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Less than 2% of mammalian genomes code for proteins, but ‘the majority of its bases can be found in primary transcripts’ – a phenomenon termed the pervasive transcription, which was first reported in 2007. Even though most of the transcripts do not code for proteins, they play a variety of biological functions, with regulation of gene expression appearing as the most common one. Those transcripts are divided into two groups based on their length: small non-coding RNAs, which are maximally 200 bp long, and long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs), which are longer than 200 nucleotides. The advances in next-generation sequencing methods provided a new possibility of investigating the full set of RNA molecules in the cell. In this review, we summarized the current state of knowledge on lncRNAs in three major livestock species – Sus scrofa, Bos taurus and Gallus gallus, based on the literature and the content of biological databases. In the NONCODE database, the largest number of identified lncRNA transcripts is available for pigs, but cattle have the largest number of lncRNA genes. Poultry is represented by less than a half of records. Genomic annotation of lncRNAs showed that the majority of them are assigned to introns (pig, poultry) or intergenic (cattle). The comparison with well-annotated human and mouse genomes indicates that such annotation is a result of lack of proper lncRNA annotation data. Since lncRNAs play an important role in genomic studies, their characterization in farm animals’ genomes is critical in bridging the gap between genotype and phenotype.
Remarkable increases in the production of dairy animals have negatively impacted their tolerance to heat stress (HS). The evaluation of the effect of HS on milk yield is based on the direct impact of HS on performance. However, in practical terms, HS also exerts its influence during gestation (indirect effect). The main purpose of this study was to identify and characterize the genotype by environment interaction (G × E) due to HS during the last 60 days of gestation (THI_g) and also the HS postpartum (THI_m) over first lactation milk production of Brazilian Holstein cattle. A total of 389 127 test day milk yield (TD) records from 1572 first lactation Holstein cows born in Brazil (daughters of 1248 dams and 70 sires) and the corresponding temperature–humidity index (THI) obtained between December 2007 and January 2013 were analyzed using different random regression models. Cows in the cold environment (THI_g = 64 to 73) during the last 60 days of gestation produced more milk than those cows in a hot environment (THI_g = 74 to 84), particularly during the first 150 days of lactation (DIM). The heritabilities (h2) of TD were similar throughout DIM for cows in THI_g hot (0.11 to 0.20) or (0.10 to 0.22), while the genetic correlations (rg) for TD between these two environments ranged from 0.11 to 0.52 along the first 250 DIM. The h2 estimates for TD across THI_m were similar for cows in THI_g hot (0.07 to 0.25) and THI_g cold (0.08 to 0.19). The rg estimates ranged from 0.17 to 0.42 along THI_m between TD of cows in cold and hot THI_g. The results were consistent in demonstrating the existence of an additional source of G × E for TD due to THI_g and THI_m. The present study is probably the first to provide evidence of this source of G × E; further research is needed because of its importance when the breeding objective is to select animals that are more tolerant to HS.
The use of antibiotics as performance enhancers in animal feeding is declining, so Lippia gracilis Schauer essential oil (LGSEO) could be used as a potential substitute for the conventionally used growth promoters. The LGSEO contains components such as carvacrol and thymol, which kill and/or control pathogenic bacteria, increase population of beneficial organisms, act against oxidative processes and onto nutrient digestibility and absorption. The aim of this study was to investigate the action and the effects of LGSEO as a growth promoter in the diet of Japanese quail by examining their productive performance, intestinal microbiology, blood biochemical parameters, hepatic thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) content and intestinal gene expression. A total of 252 two-day-old quail (Coturnix coturnix japonica) were assigned to 3 treatments in 7 replicates, using 12 birds per experimental unit. The treatments consisted of a basal diet, basal diet + LGSEO at 400 mg/kg of diet and basal diet + chemical antimicrobial (bacitracin methylene disalicylate) at 500 mg/kg of diet. The experimental period was 34 days. The highest feed intake (P < 0.01) was found in the group receiving the conventional antimicrobial, whereas the best feed conversion (P < 0.01) was shown by the animals receiving LGSEO. Escherichia coli growth was restricted in the quail receiving the growth promoters. Salmonella spp. growth was controlled by the treatment containing the conventional antimicrobial. There was no difference between the treatments (P > 0.05) for the concentration of aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase enzymes in the blood or hepatic TBARS content. Birds receiving negative-control treatment exhibited a higher expression of sodium-glucose cotransporter (SGLT1), while those receiving the treatment with essential oil showed lower catalase (CAT) and glutathione peroxidase (GPX7) expressions compared to the conventional antimicrobial and control groups, respectively. Lippia gracilis Schauer essential oil is a powerful performance enhancer for Japanese quail by virtue of its abilities to improve their intestinal environment, balance the microbial population and reduce energy expenditure for oxidative processes.
Precision feeding requires a mathematical model to estimate standardized ileal digestible (SID) lysine (Lys) requirements (SIDLysR) in real time. However, this type of model requires constant calibration updates. The objective of this study was to review the calibration of the model used to estimate the real-time Lys requirements of individual growing-finishing pigs. A digestibility trial (n = 10) was conducted to evaluate amino acids digestibility during the growing and finishing phases. Additionally, 120 pigs were used in two 28-day growth experiments conducted as completely randomized design with growing (25 ± 2.1 kg BW, n = 60; 10 pigs per treatment) or finishing barrows (68.1 ± 6 kg BW, n = 60; 10 pigs per treatment). In each experiment, the pigs were divided into six equal treatment groups and fed 60%, 70%, 80%, 90%, 100% or 110% of their estimated individual SIDLysR. The Lys requirement of each pig was estimated daily using a real-time model. Body composition was measured with dual-energy X-ray densitometry on day 1 and 28 of the experiments. Average daily feed intake increased quadratically (P < 0.05) during both growth phases. Maximum average daily gain (ADG) (0.98 kg) and maximum protein deposition (PD; 170 g/day) were observed in growing pigs fed 100% of the estimated SIDLysR (P < 0.001). During the growing period, PD in BW gain (17% to 19%) and N efficiency (52% to 65%) increased linearly (P < 0.01) with increasing inclusion rates of SID Lys. Finishing pigs had maximum ADG (1.2 kg/day) when they were fed 100% of the requirements. However, the amount of protein in BW gain (13% to 16%) and N efficiency (40% to 55%) increased linearly (P < 0.01) with increasing inclusion rates of SID Lys. In conclusion, the model proposed for precision feeding is correctly calibrated to predict SIDLysR that maximize PD and ADG of average pigs from 25 to 50 kg BW. Still, there is an opportunity to improve the estimation of SIDLysR and N retention in individual pigs by better representing the individual proportion of protein in BW gain and the factors controlling the efficiency of Lys utilization in individual pigs.
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.
The comparison of the effects of all forage offering methods would be particularly useful information in modeling growth performance and rumen fermentation of dairy calves. Therefore, this study attempted to evaluate the effects of methods of oat hay provision on growth performance, rumen fermentation and biochemical blood indices of dairy calves during preweaning and postweaning periods. At birth, 40 female Polish Holstein-Friesian calves (3 days of age; 39.6 ± 0.39 kg BW) were randomly assigned to four treatment groups differing in the access to chopped oat hay: CON (control, starter without oat hay), OH (starter feed containing 10% DM basis oat hay), OH-FC (starter feed containing 10% DM basis oat hay and oat hay fed as free-choice provision in different buckets) and FC (starter feed and oat hay fed as free-choice provision in different buckets). The calves were weaned on day 56, and then the study continued until day 84. Intakes of starter feed and oat hay were recorded daily, whereas BW and hip height (HH) on day 3 and then every 14 days. Samples of blood were collected on the initiation of experiment and then every 14 days, and rumen contents on day 28, 56 and 84. No treatment effects were found for starter, starch, CP, total DM intake, average daily gain, feeding efficiency, change in HH, ruminal fluid pH, concentrations of ruminal propionate and NH3-N, concentrations of urea nitrogen and non-esterified fatty acids in the blood. There were differences between treatments in terms of ruminal total volatile fatty acids and molar concentrations of acetate, butyrate and acetate to propionate ratio; highest in OH and OH-FC groups, especially during the postweaning period. On the other hand, lower concentrations of iso-valerate were found in OH and OH-FC groups on day 56 and 84. The concentrations of IGF-I throughout the experiment and β-hydroxybutyrate during the postweaning period in the blood were influenced by treatment, with the greatest values observed in OH and OH-FC calves. Results of this study indicate that starter feed containing chopped oat hay improves rumen fermentation parameters, which might allow successful transition from preruminant to mature ruminant state. Also, providing chopped oat hay with pelleted starter feed seems to be a better method than free-choice supplementation.
Reducing dietary CP content is an effective approach to reduce animal nitrogen excretion and save protein feed resources. However, it is not clear how reducing dietary CP content affects the nutrient digestion and absorption in the gut of ruminants, therefore it is difficult to accurately determine how much reduction in dietary CP content is appropriate. This study was conducted to investigate the effects of reduced dietary CP content on N balance, intestinal nutrient digestion and absorption, and rumen microbiota in growing goats. To determine N balance, 18 growing wether goats (25.0 ± 0.5 kg) were randomly assigned to one of three diets: 13.0% (control), 11.5% and 10.0% CP. Another 18 growing wether goats (25.0 ± 0.5 kg) were surgically fitted with ruminal, proximate duodenal, and terminal ileal fistulae and were randomly assigned to one of the three diets to investigate intestinal amino acid (AA) absorption and rumen microbiota. The results showed that fecal and urinary N excretion of goats fed diets containing 11.5% and 10.0% CP were lower than those of goats fed the control diet (P < 0.05). When compared with goats fed the control diet, N retention was decreased and apparent N digestibility in the entire gastrointestinal tract was increased in goats fed the 10% CP diet (P < 0.05). When compared with goats fed the control diet, the duodenal flow of lysine, tryptophan and phenylalanine was decreased in goats fed the 11.5% CP diet (P < 0.05) and that of lysine, methionine, tryptophan, phenylalanine, leucine, glutamic acid, tyrosine, essential AAs (EAAs) and total AAs (TAAs) was decreased in goats fed the 10.0% CP diet (P < 0.05). When compared with goats fed the control diet, the apparent absorption of TAAs in the small intestine was increased in goats fed the 11.5% CP diet (P < 0.05) and that of isoleucine, serine, cysteine, EAAs, non-essential AAs, and TAAs in the small intestine was increased in goats fed the 10.0% CP diet (P < 0.05). When compared with goats fed the control diet, the relative richness of Bacteroidetes and Fibrobacteres was increased and that of Proteobacteria and Synergistetes was decreased in the rumen of goats fed a diet with 10.0% CP. In conclusion, reducing dietary CP content reduced N excretion and increased nutrient utilization by improving rumen fermentation, enhancing nutrient digestion and absorption, and altering rumen microbiota in growing goats.
Mycotoxins are present in almost all feedstuffs used in animal nutrition but are often ignored in beef cattle systems, even though they can affect animal performance. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of mycotoxins and a mycotoxin adsorbent (ADS) on performance of Nellore cattle finished in a feedlot. One hundred Nellore cattle (430 ± 13 kg) were used in a randomized complete block design with a 2 × 2 factorial arrangement of treatments. The factors consisted of two diets with either natural contamination (NC) or exogenous contamination (EC) and the presence (1 g/kg of DM; ADS) or absence of a mycotoxin adsorbent. The NC and EC diets had the following contaminations, respectively: 0.00 and 10.0 µg/kg aflatoxins, 5114 and 5754 µg/kg fumonisins, 0.00 and 42.1 µg/kg trichothecenes B, 0.00 and 22.1 µg/kg trichothecenes A and 42.9 and 42.9 µg/kg fusaric acid. At the beginning of the experiment, all animals were weighed, and four randomly selected animals were slaughtered to evaluate the initial carcass weight. After 97 days of treatment, all animals were weighed and slaughtered. There was no interaction among factors for the DM intake (DMI; P = 0.92); however, there was a tendency for the EC diets to decrease the DMI by 650 g/day compared to animals fed NC diets (P = 0.09). There was a trend for interaction among factors (P = 0.08) for the average daily gain (ADG), where the greatest ADG was observed for cattle fed the NC diet (1.77 kg), and the lowest was observed for those fed the EC diet (1.51 kg). The NC + ADS and EC + ADS treatments presented intermediate values for ADG. The animals fed the NC diet had a greater final BW (596 kg) than animals fed the EC treatment (582 kg; P = 0.04). There was a tendency for interaction among factors for carcass gain (P = 0.08). Similarly to ADG, the highest carcass gain was observed for animals fed the NC diet (1.20 kg), and the lowest was observed for those fed the EC diet (1.05 kg). The NC + ADS and EC + ADS treatments presented intermediate values. The natural contamination groups had greater carcass gain than that of the EC groups, and the use of the ADS recovered part of the weight gain in animals fed the EC diet. In conclusion, mycotoxins at the levels evaluated affected the performance of beef cattle, and adsorbents may mitigate their impact.
Although cattle can synthesize vitamin C (VC) endogenously, stress may increase VC requirements above the biosynthetic threshold and warrant supplementation. This study investigated the effects of a VC injection delivered before or after a long-distance transit event on blood parameters and feedlot performance of beef steers. Fifty-two days prior to trial initiation, 90 newly weaned, Angus-based steers from a single source were transported to Ames, IA, USA. On day 0, 72 steers (356 ± 17 kg) were blocked by BW and randomly assigned to intramuscular injection treatments (24 steers/treatment): saline injection pre- and post-transit (CON), VC (Vet One, Boise, ID, USA; 5 g sodium ascorbate/steer) injection pre-transit and saline injection post-transit (PRE) or saline injection pre-transit and VC injection post-transit (POST). Following pre-transit treatment injections, steers were transported on a commercial livestock trailer for approximately 18 h (1675 km). Post-transit (day 1), steers were sorted into pens with one GrowSafe bunk/pen (4 pens/treatment; 6 steers/pen). Steers were weighed on day 0, 1, 7, 30, 31, 56 and 57. Blood was collected from 3 steers/pen on day 0, 1, 2 and 7; liver biopsies were performed on the same 3 steers/pen on day 2. Data were analyzed as a randomized complete block design (experimental unit = steer; fixed effects = treatment and block) and blood parameters were analyzed as repeated measures. A pre-transit VC injection improved steer average daily gain from day 7 to 31 (P = 0.05) and overall (day 1 to 57; P = 0.02), resulting in greater BW for PRE-steers on day 30/31 (P = 0.03) and a tendency for greater final BW (day 56/57; P = 0.07). Steers that received VC pre- or post-transit had greater DM intake from day 31 to 57 (P = 0.01) and overall (P = 0.02) v. CON-steers. Plasma ascorbate concentrations were greatest for PRE-steers on day 1 and POST-steers on day 2 (treatment × day; P < 0.01). No interaction or treatment effects were observed for other blood parameters (P ≥ 0.21). Plasma ferric-reducing antioxidant potential and malondialdehyde concentrations decreased post-transit (day; P < 0.01), while serum non-esterified fatty acids and haptoglobin concentrations increased post-transit (day; P < 0.01). In general, blood parameters returned to pre-transit values by day 7. Pre-transit administration of injectable VC to beef steers mitigated the decline in plasma ascorbate concentrations and resulted in superior feedlot performance compared to post-transit administration.
Se can enhance lactation performance by improving nutrient utilization and antioxidant status. However, sodium selenite (SS) can be reduced to non-absorbable elemental Se in the rumen, thereby reducing the intestinal availability of Se. The study investigated the impacts of SS and coated SS (CSS) supplementation on lactation performance, nutrient digestibility, ruminal fermentation and microbiota in dairy cows. Sixty multiparous Holstein dairy cows were blocked by parity, daily milk yield and days in milk and randomly assigned to five treatments: control, SS addition (0.3 mg Se/kg DM as SS addition) or CSS addition (0.1, 0.2 and 0.3 mg Se/kg DM as CSS addition for low CSS (LCSS), medium CSS (MCSS) and high CSS (HCSS), respectively). Experiment period was 110 days with 20 days of adaptation and 90 days of sample collection. Dry matter intake was higher for MCSS and HCSS compared with control. Yields of milk, milk fat and milk protein and feed efficiency were higher for MCSS and HCSS than for control, SS and LCSS. Digestibility of DM and organic matter was highest for CSS addition, followed by SS addition and then control. Digestibility of CP was higher for MCSS and HCSS than for control, SS and LCSS. Higher digestibility of ether extract, NDF and ADF was observed for SS or CSS addition. Ruminal pH decreased with dietary Se addition. Acetate to propionate ratio and ammonia N were lower, and total volatile fatty acids (VFAs) concentration was greater for SS, MCSS and HCSS than control. Ruminal H ion concentration was highest for MCSS and HCSS and lowest for control. Activities of cellobiase, carboxymethyl-cellulase, xylanase and protease and copies of total bacteria, fungi, Ruminococcus flavefaciens, Fibrobacter succinogenes and Ruminococcus amylophilus increased with SS or CSS addition. Activity of α-amylase, copies of protozoa, Ruminococcus albus and Butyrivibrio fibrisolvens and serum glucose, total protein, albumin and glutathione peroxidase were higher for SS, MCSS and HCSS than for control and LCSS. Dietary SS or CSS supplementation elevated blood Se concentration and total antioxidant capacity activity. The data implied that milk yield was elevated due to the increase in total tract nutrient digestibility, total VFA concentration and microorganism population with 0.2 or 0.3 mg Se/kg DM from CSS supplementation in dairy cows. Compared with SS, HCSS addition was more efficient in promoting lactation performance of dairy cows.
Ovarian follicle selection is a natural biological process in the pre-ovulatory hierarchy in birds that drives growing follicles to be selected within the ovulatory cycle. Follicle selection in birds is strictly regulated, involving signaling pathways mediated by dietary nutrients, gonadotrophic hormones and paracrine factors. This study aimed to test the hypothesis that dietary Ca may participate in regulating follicle selection in laying ducks through activating the signaling pathway of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP)/protein kinase A (PKA)/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), possibly mediated by gonadotrophic hormones. Female ducks at 22 weeks of age were initially fed one of two Ca-deficient diets (containing 1.8% or 0.38% Ca) or a Ca-adequate control diet (containing 3.6% Ca) for 67 days (depletion period), then all birds were fed the Ca-adequate diet for an additional 67 days (repletion period). Compared with the Ca-adequate control, ducks fed 0.38% Ca during the depletion period had significantly decreased (P < 0.05) numbers of hierarchical follicles and total ovarian weight, which were accompanied by reduced egg production. Plasma concentration of FSH was decreased by the diet containing 1.8% Ca but not by that containing 0.38%. The ovarian content of cAMP was increased with the two Ca-deficient diets, and phosphorylation of PKA and ERK1/2 was increased with 0.38% dietary Ca. Transcripts of ovarian estradiol receptor 2 and luteinizing hormone receptor (LHR) were reduced in the ducks fed the two Ca-deficient diets (P < 0.05), while those of the ovarian follicle stimulating hormone receptor (FSHR) were decreased in the ducks fed 0.38% Ca. The transcript abundance of ovary gap junction proteins, A1 and A4, was reduced with the Ca-deficient diets (P < 0.05). The down-regulation of gene expression of gap junction proteins and hormone receptors, the increased cAMP content and the suppressed hierarchical follicle numbers were reversed by repletion of dietary Ca. These results indicate that dietary Ca deficiency negatively affects follicle selection of laying ducks, independent of FSH, but probably by activating cAMP/PKA/ERK1/2 signaling pathway.
The use of modern prolific lines of rabbit does in intensive production systems leads to an increase in productivity but also causes a rise in several problems related to the does’ health status. Hence, the aim of this study was to investigate the effect of the litter size on the metabolic, inflammatory and plasma amino acid profile in rabbit does. The blood of 30 pregnant does was sampled on the 27th day of pregnancy. The does were retrospectively grouped according to the number of offspring into a high litter size group (HI, does with ≥ 12 kits; n = 16) and a low litter size group (LO, does with ≤ 11 kits; n = 14). Data were subjected to Pearson’s correlation analysis. Further, data were analysed in agreement to a completely randomized design in which the main tested effect was litter size. The linear or quadratic trends of litter size on parameters of interests were post hoc compared by using orthogonal contrasts. In addition, compared with the LO group, the HI group had lower levels of glucose (−5%; P < 0.01), zinc (−19%; P < 0.05), albumin (−6%; P < 0.05) and total cholesterol (−13%; P < 0.07), but the total bilirubin level was higher in the HI group (+14%; P < 0.05). Regarding the plasma amino acids, the HI group had lower concentrations of threonine (−15%), glycine (−16%), lysine (−16%) and tryptophan (−26%) and a higher level of glutamic acid (+43%; P < 0.05) compared with the LO group. The exclusively ketogenic amount of amino acids was lower (P < 0.06) in the HI (55.8 mg/100 ml) does compared with the LO does (56.8 mg/100 ml). These results show that a few days before delivery, rabbit does that gave birth to a higher number of offspring had a metabolic profile and an inflammatory status that was less favourable with respect to does who gave birth to a lower number of offspring. Moreover, the plasma amino acid profile points out that there was an enhanced catabolic condition in the rabbit does with a high number of gestated foetuses; it was likely related to the greater energy demand needed to support the pregnancy and an early inflammatory response.
Recent research has demonstrated that chemerin may take part in the regulation of reproduction. The aim of this study was to determine the expression of chemerin system – chemerin and its receptors, chemokine-like receptor 1 (CMKLR1), G protein-coupled receptor 1 (GPR1) and C-C chemokine receptor-like 2 (CCRL2) – in the porcine uterus during the oestrous cycle and early pregnancy, and in trophoblasts and conceptuses by real-time PCR and western blotting. Chemerin concentrations in uterine luminal flushings (ULF) were determined using ELISA test. In the endometrium, the highest expression of chemerin and GPR1 proteins was observed during the mid-luteal phase; CMKLR1, during the late luteal phase; and CCRL2, during the follicular phase of the cycle. In the myometrium, chemerin protein expression was enhanced during the early luteal phase, and chemerin receptor proteins were highly expressed during the follicular phase. In the endometrium of pregnant pigs, the highest expression of chemerin and CCRL2 protein was observed during implantation; CMKLR1, during placentation; and GPR1, during embryo migration. In the myometrium, chemerin and CCRL2 protein expression increased at the end of implantation, and the expression of CMKLR1 and GPR1 protein was enhanced during implantation. In the conceptuses and trophoblasts, the highest expression of chemerin system proteins was observed during placentation, with the exception of GPR1 protein in the trophoblasts. The highest concentrations of the analysed adipokine were observed in ULF during the luteal phase of the cycle and during maternal recognition of pregnancy. This is the first study to demonstrate that the expression of the chemerin system in the porcine uterus, conceptuses and trophoblasts, and chemerin concentrations in ULF are influenced by the hormonal milieu in different stages of the oestrous cycle and in early pregnancy. The present results also suggest that chemerin is implicated in the regulation of reproductive functions in pigs.
Obestatin is a gastrointestinal peptide having wide-ranging effects on cell proliferation; however, its mechanism of action remains poorly understood. Thus, the aim of the study was to elucidate the effect of exogenous obestatin on the postnatal structural development of the small intestine. Seven-day-old piglets with an average BW of 1.56 ± 0.23 kg were divided into four groups (n = 10) that received intragastrically obestatin (2, 10 or 15 μg/kg BW) or vehicle. After a 6-day experimental period, morphological analysis of gastrointestinal tract and small intestine wall (mitosis and apoptosis indexes, histomorphometry of mucosa and muscularis layers) was performed. The study revealed a seemingly incoherent pattern of the histological structure of the small intestine among the experimental groups, suggesting that the effect of obestatin is both intestinal segment specific and dose dependent. Histomorphometric analysis of the small intestine showed that higher doses of obestatin seem to promote the structural development of the duodenum while simultaneously hindering the maturation of more distal parts of the intestine. Intragastric administration of obestatin increased the crypt mitotic index in all segments of the small intestine with the strongest pro-mitotic activity following the administration of obestatin at a dose of 10 and 15 μg/kg BW. The significant differences in the number of apoptotic cells in the intestinal villi among the groups were observed only in proximal jejunum and ileum. In conclusion, it seems that obestatin shows a broad-spectrum of activity in the gastrointestinal tract of newborn piglets, being able to accelerate its structural development. However, the varied effect depending on the intestinal segment or the concentration of exogenous obestatin causes that further research is needed to clarify the exact mechanism of this phenomenon.
Lameness is a very important disorder of periparturient dairy cows with implications on milk production and composition as well as with consequences on reproductive performance. The aetiology of lameness is not clear although there have been various hypotheses suggested over the years. The objective of this study was to metabotype the urine of dairy cows prior to, during and after the onset of lameness by evaluating at weeks −8, −4 pre-calving, the week of lameness diagnosis, and +4 and +8 weeks post-calving. We used a metabolomics approach to analyse urine samples collected from dairy cows around calving (6 cows with lameness v. 20 healthy control cows). A total of 153 metabolites were identified and quantified using an in-house MS library and classified into 6 groups including: 11 amino acids (AAs), 39 acylcarnitines (ACs), 3 biogenic amines (BAs), 84 glycerophospholipids, 15 sphingolipids and hexose. A total of 23, 36, 40, 23 and 49 metabolites were observed to be significantly different between the lame and healthy cows at −8 and −4 weeks pre-calving, week of lameness diagnosis as well as at +4 and +8 weeks post-calving, respectively. It should be noted that most of the identified metabolites were elevated; however, a few of them were also lower in lame cows. Overall, ACs and glycerophospholipids, specifically phosphatidylcholines (PCs), were the metabolite groups displaying the strongest differences in the urine of pre-lame and lame cows. Lysophosphatidylcholines (LysoPCs), although to a lesser extent than PCs, were altered at all time points. Alterations in urinary AA concentrations were also observed during the current study for four time points. During the pre-calving period, there was an observed elevation of arginine (−8 week), tyrosine (−8 week) and aspartate (−4 week), as well as a depression of urinary glutamate (−4 weeks). In the current study, it was additionally observed that concentrations of several sphingomyelins and one BA were altered in pre-lame and lame cows. Symmetric dimethylarginine was elevated at both −8 weeks pre-calving and the week of lameness diagnosis. Data showed that urinary fingerprinting might be a reliable methodology to be used in the future to differentiate lame cows from healthy ones.
Due to genetic selection for fast growth and high breast meat yield, commercial strains of broiler chickens and broiler breeders are predisposed to high feed intake; however, feeding broiler breeders ad libitum impairs their health and reproductive performance. Broiler breeders are feed-restricted throughout rearing to maintain health and performance, yet feed restriction results in hunger, feeding frustration and lack of satiety. The objective of this study was to examine the effect of alternative feeding strategies, including feed additives (separately or combined) and a fixed non-daily feeding schedule, on the feeding motivation and welfare of broiler breeders during rearing. At 3 weeks of age, 180 Ross 308 breeder pullets were allocated to 90 cages and fed with one of five isocaloric treatments: (1) daily control diet (control), (2) daily calcium propionate diet (CaP), (3) daily soybean hull diet (SBH), (4) daily alternative diet (alternative: CaP + SBH) and (5) 4/3 control diet (four on-feed days and three non-consecutive off-feed days per week). The CaP diet included calcium propionate at 1.4% from 3 to 6 weeks of age, and at 3.2% from 7 to 12 weeks of age, and the SBH diet contained soybean hulls included at 40%. The alternative diet included both soybean hulls and calcium propionate at the same inclusion rate as the SBH and CaP diets, respectively. Pullets were weighed and scored for feather coverage every week. A feed intake test was conducted at 3, 4, 8, 10 and 11 weeks of age for 10 min during on- and off-feed days. At 12 weeks of age, feather samples were analysed for fault bars. Data were analysed using linear mixed regression models, with cage nested in the models and age as a repeated measure. At 4 weeks of age, pullets fed soybean hull-enriched diets (SBH and alternative diets) and those on the 4/3 schedule had lower feed intake than control pullets (P = 0.02). Feathers from pullets fed the SBH diet had fewer fault bars than those fed the CaP diet (P = 0.04). The results indicated that the inclusion of soybean hulls (alone or combined with calcium propionate) and a 4/3 feeding schedule can reduce feeding motivation of broiler breeders during early rearing.
Tail-biting occurs pre-weaning, but literature on tail damage during lactation and on the development of damage over time is sparse, especially for non-docked piglets. We assessed the prevalence of tail damage in non-docked piglets in a commercial Danish piggery during the lactation and weaning period, and investigated the within-animal association of tail lesions pre- and post-weaning. Non-docked piglets (n = 741) from 51 loose-housed sows were individually marked and tracked from birth to 9 weeks (w9) of age. Tail damage was scored during lactation at w1 and w4, and once a week post-weaning (average weaning age 30 days) at w6 to w9. The within-animal association of tail damage before and after weaning was investigated at pig level using generalized mixed models. Tail damage was prevalent already pre-weaning. During the lactation period, the prevalence of tail lesions was 5% at w1 and 42% at w4, with the most prevalent score being ‘superficial damages’ (66.7%, score 1; pre-weaning scheme: 0 = no damage, 3 = tail wound). Post-weaning, 45% of pigs had a tail lesion at least once over the four assessments, with 16.7% of pigs having a tail lesion at least at two assessments. The majority of lesions were ‘minor scratches’ (34.2%, score 1; post-weaning scheme: 0 = no damage, 4 = wound – necrotic tail end) and a ‘scabbed wound’ (19.9%, score 3). The number of pigs with lesions as well as wound severity increased over time. More pigs had a tail wound at w8 (15%, P < 0.001 and < 0.01) and w9 (19%, P < 0.001 and < 0.001) compared to w6 (2.7%) and w7 (5.6%). Pigs with tail lesions pre-weaning (w1: OR 3.0, 95% CI 0.9 to 10.2; w4: OR 3.4, 95% CI 2.0 to 5.8) had a significantly higher risk of having a wound post-weaning, and pigs with lesions at w4 additionally were at a higher risk (OR 3.0, 95% CI 1.8 to 5.1) of having a lesion over several assessments. Females compared to castrated males had a significantly lower risk of having tail lesions at w1 (OR 0.3, 95% CI 0.1 to 0.8). Similarly, females were at a significantly lower risk (OR 0.5, 95% CI 0.4 to 0.9) of having a wound post-weaning, and tended to have a lower risk of having lesions over several assessments (OR 0.7, 95% CI 0.5 to 1.2). Our study confirmed that tail damage is prevalent already during the lactation period, and that pre-weaning tail damage is predictive of tail wounds post-weaning.
Veterinarians often give advice in a persuasive form, a style that has been shown to evoke resistance to change in clients experiencing psychological ambivalence (i.e. those who see both advantages and disadvantages to changing). With this style of communication, veterinarians run the risk of counteracting their purpose to encourage clients to follow recommendations. Motivational interviewing (MI) is a client-centered communication methodology that aims to facilitate clients’ internal motivation to change. In MI, Change Talk represents clients’ own statements expressing consideration of, motivation for or commitment to behavior change and has been shown to be strongly correlated with behavior change. Sustain Talk is corresponding statements related to maintaining the status quo. The aim of this exploratory study was to evaluate the potential of MI to facilitate behavior change in veterinary herd health management (VHHM) by investigating the effect of dairy cattle veterinarians’ MI skills on client Change and Sustain Talk. We recorded VHHM consultancies on 170 Swedish cattle farms performed by 36 veterinarians, randomly distributed into 2 groups: MI veterinarians (n = 18) had received 6-month training in MI and control veterinarians (n = 18) had not received any training. Veterinarians’ MI skills were assessed using the Motivational Interviewing Treatment Integrity coding system 4.2.1 and categorized as poor_untrained, poor_trained, near moderate and moderate. Client communication was coded using the Client Language Easy Rating coding system. The effect of MI skills on Change Talk, Sustain Talk and Proportion of Change Talk(Change Talk divided by the sum of Sustain Talk plus Change Talk) was investigated using cross-classified regression models with random intercepts for veterinarian and client (farm). The models also included additional explanatory variables (e.g. type of veterinarian and client’s satisfaction with the consultation). The veterinarian’s MI skills were associated with the client’s Change Talk, but results regarding Sustain Talk or Proportion of Change Talk were inconclusive. Clients of veterinarians reaching the highest (i.e. moderate) MI skills expressed 1.5 times more Change Talk than clients of untrained veterinarians. Clients of general large animal practitioners expressed less Sustain Talk than clients of animal health veterinarians and had higher Proportion of Change Talk. Results indicate that learning to practice MI may be one means to improve adherence to veterinary recommendations and to improve efficiency in VHHM services.
In order to reduce antimicrobial use in pig production, the consequences of insufficient biosecurity and welfare problems need to be known. This study aimed to investigate associations between the number of antimicrobial treatments per fattening pig, and biosecurity, indicators for animal welfare as well as the prevalence of lesions at slaughter. The data used in this study were extracted from the pig health and welfare classification system (Sikava), which gathers data on medicine usage, meat inspection, animal welfare and the condition of farm buildings from over 95% of pig production in Finland. The data were registered during years from 2011 to 2013. Upon antimicrobial prescription, information on the number of fattening pigs treated and the main reason for treatment was recorded. In addition, at least 4 times per year, pig farms registered in Sikava were visited by the farm veterinarian who assessed, among other things, biosecurity and indicators for animal welfare (air quality, condition of facilities, cleanliness, enrichment and stocking density). Finally, data from slaughterhouse inspections were collected (number of carcasses with joint infection, abscesses, lung lesions, pleurisy and liver lesions). For analysis, these datasets were aggregated at the farm level to a quarter of a year. During the studied period, the mean number of antimicrobial treatments per fattening pig per 3 months was equal to 0.09. The main reasons for antimicrobial treatments were musculoskeletal diseases, tail biting and respiratory disorders (42, 33 and 12% of diagnoses, respectively). The meat inspection scoring indicated that as much as 14.7% of all pigs had pleurisy, 5.3% liver lesions and 4.1% abscesses. A standard zero-inflated negative binomial model was used to identify factors associated with the number of antimicrobial treatments per pig. The count of antimicrobial treatments per pig increased with the size of a farm. Regardless of prevalence of lesions, farms with poor drinking equipment, insufficient enrichment and a combination of poor condition of pens and high stocking density were associated with an increased number of antimicrobial treatments for musculoskeletal diseases per pig. Problems with stocking density and enrichment were associated with the number of antimicrobial treatments for tail biting, although these results depended on prevalence of joint infections. Problems with air quality and the combination of poor cleanliness and poor condition of facilities were associated with increased number of antimicrobial treatments due to respiratory diseases. This study suggests that by improving biosecurity and welfare at pig farms, antimicrobial use can be reduced.