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Genetics affects not only the weight of piglets at birth but also the variability of birth weight within litter. Previous studies on this topic assigned the sample standard deviation of piglet birth weights within litter as an observation to the sow. However, the contribution of the difference in mean birth weight per sex on the within-litter variance has been neglected so far. This work deals with the genetic effect on within-litter variance when different statistical models with different distributional assumptions are used and considers the sex effect and appropriate weights per trait. Traits were formed from the pooled sample variance of male and female birth weights within litter. A linear model approach was fitted to the logarithmized within-litter variance and the sample standard deviation. A generalized linear model with gamma-distributed residuals and log-link function was applied to the untransformed sample variance. Models were compared by analysing data from 9439 litters from Landrace and Large White of a commercial breeding programme. The estimates of heritability for different traits ranged from 7% to 11%. Although the generalized linear mixed model is preferred from a mathematical view, the rank correlations between breeding values of the linear mixed models and the generalized linear mixed model were relatively high, i.e. 94% to 98%. By residual diagnostics, a linear mixed model using the weighted and pooled within-litter standard deviation was identified as most suitable.
Somatostatin (SS) is a hormone that inhibits the secretion of growth hormone. Immunization against SS can promote the growth of animals. A novel SS-VP22 fused vaccine, pEGS2SS-V, was constructed from pEGS2SS plasmid with a VP22 gene fragment. Two times of immunization with pEGS2SS-V-induced anti-SS antibodies in mice. Compared with mice immunized with pEGS2SS and 0.85% saline, the growth performance of mice immunized with pEGS2SS-V was increased by 14.1% (P < 0.05) and 48.4% (P < 0.01) on the 2nd week after the first vaccination, respectively. The results indicated that the effects of the somatostatin DNA vaccine could be improved effectively by VP22 gene adjuvant.
Indicator traits used to select pigs for increased resistance to infection or improved health must be heritable and, preferably, be associated with improved performance. We estimated the heritability of a range of immune traits and their genetic and phenotypic correlations with growth performance. We measured immune traits on 589 pigs and performance on 1941 pigs from six farms, three of which were classified as ‘high health status’ (i.e. specific pathogen-free) and three were of lower health status. All pigs were apparently healthy. Immune traits were total white blood cells (WBC), and peripheral blood mononuclear leucocyte (PBML) subsets positive for CD4, CD8α, gamma delta (γδ) T cell receptor, CD11R1 (natural killer cell marker), B cell and monocyte markers at the start and the end of standard growth performance tests. At both time points, all immune traits were moderately to highly heritable except for CD8α+ cells. At end of test, heritability estimates (h2) (±s.e.) were 0.18 (±0.11) for total WBC count. For PBML subset proportions, the heritabilities were 0.52 (±0.14) for γδ TCR+ cells, 0.62 (±0.14) for CD4+ cells, 0.44 (±0.14) for CD11R1+ cells, 0.58 (±0.14) for B cells and 0.59 (±0.14) for monocytes. Farm health status affected the heritabilities for WBC, being substantially higher on lower health status farms, but did not have consistent effects on heritabilities for the PBML subsets. There were significant negative genetic correlations between numbers and proportions of various PBML subsets and performance, at both start and end of test. In particular, the proportion of PBML cells that were CD11R1+ cells, at end of test, was strongly correlated with daily gain (rg = −0.72; P < 0.01). There were also weaker but significant negative phenotypic correlations between PBML subsets measured at end of test and performance, for γδ+ T cells, CD8α+, CD11R1+ cells, B cells or monocytes. Phenotypic correlations with daily gain were generally lower at the start of test than at the end of test. These results show that most of the major pig PBML subsets are heritable, and that systemic levels of several of these PBML subsets are genetically negatively correlated with performance. This approach provides a basis for using immune trait markers when selecting boars that can produce higher-performing progeny.
The aim of the present study was to investigate the daily measured traits milk yield, water intake and dry matter intake with fixed and random regression models added with different error covariance structures. It was analysed whether these models deliver better model fitting in contrast to conventional fixed and random regression models. Furthermore, possible autocorrelation between repeated measures was investigated. The effect of model choice on statistical inference was also tested. Data recording was performed on the Futterkamp dairy research farm of the Chamber of Agriculture of Schleswig-Holstein. A dataset of about 21 000 observations from 178 Holstein cows was used. Average milk yield, water intake and dry matter intake were 34.9, 82.4 and 19.8 kg, respectively. Statistical analysis was performed using different linear mixed models. Lactation number, test day and the parameters to model the function of lactation day were included as fixed effects. Different structures were tested for the residuals; they were compared for their ability to fit the model using the likelihood ratio test, and Akaike’s and Bayesian’s information criteria. Different autocorrelation patterns were found. Adjacent repeated measures of daily milk yield were highest correlated (p1 = 0.32) in contrast to measures further apart, while for water intake and dry matter intake, the measurements with a lag of two units had the highest correlations with p2 = 0.11 and 0.12. The covariance structure of TOEPLITZ was most suitable to indicate the dependencies of the repeated measures for all traits. Generally, the most complex model, random regression with the additional covariance structure TOEPLITZ(4), provided the lowest information criteria. Furthermore, the model choice influenced the significance values of one fixed effect and therefore the general inference of the data analysis. Thus, the random regression + TOEPLITZ(4) model is recommended for use for the analysis of equally spaced datasets of milk yield, water intake and dry matter intake.
The objective of the present study was to determine the effects of rumen-protected choline (RPC) supplementation on body condition, milk production and milk choline content during the periparturient period. Thirty-two Holstein cows were allocated into two groups (RPC group – with RPC supplementation, and control group – without RPC supplementation) 28 days before the expected calving. Cows were fed the experimental diet from 21 days before expected calving until 60 days of lactation. The daily diet of the RPC group contained 100 g of RPC from 21 days before calving until calving and 200 g RPC after calving for 60 days of lactation, which provided 25 g and 50 g per day choline, respectively. Body condition was scored on days −21, 7, 35 and 60 relative to calving. Milk production was measured at every milking; milk fat, protein and choline content were determined on days 7, 35 and 60 of lactation. Body condition was not affected by RPC supplementation. Milk yield was 4.4 kg higher for the group of cows receiving supplementary choline during the 60 days experimental period and 4% fat-corrected milk production was also increased by 2.5 kg/day. Milk fat content was not altered by treatment, but fat yield was increased by 0.10 kg/day as a consequence of higher milk yield in the RPC-treated group. Milk protein content tended to increase by RPC supplementation and a 0.18 kg/day significant improvement of protein yield was detected. Milk choline content increased in both groups after calving as the lactating period advanced. However, milk choline content and choline yield were significantly higher in the RPC group than in the control group. The improved milk choline and choline yield provide evidence that some of the applied RPC escaped ruminal degradation, was absorbed from the small intestine and improved the choline supply of the cows and contributed to the changes of production variables.
The objective of this study was to compare growth performance and carcass and meat quality characteristics of growing–finishing pigs fed diets containing Roundup Ready wheat (MON 71800), compared with the non-transgenic genetically similar parental control wheat (MON 71900), and four commercial varieties of non-transgenic wheat (HANK, Westbred 926, Express and Zeke). The study was carried out as a split-plot design with a 2 × 6 factorial arrangement of treatments (two genders and six wheat varieties). A three-phase dietary program was used; all diets were formulated with a fixed level of wheat inclusion (70%, 80% and 85% for the Grower, Finisher I and Finisher II phases, respectively). A total of 240 commercial hybrid pigs (equal numbers of barrows and gilts) were grown from 29.5 ± 0.29 to 114.5 ± 2.23 kg live weight in single-gender pens (barrows or gilts) of five pigs (eight pens per dietary treatment) with ad libitum access to feed and water throughout the study. At the end of each dietary phase and of the test period, ultrasound measurements were taken at the 10th rib. Animals from the transgenic (MON 71800) and non-transgenic (MON 71900) treatments were harvested at the end of the study and carcass and meat quality measurements were taken. Pigs fed the six wheat varieties had similar (P > 0.05) feed intake, live weight gain, gain : feed ratio and ultrasound measures of backfat thickness and longissimus muscle area. There was a wheat variety × gender interaction (P < 0.05) for longissimus fat content. Gilts fed the transgenic wheat had higher (P < 0.05) longissimus fat content than those fed the non-transgenic control wheat; however, for barrows there was no effect (P > 0.05) of wheat variety on longissimus fat content. However, there was no effect (P > 0.05) of wheat variety on other longissimus muscle quality or composition measures. Gilts had lower (P < 0.01) feed intake, growth rate and backfat thickness, and similar gain : feed ratio (P > 0.05) compared to barrows. This study, with growing–finishing swine, suggests that the Roundup Ready wheat (MON 71800) resulted in equivalent animal performance to conventional wheat.
Forty multiparous Holstein cows were used in a 16-week continuous design study to determine the effects of either selenium (Se) source, selenised yeast (SY) (derived from a specific strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae CNCM I-3060) or sodium selenite (SS), or Se inclusion rate in the form of SY in the diets of lactating dairy cows on the Se concentration and speciation in blood, milk and cheese. Cows received ad libitum a total mixed ration (TMR) with a 1 : 1 forage : concentrate ratio on a dry matter (DM) basis. There were four diets (T1 to T4), which differed only in either source or dose of Se additive. Estimated total dietary Se for T1 (no supplement), T2 (SS), T3 (SY) and T4 (SY) was 0.16, 0.30, 0.30 and 0.45 mg/kg DM, respectively. Blood and milk samples were taken at 28-day intervals and at each time point there were positive linear effects of Se in the form of SY on the Se concentration in blood and milk. At day 112, blood and milk Se values for T1 to T4 were 177, 208, 248 and 279 ± 6.6 and 24, 38, 57 and 72 ± 3.7 ng/g fresh material, respectively, and indicate improved uptake and incorporation of Se from SY. In whole blood, selenocysteine (SeCys) was the main selenised amino acid and the concentration of selenomethionine (SeMet) increased with the increasing inclusion rate of SY. In milk, there were no marked treatment effects on the SeCys content, but Se source had a marked effect on the concentration of SeMet. At day 112, replacing SS (T2) with SY (T3) increased the SeMet concentration of milk from 36 to 111 ng Se/g and its concentration increased further to 157 ng Se/g dried sample as the inclusion rate of SY increased further (T4) to provide 0.45 mg Se/kg TMR. Neither Se source nor inclusion rate affected the keeping quality of milk. At day 112, milk from T1, T2 and T3 was made into a hard cheese and Se source had a marked effect on total Se and the concentration of total Se comprised as either SeMet or SeCys. Replacing SS (T2) with SY (T3) increased total Se, SeMet and SeCys content in cheese from 180 to 340 ng Se/g, 57 to 153 ng Se/g and 52 to 92 ng Se/g dried sample, respectively. The use of SY to produce food products with enhanced Se content as a means of meeting the Se requirements is discussed.
The effect of temperature level (24°C, 28°C, 32°C or 36°C) on performance and thermoregulatory response in growing pigs during acclimation to high ambient temperature was studied on a total of 96 Large White barrows. Pigs were exposed to 24°C for 10 days (days −10 to −1, P0) and thereafter to a constant temperature of 24°C, 28°C, 32°C or 36°C for 20 days. Pigs were housed in individual metal slatted pens, allowing a separate collection of faeces and urine and given ad libitum access to feed. Rectal (RT) and cutaneous (CT) temperatures and respiration rate (RR) were measured three times daily (0700, 1200 and 1800 h) every 2 to 3 days during the experiment. From day 1 to 20, the effect of temperature on average daily feed intake (ADFI) and BW gain (average daily gain, ADG) was curvilinear. The decrease of ADFI averaged 90 g/day per °C between 24°C and 32°C and 128 g/day per °C between 32°C and 36°C. The corresponding values for ADG were 50 and 72 g/day per °C, respectively. The 20 days exposure to the experimental temperature was divided in two sub-periods (P1 and P2, from day 1 to 10 and from day 11 to 20, respectively). ADFI was not affected by duration of high-temperature exposure (i.e. P2 v. P1). The ADG was not influenced by the duration of exposure at 24°C and 28°C groups. However, ADG was higher at P2 than at P1 and this effect was temperature dependent (+130 and +458 g/day at 32°C and 36°C, respectively). In P2 at 36°C, dry matter digestibility significantly increased (+2.1%, P < 0.01); however, there was no effect of either duration or temperature on the digestibility of dry matter at group 24°C and 32°C. RT, CT and RR were measured three times daily (0700, 1200 and 1800 h) every 2 to 3 days during the experiment. Between 28°C and 36°C, RT and CT were lower during P2 than during P1 (−0.20°C and −0.23°C; P < 0.05), whereas RR response was not affected by the duration of exposure whatever the temperature level. In conclusion, this study suggests that the effect of elevated temperatures on performance and thermoregulatory responses is dependent on the magnitude and the duration of heat stress.
This study was designed to investigate the effects of the interaction among genetic group, sex and age on the frequencies and cross-sectional areas of myofiber types in rabbits. A total of 48 straightbred and crossbred Botucatu rabbits, males and females, were involved in a split plot design with a 2 × 2 (genetic groups × genders) factorial arrangement. Young rabbits were weaned at 35 days of age and sequentially slaughtered, four per genetic group × sex combination, at 42, 63 and 84 days of age. The flexor carpi radialis muscle was dissected, histological sections (10 μm) were obtained and the frequencies and cross-sectional areas of myofiber types: I, IIA and IIB/X were determined. An effect of the genetic group × sex × slaughter age interaction was found on the frequency distribution of myofiber types. A transition from type IIA to type IIB/X fibers was observed (P < 0.01) with advancing age, except in crossbred females, but the frequency of IIA fibers was already lower (57.3%) and of IIB/X fibers numerically higher (33.7%) in this group at 42 days. The proportions of IIA fibers in straightbred males, crossbred males and straightbred females decreased from 80.1%, 89.4% and 68.8% at 42 days to 43.9%, 52.3% and 40.1% at 63 days, respectively, whereas the proportions of type IIB/X fibers, in the same groups, increased from 10.3%, 1.6% and 22.3% at 42 days to 42.2%, 37.0% and 49.8% at 63 days, respectively. In all three age points, type IIA fibers showed the largest cross-sectional areas, followed by type I and IIB/X fibers. The cross-sectional areas of IIB/X fibers were larger in crossbreds, but no differences were found between genetic groups concerning fiber types IIA and I. All three types of fibers showed positive linear association with age, but relative to the initial area type IIB/X fibers presented a higher degree of hypertrophy (144% up to 84 days) than type IIA and I fibers (86% and 85%, respectively). The flexor carpi radialis muscle was, on average, heavier in crossbred than in straightbred females, but no difference was observed between crossbred and straightbred males. Differences in the weight of flexor carpi radialis muscle were attributed to the hypertrophy of type IIB/X fibers in the crossbreds.
Two trials were carried out to compare the effects of fat or starch inclusion in sow’s diet on sow and litter performance. In each trial, sows were assigned to one of two treatments. In trial 1, the sows were fed diets containing either soybean oil (5%, treatment GL5) or cornstarch (11.3%, GL0) from day 35 of gestation to weaning. Daily net energy and nutrient allowance were equalised during gestation. In trial 2, the same treatments were applied only after farrowing (treatments L5 and L0, respectively). Within each trial, a batch of piglets was studied until slaughter. In trial 1, adipose cell development and total lipid content were determined on some pigs at weaning (n = 6/treatment) and at slaughter in dorsal subcutaneous adipose tissue (n = 13/group at least) and in muscle (n = 46/group at least). Piglets’ birth weight was not affected by treatment in trial 1. Survival rates at birth and after 24 h of life were higher in treatment GL5 (4.0% v. 7.5% stillborn piglets in GL0 treatment, P < 0.05; 8.7% v. 12.6% of piglets alive at 24 h of age died in treatment GL0, P = 0.06). Subsequently, overall survival rate until weaning was higher in treatment GL5 (81.4% v. 75.7% of total born piglets, P = 0.03), but litter size at weaning was not significantly affected (11.3). Litter growth rate before weaning was increased when a fat-enriched diet was provided during gestation and lactation (+140 g/day per litter; P < 0.01) and to a lower extent when provided only after farrowing (+90 g/day; P < 0.05). Energy supply through fat did not decrease the mobilisation of the sow’s body reserve and backfat thickness loss was even higher with treatment GL5 (P < 0.05). After weaning, pigs’ average daily gain, feed : gain ratio and carcass lean content were not affected by the energy source supplied before and/or after farrowing. At weaning, the number of adipose cells in the dorsal subcutaneous adipose tissue and in the Longissimus dorsi muscle was higher in the GL5 pigs. Muscle lipid content at weaning did not differ between treatments, but it was higher at slaughter, around 110 kg, in the GL5 pigs (3.46% v. 2.58%, P < 0.001).
In many equestrian pursuits such as dressage and show-jumping, it is important that the horse exhibits the same level of balance when ridden to the left as when ridden to the right in canter – that is, to show no motor bias. It is a long-held belief within such disciplines that to reduce bias that exists in horses and thus to enhance symmetry of performance to the left and right, the horse needs to be worked equally in both directions, although there is a lack of scientific evidence of this influencing bias. There also is little compelling evidence for either the existence or absence of motor bias in unridden (and therefore younger) or ridden (and therefore older) horses. In this study, we tested whether there was a difference in motor bias between unridden (n = 15) and ridden (n = 15) horses when their balance was challenged by cantering them in circles both to the left and to the right on the lunge. As indicators of a difference in balance between the left and right and thus as indicators of motor bias, we conducted three lunging tests – time spent in canter, whether the horse cantered on the correct lead and whether it became disunited. A grazing stance test, where the extended foreleg during grazing was recorded as the preferred forelimb, was also used to compare responses in a test where balance was not actively challenged, to the three lunging tests where balance was actively challenged. No bias was found in either the unridden or ridden groups when their balance was challenged, but ridden horses exhibited a motor bias in grazing stance – when their balance was not challenged. There was also a correlation between the responses in all three lunging tests, but none between the grazing stance test and any of the three lunging tests. We therefore conclude that neither ridden nor unridden horses are biased when their balance is challenged; thus it cannot be concluded that ambidextrous training affects an inherent bias, and that estimation of motor bias in horses is affected by the test conditions. Finally, if ridden horses are truly unbiased, strong human motor bias might be responsible for the common perception amongst riders that horses are biased.
The aim of the present study was to verify the influence of distance between obstacles in combination for free jumping test on linear and temporal kinematic parameters of the jump. Investigated groups of halfbred stallions being prepared for 100 days performance test (two groups, 36 horses in total) were filmed on different distances between main doublebarre obstacle and last cross-pole in the jumping lane. Both groups of horses were filmed during their regular work in the same training centre 1 week before performance test. Jumping parameters were obtained on the same size of the obstacle. Data were analysed separately for both groups by analysis of variance. On the basis of the conducted study, it is possible to conclude that in the range of the most popular free jumping distance horses may use different jumping techniques to clear the jump. The shorter distances between last two obstacles in the jumping lane in the range of 6.8 to 7.1 m stimulate higher jumps; however, the reaction of horses was not exactly the same for all measured jumping parameters.
Feeding broilers by alternating different diets for 1 or 2 days is known as sequential feeding, and it possibly reduces leg problems since it slows down early growth and may enhance general activity. The present study compared continuous feeding with a standard diet (C: metabolisable energy = 12.55 MJ/kg, crude protein = 190 g/kg) with alternations of a high-energy/low-protein diet (E+P−:+7% ME; −20% CP) and a low-energy/high-protein diet (E−P+: −7% ME,+20% CP) and investigated its effects on growth, behaviour and gait score in 352 male Ross broiler chickens. Sequential feeding was carried out during ten 48-h sequential-feeding cycles from 8 to 28 days of age. Three treatments were compared: complete diet (C) and two alternations of diets varying in protein and energy contents (S1: E+P− followed by E−P+; and S2: E−P+ followed by E+P−). Chickens received the same feed during the starter and finisher periods (0 to 7 and 29 to 38 days of age). Body weight (BW), feed intake, general activity and gait score, bone quality and carcass conformation were measured to evaluate leg condition and general performance. Sequential feeding significantly reduced BW at 28 days of age (S1: −9.1%; S2: −3.7%/C group; P < 0.05) and S1 were lighter than S2. In both sequential groups, time spent standing increased (C: 28%; S1:33%; S2: 35%; P < 0.05) and leg abnormalities decreased (mean gait score: C: 2.61; S1: 2.45; S2: 2.38; P < 0.02). This improvement was not related to changes in bone quality. BW at slaughter was impaired in Group S1 only, and the feed conversion ratio throughout the rearing period was not significantly impaired by sequential feeding. However, abdominal fat was higher in the S2 group. Sequential feeding using diets varying in energy and crude protein can be a useful method of reducing leg problems in broilers since it improves gait score without impairing growth performance when used as early as 8 days of age and up to not less than 8 days before slaughter in order to compensate for reduced growth. This improvement can be explained by reduced early growth and enhanced motor activity. However, it appears that the low-energy diet should be given first in order to avoid a reduction in BW at slaughter.
It has become common practice in pig fattening production systems to castrate young boar piglets without the use of anaesthesia. In this study, we examined whether or not CO2 gas is capable of inducing an acceptable anaesthetic state during which castration can be performed. The first step was to identify the most promising CO2/O2 mixture. Based on the results from this first experiment, a mixture of 70% CO2 + 30% O2 was chosen for further investigation as a potential anaesthetic during the castration of young piglets. Thereby, it was established whether the duration and depth of anaesthesia were acceptable for castration where the animal has to be insensible and unconscious. Physiological effects were assessed based on electroencephalogram (EEG) and electrocardiogram (ECG) measurements, blood gas values and behavioural responses. During the induction phase, the only typical behaviour the piglets exhibited when exposed to the 70/30 gas mixture was heavy breathing. All piglets (n = 25) lost consciousness after approximately 30 s according to the EEG. Heart rate decreased slowly during the induction phase, a serious drop occurred when piglets lost their posture. Immediately after this drop, the heart rate neared zero or showed a very irregular pattern. Shortly after loss of posture, most animals showed a few convulsions. None of the animals showed any reaction to castration in behaviour and/or on the EEG and ECG. On average, the piglets recovered within 59 s, i.e. EEG returned to its pre-induction pattern and piglets were able to regain a standing position. After 120 s, heart rate returned to pre-induction levels. In order to explore the usage range of CO2 concentration, 24 piglets were exposed to 60% CO2 + 20% O2 + 20% N2 for up to 30 s after loss of consciousness (as registered on EEG), and castrated after removal from the chamber. Sixteen of the 24 animals showed a reaction to the castration on the EEG. To establish the maximum time piglets survive in 70% CO2 + 30% O2, five piglets were placed in this mixture for 3 min. Two of them died. After that, four piglets were placed in this mixture for 2 min after unconsciousness, one died after 2 min. It was concluded from this study that it is possible to anaesthetise piglets with a mixture of 70% CO2 + 30% O2, but that there are limits to its safety in terms of CO2 concentration and duration of exposure. Before implementation for practical use, further research is essential to assess the limits of gas concentration and exposure times.
Short-term feed preferences were studied in individually caged chickens fed sequentially in order to understand a previously described imbalance in the intake of diets offered. Sequential feeding (SF) was carried out for four 48 h cycles in male broiler chickens. The diets varied in energy (2800 (E−) and 3200 kcal/kg (E+)) and protein (230 (P+) and 150 g/kg (P−)) contents. SF was compared to standard feeding (C) (3000 kcal/kg ME and CP = 190 g/kg). In experiment 1, three treatments were used: C, SE (E− followed by E+) and SE′ (E+ followed by E−). Four treatments were used in experiment 2: C, SP (P+ followed by P−), SE and SEP (P+E− followed by P−E+). Total feed intake was measured during the SF period. After this, short-term preferences were evaluated with a choice test on chickens previously fed with the same feeds during the SF period (experienced birds) and in C chickens (naïve birds). In both experiments, total feed intake was similar among treatments and the percentage of each feed consumed was not significantly different from controls (50%). In experiment 1, SE and SE′ chickens over-consumed E+ and under-consumed E− diets only during the first 15 min of the fourth cycle. The choice test indicated that experienced chickens preferred E+, while naïve chickens preferred E−. Similarly, in experiment 2, chickens over-consumed E+ and E+P− during the first 15 min of the fourth cycle, but the intake of diets varying in protein content was not different from controls. During the choice test, as in experiment 1, experienced chickens preferred E+, while naïve chickens preferred E−. There was a slight preference for the protein-poor diet in naïve birds and there was no preference in the diet varying in both protein and energy contents. Experience modified choice between feeds varying in energy content but not in protein. When feeds were known, preference for energy affected the feed intake immediately after switching from one diet to the other, although lower with the diet also varying in protein, it did not influence the total intake of each diet. Interactions between the nutritional properties and sensorial cues of feed could explain these results.
The activities of bulls, their feeding behaviour and their ruminal pH were examined at several stages during the finishing period, according to the forage-to-concentrate ratio of their diet. Twenty-four bulls of the Blond d’Aquitaine breed (initial body weight = 326 ± 21 kg) were assigned to six balanced pens with a space allowance of 9.4 m2 per bull during the finishing period. They were fed three different diets with achieved forage-to-concentrate ratios of (i) 8% straw and 92% concentrate, (ii) 44% hay and 56% concentrate and (iii) 57% maize silage and 43% concentrate. Bulls had ad libitum access to feed dispensed once daily. Offered and refusals were weighed on 5 consecutive days per week. The bulls were slaughtered at the common final live weight of 650 kg and the finishing period lasted 138, 181 and 155 days for straw–concentrate, hay–concentrate and maize silage–concentrate diets, respectively. The time budget was estimated four times by scan sampling with a 10-min interval. Feeding behaviour was appraised using data from electronic feeding gates. Ruminal pH was measured from a ruminal fluid sample collected by rumenocentesis. On average, the bulls spent 78% of the time lying or standing still, and 11% of the time eating. The forage-to-concentrate ratio of the diet influenced only those activities directly linked to feeding, i.e. eating and drinking. Bulls fed a high-concentrate diet spent less time eating than the other bulls (47 min v. >2 h) and took shorter meals (7 min v. 17 min). The bulls fed the straw–concentrate diet spread their meals over the entire day, whereas the others maintained two major peaks of eating activity, the main one in the morning after feed dispensing, the other one at the end of the diurnal period. Intake rate ranged widely between diets, from 58 g/min on average for the diets based on hay or maize silage up to 173 g/min for the high-concentrate diet. The concentrate-diet bulls also had a lower ruminal pH during the first 2 months of the finishing period. The dispersion of meals based on a high-acidosis-risk diet may be a way to limit the decrease in ruminal pH.
Approximately 5% of pigs produced in Australia is believed to be traded at livestock sales. Interviews and focus group discussions were conducted with producers (106 and 30 producers, respectively), who traded pigs at livestock sales. The purpose of the study was to gather information on how producers identified their pigs in order to evaluate how these practices may impact the ability to trace pig movements in the event of an emergency animal disease outbreak or food safety hazard. Results were analyzed according to herd size (0 to 150 sows, 150+ sows) and location (peri-urban, regional) as prior studies suggested a higher biosecurity risk among smaller farms and due to perceptions that peri-urban farms pose additional risk. Most producers (91.5%) had less than 150 sows and a high proportion (70.8%) resided in regional areas compared with only 29.2% residing in peri-urban areas. A higher proportion of large-scale producers identified their pigs than small-scale producers. A third of small-scale producers reported not identifying breeding stock and most did not identify progeny. The most common forms of on-farm identification used were ear tags for breeding stock and ear notches for progeny. Producers identified breeding stock to assist with mating management and genetic improvement. Ear notches were used to determine the litter of origin of progeny. All large-scale producers owned a registered swine brand and used the official body tattoo for post-farm-gate identification. However, approximately 15% of small-scale producers did not own a registered swine brand, and an additional 8% did not identify their pigs post-farm-gate. Producers were satisfied with tattoos as a methodology for post-farm-gate identification of pigs and considered other methodologies cost-prohibitive. However, variations in the maintenance of the branding equipment, the type of ink used and the time of tattoo application in relation to the animal sale were highlighted during focus group discussions. These results suggest that there is a need for education and extension activities, especially among small-scale pig producers, regarding the benefits of identifying animals on-farm. In addition, increased awareness of the traceability legislation that exists in Australia to meet the National Performance Standards for Livestock Traceability in this country is required.
The current study compared sensory characteristics and their relationships with physical meat characteristics of beef from Nguni and Bonsmara steers. Nguni beef was more (P < 0.05) tender than Bonsmara beef after ageing for 2 and 21 days, and had higher (P < 0.05) intramuscular fat (IMF; 1.12%) than Bonsmara beef (1.07%). Nguni beef had higher (P < 0.05) sensory scores than Bonsmara beef after ageing for 2 days. There were no (P > 0.05) relationships between IMF and sensory characteristics. Aroma intensity, impression on juiciness and tenderness-related scores were affected (P < 0.05) by pH. There were significant (P < 0.05) correlations between most physical meat characteristics and sensory characteristics. Nguni beef had better sensory scores than Bonsmara beef for beef aged for 2 days. While most physical meat characteristics were correlated to sensory scores, all sensory scores were not significantly correlated to IMF.
In Europe there is increasing concern about the common practice of surgical castration of piglets without anaesthesia. One possible alternative to completely avoid castration is entire male pig production. Thus, the objective of the study was to compare the growth performance, carcass characteristics, organ weights, meat quality traits, fat score and boar taint compounds in the adipose tissue of group-penned entire male pigs and castrates. Furthermore, the effect of raw potato starch (RPS) fed for 7 days prior to slaughter was determined. Pigs (n = 36) were blocked by BW into 12 blocks (3 littermates/block) and assigned to three experimental groups: surgical castrates (C); entire males (EM); and entire males offered RPS (30 g RPS/100 g diet) for 7 days prior to slaughter (EM+). Pigs had ad libitum access to the feed from 22 to 107 kg, individual feed intake was recorded daily and BW once a week. Entire males grew slower (EM: 771, EM+: 776 v. C: 830 g/day; P < 0.01), consumed less feed (EM: 1.87, EM+: 1.89 v. C: 2.23 kg/day; P < 0.01) and were more efficient (feed conversion ratio: EM: 2.42, EM+: 2.44 v. C: 2.69 kg/kg; P < 0.01) than C. Compared to C, carcass dressing percentage was lower (EM: 79.4, EM+: 79.4 v. C: 81.6%; P < 0.01) and percentage of valuable cuts was higher (EM: 57.3, EM+: 56.5 v. 52.6%; P < 0.01) in entire males. The hearts (EM: 426, EM+: 425 v. C: 378 g), kidneys (EM: 387, EM+: 378 v. C: 311 g), bulbourethral (EM: 200, EM+: 195 v. C: 7 g) and salivary glands (EM: 99, EM+: 94 v. C: 42 g) were heavier (P < 0.001) in entire males than in C. Meat quality traits did not (P > 0.05) differ among experimental groups but the adipose tissue was more unsaturated in entire males than in C as indicated by the higher fat scores (EM: 69.1, EM+: 67.2 v. C: 63.6; P < 0.01). Feeding RPS reduced (P = 0.04) the skatole tissue concentrations (expressed in μg/g lipid) in EM+ (0.22) compared to EM (0.85), whereas androstenone and indole levels were not (P ⩾ 0.60) affected (EM: 1.7 and 0.10, EM+: 2.0 and 0.09, respectively). Although the current results confirmed the high efficiency of entire males compared to castrates, the observed high androstenone levels represent a major challenge to implement entire males production.