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Sub-acute ruminal acidosis (SARA) can reduce the production efficiency and impair the welfare of cattle, potentially in all production systems. The aim of this study was to characterise measurable postmortem observations from divergently managed intensive beef finishing farms with high rates of concentrate feeding. At the time of slaughter, we obtained samples from 19 to 20 animals on each of 6 beef finishing units (119 animals in total) with diverse feeding practices, which had been subjectively classified as being high risk (three farms) or low risk (three farms) for SARA on the basis of the proportions of barley, silage and straw in the ration. We measured the concentrations of histamine, lipopolysaccharide (LPS), lactate and other short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) in ruminal fluid, LPS and SCFA in caecal fluid. We also took samples of the ventral blind sac of the rumen for histopathology, immunohistopathology and gene expression. Subjective assessments were made of the presence of lesions on the ruminal wall, the colour of the lining of the ruminal wall and the shape of the ruminal papillae. Almost all variables differed significantly and substantially among farms. Very few pathological changes were detected in any of the rumens examined. The animals on the high-risk diets had lower concentrations of SCFA and higher concentrations of lactate and LPS in the ruminal fluid. Higher LPS concentrations were found in the caecum than the rumen but were not related to the risk status of the farm. The diameters of the stratum granulosum, stratum corneum and of the vasculature of the papillae, and the expression of the gene TLR4 in the ruminal epithelium were all increased on the high-risk farms. The expression of IFN-γ and IL-1β and the counts of cluster of differentiation 3 positive and major histocompatibility complex class two positive cells were lower on the high-risk farms. High among-farm variation and the unbalanced design inherent in this type of study in the field prevented confident assignment of variation in the dependent variables to individual dietary components; however, the CP percentage of the total mixed ration DM was the factor that was most consistently associated with the variables of interest. Despite the strong effect of farm on the measured variables, there was wide inter-animal variation.
Invasive populations of Dalmation toadflax [Linaria dalmatica (L.) Mill.] and yellow toadflax (Linaria vulgaris Mill.) are widespread throughout the Intermountain West, where gene flow between these nonnative species is producing vigorous and fertile hybrids. These hybrid toadflax populations are less responsive to herbicides than either parent species, and biocontrol agents routinely released on L. dalmatica and L. vulgaris often fail to establish on hybrid hosts. Early detection of hybrid Linaria populations is therefore essential for effective management, but resources are limited for scouting large expanses of range and wildland. We used species distribution modeling to identify environmentally suitable areas for these invasive Linaria taxa in Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado. Areas suitable for hybrid Linaria establishment were estimated using two different modeling approaches: first, based on known hybrid occurrence and associated environmental conditions, and second, based on zones environmentally suitable for co-occurrence of the parent species. This also allowed comparison of different model outputs, especially relevant when modeling emerging invasives, such as novel hybrids, with minimal occurrence data. Combining the two model outputs identified areas at greatest risk of hybrid Linaria invasion, including parts of north-central Montana, where model estimates indicate the hybrid may spread without prior co-invasion of the parents. Potential hybrid hot spots were also identified in western Montana; northwestern, northeastern, and southeastern Wyoming; and the Western Slope and Front Range of Colorado. Despite relatively few confirmed occurrences of hybrid populations to date, our results indicate that extensive spread of hybrid populations is possible within the studied area. Model-based maps of potential Linaria distributions will allow area weed managers to direct limited resources more effectively for locating and controlling these invaders.