Decreasing enteric methane (CH4) emissions from ruminants without altering animal production is desirable both as a strategy to reduce global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and as a means of improving feed conversion efficiency. The aim of this paper is to provide an update on a selection of proved and potential strategies to mitigate enteric CH4 production by ruminants. Various biotechnologies are currently being explored with mixed results. Approaches to control methanogens through vaccination or the use of bacteriocins highlight the difficulty to modulate the rumen microbial ecosystem durably. The use of probiotics, i.e. acetogens and live yeasts, remains a potentially interesting approach, but results have been either unsatisfactory, not conclusive, or have yet to be confirmed in vivo. Elimination of the rumen protozoa to mitigate methanogenesis is promising, but this option should be carefully evaluated in terms of livestock performances. In addition, on-farm defaunation techniques are not available up to now. Several feed additives such as ionophores, organic acids and plant extracts have also been assayed. The potential use of plant extracts to reduce CH4 is receiving a renewed interest as they are seen as a natural alternative to chemical additives and are well perceived by consumers. The response to tannin- and saponin-containing plant extracts is highly variable and more research is needed to assess the effectiveness and eventual presence of undesirable residues in animal products. Nutritional strategies to mitigate CH4 emissions from ruminants are, without doubt, the most developed and ready to be applied in the field. Approaches presented in this paper involve interventions on the nature and amount of energy-based concentrates and forages, which constitute the main component of diets as well as the use of lipid supplements. The possible selection of animals based on low CH4 production and more likely on their high efficiency of digestive processes is also addressed. Whatever the approach proposed, however, before practical solutions are applied in the field, the sustainability of CH4 suppressing strategies is an important issue that has to be considered. The evaluation of different strategies, in terms of total GHG emissions for a given production system, is discussed.
Environmentally induced periods of heat stress decrease productivity with devastating economic consequences to global animal agriculture. Heat stress can be defined as a physiological condition when the core body temperature of a given species exceeds its range specified for normal activity, which results from a total heat load (internal production and environment) exceeding the capacity for heat dissipation and this prompts physiological and behavioral responses to reduce the strain. The ability of ruminants to regulate body temperature is species- and breed-dependent. Dairy breeds are typically more sensitive to heat stress than meat breeds, and higher-producing animals are more susceptible to heat stress because they generate more metabolic heat. During heat stress, ruminants, like other homeothermic animals, increase avenues of heat loss and reduce heat production in an attempt to maintain euthermia. The immediate responses to heat load are increased respiration rates, decreased feed intake and increased water intake. Acclimatization is a process by which animals adapt to environmental conditions and engage behavioral, hormonal and metabolic changes that are characteristics of either acclimatory homeostasis or homeorhetic mechanisms used by the animals to survive in a new 'physiological state'. For example, alterations in the hormonal profile are mainly characterized by a decline and increase in anabolic and catabolic hormones, respectively. The response to heat load and the heat-induced change in homeorhetic modifiers alters post-absorptive energy, lipid and protein metabolism, impairs liver function, causes oxidative stress, jeopardizes the immune response and decreases reproductive performance. These physiological modifications alter nutrient partitioning and may prevent heat-stressed lactating cows from recruiting glucose-sparing mechanisms (despite the reduced nutrient intake). This might explain, in large part, why decreased feed intake only accounts for a minor portion of the reduced milk yield from environmentally induced hyperthermic cows. How these metabolic changes are initiated and regulated is not known. It also remains unclear how these changes differ between short-term v. long-term heat acclimation to impact animal productivity and well-being. A better understanding of the adaptations enlisted by ruminants during heat stress is necessary to enhance the likelihood of developing strategies to simultaneously improve heat tolerance and increase productivity.
Milk yield per cow has continuously increased in many countries over the last few decades. In addition to potential economic advantages, this is often considered an important strategy to decrease greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per kg of milk produced. However, it should be considered that milk and beef production systems are closely interlinked, as fattening of surplus calves from dairy farming and culled dairy cows play an important role in beef production in many countries. The main objective of this study was to quantify the effect of increasing milk yield per cow on GHG emissions and on other side effects. Two scenarios were modelled: constant milk production at the farm level and decreasing beef production (as co-product; Scenario 1); and both milk and beef production kept constant by compensating the decline in beef production with beef from suckler cow production (Scenario 2). Model calculations considered two types of production unit (PU): dairy cow PU and suckler cow PU. A dairy cow PU comprises not only milk output from the dairy cow, but also beef output from culled cows and the fattening system for surplus calves. The modelled dairy cow PU differed in milk yield per cow per year (6000, 8000 and 10 000 kg) and breed. Scenario 1 resulted in lower GHG emissions with increasing milk yield per cow. However, when milk and beef outputs were kept constant (Scenario 2), GHG emissions remained approximately constant with increasing milk yield from 6000 to 8000 kg/cow per year, whereas further increases in milk yield (10 000 kg milk/cow per year) resulted in slightly higher (8%) total GHG emissions. Within Scenario 2, two different allocation methods to handle co-products (surplus calves and beef from culled cows) from dairy cow production were evaluated. Results showed that using the 'economic allocation method', GHG emissions per kg milk decreased with increasing milk yield per cow per year, from 1.06 kg CO2 equivalents (CO2eq) to 0.89 kg CO2eq for the 6000 and 10 000 kg yielding dairy cow, respectively. However, emissions per kg of beef increased from 10.75 kg CO2eq to 16.24 kg CO2eq due to the inclusion of suckler cows. This study shows that the environmental impact (GHG emissions) of increasing milk yield per cow in dairy farming differs, depending upon the considered system boundaries, handling and value of co-products and the assumed ratio of milk to beef demand to be satisfied.
One of the consequences of intense genetic selection for growth of poultry is the recent appearance of abnormalities in chicken breast muscles, such as white striping (characterised by superficial white striations) and wooden breast (characterised by pale and bulged areas with substantial hardness). The aim of this study was to evaluate the quality traits of chicken fillets affected by white striping and wooden breast abnormalities. In two replications, 192 fillets were divided into the following four classes: normal (n = 48; absence of any visual defects), white striping (n = 48, presence of white striations), wooden breast (n = 48; diffusely presence of hardened areas) and white striping/wooden breast (n = 48; fillets affected by both abnormalities). Morphology, raw meat texture and technological properties were assessed in both unprocessed (pH, colour, drip loss, cooking loss and cooked meat shear force) and marinated meat (marinade uptake, purge loss, cooking loss and cooked meat shear force). Fillets affected by white striping, wooden breast or both abnormalities exhibited higher breast weights compared with normal fillets (305.5, 298.7, 318.3 and 244.7 g, respectively; P < 0.001). Wooden breast, either alone or in combination with white striping, was associated with a significant (P < 0.001) increase of fillet thickness in the caudal area and raw meat hardness compared with both normal and the white striping abnormality, for which there was no difference. Overall, the occurrence of the individual and combined white striping and wooden breast abnormalities resulted in substantial reduction in the quality of breast meat, although these abnormalities are associated with distinct characteristics. Wooden breast fillets showed lower marinade uptake and higher cooking losses than white-striped fillets for both unprocessed and marinated meats. On the other hand, white-striped fillets showed a moderate decline in marinade and cooking yield. Fillets affected by both abnormalities had the highest (P < 0.001) ultimate pH values. In contrast, the effects on colour of raw and cooked meat, drip loss, purge loss and cooked meat shear force were negligible or relatively low and of little practical importance. Thus, the presence of white striping and wooden breast abnormalities impair not only breast meat appearance but also the quality of both raw and marinated meats mainly by reducing water holding/binding abilities.
Intramuscular fat (IMF) content plays a key role in various quality traits of meat. IMF content varies between species, between breeds and between muscle types in the same breed. Other factors are involved in the variation of IMF content in animals, including gender age and feeding, Variability in IMF content is mainly linked to the number and size of intramuscular adipocytes. The accretion rate of IMF depends on the muscle growth rate. For instance, animals having a high muscularity with a high glycolytic activity display a reduced development of IMF This suggests that muscle cells and adipocytes interplay during growth. In addition, early events that influence adipogenesis inside the muscle (i.e proliferation and differentiation of adipose cells, the connective structure embedding adipocytes) might be involved in interindividual differences in IMF content. Increasing muscularity will also dilute the final fat content of muscle. At the metabolic level, IMF content results from the balance between uptake, synthesis and degradation of triacylglycerols, which involve many metabolic pathways in both adipocytes and myofibres. Various experiments revealed an association between IMF level and the muscle content in adipocyte-type fatty acid-binding protein, the activities of oxidative enzymes, or the delta-6-desaturase level; however other studies failed to confirm such relationships. This might be due to the importance of fatty acid fluxes that is likely to be responsible for variability in IMF content during the postnatal period rather than the control of one single pathway. This is evident in the muscle of most fish species in which triacylglycerol synthesis is almost zero. Genetic approaches for increasing IMF have been focused on live animal ultrasound to derive estimated breeding values. More recently, efforts have concentrated on discovering DNA markers that change the distribution of fat in the body (i.e. towards IMF at the expense of the carcass fatness). Thanks to the exhaustive nature of genomics (transcriptomics and proteomics), our knowledge on fat accumulation in muscles is now being underpinned. Metabolic specificities of intramuscular adipocytes have also been demonstrated, as compared to other depots. Nutritional manipulation of IMF independently from body fat depots has proved to be more difficult to achieve than genetic strategies to have lipid deposition dependent of adipose tissue location. In addition, the biological mechanisms that explain the variability of IMF content differ between genetic and nutritional factors. The nutritional regulation of IMF also differs between ruminants, monogastrics and fish due to their digestive and nutritional particularities.
Ruminant production is under increased public scrutiny in terms of the importance of cattle and other ruminants as major producers of the greenhouse gas methane. Methanogenesis is performed by methanogenic archaea, a specialised group of microbes present in several anaerobic environments including the rumen. In the rumen, methanogens utilise predominantly H-2 and CO2 as substrates to produce methane, filling an important functional niche in the ecosystem. However, in addition to methanogens, other microbes also have an influence on methane production either because they are involved in hydrogen (H-2) metabolism or because they affect the numbers of methanogens or other members of the microbiota. This study explores the relationship between some of these microbes and methanogenesis and highlights some functional groups that could play a role in decreasing methane emissions. Dihydrogen ('H-2' from this point on) is the key element that drives methane production in the rumen. Among H-2 producers, protozoa have a prominent position, which is strengthened by their close physical association with methanogens, which favours H-2 transfer from one to the other. A strong positive interaction was found between protozoal numbers and methane emissions, and because this group is possibly not essential for rumen function, protozoa might be a target for methane mitigation. An important function that is associated with production of H-2 is the degradation of fibrous plant material. However, not all members of the rumen fibrolytic community produce H-2. Increasing the proportion of non-H-2 producing fibrolytic microorganisms might decrease methane production without affecting forage degradability. Alternative pathways that use electron acceptors other than CO2 to oxidise H-2 also exist in the rumen. Bacteria with this type of metabolism normally occupy a distinct ecological niche and are not dominant members of the microbiota; however, their numbers can increase if the right potential electron acceptor is present in the diet. Nitrate is an alternative electron sinks that can promote the growth of particular bacteria able to compete with methanogens. Because of the toxicity of the intermediate product, nitrite, the use of nitrate has not been fully explored, but in adapted animals, nitrite does not accumulate and nitrate supplementation may be an alternative under some dietary conditions that deserves to be further studied. In conclusion, methanogens in the rumen co-exist with other microbes, which have contrasting activities. A better understanding of these populations and the pathways that compete with methanogenesis may provide novel targets for emissions abatement in ruminant production.
Fat is an important constituent contributing to the organoleptic, processing and physical properties of ruminant milk. Understanding the regulation of milk fat synthesis is central to the development of nutritional strategies to enhance the nutritional value of milk, decrease milk energy secretion and improve the energy balance of lactating ruminants. Nutrition is the major environmental factor regulating the concentration and composition of fat in ruminant milk. Feeding low-fibre/high-starch diets and/or lipid supplements rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids induce milk fat depression (MFD) in the bovine, typically increase milk fat secretion in the caprine, whereas limited data in sheep suggest that the responses are more similar to the goat than the cow. Following the observation that reductions in milk fat synthesis during diet-induced MFD are associated with increases in the concentration of specific trans fatty acids in milk, the biohydrogenation theory of MFD was proposed, which attributes the causal mechanism to altered ruminal lipid metabolism leading to increased formation of specific biohydrogenation intermediates that exert anti-lipogenic effects. Trans-10, cis-12 conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is the only biohydrogenation intermediate to have been infused at the abomasum over a range of experimental doses (1.25 to 14.0 g/day) and shown unequivocally to inhibit milk fat synthesis in ruminants. However, increases in ruminal trans-10, cis-12 CLA formation do not explain entirely diet-induced MFD, suggesting that other biohydrogenation intermediates and/or other mechanisms may also be involved. Experiments involving abomasal infusions (g/day) in lactating cows have provided evidence that cis-10, trans-12 CLA (1.2), trans-9, cis-11 CLA (5.0) and trans-10 18:1 (92.1) may also exert anti-lipogenic effects. Use of molecular-based approaches have demonstrated that mammary abundance of transcripts encoding for key lipogenic genes are reduced during MFD in the bovine, changes that are accompanied by decrease in sterol response element binding protein 1 (SREBP1) and alterations in the expression of genes related to the SREBP1 pathway Recent studies indicate that transcription of one or more adipogenic genes is increased in subcutaneous adipose tissue in cows during acute or chronic MFD. Feeding diets of similar composition do not induce MFD or substantially alter mammary lipogenic gene expression in the goat. The available data suggests that variation in mammary fatty acid secretion and lipogenic responses to changes in diet composition between ruminants reflect inherent interspecies differences in ruminal lipid metabolism and mammary specific regulation of cellular processes and key lipogenic enzymes involved in the synthesis of milk fat triacylglycerides.
Soil carbon sequestration (enhanced sinks) is the mechanism responsible for most of the greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation potential in the agriculture sector Carbon sequestration in grasslands can be determined directly by measuring changes in soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks and indirectly by measuring the net balance of C fluxes. A literature search shows that grassland C sequestration reaches on average 5 +/- 30g C/m(2) per year according to inventories of SOC stocks and -231 and 77g C/m(2) per year for drained organic and mineral soils, respectively, according to C flux balance. Off-site C sequestration occurs whenever more manure C is produced by than returned to a grassland plot The sum of on- and off-site C sequestration reaches 129, 98 and 71g C/m(2) per year for grazed, cut and mixed European grasslands on mineral soils, respectively, however with high uncertainty. A range of management practices reduce C losses and increase C sequestration: (i) avoiding soil tillage and the conversion of grasslands to arable use, (ii) moderately intensifying nutrient-poor permanent grasslands, (iii) using light grazing instead of heavy grazing, (iv) increasing the duration of grass leys; (v) converting grass leys to grass-legume mixtures or to permanent grasslands. With nine European sites, direct emissions of N2O from soil and of CH4 from enteric fermentation at grazing, expressed in CO2 equivalents, compensated 10% and 34% of the on-site grassland C sequestration, respectively. Digestion inside the barn of the harvested herbage leads to further emissions of CH4 and N2O by the production systems, which were estimated at 130g CO2 equivalents/m(2) per year The net balance of on- and off-site C sequestration, CH4 and N2O emissions reached 38g CO2 equivalents/m(2) per year, indicating a non-significant net sink activity. This net balance was, however, negative for intensively managed cut sites indicating a source to the atmosphere. In conclusion, this review confirms that grassland C sequestration has a strong potential to partly mitigate the GHG balance of ruminant production systems. However as soil C sequestration is both reversible and vulnerable to disturbance, biodiversity loss and climate change, CH4 and N2O emissions from the livestock sector need to be reduced and current SOC stocks preserved.
Genetic evaluation based on information from phenotypes, pedigree and markers can be implemented using a recently developed single-step method. In this paper we compare accuracies of predicted breeding values for daily gain and feed conversion ratio (FCR) in Danish Duroc pigs obtained from different versions of single-step methods, the traditional pedigree-based method and the genomic BLUP (GBLUP) method. In particular, we present a single-step method with an adjustment of the genomic relationship matrix so that it is compatible to the pedigree-based relationship matrix. Comparisons are made for both genotyped and non-genotyped animals and univariate and bivariate models. The results show that the three methods with marker information (two single-step methods and GBLUP) produce more accurate predictions of genotyped animals than the pedigree-based method. In addition, single-step methods provide more accurate predictions for non-genotyped animals. The results also show that the single-step method with adjusted genomic relationship matrix produce more accurate predictions than the original single-step method. Finally, the results for the bivariate analyses show a somewhat improved accuracy and reduced inflation of predictions for FCR for the two single-step methods compared with the univariate analyses. The conclusions are: first the methods with marker information improve prediction compared with the pedigree-based method; second, a single-step method, contrary to GBLUP provides improved predictions for all animals compared to the pedigree-based method; and third, a single-step method should be used with an adjustment of the genomic relationship matrix.
The objective of this study was to determine the genetic parameters of methane (CH4) emissions and their genetic correlations with key production traits. The trial measured the CH4 emissions, at 5-min intervals, from 1225 sheep placed in respiration chambers for 2 days, with repeat measurements 2 weeks later for another 2 days. They were fed in the chambers, based on live weight, a pelleted lucerne ration at 2.0 times estimated maintenance requirements. Methane outputs were calculated for g CH4/day and g CH4/kg dry matter intake (DMI) for each of the 4 days. Single trait models were used to obtain estimates of heritability and repeatability. Heritability of g CH4/day was 0.29 +/- 0.05, and for g CH4/kg DMI 0.13 +/- 0.03. Repeatability between measurements 14 days apart were 0.55 +/- 0.02 and 0.26 +/- 0.02, for the two traits. The genetic and phenotypic correlations of CH4 outputs with various production traits (weaning weight, live weight at 8 months of age, dag score, muscle depth and fleece weight at 12 months of age) measured in the first year of life, were estimated using bivariate models. With the exception of fleece weight, correlations were weak and not significantly different from zero for the g CH4/kg DMI trait. For fleece weight the phenotypic and genetic correlation estimates were -0.08 +/- 0.03 and -0.32 +/- 0.11 suggesting a low economically favourable relationship. These results indicate that there is genetic variation between animals for CH4 emission traits even after adjustment for feed intake and that these traits are repeatable. Current work includes the establishment of selection lines from these animals to investigate the physiological, microbial and anatomical changes, coupled with investigations into shorter and alternative CH4 emission measurement and breeding value estimation techniques; including genomic selection.
Livestock contribute directly (i.e. as methane and nitrous oxide (N2O)) to about 9% of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and around 3% of UK emissions. If all parts of the livestock production lifecycle are included (fossil fuels used to produce mineral fertilizers used in feed production and N2O emissions from fertilizer use; methane release from the breakdown of fertilizers and from animal manure; land-use changes for feed production and for grazing; land degradation; fossil fuel use during feed and animal production; fossil fuel use in production and transport of processed and refrigerated animal products), livestock are estimated to account for 18% of global anthropogenic emissions, but less than 8% in the UK. In terms of GHG emissions per unit of livestock product, monogastric livestock are more efficient than ruminants; thus in the UK, while sheep and cattle accounted for 32% of meat production in 2006, they accounted for similar to 48% of GHG emissions associated with meat production. More efficient management of grazing lands and of manure can have a direct impact in decreasing emissions. Improving efficiency of livestock production through better breeding, health interventions or improving fertility can also decrease GHG emissions through decreasing the number of livestock required per unit product. Increasing the energy density of the diet has a dual effect, decreasing both direct emissions and the numbers of livestock per unit product, but, as the demands for food increase in response to increasing human population and a better diet in some developing countries, there is increasing competition for land for food v. energy-dense feed crops. Recalculating efficiencies of energy and protein production on the basis of human-edible food produced per unit of human-edible feed consumed gave higher efficiencies for ruminants than for monogastric animals, The policy community thus have difficult decisions to make in balancing the negative contribution of livestock to the environment against the positive benefit in terms of food security. The animal science community have a responsibility to provide an evidence base which is objective and holistic with respect to these two competing challenges.
Despite the fact that the ruminant diet is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), ruminant products - meat, milk and dairy - contain mainly saturated fatty acids (SFA) because of bacterial lipolysis and subsequent biohydrogenation of ingested PUFA in the rumen. The link between SFA consumption by man and coronary heart disease is well established. In contrast, ruminant products also contain fatty acids that are known to be beneficial to human health, namely conjugated linoleic acids (CLAs). The aims of research in this field have been to understand the microbial ecology of lipolysis and biohydrogenation and to find ways of manipulating ruminal microbes to increase the flow of PUFA and CLA from the rumen into meat and milk. This review describes our present understanding of the microbial ecology of ruminal lipid metabolism, including some apparently anomalous and paradoxical observations, and the status of how the metabolism may be manipulated and the possible consequential effects on other aspects of ruminal digestion. Intuitively, it may appear that inhibiting the ruminal lipase would cause more dietary PUFA to reach the mammary gland. However, lipolysis releases the non-esterified fatty acids that form the substrates for biohydrogenation, but which can, if they accumulate, inhibit the whole process. Thus, increasing lipase activity could be beneficial if the increased release of non-esterified PUFA inhibited the metabolism of CLA. Rumen ciliate protozoa do not carry out biohydrogenation, yet protozoal lipids are much more highly enriched in CLA than bacterial lipids. How could this happen if protozoa do not metabolise PUFA? The answer seems to lie in the ingestion of plant organelles, particularly chloroplasts, and the partial metabolism of the fatty acids by contaminating bacteria. Bacteria related to Butyrivibrio fibrisolvens are by far the most active and numerous biohydrogenating bacteria isolated from the rumen. But do we misunderstand the role of different bacterial species in biohydrogenation because there are uncultivated species that we need to understand and include in the analysis? Manipulation methods include dietary vegetable and fish oils and plant-derived chemicals. Their usefulness, efficacy and possible effects on fatty acid metabolism and on ruminal microorganisms and other areas of their metabolism are described, and areas of opportunity identified.
Livestock, particularly ruminants, can eat a wider range of biomass than humans. In the drive for greater efficiency, intensive systems of livestock production have evolved to compete with humans for high-energy crops such as cereals. Feeds consumed by livestock were analysed in terms of the quantities used and efficiency of conversion of grassland, human-edible ('edible') crops and crop by-products into milk, meat and eggs, using the United Kingdom as an example of a developed livestock industry. Some 42 million tonnes of forage dry matter were consumed from 2008 to 2009 by the UK ruminant livestock population of which 0.7 was grazed pasture and 0.3 million tonnes was conserved forage. In addition, almost 13 million tonnes of raw material concentrate feeds were used in the UK animal feed industry from 2008 to 2009 of which cereal grains comprised 5.3 and soyabean meal 1.9 million tonnes. The proportion of edible feed in typical UK concentrate formulations ranged from 0.36 for milk production to 0.75 for poultry meat production. Example systems of livestock production were used to calculate feed conversion ratios (FCR - feed input per unit of fresh product). FCR for concentrate feeds was lowest for milk at 0.27 and for the meat systems ranged from 2.3 for poultry meat to 8.8 for cereal beef. Differences in FCR between systems of meat production were smaller when efficiency was calculated on an edible input/output basis, where spring-calving/grass finishing upland suckler beef and lowland lamb production were more efficient than pig and poultry meat production. With the exception of milk and upland suckler beef, FCR for edible feed protein into edible animal protein were >1.0. Edible protein/animal protein FCR of 1.0 may be possible by replacing cereal grain and soyabean meal with cereal by-products in concentrate formulations. It is concluded that by accounting for the proportions of human-edible and inedible feeds used in typical livestock production systems, a more realistic estimate of efficiency can be made for comparisons between systems.
The objective of the present study was to evaluate the effects of partial or total replacement of finisher diet soybean oil with black soldier fly (Hermethia illucens L.; HI) larva fat on the growth performance, carcass traits, blood parameters, intestinal morphology and histological features of broiler chickens. At 21 days of age, a total of 120 male broiler chickens (Ross 308) were randomly allocated to three experimental groups (five replicates and eight birds/pen). To a basal control diet (C; 68.7 g/kg as fed of soybean oil), either 50% or 100% of the soybean oil was replaced with HI larva fat (HI50 and HI100 group, respectively). Growth performance was evaluated throughout the trial. At day 48, 15 birds (three birds/pen) per group were slaughtered at a commercial abattoir. Carcass yield and proportions of carcass elements were recorded. Blood samples were taken from each slaughtered chicken for haematochemical index determination. Morphometric analyses were performed on the duodenum, jejunum and ileum. Samples of liver, spleen, thymus, bursa of fabricius, kidney and heart were submitted to histological investigations. Growth performance, carcass traits, haematochemical parameters and gut morphometric indexes were not influenced by the dietary inclusion of HI larva fat. Histopathological alterations developed in the spleen, thymus, bursa of fabricius and liver and were identified in all of the experimental groups, but HI larva fat inclusion did not significantly affect (P > 0.05) the severity of the histopathological findings. The present study suggests that 50% or 100% replacement of soybean oil with HI larva fat in broiler chickens diets has no adverse effects on growth performance or blood parameters and had no beneficial effect on gut health.
Research in animal sciences, especially nutrition, increasingly requires processing and modeling of databases. In certain areas of research, the number of publications and results per publications is increasing, thus periodically requiring quantitative summarizations of literature data. In such instances, statistical methods dealing with the analysis of summary (literature) data, known as meta-analyses, must be used. The implementation of a meta-analysis is done in several phases. The first phase concerns the definition of the study objectives and the identification of the criteria to be used in the selection of prior publications to be used in the construction of the database. Publications must be scrupulously evaluated before being entered into the database. During this phase, it is important to carefully encode each record with pertinent descriptive attributes (experiments, treatments, etc.) to serve as important reference points for the rest of the analysis. Databases from literature data are inherently unbalanced statistically, leading to considerable analytical and interpretation difficulties; missing data are frequent, and data structures are not the outcomes of a classical experimental system. An initial graphical examination of the data is recommended to enhance a global view as well as to identify specific relationships to be investigated. This phase is followed by a study of the meta-system made up of the database to be interpreted. These steps condition the definition of the applied statistical model. Variance decomposition must account for inter- and intrastudy Sources; dependent and independent variables must be identified either as discrete (qualitative) or continuous (quantitative). Effects must be defined as either fixed or random. Often, observations must be weighed to account for differences in the precision of the reported means. Once model parameters are estimated, extensive analyses of residual variations must be performed. The roles of the different treatments and studies in the results obtained must be identified. Often, this requires returning to an earlier step in the process. Thus, meta-analyses have inherent heuristic qualities.
Meat and milk produced by ruminants are important agricultural products and are major sources of protein for humans. Ruminant production is of considerable economic value and underpins food security in many regions of the world. However, the sector faces major challenges because of diminishing natural resources and ensuing increases in production costs, and also because of the increased awareness of the environmental impact of farming ruminants. The digestion of feed and the production of enteric methane are key functions that could be manipulated by having a thorough understanding of the rumen microbiome. Advances in DNA sequencing technologies and bioinformatics are transforming our understanding of complex microbial ecosystems, including the gastrointestinal tract of mammals. The application of these techniques to the rumen ecosystem has allowed the study of the microbial diversity under different dietary and production conditions. Furthermore, the sequencing of genomes from several cultured rumen bacterial and archaeal species is providing detailed information about their physiology. More recently, metagenomics, mainly aimed at understanding the enzymatic machinery involved in the degradation of plant structural polysaccharides, is starting to produce new insights by allowing access to the total community and sidestepping the limitations imposed by cultivation. These advances highlight the promise of these approaches for characterising the rumen microbial community structure and linking this with the functions of the rumen microbiota. Initial results using high-throughput culture-independent technologies have also shown that the rumen microbiome is far more complex and diverse than the human caecum. Therefore, cataloguing its genes will require a considerable sequencing and bioinformatic effort. Nevertheless, the construction of a rumen microbial gene catalogue through metagenomics and genomic sequencing of key populations is an attainable goal. A rumen microbial gene catalogue is necessary to understand the function of the microbiome and its interaction with the host animal and feeds, and it will provide a basis for integrative microbiome-host models and inform strategies promoting less-polluting, more robust and efficient ruminants.
In the UK, recent mean temperatures have consistently increased by between 1 degrees C and 4 degrees C compared to the 30-year monthly averages. Furthermore, all available predictive models for the UK indicate that the climate is likely to change further and feature more extreme weather events and a trend towards wetter, milder winters and hotter drier summers. These changes will alter the prevalence of endemic diseases spatially and/or temporally and impact on animal health and welfare. Most notable among these endemic parasites are the helminths, which have been shown to be very strongly influenced by both the short-term weather and climate through effects on their free-living larval stages on pasture. In this review, we examine recent trends in prevalence and epidemiology of key helminth species and consider whether these could be climate-related. We identify likely effects of temperature and rainfall on the free-living stages and some key parasite traits likely to determine parasite abundance under changed climatic conditions. We find clear evidence that climate change, especially elevated temperature, has already changed the overall abundance, seasonality and spatial spread of endemic helminths in the UK. We explore some confounders and alternative explanations for the observed patterns. Finally, we explore the implications of these findings for policy makers and the livestock industry and make some recommendations for future research priorities.
In order to expand with validated scientific data the limited knowledge regarding the potential application of insects as innovative feed ingredients for poultry, the present study tested a partial substitution of soya bean meal and soya bean oil with defatted black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) larvae meal (H) in the diet for growing broiler quails (Coturnix coturnix japonica) on growth performance, mortality, nutrients apparent digestibility, microbiological composition of excreta, feed choice, carcass and meat traits. With this purpose, a total of 450 10-day-old birds were allocated to 15 cages (30 birds/cage) and received three dietary treatments: a Control diet (C) and two diets (H1 and H2) corresponding to 10% and 15% H inclusion levels, respectively (H substituted 28.4% soya bean oil and 16.1% soya bean meal for H1, and 100% soya bean oil and 24.8% soya bean meal for H2, respectively). At 28 days of age, quails were slaughtered, carcasses were weighed, breast muscles were then excised from 50 quails/treatment, weighed, and ultimate pH (pHu) and L*, a*, b* colour values were measured. Breast muscles were then cooked to assess cooking loss and meat toughness. For the digestibility trial, a total of 15 28-day-old quails were assigned to the three feeding groups. The excreta samples were subjected to chemical and microbiological analysis. The same 15 quails were then simultaneously provided with C and H2 diets for a 10-day feed choice trial. Productive performance, mortality and carcass traits were in line with commercial standards and similar in all experimental groups. With the exception of ether extract digestibility, which was lower in H1 group compared with C and H2 (P=0.0001), apparent digestibility of dry matter, CP, starch and energy did not differ among treatments. Microbial composition of excreta was also comparable among the three groups. Feed choice trial showed that quails did not express a preference toward C or H2 diets. Breast meat weight and yield did not differ among C, H1 and H2 quails. Differently, the inclusion of H meal reduced meat pHu compared with C. In conclusion, this study demonstrated that H. illucens larvae meal can partially replace conventional soya bean meal and soya bean oil in the diet for growing broiler quails, thus confirming to be a promising insect protein source for the feed industry. Further research to assess the impact of H meal on intestinal morphology as well as on meat quality and sensory profile would be of utmost importance.
A meta-analysis was conducted (i) to evaluate broiler response to partial or total substitution of corn by sorghum and millet and (ii) to determine the effect of soybean meal replacement by cottonseed meal in broiler diet. The database included 190 treatments from 29 experiments published from 1990 to 2013. Bird responses to an experimental diet were calculated relative to the control (Experimental - Control), and were submitted to mixed-effect models. Results showed that diets containing millet led to similar performance as the corn-based ones for all parameters, whereas sorghum-based diets decreased growth performance. No major effect of the level of substitution was observed with millet or cottonseed meal. No effect of the level of substitution of sorghum on feed intake was found; however, growth performance decreased when the level of substitution of corn by sorghum increased. Cottonseed meal was substituted to soybean meal up to 40% and found to increase feed intake while reducing growth performance. Young birds were not more sensitive to these ingredients than older birds since there was no negative effect of these ingredients on performance in the starter phase. Results obtained for sorghum pointed out the necessity to find technological improvements that will increase the utilization of these feedstuffs in broiler diet. An additional work is scheduled to validate these statistical results in vivo and to evaluate the interactions induced with the simultaneous inclusions of sorghum, millet and cottonseed meal in broiler feeding.
Recently, the French National Institute for Agricultural Research appointed an expert committee to review the issue of pain in food-producing farm animals. To minimise pain, the authors developed a '3S' approach accounting for 'Suppress, Substitute and Soothe' by analogy with the '3Rs' approach of 'Reduction, Refinement and Replacement' applied in the context of animal experimentation. Thus, when addressing the matter of pain, the following steps and solutions could be assessed, in the light of their feasibility (technical constraints, logistics and regulations), acceptability (societal and financial aspects) and availability. The first solution is to suppress any source of pain that brings no obvious advantage to the animals or the producers, as well as sources of pain for which potential benefits are largely exceeded by the negative effects. For instance, tail docking of cattle has recently been eliminated. Genetic selection on the basis of resistance criteria (as e.g. for lameness in cattle and poultry) or reduction of undesirable traits (e.g. boar taint in pigs) may also reduce painful conditions or procedures. The second solution is to substitute a technique causing pain by another less-painful method. For example, if dehorning cattle is unavoidable, it is preferable to perform it at a very young age, cauterising the horn bud. Animal management and constraint systems should be designed to reduce the risk for injury and bruising. Lastly, in situations where pain is known to be present, because of animal management procedures such as dehorning or castration, or because of pathology, for example lameness, systemic or local pharmacological treatments should be used to soothe pain. These treatments should take into account the duration of pain, which, in the case of some management procedures or diseases, may persist for longer periods. The administration of pain medication may require the intervention of veterinarians, but exemptions exist where breeders are allowed to use local anaesthesia (e.g. castration and dehorning in Switzerland). Extension of such exemptions, national or European legislation on pain management or the introduction of animal welfare codes by retailers into their meat products may help further developments. In addition, veterinarians and farmers should be given the necessary tools and information to take into account animal pain in their management decisions.