated varieties would have increased average gross margin by £29/ha. Sowing spring oilseed rape at 70 seeds/m2 rather than commonly used rates of 120 or 150 seeds/m2 would have increased average gross margin by £64/ha.
The aim of the present study was to estimate genetic parameters for calcium (Ca), phosphorus (P) and titratable acidity (TA) in bovine milk predicted by mid-IR spectroscopy (MIRS). Data consisted of 2458 Italian Holstein−Friesian cows sampled once in 220 farms. Information per sample on protein and fat percentage, pH and somatic cell count, as well as test-day milk yield, was also available. (Co)variance components were estimated using univariate and bivariate animal linear mixed models. Fixed effects considered in the analyses were herd of sampling, parity, lactation stage and a two-way interaction between parity and lactation stage; an additive genetic and residual term were included in the models as random effects. Estimates of heritability for Ca, P and TA were 0.10, 0.12 and 0.26, respectively. Positive moderate to strong phenotypic correlations (0.33 to 0.82) existed between Ca, P and TA, whereas phenotypic weak to moderate correlations (0.00 to 0.45) existed between these traits with both milk quality and yield. Moderate to strong genetic correlations (0.28 to 0.92) existed between Ca, P and TA, and between these predicted traits with both fat and protein percentage (0.35 to 0.91). The existence of heritable genetic variation for Ca, P and TA, coupled with the potential to predict these components for routine cow milk testing, imply that genetic gain in these traits is indeed possible.