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It is known that supplementing dairy cow diets with full-fat oilseeds can be used as a strategy to mitigate methane emissions, through their action on rumen fermentation. However, direct comparisons of the effect of different oil sources are very few, as are studies implementing supplementation levels that reflect what is commonly fed on commercial farms. The objective was to investigate the effect of feeding different forms of supplemental plant oils on both methane emissions and milk fatty acid (FA) profile. Four multiparous, Holstein-Friesian cows in mid-lactation were randomly allocated to one of four treatment diets in a 4×4 Latin square design with 28-day periods. Diets were fed as a total mixed ration with a 50 : 50 forage : concentrate ratio (dry matter (DM) basis) with the forage consisting of 75 : 25 maize silage : grass silage (DM). Dietary treatments were a control diet containing no supplemental fat, and three treatment diets containing extruded linseed (EL), calcium salts of palm and linseed oil (CPLO) or milled rapeseed (MR) formulated to provide each cow with an estimated 500 g additional oil/day (22 g oil/kg diet DM). Dry matter intake (DMI), milk yield, milk composition and methane production were measured at the end of each experimental period when cows were housed in respiration chambers for 4 days. There was no effect of treatment diet on DMI or milk protein or lactose concentration, but oilseed-based supplements increased milk yield compared with the control diet and milk fat concentration relative to control was reduced by 4 g/kg by supplemental EL. Feeding CPLO reduced methane production, and both linseed-based supplements decreased methane yield (by 1.8 l/kg DMI) and intensity (by 2.7 l/kg milk yield) compared with the control diet, but feeding MR had no effect on methane emission. All the fat supplements decreased milk total saturated fatty acid (SFA) concentration compared with the control, and SFA were replaced with mainly cis-9 18:1 but also trans FA (and in the case of EL and CPLO there were increases in polyunsaturated FA concentration). Supplementing dairy cow diets with these oilseed-based preparations affected milk FA profile and increased milk yield. However, only the linseed-based supplements reduced methane production, yield or intensity, whereas feeding MR had no effect.
Escherichia coli O157 are zoonotic bacteria for which cattle are an important reservoir. Prevalence estimates for E. coli O157 in British cattle for human consumption are over 10 years old. A new baseline is needed to inform current human health risk. The British E. coli O157 in Cattle Study (BECS) ran between September 2014 and November 2015 on 270 farms across Scotland and England & Wales. This is the first study to be conducted contemporaneously across Great Britain, thus enabling comparison between Scotland and England & Wales. Herd-level prevalence estimates for E. coli O157 did not differ significantly for Scotland (0·236, 95% CI 0·166–0·325) and England & Wales (0·213, 95% CI 0·156–0·283) (P = 0·65). The majority of isolates were verocytotoxin positive. A higher proportion of samples from Scotland were in the super-shedder category, though there was no difference between the surveys in the likelihood of a positive farm having at least one super-shedder sample. E. coli O157 continues to be common in British beef cattle, reaffirming public health policy that contact with cattle and their environments is a potential infection source.
The objective was to assess the effects of inclusion rate and chop length of lucerne silage, when fed in a total mixed ration (TMR), on milk yield, dry matter (DM) intake (DMI) and digestion in dairy cows. Diets were formulated to contain a 50 : 50 ratio of forage : concentrate (DM basis) and to be isonitrogenous (170 g/kg CP). The forage portion of the offered diets was comprised of maize and lucerne silage in proportions (DM basis) of either 25 : 75 (high Lucerne (HL)) or 75 : 25 (low lucerne (LL)). Lucerne was harvested and conserved as silage at either a long (L) or short (S) chop length. These variables were combined in a 2×2 factorial arrangement to give four treatments (HLL, HLS, LLL, LLS) which were fed in a Latin square design study to Holstein dairy cows in two separate experiments. In total, 16 and 8 multiparous, mid-lactation cows were used in experiments 1 and 2, respectively. To ensure sufficient silage for both experiments, different cuts of lucerne silage (taken from the same sward) were used for each experiment: first cut for experiment 1 (which was of poorer quality) and second cut for experiment 2. Dry matter intake, milk yield and milk composition where measured in both experiments, and total tract digestibility and nitrogen (N) balance were assessed using four cows in experiment 2. In experiment 1, cows fed LL had increased DMI (+3.2 kg/day), compared with those fed HL. In contrast, there was no difference in DMI due to lucerne silage inclusion rate in experiment 2. A reduction in milk yield was observed with the HL treatment in both experiment 1 and 2 (−3.0 and −2.9 kg/day, respectively). The HL diet had reduced digestibility of DM and organic matter (OM) (−3% and −4%, respectively), and also reduced the efficiency of intake N conversion into milk N (−4%). The S chop length increased total tract digestibility of DM and OM (both +4%), regardless of inclusion rate. Inclusion of lucerne silage at 25% of forage DM increased milk yield relative to 75% inclusion, but a S chop length partially mitigated adverse effects of HL on DMI and milk yield in experiment 1 and on DM digestibility in experiment 2.
Supplementing dairy cow diets with oilseed preparations has been shown to replace milk saturated fatty acids (SFA) with mono- and/or polyunsaturated fatty acids (MUFA, PUFA), which may reduce risk factors associated with cardio-metabolic diseases in humans consuming milk and dairy products. Previous studies demonstrating this are largely detailed, highly controlled experiments involving small numbers of animals, but in order to transfer this feeding strategy to commercial situations further studies are required involving whole herds varying in management practices. In experiment 1, three oilseed supplements (extruded linseed (EL), calcium salts of palm and linseed oil (CPLO) and milled rapeseed (MR)) were included in grass silage-based diets formulated to provide cows with ~350 g oil/day, and compared with a negative control (Control) diet containing no supplemental fat, and a positive control diet containing 350 g/cow per day oil as calcium salt of palm oil distillate (CPO). Diets were fed for 28-day periods in a 5×4 Latin Square design, and milk production, composition and fatty acid (FA) profile were analysed at the end of each period. Compared with Control, all lipid supplemented diets decreased milk fat SFA concentration by an average of 3.5 g/100 g FA, by replacement with both cis- and trans-MUFA/PUFA. Compared with CPO, only CPLO and MR resulted in lower milk SFA concentrations. In experiment 2, 24 commercial dairy farms (average herd size±SEM 191±19.3) from the south west of the United Kingdom were recruited and for a 1 month period asked to supplement their herd diets with either CPO, EL, CPLO or MR at the same inclusion level as the first study. Bulk tank milk was analysed weekly to determine FA concentration by Fourier Transform mid-IR spectroscopy prediction. After 4 weeks, EL, CPLO and MR all decreased herd milk SFA and increased MUFA to a similar extent (average −3.4 and +2.4 g/100 g FA, respectively) when compared with CPO. Differing responses observed between experiments 1 and 2 may be due in part to variations in farm management conditions (including basal diet) in experiment 2. This study demonstrates the importance of applying experimental research into commercial practice where variations in background conditions can augment different effects to those obtained under controlled conditions.
The search for the neural substrate of vertebrate action selection has focused on structures in the fore- and mid-brain, particularly on the basal ganglia. Yet, the behavioural repertoire of decerebrate and neonatal animals suggests the existence of a relatively self-contained neural substrate for action selection in the brainstem. We propose that the medial reticular formation (mRF) is this substrate's main component, reviewing evidence that the mRF's inputs, outputs, and intrinsic organisation are consistent with the requirements of an action selection system. We argue that the internal architecture of the mRF is composed of interconnected neuron clusters; our quantitative model of this anatomy suggests the mRF's intrinsic circuitry constitutes a small-world network, and may have evolved to reduce axonal wiring. We use computational models to enumerate and illustrate potential configurations of action representation within the internal circuitry of the mRF. We show that each cluster's output could represent activation of an action component; thus, co-activation of a set of these clusters would lead to the coordinated behavioural response observed in the animal. New results are presented that provide evidence for an alternative scheme: inputs to the mRF are organised to contact clusters, but recruit a pattern of reticulo-spinal neurons from across clusters to generate an action. We propose that this reconciles the anatomical structure with behavioural data showing action sequencing is degraded, rather than individual actions lost, as the mRF is progressively lesioned. Finally, we consider the potential integration of the basal ganglia and mRF substrates for selection and suggest they may collectively form a layered/hierarchical control system.
All animals must continuously sequence and coordinate behaviours appropriate to both their context and current internal state if they are to survive. It is natural to wonder what parts of the nervous system – the neural substrate – evolved to carry out this action selection process. For simpler animals, like the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans and the leech, a circumscribed behavioural repertoire is handled by specialist neurons that direct motor responses to specific stimuli (de Bono and Maricq, 2005; Kristan et al., 2005; Stephens et al., 2008). The sensory apparatus and motor behaviours are largely a product of these animals’ ecological niche, and hence so too is the neural network that handles the action selection process.
The mammalian brain's decision mechanism may utilise a distributed network of positive feedback loops to integrate, over time, noisy sensory evidence for and against a particular choice. Such loops would mitigate the effects of noise and have the benefit of decoupling response size from the strength of evidence, which could assist animals in acting early at the first signs of opportunity or danger. This hypothesis is explored in the context of the sensorimotor control circuitry underlying eye movements, and in relation to the hypothesis that the basal ganglia serve as a central switch acting to control the competitive accumulation of sensory evidence in positive feedback loops representing alternative actions. Results, in support of these proposals, are presented from a systems-level computational model of the primate oculomotor control. This model is able to reproduce behavioural data relating strength of sensory evidence to response time and accuracy, while also demonstrating how the basal ganglia and related oculomotor circuitry might work together to manage the initiation, control, and termination of the decision process over time.
Whether it is a cheetah deciding whether its prey is veering left or right, a rabbit deciding whether that movement in the bushes is friend or foe, or a poker player wondering if his opponent has a stronger hand, infinitesimally small variations in sensory input can give rise to vastly different behavioural outcomes: the cheetah veers left and not right, the rabbit flees or continues grazing, the card player bets a month's salary or folds. The outcome of such decisions can be critical, even a matter of life or death, which is why there will have been tremendous evolutionary pressure to develop decision-making mechanisms that can extract maximal utility from limited sensory information. In this chapter, using the oculomotor system as an exemplar, we argue that the vertebrate basal ganglia (BG) are one of the results of that evolutionary pressure and explore how these structures tame and exploit positive feedback loops (henceforth PFBLs) within the brain in order to make the most of limited information.
Based on potential benefits to human health, there is increasing interest in altering the composition of ruminant-derived foods. Including rapeseeds in the dairy cow diet is an effective strategy for replacing medium-chain saturated fatty acids (SFA) with cis-monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) in bovine milk, but there is limited information on the optimum level of supplementation. Decreases in SFA due to plant oils are also accompanied by increases in milk trans fatty acid (FA) content and it is possible that high oleic acid rapeseeds may result in a higher enrichment of cis-9 18:1 and lower increases in trans FAs in milk compared with conventional varieties. Seven multiparous lactating Holstein–Friesian cows were allocated to one of seven treatments in an incomplete Latin square design with five 28-day experimental periods, to evaluate the effect of replacing calcium salts of palm oil distillate (CPO; 41 g/kg diet dry matter, DM) with 128, 168 or 207 g/kg diet DM of conventional (COR) or a high oleic acid (HOR) rapeseed fed as a supplement milled with wheat. Rapeseed variety and inclusion level had no effect (P > 0.05) on DM intake, milk yield and composition. Both rapeseed varieties decreased linearly (P < 0.001) milk fat SFA content, which was partially compensated for by a linear increase (P < 0.001) in cis-9 18:1 concentration. Reductions in milk SFA were also associated with increases (P < 0.05) in trans 18:1 and total trans FA content, with no difference (P > 0.05) between rapeseed varieties. Replacing CPO in the diet with milled rapeseeds had no effect (P > 0.05) on total milk conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) concentration. Relative to a COR, inclusion of a high oleic acid variant in the diet increased (P = 0.01) the ratio of trans-MUFA : trans-polyunsaturated fatty acids in milk that may have implications with respect to cardiovascular disease risk in humans. In conclusion, data indicated that replacing CPO with milled rapeseeds at levels up to 1150 g oil/day could be used as a nutritional strategy to lower milk SFA content without inducing adverse effects on DM intake and milk production. HOR reduced milk fat SFA content to a greater extent than a conventional variety, but did not minimise associated increases in trans FA concentrations. However, the high oleic acid variant did alter the relative abundance of specific trans 18:1, CLA and trans 18:2 isomers compared with conventional rapeseeds.
Based on the potential benefits to human health, there is interest in developing sustainable nutritional strategies to enhance the concentration of long-chain n-3 fatty acids in ruminant-derived foods. Four Aberdeen Angus steers fitted with rumen and duodenal cannulae were used in a 4 × 4 Latin square experiment with 21 d experimental periods to examine the potential of fish oil (FO) in the diet to enhance the supply of 20 : 5n-3 and 22 : 6n-3 available for absorption in growing cattle. Treatments consisted of total mixed rations based on maize silage fed at a rate of 85 g DM/kg live weight0·75/d containing 0, 8, 16 and 24 g FO/kg diet DM. Supplements of FO reduced linearly (P < 0·01) DM intake and shifted (P < 0·01) rumen fermentation towards propionate at the expense of acetate and butyrate. FO in the diet enhanced linearly (P < 0·05) the flow of trans-16 : 1, trans-18 : 1, trans-18 : 2, 20 : 5n-3 and 22 : 6n-3, and decreased linearly (P < 0·05) 18 : 0 and 18 : 3n-3 at the duodenum. Increases in the flow of trans-18 : 1 were isomer dependent and were determined primarily by higher amounts of trans-11 reaching the duodenum. In conclusion, FO alters ruminal lipid metabolism of growing cattle in a dose-dependent manner consistent with an inhibition of ruminal biohydrogenation, and enhances the amount of long-chain n-3 fatty acids at the duodenum, but the increases are marginal due to extensive biohydrogenation in the rumen.
Clinical and biomedical studies have provided evidence for the critical role of n-3 fatty acids on the reduction of chronic disease risk in humans, including cardiovascular disease. In the current experiment, the potential to enhance milk n-3 content in two breeds with inherent genetic differences in mammary lipogenesis and de novo fatty acid synthesis was examined using extruded linseeds. Six lactating cows (three Holstein and three Jersey) were used in a two-treatment switchback design with 3 × 21-day experimental periods to evaluate the effect of iso-energetic replacement of calcium salts of palm oil distillate (CPO) in the diet (34 g/kg dry matter (DM)) with 100 g/kg DM extruded linseeds (LIN). For both breeds, replacing CPO with LIN had no effect (P > 0.05) on DM intake or milk yield, but reduced (P < 0.05) milk fat and protein yield (on average, from 760 to 706 and 573 to 552 g/day, respectively). Relative to CPO, the LIN treatment reduced (P < 0.01) total saturated fatty acid content and enhanced (P < 0.001) 18:3n-3 in milk, whereas breed by diet interactions were significant for milk fat 16:0, total trans fatty acid and conjugated linoleic acid concentrations. Increases in 18:3n-3 intake derived from LIN in the diet were transferred into milk with a mean marginal transfer efficiency of 1.8%. Proportionate changes in milk fatty acid composition were greater in the Jersey, highlighting the importance of diet–genotype interactions on mammary lipogenesis. More extensive studies are required to determine the role of genotype on milk fat composition responses to oilseeds in the diet.
Inclusion of rapeseed feeds in dairy cow diets has the potential to reduce milk fat saturated fatty acid (SFA) and increase cis-monounsaturated fatty acid (cis-MUFA) content, but effectiveness may depend on the form in which the rapeseed is presented. Four mid-lactation Holstein dairy cows were allocated to four maize silage-based dietary treatments according to a 4 × 4 Latin Square design, with 28-day experimental periods. Treatments consisted of a control diet (C) containing 49 g/kg dry matter (DM) of calcium salts of palm oil distillate (CPO), or 49 g/kg DM of oil supplied as whole rapeseeds (WR), rapeseeds milled with wheat (MR) or rapeseed oil (RO). Replacing CPO with rapeseed feeds had no effect (P > 0.05) on milk fat and protein content, while milk yields were higher (P < 0.05) for RO and MR compared with WR (37.1, 38.1 and 34.3 kg/day, respectively). Substituting CPO with RO or MR reduced (P < 0.05) milk fat total SFA content (69.6, 55.6, 71.7 and 61.5 g/100 g fatty acids for C, RO, WR and MR, respectively) and enhanced (P < 0.05) milk cis-9 18:1 MUFA concentrations (corresponding values 18.6, 24.3, 17.0 and 23.0 g/100 g fatty acids) compared with C and WR. Treatments RO and MR also increased (P < 0.05) milk trans-MUFA content (4.4, 6.8, 10.5 g/100 g fatty acids, C, MR and RO, respectively). A lack of significant changes in milk fat composition when replacing CPO with WR suggests limited bioavailability of fatty acids in intact rapeseeds. In conclusion, replacing a commercial palm oil-based fat supplement in the diet with milled rapeseeds or rapeseed oil represented an effective strategy to alter milk fatty acid composition with the potential to improve human health. Inclusion of processed rapeseeds offered a good compromise for reducing milk SFA and increasing cis-MUFA, whilst minimising milk trans-MUFA and negative effects on animal performance.
Even though extensive research has examined the role of nutrition on milk fat composition, there is less information on the impact of forages on milk fatty acid (FA) composition. In the current study, the effect of replacing grass silage (GS) with maize silage (MS) as part of a total mixed ration on animal performance and milk FA composition was examined using eight multiparous mid-lactation cows in a replicated 4 × 4 Latin square with 28-day experimental periods. Four treatments comprised the stepwise replacement of GS with MS (0, 160, 334 and 500 g/kg dry matter (DM)) in diets containing a 54 : 46 forage : concentrate ratio on a DM basis. Replacing GS with MS increased (P < 0.001) the DM intake, milk yield and milk protein content. Incremental replacement of GS with MS in the diet enhanced linearly (P < 0.001) the proportions of 6:0–14:0, decreased (P < 0.01) the 16:0 concentrations, but had no effect on the total milk fat saturated fatty acid content. Inclusion of MS altered the distribution of trans-18:1 isomers and enhanced (P < 0.05) total trans monounsaturated fatty acid and total conjugated linoleic acid content. Milk total n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) content decreased with higher amounts of MS in the diet and n-6 PUFA concentration increased, leading to an elevated n-6 : n-3 PUFA ratio. Despite some beneficial changes associated with the replacement of GS with MS, the overall effects on milk FA composition would not be expected to substantially improve long-term human health. However, the role of forages on milk fat composition must also be balanced against the increases in total milk and protein yield on diets containing higher proportions of MS.