Animals2015, 5(3), 861-885; doi:10.3390/ani5030388 (registering DOI) - published 28 August 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Despite the research on opportunities to automatically measure lameness in cattle, lameness detection systems are not widely available commercially and are only used on a few dairy farms. However, farmers need to be aware of the lame cows in their herds in order treat them properly and in a timely fashion. Many papers have focused on the automated measurement of gait or behavioral cow characteristics related to lameness. In order for such automated measurements to be used in a detection system, algorithms to distinguish between non-lame and mildly or severely lame cows need to be developed and validated. Few studies have reached this latter stage of the development process. Also, comparison between the different approaches is impeded by the wide range of practical settings used to measure the gait or behavioral characteristic (e.g., measurements during normal farming routine or during experiments; cows guided or walking at their own speed) and by the different definitions of lame cows. In the majority of the publications, mildly lame cows are included in the non-lame cow group, which limits the possibility of also detecting early lameness cases. In this review, studies that used sensor technology to measure changes in gait or behavior of cows related to lameness are discussed together with practical considerations when conducting lameness research. In addition, other prerequisites for any lameness detection system on farms (e.g., need for early detection, real-time measurements) are discussed.
Animals2015, 5(3), 838-860; doi:10.3390/ani5030387 (registering DOI) - published 28 August 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Due to its detrimental effect on cow welfare, health and production, lameness in dairy cows has received quite a lot of attention in the last few decades—not only in terms of prevention and treatment of lameness but also in terms of detection, as early treatment might decrease the number of severely lame cows in the herds as well as decrease the direct and indirect costs associated with lameness cases. Generally, lame cows are detected by the herdsman, hoof trimmer or veterinarian based on abnormal locomotion, abnormal behavior or the presence of hoof lesions during routine trimming. In the scientific literature, several guidelines are proposed to detect lame cows based on visual interpretation of the locomotion of individual cows (i.e., locomotion scoring systems). Researchers and the industry have focused on automating such observations to support the farmer in finding the lame cows in their herds, but until now, such automated systems have rarely been used in commercial herds. This review starts with the description of normal locomotion of cows in order to define ‘abnormal’ locomotion caused by lameness. Cow locomotion (gait and posture) and behavioral features that change when a cow becomes lame are described and linked to the existing visual scoring systems. In addition, the lack of information of normal cow gait and a clear description of ‘abnormal’ gait are discussed. Finally, the different set-ups used during locomotion scoring and their influence on the resulting locomotion scores are evaluated.
Animals2015, 5(3), 821-837; doi:10.3390/ani5030386 - published 21 August 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: A practical class using clicker training of chickens to apply knowledge of how animals learn and practice skills in animal training was added to an undergraduate course. Since attitudes to animals are related to their perceived intelligence, surveys of student attitudes were completed pre- and post- the practical class, to determine if (1) the practical class changed students’ attitudes to chickens and their ability to experience affective states, and (2) any changes were related to previous contact with chickens, training experience or gender. In the post- versus pre-surveys, students agreed more that chickens are easy to teach tricks to, are intelligent, and have individual personalities and disagreed more that they are difficult to train and are slow learners. Following the class, they were more likely to believe chickens experience boredom, frustration and happiness. Females rated the intelligence and ability to experience affective states in chickens more highly than males, although there were shifts in attitude in both genders. This study demonstrated shifts in attitudes following a practical class teaching clicker training in chickens. Similar practical classes may provide an effective method of teaching animal training skills and promoting more positive attitudes to animals.
Animals2015, 5(3), 803-820; doi:10.3390/ani5030385 - published 19 August 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Photoperiod manipulation during the lactation cycle alters milk yield, with long days (LDPP) increasing yield in lactation and short days (SDPP) in the dry period improving subsequent yield. Circulating prolactin (PRL) is directly related to day length, with LDPP increasing and SDPP decreasing PRL, respectively. Two blocks of 24 multiparous Holstein cows were used during two consecutive years to test the hypothesis that the mammary response to SDPP is the result of decreased concentrations of PRL in the circulation relative to LDPP. Cows were randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups during the dry period: SDPP, LDPP, or SDPP+PRL. Cows were returned to ambient photoperiod at calving and milk yield and DMI recorded for 120 d and 42 d, respectively. Mammary biopsies were obtained to determine rates of [3H]-thymidine incorporation into DNA in vitro. Treatment of SDPP cows with PRL caused a rapid increase in systemic PRL that reached concentrations similar to cows under LDPP. The periparturient PRL surge was similar for LDPP and SDPP+PRL cows, but those groups had greater surge concentrations versus SDPP. Cows exposed to SDPP produced more milk than LDPP cows, and there was a trend for SDPP+PRL cows to produce more milk than LDPP cows. Milk production was inversely related to the periparturient PRL surge. There was a trend for a treatment effect on mammary cell proliferation with greater proliferation in mammary tissue of SDPP cows relative to LDPP or SDPP+PRL on day −20 relative to parturition. Replacement of PRL to cows on SDPP when dry resulted in milk yield intermediate to cows on SDPP or LDPP, supporting the concept of a link between dry period PRL and yield.
Animals2015, 5(3), 793-802; doi:10.3390/ani5030384 - published 18 August 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The transition to lactation period in dairy cattle is characterized by metabolic challenges, negative energy balance, and adipose tissue mobilization. Metabolism of mobilized adipose tissue is part of the adaptive response to negative energy balance in dairy cattle; however, the capacity of the liver to completely oxidize nonesterified fatty acids may be limited and is reflective of oxaloacetate pool, the carbon carrier of the tricarboxylic acid cycle. Alternative metabolic fates of acetyl-CoA from nonesterified fatty acids include esterification to triacylglycerides and ketogenesis, and when excessive, these pathways lead to fatty liver and ketosis. Examination of the anaplerotic and cataplerotic pull of oxaloacetate by the tricarboxylic acid cycle and gluconeogenesis may provide insight into the balance of oxidation and esterification of acetyl-CoA within the liver of periparturient dairy cows.
Animals2015, 5(3), 774-792; doi:10.3390/ani5030383 - published 14 August 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Current Italian legislation does not permit euthanasia of dogs, unless they are ill or dangerous. Despite good intentions and ethical benefits, this ‘no-kill policy’ has caused a progressive overpopulation of dogs in shelters, due to abandonment rates being higher than adoption rates. Shelter overcrowding has negative implications for dog welfare and increases public costs. The aim of this paper is to describe the pilot project “RandAgiamo” implemented in a rescue shelter in the Umbria Region and to evaluate its effectiveness on the rate of dog adoption using official data. RandAgiamo aimed to increase adult shelter dogs’ adoptability by a standard training and socialization programme. It also promoted dogs’ visibility by publicizing them through social media and participation in events. We analysed the official data of the Umbria regional health authorities regarding dog shelters of the Perugia province of the year 2014. In the RandAgiamo shelter, the dog adoption rate was 27.5% higher than that of dogs housed in other shelters located in the same geographical area (P < 0.001). The RandAgiamo project could be beneficial for the dogs’ welfare, owner satisfaction, shelter management, and public perception of shelter dogs. However, staff were required to provide dog training and related activities.