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Pigs have played a central role in the subsistence and culture of China for millennia. The close relationship between pigs and people began when humans gradually domesticated wild pigs over 8,000 years ago. While pigs initially foraged around settlements, population growth led people to pen their pigs, which made them household trash processors and fertilizer producers. Household pigs were in daily contact with people, who bred them to fatten quickly and produce larger litters. Early modern Europeans found Chinese pigs far superior to their own and bred the two to create the breeds now employed in industrial pork production around the world, including China. In recent decades, industrial farms that scientifically control every aspect of pigs’ lives have spread rapidly. Until recently, most Chinese people ate pork only on special occasions; their ability in recent decades to eat it regularly exemplifies China's increasing prosperity. Meanwhile, vast areas of North and South American farmland are now devoted to growing soybeans to feed hundreds of millions of pigs in China, and the methane, manure, and antibiotic resistance they produce creates environmental and health problems on a global scale.
Pigs exposed to stressors might change their daily typical feeding intake pattern. The objective of this study was to develop a method for the early identification of deviations from an individual pig’s typical feeding patterns. In addition, a general approach was proposed to model feed intake and real-time individual nutrient requirements for pigs with atypical feeding patterns. First, a dynamic linear model (DLM) was proposed to model the typical daily feed intake (DFI) and daily gain (DG) patterns of pigs. Individual DFI and DG dynamics are described by a univariate DLM in conjunction with Kalman filtering. A standardized tabular cumulative sum (CUMSUM) control chart was applied to the forecast errors generated by DLM to activate an alarm when a pig showed deviations from its typical feeding patterns. The relative feed intake (RFI) during a challenge period was calculated. For that, the forecasted individual pig DFI is expressed as its highest DFI relative to the intake during pre-challenge period. Finally, the DLM and RFI approaches were integrated into the actual precision-feeding model (original model) to estimate real-time individual nutrient requirements for pigs with atypical feeding patterns. This general approach was evaluated with data from two studies (130 pigs, at 35.25 ± 3.9 kg of initial BW) that investigated during 84 days the effect of precision-feeding systems for growing-finishing pigs. The proposed general approach to estimating real-time individual nutrient requirements (updated model) was evaluated by comparing its estimates with those generated by the original model. For 11 individuals out of 130, the DLM did not fit the observed data well in a specific period, resulting in an increase in the sum of standardized forecast errors and in the number of time steps that the model needed to adapt to the new patterns. This poor fit can be identified by the increase in the CUMSUM with a consequent alarm generated. The results of this study show that the updated model made it possible to reduce intra-individual variation for the estimated lysine requirements in comparison with the original model, especially for individuals with atypical feeding patterns. In conclusion, the DLM in conjunction with CUMSUM could be used as a tool for the online monitoring of DFI for growing-finishing pigs. Moreover, the proposed general approach allows the estimation of real-time amino acid requirements and accounts for the reduced feed intake and growth potential of pigs with atypical feeding patterns.
Antibiotics are designed to affect gut microbiota and subsequently gut homeostasis. However, limited information exists about short- and long-term effects of early antibiotic intervention (EAI) on gut homeostasis (especially for the small intestine) of pigs following antibiotic withdrawal. We investigated the impact of EAI on specific bacterial communities, microbial metabolites and mucosal immune parameters in the small intestine of later-growth-stage pigs fed with diets differing in CP levels. Eighteen litters of piglets were fed creep feed with or without antibiotics from day 7 to day 42. At day 42, pigs within each group were offered a normal- or low-CP diet. Five pigs per group were slaughtered at days 77 and 120. At day 77, EAI increased Enterobacteriaceae counts in the jejunum and ileum and decreased Bifidobacterium counts in the jejunum and ileum (P < 0.05). Moreover, tryptamine, putrescine, secretory immunoglobulin (Ig) A and IgG concentrations in the ileum and interleukin-10 (IL-10) mRNA and protein levels in the jejunum and ileum were decreased in pigs with EAI (P < 0.05). At day 120, EAI only suppressed Clostridium cluster XIVa counts in the jejunum and ileum (P < 0.05). These results suggest that EAI has a short-term effect on specific bacterial communities, amino acid decarboxylation and mucosal immune parameters in the small intestine (particularly in the ileum). At days 77 and 120, feeding a low-CP diet affected Bifidobacterium, Clostridium cluster IV, Clostridium cluster XIVa and Enterobacteriaceae counts in the jejunum or ileum (P < 0.05). Moreover, feeding a low-CP diet increased the concentrations of Igs in the jejunum and decreased pro-inflammatory cytokines levels in the jejunum and ileum (P < 0.05). At day 120, feeding a low-CP diet increased short-chain fatty acid concentrations, reduced ammonia and spermidine concentrations and up-regulated genes related to barrier function in the jejunum and ileum (P < 0.05). These results suggest that feeding a low-CP diet changes specific bacterial communities and intestinal metabolite concentrations and modifies mucosal immune parameters. These findings contribute to our understanding on the duration of the impact of EAI on gut homeostasis and may provide basis data for nutritional modification in young pigs after antibiotic treatment.
Feeding strategies for growing monogastric livestock (particularly pigs) must focus on maximising animal performance, while attempting to reduce environmental P load. Achieving these goals requires a comprehensive understanding of how different P feeding strategies affect animal responses and an ability to predict P retention. Although along with Ca, P is the most researched macromineral in pig nutrition, knowledge gaps still exist in relation to: (1) the effects of P feed content on feed intake (FI); (2) the impact of P intake on body composition; (3) the distribution of absorbed P to pools within the body. Here, we address these knowledge gaps by gathering empirical evidence on the effects of P-deficient feeds and by developing a predictive, mechanistic model of P utilisation and retention incorporating this evidence. Based on our statistical analyses of published literature data, we found: (1) no change in FI response in pigs given lower P feed contents; (2) the body ash–protein relationship to be dependent upon feed composition, with the isometric relationship only holding for pigs given balanced feeds and (3) the priority to be given towards P retention in soft tissue over P retention in bones. Subsequent results of the mechanistic model of P retention indicated that a potential reduction in P feeding recommendations could be possible without compromising average daily gain; however, such a reduction would impact P deposition in bones. Our study enhances our current knowledge of P utilisation and by extension excretion and could contribute towards developing more accurate P feeding guidelines.
It is known that pigs can acquire flavour preferences by brief social interactions with conspecifics that previously consumed a flavoured solid feed. However, there is no information about whether a flavoured solution could support flavour preferences through social transmission. Ninety-six pigs (49 days old) were housed in 12 pens (8 pigs/pen). Four animals per pen were randomly selected to act as observers and four as demonstrators. Demonstrator animals were temporarily moved to an empty pen where a protein solution was offered (porcine digestive peptides (PDPs), 4% weight/volume) with the addition of 0.075% aniseed (six pens) or garlic (six pens) powdered artificial flavours for 30 min. Afterwards, demonstrators were returned to interact with observer animals for 30 min. A choice test (30 min) between aniseed and garlic PDP was performed for each observer group after the interaction. Observers showed a higher intake of solutions previously consumed by their demonstrator conspecifics (648 v. 468 ml; SEM 61.36, P < 0.05). As with flavoured solid feeds, protein solutions containing artificial flavours can create preferences in pigs for those flavours through social transmission from conspecifics.
The study investigated antioxidant effects of Se on resilience to diquat-induced oxidative stress in nursery pigs. Thirty-five weaned pigs were individually housed and randomly assigned to one of the five treatments. Pigs were (1) fed a basal diet and intraperitoneally injected with sterile saline (negative control), (2) fed the basal diet and injected with diquat solution (positive control, PC), or fed the basal diet supplemented with 0·3 mg Se/kg as (3) sodium selenite (SS), (4) soyabean protein-chelated Se (SC) or (5) selenised yeast (SY) and intraperitoneally injected with diquat. Pigs were fed the experimental diets for 17 d and injected with diquat at 10 mg/kg body weight or saline on the 11th day of the study (day 0 post-injection (PI)). Diquat exposure induced acute stress and innate immune activation (P < 0·05) at 6 h PI and compromised (P < 0·05) plasma glutathione peroxidase activity on day 2 PI, which was accompanied by an increase in plasma malondialdehyde at 6 h and day 2 PI (P < 0·10). Organic Se, particularly SY, enhanced (P < 0·05) endogenous antioxidant activity in various aspects compared with the PC group. The growth rate and feed intake from day 0 to day 7 PI were significantly lower in the PC, SS and SC groups than the NC group (P < 0·05). Untargeted metabolomics analysis revealed that twenty-two hepatic metabolites (false discovery rate < 0·15) associated with lipid and cellular antioxidant metabolism were altered by diquat. SY restored hepatic metabolic profiles in some but not all samples.
In this study, sows were fed 200 (LD), 800 (ND) and 3200 (HD) IU of vitamin D3/kg basal diet during pregnancy (from 41 d to birth), respectively. All their offspring pigs were fed the same vitamin D3 replete die. At 150 days of age, a total of 18 offspring pigs (six offspring pigs per maternal diet group, sex balance) were weighed and slaughtered to investigate effects of maternal vitamin D3 during pregnancy on fatty acids synthase (FASN) and hormone-sensitive lipase (LIPE) expression in offspring pigs. The results showed that LD offspring pigs had higher FASN mRNA expression and the ratio of FASN/LIPE mRNA expression in subcutaneous adipose tissue, as well as higher LIPE mRNA expression of longissimus dorsal muscle, whereas, had lower the ratio of FASN/LIPE mRNA expression in longissimus dorsal muscle compared with ND or HD offspring pigs, respectively. Meanwhile, LD offspring pigs had higher carcass fat, average backfat thickness (ABFT), serum insulin and leptin levels, lower intramuscular fat (IMF), serum free fatty acid and triglycerol levels compared with ND or HD offspring pigs. In addition, the ratio of FASN/LIPE mRNA expression was negatively correlated with IMF content, and positively correlated to carcass fat content and ABFT in offspring pigs. Meanwhile, FASN mRNA expression was positively correlated with carcass fat content, while negatively correlated with ABFT in offspring pigs. These results suggested that maternal vitamin D3 affected fat accumulation and meat quality by regulating FASN and LIPE mRNA expression in offspring pigs.
In the current post-antibiotic era, botanicals represent one of the most employed nutritional strategies to sustain antibiotic-free and no-antibiotic-ever production. Botanicals can be classified either as plant extracts, meaning the direct products derived by extraction from the raw plant materials (essential oils (EO) and oleoresins (OR)), or as nature-identical compounds (NIC), such as the chemically synthesised counterparts of the pure bioactive compounds of EO/OR. In the literature, differences between the use of EO/OR or NIC are often unclear, so it is difficult to attribute certain effects to specific bioactive compounds. The aim of the present review was to provide an overview of the effects exerted by botanicals on the health status and growth performance of poultry and pigs, focusing attention on those studies where only NIC were employed or those where the composition of the EO/OR was defined. In particular, phenolic compounds (apigenin, quercetin, curcumin and resveratrol), organosulfur compounds (allicin), terpenes (eugenol, thymol, carvacrol, capsaicin and artemisinin) and aldehydes (cinnamaldehyde and vanillin) were considered. These molecules have different properties such as antimicrobial (including antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and antiprotozoal), anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, immunomodulatory, as well as the improvement of intestinal morphology and integrity of the intestinal mucosa. The use of NIC allows us to properly combine pure compounds, according to the target to achieve. Thus, they represent a promising non-antibiotic tool to allow better intestinal health and a general health status, thereby leading to improved growth performance.
Large ham weight losses (WL) in dry-curing are undesired as they lead to a loss of marketable product and penalise the quality of the dry-cured ham. The availability of early predictions of WL may ease the adaptation of the dry-curing process to the characteristics of the thighs and increase the effectiveness of selective breeding in enhancing WL. Aims of this study were (i) to develop Bayesian and Random Forests (RFs) regression models for the prediction of ham WL during dry-curing using on-site infrared spectra of raw ham subcutaneous fat, carcass and raw ham traits as predictors and (ii) to estimate genetic parameters for WL and their predictions (P-WL). Visible-near infrared spectra were collected on the transversal section of the subcutaneous fat of raw hams. Carcass traits were carcass weight, carcass backfat depth, lean meat content and weight of raw hams. Raw ham traits included measures of ham subcutaneous fat depth and linear scores for round shape, subcutaneous fat thickness and marbling of the visible muscles of the thigh. Measures of WL were available for 1672 hams. The best prediction accuracies were those of a Bayesian regression model including the average spectrum, carcass and raw ham traits, with R2 values in validation of 0.46, 0.55 and 0.62, for WL at end of salting (23 days), resting (90 days) and curing (12 months), respectively. When WL at salting was used as an additional predictor of total WL, the R2 in validation was 0.67. Bayesian regressions were more accurate than RFs models in predicting all the investigated traits. Restricted maximum likelihood (REML) estimates of genetic parameters for WL and P-WL at the end of curing were estimated through a bivariate animal model including 1672 measures of WL and 8819 P-WL records. Results evidenced that the traits are heritable (h2 ± SE was 0.27 ± 0.04 for WL and 0.39 ± 0.04 for P-WL), and the additive genetic correlation is positive and high (ra = 0.88 ± 0.03). Prediction accuracy of ham WL is high enough to envisage a future use of prediction models in identifying batches of hams requiring an adaptation of the processing conditions to optimise results of the manufacturing process. The positive and high genetic correlation detected between WL and P-WL at the end of dry-curing, as well as the estimated heritability for P-WL, suggests that P-WL can be successfully used as an indicator trait of the measured WL in pig breeding programs.
During the eleventh to thirteenth centuries AD, the small settlement of Banganarti grew into one of the most important pilgrimage centres in the Middle Nile Valley. Ongoing excavations have yielded clear evidence of its unique economic and social diversity. Large-scale pig breeding, attested by the ubiquitous remains of pigs in the archaeozoological record, is particularly significant and unlike that found on other regional medieval sites. The authors investigate the popularity of pig breeding and pork consumption at Banganarti in relation to the specific role played by the site in the religious landscape of the medieval kingdom of Makuria.
Economic margins on pig farms are small, and changing slaughter weights may increase farm profitability. However, one can question if the optimal slaughter weight is the same for each sex. On three farms, crossbred pigs (n = 1128) were used to determine the effect of sex and slaughter weight on performance, carcass quality and gross margin per pig place per year. On each farm, an equal number of entire males (EMs), barrows (BAs), immunocastrates (IC) and gilts (GIs) were housed separately in group pens. Pens were randomly divided into three categories of different slaughter weights: 105, 117 and 130 kg BW. In BA, the high average daily feed intake (ADFI) and the lower capacity to gain muscle led to a higher feed conversion ratio (FCR) and lower lean meat percentage in comparison to EM and IC. In all sexes, ADFI and FCR increased with an increasing slaughter weight but the effect of slaughter weight on carcass quality varied between sexes. In BA and GI, slaughter weight had no effect on carcass quality, but in EM and IC, carcass quality improved at higher slaughter weights. Gross margin per pig place per year was calculated as gross margin per pig × barn turnover per year, taking into account fixed costs per round, feed costs and output price per pig. The slaughter weight that gained the highest gross margin per year differed between sexes. Slaughtering BA and GI at 130 kg BW, compared to 105 or 117 kg BW, decreased the gross margin per pig place per year due to the lower margin per pig and barn turnover at higher weights. In IC and EM, no difference in gross margin per pig place per year could be demonstrated between slaughtering at 105, 117 or 130 kg BW. In IC, the increasing gross margin per pig with increasing slaughter weights counteracted with the lower barn turnover. In EM, gross margin per pig did not differ between slaughter weights, but the effect of barn turnover was too small to demonstrate significant differences between slaughter weights on gross margin per pig place per year. In conclusion, slaughter weight has an impact on profitability in BA and GI: they should not be slaughtered at 130 kg BW but at lower weights, but no effect could be demonstrated in EM and IC.
The identification of natural bioactive compounds which can prevent the post-weaning growth check and enhance gastrointestinal health in the absence of in-feed medications is an urgent priority for the swine industry. The objective of this experiment was to determine the effects of increasing dietary inclusion levels of laminarin in the first 14 d post-weaning on pig growth performance and weaning associated intestinal dysfunction. At weaning, ninety-six pigs (8·4 (sd 1·09) kg) (meatline boars × (large white × landrace sows)) were blocked by live weight, litter and sex and randomly assigned to: (1) basal diet; (2) basal + 100 parts per million (ppm) laminarin; (3) basal + 200 ppm laminarin and (4) basal + 300 ppm laminarin (three pigs/pen). The appropriate quantity of a laminarin-rich extract (65 % laminarin) was added to the basal diet to achieve the above dietary inclusion levels of laminarin. After 14 d of supplementation, eight pigs from the basal group and the best-performing laminarin group were euthanised for sample collection. The 300 ppm laminarin group was selected as this group had higher ADFI compared with all other groups and higher ADG than the basal group (P < 0·05). Laminarin supplementation increased villus height in the duodenum and jejunum (P < 0·05). Laminarin supplementation increased the expression of SLC2A8/GLUT8 in the duodenum, SLC2A2/GLUT2, SLC2A7/GLUT7, SLC15A1/PEPT1 and FABP2 in the jejunum and SLC16A1/MCT1 in the colon. Laminarin supplementation reduced Enterobacteriaceae numbers in the caecum (P < 0·05) and increased lactobacilli numbers (P < 0·05), total volatile fatty acid concentrations and the molar proportions of butyrate (P < 0·01) in the colon. In conclusion, 300 ppm laminarin from a laminarin-rich extract has potential, as a dietary supplement, to improve performance and prevent post-weaning intestinal dysfunction.
Physicochemical properties of diets are believed to play a major role in the regulation of digesta transit in the gastrointestinal tract. Starch, being the dominant nutrient in pig diets, strongly influences these properties. We studied transport of digesta solids and liquids through the upper gastrointestinal tract of ninety pigs in a 3 × 3 factorial arrangement. Dietary treatments varied in starch source (barley, maize and high-amylose maize) and form (isolated starch, ground cereal and extruded cereal). Mean retention times (MRT) of digesta solids ranged 129–225 min for the stomach and 86–124 min for the small intestine (SI). The MRT of solids consistently exceeded that of liquids in the stomach, but not in the SI. Solid digesta of pigs fed extruded cereals remained 29–75 min shorter in the stomach compared with pigs fed ground cereals (P < 0·001). Shear stress of whole digesta positively correlated with solid digesta MRT in the stomach (r 0·33, P < 0·001), but not in the SI. The saturation ratio (SR), the actual amount of water in stomach digesta as a fraction of the theoretical maximum held by the digesta matrix, explained more variation in digesta MRT than shear stress. The predictability of SR was hampered by the accumulation of large particles in the stomach. In addition, the water-holding capacity of gelatinised starch leads to a decreased SR of diets, but not of stomach digesta, which was caused by gastric hydrolysis of starch. Both of these phenomena hinder the predictability of gastric retention times based on feed properties.
The gastrointestinal tract (GIT) is an interface between the external and internal milieus that requires continuous monitoring for nutrients or pathogens and toxic chemicals. The study of the physiological/molecular mechanisms, mediating the responses to the monitoring of the GIT contents, has been referred to as chemosensory science. While most of the progress in this area of research has been obtained in laboratory rodents and humans, significant steps forward have also been reported in pigs. The objective of this review was to update the current knowledge on nutrient chemosensing in pigs in light of recent advances in humans and laboratory rodents. A second objective relates to informing the existence of nutrient sensors with their functionality, particularly linked to the gut peptides relevant to the onset/offset of appetite. Several cell types of the intestinal epithelium such as Paneth, goblet, tuft and enteroendocrine cells (EECs) contain subsets of chemosensory receptors also found on the tongue as part of the taste system. In particular, EECs show specific co-expression patterns between nutrient sensors and/or transceptors (transport proteins with sensing functions) and anorexigenic hormones such as cholecystokinin (CCK), peptide tyrosine tyrosine (PYY) or glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), amongst others. In addition, the administration of bitter compounds has an inhibitory effect on GIT motility and on appetite through GLP-1-, CCK-, ghrelin- and PYY-labelled EECs in the human small intestine and colon. Furthermore, the mammalian chemosensory system is the target of some bacterial metabolites. Recent studies on the human microbiome have discovered that commensal bacteria have developed strategies to stimulate chemosensory receptors and trigger host cellular functions. Finally, the study of gene polymorphisms related to nutrient sensors explains differences in food choices, food intake and appetite between individuals.
Resistant starch can alter the intestinal nutrient availability and bulk of digesta, thereby modulating the substrate available for microbial metabolic activity along the gastrointestinal tract. This study elucidated the effect of transglycosylated starch (TGS) on the retention of digesta in the upper digestive tract, ileal flow and hindgut disappearance of nutrients, and subsequent bacterial profiles in pigs. Fourteen ileal-cannulated growing pigs were fed either the TGS or control (CON) diet in a complete crossover design. Each period consisted of a 10-d adaptation to the diets, followed by 3-d collection of faeces and ileal digesta. Consumption of TGS decreased the retention of digesta in the stomach and small intestine, and increased ileal DM, starch, Ca and P flow, leading to enhanced starch fermentation in the hindgut compared with CON-fed pigs. TGS increased ileal and faecal total SCFA, especially ileal and faecal acetate and faecal butyrate. Gastric retention time positively correlated to Klebsiella, which benefitted together with Selenomonas, Lactobacillus, Mitsuokella and Coriobacteriaceae from TGS feeding and ileal starch flow. Similar relationships existed in faeces with Coriobacteriaceae, Veillonellaceae and Megasphaera benefitting most, either directly or indirectly via cross-feeding, from TGS residuals in faeces. TGS, in turn, depressed genera within Ruminococcaceae, Clostridiales and Christensenellaceae compared with the CON diet. The present results demonstrated distinct ileal and faecal bacterial community and metabolite profiles in CON- and TGS-fed pigs, which were modulated by the type of starch, intestinal substrate flow and retention of digesta in the upper digestive tract.
Dietary phosphorus concentration greatly affects pig’s growth performance, environmental impact and diet cost. A total of 1080 pigs (initially 5.9 ± 1.08 kg) from three commercial research rooms were used to determine the effects of increasing standardized total tract digestible (STTD) P concentrations in diets without and with phytase on growth performance and percentage bone ash. Pens (10 pigs/pen, 9 pens/treatment) were balanced for equal weights and randomly allotted to 12 treatments. Treatments were arranged in two dose titrations (without or with 2000 units of phytase) with six levels of STTD P each. The STTD P levels were expressed as a percentage of NRC (2012) requirement estimates (% of NRC; 0.45 and 0.40% for phases 1 and 2, respectively) and were: 80%, 90%, 100%, 110%, 125% and 140% of NRC in diets without phytase and 100%, 110%, 125%, 140%, 155% and 170% of NRC in diets with phytase. Diets were provided in three phases, with experimental diets fed during phases 1 (days 0 to 11) and 2 (days 11 to 25), followed by a common diet from days 25 to 46. On day 25, radius samples from one median-weight gilt per pen were collected for analysis of bone ash. During the treatment period, increasing STTD P from 80% to 140% of NRC in diets without phytase improved average daily gain (ADG; quadratic, P < 0.01), average daily feed intake (ADFI; quadratic, P < 0.05) and gain–feed ratio (G : F; linear, P < 0.01). Estimated STTD P requirement in diets without phytase was 117% and 91% of NRC for maximum ADG according to quadratic polynomial (QP) and broken-line linear (BLL) models, respectively, and was 102%, 119% and >140% of NRC for maximum G : F using BLL, broken-line quadratic and linear models, respectively. When diets contained phytase, increasing STTD P from 100% to 170% of NRC improved ADG (quadratic, P < 0.05) and G : F (linear, P < 0.01). Estimated STTD P requirement in diets containing phytase was 138% for maximum ADG (QP), and 147% (QP) and 116% (BLL) of NRC for maximum G : F. Increasing STTD P increased (linear, P < 0.01) the percentage bone ash regardless of phytase addition. When comparing diets containing the same STTD P levels, phytase increased (P < 0.01) ADG, ADFI and G : F. In summary, estimated STTD P requirements varied depending on the response criteria and statistical models and ranged from 91% to >140% of NRC (0.41% to >0.63% of phase 1 diet and 0.36% to >0.56% of phase 2 diet) in diets without phytase, and from 116% to >170% of NRC (0.52% to >0.77% of phase 1 diet and 0.46% to >0.68% of phase 2 diet) for diets containing phytase. Phytase exerted an extra-phosphoric effect on promoting pig’s growth and improved the P dose-responses for ADG and G : F.
Weaning is a critical transition phase in swine production in which piglets must cope with different stressors that may affect their health. During this period, the prophylactic use of antibiotics is still frequent to limit piglet morbidity, which raises both economic and public health concerns such as the appearance of antimicrobial-resistant microbes. With the interest of developing tools for assisting health and management decisions around weaning, it is key to provide robustness indexes that inform on the animals’ capacity to endure the challenges associated with weaning. This work aimed at developing a modelling approach for facilitating the quantification of piglet resilience to weaning. A total of 325 Large White pigs weaned at 28 days of age were monitored and further housed and fed conventionally during the post-weaning period without antibiotic administration. Body weight and diarrhoea scores were recorded before and after weaning, and blood was sampled at weaning and 1 week later for collecting haematological data. A dynamic model was constructed based on the Gompertz–Makeham law to describe live weight trajectories during the first 75 days after weaning, following the rationale that the animal response is partitioned in two time windows (a perturbation and a recovery window). Model calibration was performed for each animal. Our results show that the transition time between the two time windows, as well as the weight trajectories are characteristic for each individual. The model captured the weight dynamics of animals at different degrees of perturbation, with an average coefficient of determination of 0.99, and a concordance correlation coefficient of 0.99. The utility of the model is that it provides biologically meaningful parameters that inform on the amplitude and length of perturbation, and the rate of animal recovery. Our rationale is that the dynamics of weight inform on the capability of the animal to cope with the weaning disturbance. Indeed, there were significant correlations between model parameters and individual diarrhoea scores and haematological traits. Overall, the parameters of our model can be useful for constructing weaning robustness indexes by using exclusively the growth curves. We foresee that this modelling approach will provide a step forward in the quantitative characterisation of robustness.
Dietary protein restriction is one of the effective ways to reduce post-weaning diarrhoea and intestinal fermentation in piglets, but it may also reduce growth performance. The compensatory growth induced by subsequent protein realimentation may solve the issue. However, little research has been done on the impact of protein realimentation on the gut. In this study, the effects of protein restriction and realimentation on ileal morphology, ileal microbial composition and metabolites in weaned piglets were investigated. Thirty-six 28-day-old weaned piglets with an average body weight of 6.47 ± 0.04 kg were randomly divided into a control group and a treatment group. The CP level in the diet of the control group was 18.83% for the entire experimental period. The piglets in the treatment group were fed 13.05% CP between days 0 and 14 and restored to a diet of 18.83% CP for days 14 to 28. On day 14 and 28, six pigs from each group were sacrificed and sampled. It was found that the abundance of Lactobacillus and Salmonella in the ileal digesta was significantly lower in the treatment group than the control group on day 14, whereas the abundance of Clostridium sensu stricto 1, Streptococcus, Halomonas and Pseudomonas significantly increased in the ileal digesta of the treatment group on day 14 compared with the control group. In addition, reduced concentrations of lactic acid, total short-chain fatty acids (total SCFAs), total branched chain fatty acids, ammonia and impaired ileal morphology and mucosal barrier were observed in the treatment group on day 14. However, diarrhoea levels decreased in the treatment group throughout the experiment. During the succedent protein realimentation stage, the treatment group demonstrated compensatory growth. Compared with the control group, the treatment group showed increased abundance of Lactobacillus and reduced abundance of Salmonella, Halomonas and Pseudomonas in the ileum on day 28. The concentrations of lactic acid and total SCFAs increased significantly, whereas the concentration of ammonia remained at a lower level in the treatment group on day 28 compared with the control group. Overall, protein realimentation could improve ileal morphology and barrier functions and promote ileal digestive and absorptive functions. In conclusion, ileal microbial composition and metabolites could change according to dietary protein restriction and realimentation and eventually influence ileal morphology and barrier functions.
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.
Variations in feeding behaviour between animals result from individual variations in their metabolism as affected by diet composition. The study aimed to link the within-day dynamics of voluntary feed intake and those of blood metabolites and insulin in growing pigs having ad libitum access to feed and receiving diets differing in dietary fibre levels and aleurone supplementation. A total of forty pigs (body weight: 35 kg) had access to diets provided ad libitum, which differed by fibre content (13 or 18 % neutral-detergent fibre) and aleurone supplementation (0, 2 or 4 g/kg). Feeding behaviour was individually recorded for 1 week. The kinetic of plasma metabolites and insulin was followed for 1 h after a voluntary test meal. Dietary fibre level did not affect the daily feed intake but increased meal size and meal duration. Aleurone supplementation (4 g/kg) decreased the daily feed intake and number of meals. Dietary fibre level only decreased insulin concentration measured 15 min after meal beginning. Aleurone supplementation (4 g/kg) decreased glycaemia in the first hour after the meal and insulinaemia 15 min after the meal. Free access to feed led to high variability in pre-prandial metabolites and insulin concentrations, resulting in different test meal size irrespective of diet composition. Animals were then spread over different profiles combining feeding behaviour and fasted status to explain different profiles of regulation of feed intake. Plasma metabolites and insulin kinetics were affected by diet composition but also by animal characteristics. Individual variability should be considered when diet composition is used to modulate feeding behaviour.