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Animals, Volume 10, Issue 9 (September 2020) – 274 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Our gut microbiota can greatly influence our behaviour and neurodevelopment. Kubinyi et al. reported that dogs' aging mechanism and memory performance are also linked to their gut microbiome composition. They found that the abundance of Fusobacteria phylum in fecal samples is negatively correlated with chronological age in dogs. Interestingly, in humans, Fusobacteria were shown to increase with age and have been linked to serious illnesses, such as inflammatory bowel disease. Therefore, Fusobacteria likely play a fundamentally different, beneficial, role in carnivores compared to humans. Moreover, dogs performing worse in a short-term memory test had relatively more Actinobacteria. This finding can indicate a shared mechanism underlying dogs' and humans' cognitive aging, since Actinobacteria were also shown to be more abundant in the intestines of Alzheimer patients. View this paper.
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Review
Clostridium perfringens as Foodborne Pathogen in Broiler Production: Pathophysiology and Potential Strategies for Controlling Necrotic Enteritis
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1718; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091718 - 22 Sep 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1475
Abstract
Clostridium perfringens (Cp.) is the cause of human foodborne desease. Meat and poultry products are identified as the main source of infection for humans. Cp. can be found in poultry litter, feces, soil, dust, and healthy birds’ intestinal contents. Cp. strains are known [...] Read more.
Clostridium perfringens (Cp.) is the cause of human foodborne desease. Meat and poultry products are identified as the main source of infection for humans. Cp. can be found in poultry litter, feces, soil, dust, and healthy birds’ intestinal contents. Cp. strains are known to secrete over 20 identified toxins and enzymes that could potentially be the principal virulence factors, capable of degrading mucin, affecting enterocytes, and the small intestine epithelium, involved in necrotic enteritis (NE) pathophysiology, also leading to immunological responses, microbiota modification and anatomical changes. Different environmental and dietary factors can determine the colonization of this microorganism. It has been observed that the incidence of Cp-associated to NE in broilers has increased in countries that have stopped using antibiotic growth promoters. Since the banning of such antibiotic growth promoters, several strategies for Cp. control have been proposed, including dietary modifications, probiotics, prebiotics, synbiotics, phytogenics, organic acids, and vaccines. However, there are aspects of the pathology that still need to be clarified to establish better actions to control and prevention. This paper reviews the current knowledge about Cp. as foodborne pathogen, the pathophysiology of NE, and recent findings on potential strategies for its control. Full article
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Review
Selection for Favorable Health Traits: A Potential Approach to Cope with Diseases in Farm Animals
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1717; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091717 - 22 Sep 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1195
Abstract
Disease is a global problem for animal farming industries causing tremendous economic losses (>USD 220 billion over the last decade) and serious animal welfare issues. The limitations and deficiencies of current non-selection disease control methods (e.g., vaccination, treatment, eradication strategy, genome editing, and [...] Read more.
Disease is a global problem for animal farming industries causing tremendous economic losses (>USD 220 billion over the last decade) and serious animal welfare issues. The limitations and deficiencies of current non-selection disease control methods (e.g., vaccination, treatment, eradication strategy, genome editing, and probiotics) make it difficult to effectively, economically, and permanently eliminate the adverse influences of disease in the farm animals. These limitations and deficiencies drive animal breeders to be more concerned and committed to dealing with health problems in farm animals by selecting animals with favorable health traits. Both genetic selection and genomic selection contribute to improving the health of farm animals by selecting certain health traits (e.g., disease tolerance, disease resistance, and immune response), although both of them face some challenges. The objective of this review was to comprehensively review the potential of selecting health traits in coping with issues caused by diseases in farm animals. Within this review, we highlighted that selecting health traits can be applied as a method of disease control to help animal agriculture industries to cope with the adverse influences caused by diseases in farm animals. Certainly, the genetic/genomic selection solution cannot solve all the disease problems in farm animals. Therefore, management, vaccination, culling, medical treatment, and other measures must accompany selection solution to reduce the adverse impact of farm animal diseases on profitability and animal welfare. Full article
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Article
Silage of Prickly Pears (Opuntia spp.) Juice By-Products
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1716; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091716 - 22 Sep 2020
Viewed by 645
Abstract
Cactus pear cladodes are used as forage in the most arid regions. In Italy, the human consumption of prickly pear fruits and juice is gradually increasing for their numerous health benefits. In manufacturing plants that produce prickly pear juice, several by-products (prickly pear [...] Read more.
Cactus pear cladodes are used as forage in the most arid regions. In Italy, the human consumption of prickly pear fruits and juice is gradually increasing for their numerous health benefits. In manufacturing plants that produce prickly pear juice, several by-products (prickly pear by-products PPB) are obtained. Despite their interesting nutritional characteristics, PPB are not very usable because of their poor shelf-life which is related to their high moisture and sugar content. The aim of this study was to verify the efficacy of ensilage to preserve PPB and to compare different inclusion levels (0, 5, and 10% as fed) of wheat straw. For each treatment, four under vacuum micro-silos were prepared and, after 35 days of storage, the state of preservation was evaluated. Subsequently, the aliquots were analyzed for chemical composition and incubated with bovine rumen fluid to evaluate the fermentation kinetics. The PPB 5% of straw showed significant lower pH and ammonia nitrogen concentration, indicating a better preservation process. Moreover, PPB 5% of straw showed better nutritional parameters (higher crude protein and lower Neutral Detergent Fibre) and fermentation characteristics (higher degradability and VFA volatile fatty acids production) when compared with the other PPB silages. Ensilage with straw represents a suitable storage technique to preserve the nutritional characteristics of PPB. Full article
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Article
Differences in the Loin Tenderness of Iberian Pigs Explained through Dissimilarities in Their Transcriptome Expression Profile
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1715; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091715 - 22 Sep 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 893
Abstract
Tenderness is one of the most important meat quality traits and it can be measured through shear force with the Warner–Bratzler test. In the current study, we use the RNA-seq technique to analyze the transcriptome of Longissimus dorsi (LD) muscle in two groups [...] Read more.
Tenderness is one of the most important meat quality traits and it can be measured through shear force with the Warner–Bratzler test. In the current study, we use the RNA-seq technique to analyze the transcriptome of Longissimus dorsi (LD) muscle in two groups of Iberian pigs (Tough and Tender) divergent for shear force breeding values. We identified 200 annotated differentially expressed genes (DEGs) and 245 newly predicted isoforms. The RNAseq expression results of 10 genes were validated with quantitative PCR (qPCR). Functional analyses showed an enrichment of DE genes in biological processes related to proteolysis (CTSC, RHOD, MYH8, ACTC1, GADD45B, CASQ2, CHRNA9 and ANKRD1), skeletal muscle tissue development (ANKRD1, DMD, FOS and MSTN), lipid metabolism (FABP3 and PPARGC1A) and collagen metabolism (COL14A1). The upstream analysis revealed a total of 11 transcription regulatory factors that could regulate the expression of some DEGs. Among them, IGF1, VGLL3 and PPARG can be highlighted since they regulate the expression of genes involved in biological pathways that could affect tenderness. The experiment revealed a set of candidate genes and regulatory factors suggestive to search polymorphisms that could be incorporated in a breeding program for improving meat tenderness. Full article
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Article
In Vivo Screening and Antidiabetic Potential of Polyphenol Extracts from Guava Pulp, Seeds and Leaves
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1714; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091714 - 22 Sep 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 799
Abstract
The present study investigates the antidiabetic potential of polyphenol extracts purified from guava pulp, seeds and leaves using an in vivo experiment on albino rats. The polyphenols from guava pulp, seeds and leaves were extracted using methanol solvent and the sonication method while [...] Read more.
The present study investigates the antidiabetic potential of polyphenol extracts purified from guava pulp, seeds and leaves using an in vivo experiment on albino rats. The polyphenols from guava pulp, seeds and leaves were extracted using methanol solvent and the sonication method while being evaluated by total phenolic contents and radical scavenging activity assay. The proximate composition of powders revealed that ash, protein and total sugars were significantly (p < 0.05) higher in leaves and seeds, while vitamin C was highest in pulp. Total phenolic and antioxidant activities were highest in pulp followed by leaves and seeds. The findings of feed intake and body gain revealed that the supplementation of polyphenols, especially from pulp, significantly (p < 0.05) increased the feed intake, which resulted in increased body weight. Moreover, total cholesterol (TC) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels were significantly (p < 0.05) decreased, while the level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) was increased in groups fed with polyphenols from guava pulp compared to both (+ive and –ive) control groups. Furthermore, blood glucose and triglycerides were significantly (p < 0.05) decreased in supplemented groups compared to the control group of diabetes mice, which resulted in the inhibition of α-amylase and glucose transport. Besides this, packed cell volume (PCV), mean corpuscular volume (MCV), hemoglobin, red blood cells (RBCs), white blood cells (WBCs) and platelet levels were increased significantly (p < 0.05) in pulp’s extract followed by leaves and seeds compared to both control groups. Overall, the antidiabetic potential of different extracts was in the following order: pulp > leaves > seeds. The findings suggest the feasibility of adding 200–250 mg/kg.bw of polyphenol extracts of pulp as an alternative to diabetic drugs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovative Instruments and Methods to Analyse Feedstuffs)
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Article
Anti-Biofilm Effect of Tea Saponin on a Streptococcus agalactiae Strain Isolated from Bovine Mastitis
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1713; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091713 - 22 Sep 2020
Viewed by 674
Abstract
Streptococcus agalactiae (GBS) is a highly contagious pathogen which not only can cause neonatal meningitis, pneumonia, and septicemia but is also considered to be a major cause of bovine mastitis (BM), leading to large economic losses to the dairy industry worldwide. Like many [...] Read more.
Streptococcus agalactiae (GBS) is a highly contagious pathogen which not only can cause neonatal meningitis, pneumonia, and septicemia but is also considered to be a major cause of bovine mastitis (BM), leading to large economic losses to the dairy industry worldwide. Like many other pathogenic bacteria, GBS also has the capacity to form a biofilm structure in the host to cause persistent infection. Tea saponin (TS), is one of the main active agents extracted from tea ash powder, and it has good antioxidant and antibacterial activities. In this study, we confirmed that TS has a slight antibacterial activity against a Streptococcus agalactiae strain isolated from dairy cow with mastitis and inhibits its biofilm formation. By performing scanning electron microscopy (SEM) experiments, we observed that with addition of TS, the biofilm formed by this GBS strain exhibited looser structure and lower density. In addition, the results of real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) experiments showed that TS inhibited biofilm formation by down-regulating the transcription of the biofilm-associated genes including srtA, fbsC, neuA, and cpsE. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Physiology)
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Article
Brisket Disease Is Associated with Lower Volatile Fatty Acid Production and Altered Rumen Microbiome in Holstein Heifers
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1712; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091712 - 22 Sep 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 662
Abstract
Brisket disease is heritable but is also associated with non-genetic risk factors and effects of the disease on the rumen microbiome are unknown. Ten Holstein heifers were exposed to the plateau environment for three months and divided into two groups according to the [...] Read more.
Brisket disease is heritable but is also associated with non-genetic risk factors and effects of the disease on the rumen microbiome are unknown. Ten Holstein heifers were exposed to the plateau environment for three months and divided into two groups according to the index of brisket disease, the mean pulmonary arterial pressure (mPAP): brisket disease group (BD, n = 5, mPAP > 63 mmHg) and healthy heifer group (HH, n = 5, mPAP < 41 mmHg). Rumen fluid was collected for analysis of the concentrations of volatile fatty acids (VFAs). Extracted DNA from rumen contents was analyzed using Illumina MiSeq 16S rRNA sequencing technology. The concentration of total VFA and alpha-diversity metrics were significantly lower in BD group (p < 0.05). Ruminococcus and Treponema were significantly decreased in BD heifers (p < 0.05). Correlation analysis indicated that 10 genera were related to the mPAP (p < 0.05). Genera of Anaerofustis, Campylobacter, and Catonella were negatively correlated with total VFA and acetic acid (R < −0.7, p < 0.05), while genera of Blautia, YRC22, Ruminococcus, and Treponema were positively related to total VFA and acetic acid (R > 0.7; p < 0.05). Our findings may be a useful biomarker in future brisket disease work. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Physiology)
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Article
The Fermentation Process Improves the Nutritional Value of Rapeseed Cake for Turkeys—Effects on Performance, Gut Bacterial Population and Its Fermentative Activity
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1711; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091711 - 22 Sep 2020
Viewed by 755
Abstract
This experiment investigated the potential inclusion of fermented rapeseed cake (FRC) in turkey diets. The turkeys received diets either not supplemented (C) or supplemented with raw rapeseed cake (RRC) or FRC at 150 g/kg diet. In comparison with RRC, turkeys receiving FRC achieved [...] Read more.
This experiment investigated the potential inclusion of fermented rapeseed cake (FRC) in turkey diets. The turkeys received diets either not supplemented (C) or supplemented with raw rapeseed cake (RRC) or FRC at 150 g/kg diet. In comparison with RRC, turkeys receiving FRC achieved significantly higher final BW comparable with that noted in the control group. The dietary inclusion of FRC increased the concentrations of propionic and valeric acid in the cecal digesta compared with the control group, and increased the proportion of butyric acid in SCFA profile compared with RRC group. The activities of glycolytic bacterial enzymes in the cecal digesta, were lowest in turkeys fed FRC. Experimental diets did not cause a shift in the relative abundances of the main bacterial phyla or orders in the cecal digesta. FRC increased the abundance of Bacteroidaceae at the family level, but decreased the abundance of Lactobacillus at the genus level compared with birds fed RRC. In conclusion, the dietary inclusion of FRC at 150 g/kg did not compromise bird performance, did not excessively stimulate bacterial activity, and did not cause shifts in the bacterial composition in the cecum. Actually, FCR exerted several beneficial effects that contributed to maintaining gut health in turkeys, which points to its advantage over RRC. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Health: A Biochemical Approach)
Article
Waste Valorization via Hermetia Illucens to Produce Protein-Rich Biomass for Feed: Insight into the Critical Nutrient Taurine
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1710; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091710 - 21 Sep 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 937
Abstract
Insects have been recognized as sustainable alternative sources of nutrients for food and feed. The Black Soldier Fly (BSF), Hermetia illucens, is a particularly promising species for its great potential in the waste valorization to produce, during the bioconversion process, high-value fat [...] Read more.
Insects have been recognized as sustainable alternative sources of nutrients for food and feed. The Black Soldier Fly (BSF), Hermetia illucens, is a particularly promising species for its great potential in the waste valorization to produce, during the bioconversion process, high-value fat and proteins that currently represent a valuable source for fish feed. The present study aims to evaluate the efficiency to use substrate proteins in two different BSF developmental stages as sustainable biotechnological tools for vegetable waste management. We provide insights into the nutritional values of both V instar larvae and prepupae in terms of valuable amino acids with special focus on taurine, a crucial nutrient for fish. Moreover, we cloned four key genes from BSF involved in the taurine biosynthesis pathway, 2-aminoethanethiol dioxygenase (Hiado), cysteine dioxygenase (Hicdo), cysteine sulfonate decarboxylase (Hicsad), and glutamate decarboxylase (Higad). The gene expression analysis in larvae and prepupae by qPCR showed development-specific profiles suggesting they influence the taurine content during BSF development. These findings showed peculiar phenotypes in larvae and prepupae that can be selected for different biotechnological applications as sustainable source of relevant amino acids and taurine to support the increasing demand for animal feed and aquafeed in the next decades. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Nutrition)
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Article
Metabolic Profiling of Plasma in Different Calving Body Condition Score Cows Using an Untargeted Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry Metabolomics Approach
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1709; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091709 - 21 Sep 2020
Viewed by 711
Abstract
This study was undertaken to identify metabolite differences in plasma of dairy cows with a normal or high calving body condition score (CBCS), using untargeted liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) metabolomics. Sixteen multiparous dairy cows were assigned to one of two groups based on [...] Read more.
This study was undertaken to identify metabolite differences in plasma of dairy cows with a normal or high calving body condition score (CBCS), using untargeted liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) metabolomics. Sixteen multiparous dairy cows were assigned to one of two groups based on CBCS (0 to 5 scale): Normal group (NBCS, 3.25 ≤ BCS ≤ 3.5, n = 8), and high BCS group (HBCS, BCS ≥ 4, n = 8). Plasma samples were collected for metabolomics analysis and evaluation of biomarkers of lipid metabolism (nonesterified fatty acid (NEFA) and β-hydroxybutyrate (BHB)), and cytokines (leptin, adiponectin, tumor necrosis factor–α (TNF-α) and interleukin 6 (IL-6)). A total of 23 differential metabolites were identified, and functional analyses were performed using the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathways. Among these metabolites, the concentrations of six lysophosphatidylcholines and one phosphatidylethanolamine, were lower in the HBCS group than in the NBCS group (p < 0.01). Furthermore, these metabolites were involved in these four pathways, among others: glycerophospholipid metabolism, retrograde endocannabinoid signaling, autophagy, and glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchor biosynthesis (p < 0.05). In addition, plasma concentrations of leptin (p = 0.06) and TNF-α (p = 0.08) tended to be greater while adiponectin (p = 0.09) lower in HBCS cows than in NBCS cows. The concentrations of NEFA, BHB, or IL-6 did not differ between NBCS and HBCS groups. More importantly, based on the results of the Spearman’s correlation analysis, the seven important metabolites were negatively correlated with indices of lipid metabolisms, proinflammatory cytokines, and leptin, but positively correlated with adiponectin. These results demonstrate that CBCS has a measurable impact on the plasma metabolic profile, even when NEFA and BHB are not different. In addition, the identified differential metabolites were significantly correlated to lipid metabolism and inflammation in the over-conditioned fresh cows, which are expected to render a metabolic basis for the diseases associated with over-conditioned dry cows. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dairy Cow Health and Welfare)
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Article
Estradiol-17β Pharmacokinetics and Histological Assessment of the Ovaries and Uterine Horns following Intramuscular Administration of Estradiol Cypionate in Feral Cats
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1708; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091708 - 21 Sep 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 626
Abstract
The control of feral cats (Felis catus) in Australia is a key biological conservation issue. Male cats are more difficult to control than female cats. Collared and tagged female cats displaying estrous behavior have been considered as a way to lure [...] Read more.
The control of feral cats (Felis catus) in Australia is a key biological conservation issue. Male cats are more difficult to control than female cats. Collared and tagged female cats displaying estrous behavior have been considered as a way to lure male cats and reveal their locations. As female cats are seasonal breeders, artificial induction of estrous behavior following the administration of a long-acting estrogen could improve their use for this purpose. Estradiol cypionate was intramuscularly administered to nine entire non-pregnant female feral cats, of unknown estrous status, at 0.1, 0.3, or 0.5 mg/kg. Mean peak serum concentrations of estradiol-17β were 365 pg/mL (0.1 mg/kg), 1281 pg/mL (0.3 mg/kg), and 1447 pg/mL (0.5 mg/kg). The time-course of estradiol-17β concentrations after various doses of estradiol cypionate was assessed using non-compartmental and non-linear mixed-effects methods. At the highest-studied dose (0.5 mg/kg), the 50th percentile of estradiol-17β concentrations exceeded 0.1 ng/mL for 11.8 days, and 0.05 ng/mL for 14.6 days. The duration increased with increasing dose. No signs of toxicity were noticed in any cat during the study. This information will be useful to ongoing studies that are investigating ways to reduce the abundance of feral cats in Australia, especially adult male cats. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Endocrinology and Medicine Research)
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Article
The Potential of Human–Horse Attachment in Creating Favorable Settings for Professional Care: A Study of Adolescents’ Visit to a Farm
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1707; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091707 - 21 Sep 2020
Viewed by 2437
Abstract
Previous research has shown features of an attachment bond to be fulfilled in, for instance, human–dog dyads; however, there is a considerable lack of research on the potential attachment in human–horse relationships. Employing Bowlby’s criteria of an attachment bond and Pierce’s model of [...] Read more.
Previous research has shown features of an attachment bond to be fulfilled in, for instance, human–dog dyads; however, there is a considerable lack of research on the potential attachment in human–horse relationships. Employing Bowlby’s criteria of an attachment bond and Pierce’s model of therapeutically powerful activity, this article studies whether short-term exposure to horses brings about elements of emerging attachment for adolescents and if this interaction holds potential in creating a favorable early-stage setting for professional care. It draws from group discussions carried out with nine 16–17-year-old adolescents who participated in an EASEL (Equine-Assisted Social and Emotional Learning) session when visiting a farm with a youth worker. A qualitative content analysis of the discussions revealed that some characteristics of the four principal criteria of an attachment bond—proximity maintenance, safe haven, secure base, and separation distress—were identifiable in the adolescents’ expressed experiences of observing and interacting with horses. Moreover, the three main sources of therapeutic power—appeal, accuracy, and intactness—intersected with the emerging development of the adolescents’ attachment to horses. Additionally, space for self-reflection was enhanced by the presence of the horses. The study offers insights into the potential of human–horse attachment in dealing with adolescents with and without special needs for various therapy and care purposes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Equine Assisted Interventions)
Article
Frequent Visits to an Outdoor Range and Lower Areas of an Aviary System Is Related to Curiosity in Commercial Free-Range Laying Hens
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1706; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091706 - 21 Sep 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 693
Abstract
Individual hen preferences to spend time at particular locations within a free-range aviary system and relationships with temperament is relatively unknown. Hens (n = 769) from three commercial flocks were monitored with Radio Frequency Identification technology to determine time spent on the [...] Read more.
Individual hen preferences to spend time at particular locations within a free-range aviary system and relationships with temperament is relatively unknown. Hens (n = 769) from three commercial flocks were monitored with Radio Frequency Identification technology to determine time spent on the range, upper and lower aviary tiers, and nest boxes. Prior depopulation, novel arena (NA) and novel object (NO) tests assessed exploration and fearfulness. During early life; more time on the lower tier was associated with more lines crossed in the NA test (p < 0.05). No other evidence suggested preference during early life was related to fear or curiosity. More time on the range and lower tier were associated with heavier pre-ranging body weight and gain (p = 0.0001). Over the hens’ whole life; time spent on range and lower tier was associated with approaching the NO (p < 0.01). More time spent on the upper tier was associated with less time near the NO and fewer lines crossed in NA (p < 0.01). The relationships during early and whole life use of space and some potential indicators of fearfulness were inconsistent and therefore, no strong, valid, and reliable indicators of hen fearfulness such as freezing were identified. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Welfare)
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Brief Report
The First Detection of Kudoa hexapunctata in Farmed Pacific Bluefin Tuna in South Korea, Thunnus orientalis (Temminck and Schlegel, 1844)
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1705; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091705 - 21 Sep 2020
Viewed by 891
Abstract
The consumption of fish and shellfish worldwide is steadily increasing, and tuna is a particularly valuable fish species. However, infection caused by Kudoa spp. is causing problems in many fish including the Pacific bluefin tuna (Thunnus orientalis), and there is much [...] Read more.
The consumption of fish and shellfish worldwide is steadily increasing, and tuna is a particularly valuable fish species. However, infection caused by Kudoa spp. is causing problems in many fish including the Pacific bluefin tuna (Thunnus orientalis), and there is much controversy about the association of these infections with foodborne disease. In this study, using haematological and histological analyses of the blood and internal organs (liver, spleen, kidney, heart, stomach, intestine, gill, and muscle) of Pacific bluefin tuna cultured in South Korea, infection with Myxosporea was first identified, and molecular biological analysis was conducted. In this study, Kudoa hexapunctata was finally identified. The Pacific bluefin tunas analysed in this study did not show any gross pathology lesions, such as visible cysts and/or myoliquefaction, of infection with this species. The histological analytical results can provide guidelines for the identification of K. hexapunctata. In the case of K. hexapunctata-induced infection, unlike other countries, such as Japan, there have been no reports in South Korea, and this study is the first to detect K. hexapunctata infection in Pacific bluefin tuna cultured in South Korea. The correlation between K. hexapunctata and food poisoning is not yet clear, however, it is thought that continuous observation of its infection is necessary. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fish Pathology)
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Article
Genomic Evaluation of Primiparous High-Producing Dairy Cows: Inbreeding Effects on Genotypic and Phenotypic Production–Reproductive Traits
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1704; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091704 - 21 Sep 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 935
Abstract
The main objective of this study was to analyze the effects of the inbreeding degree in high-producing primiparous dairy cows genotypically and phenotypically evaluated and its impacts on production and reproductive parameters. Eighty Holstein–Friesian primiparous cows (age: ~26 months; ~450 kg body weight) [...] Read more.
The main objective of this study was to analyze the effects of the inbreeding degree in high-producing primiparous dairy cows genotypically and phenotypically evaluated and its impacts on production and reproductive parameters. Eighty Holstein–Friesian primiparous cows (age: ~26 months; ~450 kg body weight) were previously genomically analyzed to determine the Inbreeding Index (II) and were divided into two groups: low inbreeding group (LI: <2.5; n = 40) and high inbreeding group (HI: ≥2.5 and ≤5.0; n = 40). Genomic determinations of production and reproductive parameters (14 in total), together with analyses of production (12) and reproductive (11) phenotypic parameters (23 in total) were carried out. Statistically significant differences were obtained between groups concerning the genomic parameters of Milk Production at 305 d and Protein Production at 305 d and the reproductive parameter Daughter Calving Ease, the first two being higher in cows of the HI group and the third lower in the LI group (p < 0.05). For the production phenotypic parameters, statistically significant differences were observed between both groups in the Total Fat, Total Protein, and Urea parameters, the first two being higher in the LI group (p < 0.05). Also, significant differences were observed in several reproductive phenotypic parameters, such as Number of Services per Conception, Calving to Conception Interval, Days Open Post Service, and Current Inter-Partum Period, all of which negatively influenced the HI group (p < 0.05). In addition, correlation analyses were performed between production and reproductive genomic parameters separately and in each consanguinity group. The results showed multiple positive and negative correlations between the production and reproductive parameters independently of the group analyzed, being these correlations more remarkable for the reproductive parameters in the LI group and the production parameters in the HI group (p < 0.05). In conclusion, the degree of inbreeding significantly influenced the results, affecting different genomic and phenotypic production and reproductive parameters in high-producing primiparous cows. The determination of the II in first-calf heifers is crucial to evaluate the negative effects associated with homozygosity avoiding an increase in inbreeding depression on production and reproductive traits. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetic Diversity in Livestock and Companion Animals)
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Article
Camel Genetic Resources Conservation through Tourism: A Key Sociocultural Approach of Camelback Leisure Riding
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1703; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091703 - 20 Sep 2020
Viewed by 1047
Abstract
Camels are exotic elements, which can be comprised within adventure travel companies promoting ecotourism activities. Such recreations contribute to sustainable livelihoods for local communities and educational empowerment towards nature and its conservation. At present, some local camel breeds’ survival reduces to this animal-based [...] Read more.
Camels are exotic elements, which can be comprised within adventure travel companies promoting ecotourism activities. Such recreations contribute to sustainable livelihoods for local communities and educational empowerment towards nature and its conservation. At present, some local camel breeds’ survival reduces to this animal-based leisure industry and its reliability to perform and promote customized services accurately. By conducting an on-site questionnaire to customers participating in camelback riding tours, we assessed the motivational factors affecting participation, satisfaction, and loyalty in this tourism segment that may have made it socially differentiated. The sixfold combination of staff performance, culture geography, diverse and humane close interaction, camel behavior and performance, sociotemporal context, and positive previous experience involves the elemental dimensions that explain customer satisfaction and return intention probability within this entertainment business. Customer knowledge is essential for stakeholders to build personalized riding experiences and align profits with environmental sustainability and biodiversity mainstream concerns into their everyday operations. In turn, domestic camel tourist rides could be managed as a viable path to nature conservation by helping endangered local breeds to avoid their functional devaluation and potential extinction. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Data-Driven Decision Making in Animal Industries)
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Article
Abilities of Canine Shelter Behavioral Evaluations and Owner Surrender Profiles to Predict Resource Guarding in Adoptive Homes
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1702; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091702 - 20 Sep 2020
Viewed by 1478
Abstract
Some shelters in the United States consider dogs identified as food aggressive during behavioral evaluations to be unadoptable. We surveyed adopters of dogs from a New York shelter to examine predictive abilities of shelter behavioral evaluations and owner surrender profiles. Twenty of 139 [...] Read more.
Some shelters in the United States consider dogs identified as food aggressive during behavioral evaluations to be unadoptable. We surveyed adopters of dogs from a New York shelter to examine predictive abilities of shelter behavioral evaluations and owner surrender profiles. Twenty of 139 dogs (14.4%) were assessed as resource guarding in the shelter. We found statistically significant associations between shelter assessment as resource guarding and guarding reported in the adoptive home for three situations: taking away toys, bones or other valued objects; taking away food; and retrieving items or food taken by the dog. Similarly, owner descriptions of resource guarding on surrender profiles significantly predicted guarding in adoptive homes. However, positive predictive values for all analyses were low, and more than half of dogs assessed as resource guarding either in the shelter or by surrendering owners did not show guarding post adoption. All three sources of information regarding resource guarding status (surrender profile, shelter behavioral evaluation, and adopter report) were available for 44 dogs; measures of agreement were in the fair range. Thus, reports of resource guarding by surrendering owners and detection of guarding during shelter behavioral evaluations should be interpreted with caution because neither source of information consistently signaled guarding would occur in adoptive homes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Behavior of Shelter Animals)
Article
Tail Docking of Piglets 1: Stress Response of Piglets to Tail Docking
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1701; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091701 - 20 Sep 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1055
Abstract
This experiment compared the stress responses of piglets to tail docking. Two hundred and eighty-eight piglets were allocated to the following treatments at 2 d post-farrowing: (1) sham handling treatment; (2) surgical castration; (3) tail docking using clippers; (4) tail docking using a [...] Read more.
This experiment compared the stress responses of piglets to tail docking. Two hundred and eighty-eight piglets were allocated to the following treatments at 2 d post-farrowing: (1) sham handling treatment; (2) surgical castration; (3) tail docking using clippers; (4) tail docking using a cauterising iron. Blood samples were collected at 15 min, 30 min and 24 h post-treatment and analysed for total plasma cortisol. Behaviours indicative of pain, such as escape attempts, vocalisations and standing with head lowered were measured. Cortisol concentrations at 15 min post-treatment were higher (p < 0.001) in the tail docking and castration treatment groups than the sham handling treatment group, but at 30 min post-treatment, only the clipper and castration treatment groups had higher (p < 0.001) cortisol concentrations than the sham handling treatment. Duration of vocalisations and escape attempts were greater (p < 0.0001) during the castration treatment than the sham and tail docking treatments, but these behaviours occurred less (p < 0.05) in tail-docked piglets than those that were castrated. Piglets undergoing the tail-docked treatments and the castration treatment exhibited more behaviours indicative of pain, such as standing longer (p < 0.05) with the head lowered in the 60 min after treatment, than those in the sham handling treatment group. There were no treatment effects on cortisol concentrations and behaviour at 23–24 h post-treatment. The physiological results at 30 min post-treatment indicate that tail docking with cauterisation may be less aversive than tail docking with clippers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Welfare)
Article
Circulation of Indigenous Bovine Respiratory Syncytial Virus Strains in Turkish Cattle: The First Isolation and Molecular Characterization
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1700; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091700 - 20 Sep 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 949
Abstract
Bovine respiratory disease (BRD) is a huge economic burden on the livestock industries of countries worldwide. Bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV) is one of the most important pathogens that contributes to BRD. In this study, we report the identification and first isolation, with [...] Read more.
Bovine respiratory disease (BRD) is a huge economic burden on the livestock industries of countries worldwide. Bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV) is one of the most important pathogens that contributes to BRD. In this study, we report the identification and first isolation, with molecular characterization, of a new BRSV strain from lung specimens of three beef cows in Turkey that died from respiratory distress. After the screening of lung tissues for BRD-associated viruses using a multiscreen antigen-ELISA, a BRSV antigen was detected. This was then confirmed by real-time RT-PCR specific for BRSV. Following confirmation, virus isolation was conducted in MDBK cell cultures and clear CPE, including syncytia compatible with BRSV, were detected. RT-nested PCR, using F gene-specific primers, was performed on the cultured isolates, and the products were sequenced and deposited to Genbank with accession numbers MT179304, MT024766, and MT0244767. Phylogenetic analysis of these sequences indicated that the cattle were infected with BRSV from subgroup III and were closely related to previously identified American and Turkish strains, but contained some amino acid and nucleotide differences. This research paves the way for further studies on the molecular characteristics of natural BRSV isolates, including full genome analysis and disease pathogenesis, and also contributes to the development of robust national strategies against this virus. Full article
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Article
Tail Docking of Piglets 2: Effects of Meloxicam on the Stress Response to Tail Docking
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1699; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091699 - 20 Sep 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 656
Abstract
This experiment assessed the efficacy of the cauterisation procedure with or without pain relief (injectable meloxicam) in mitigating the acute stress response to tail docking. Male piglets (n = 432) were allocated to the following treatments at 2-d post-farrowing: (1) no handling, [...] Read more.
This experiment assessed the efficacy of the cauterisation procedure with or without pain relief (injectable meloxicam) in mitigating the acute stress response to tail docking. Male piglets (n = 432) were allocated to the following treatments at 2-d post-farrowing: (1) no handling, (2) sham handling, (3) tail docked using clippers, (4) tail docked using a cauteriser, (5) meloxicam + clipper, and (6) meloxicam + cauteriser. Meloxicam treatments used Metacam® at 5 mg/mL injected i.m. 1 h prior to tail docking. Blood samples were collected at 15 and 30 min post-treatment and analysed for total plasma cortisol. Behaviours indicative of pain such as escape attempts, vocalisations and standing with head lowered were measured. The duration of vocalisations and frequency of escape attempts during treatment were greater in all tail docking treatments compared to the sham treatment. Piglets in the clipper treatment had higher (p < 0.05) cortisol concentrations at 30 min but not 15 min after treatment and stood for longer (p < 0.001) with head lowered in the first 60 min after treatment than those in the cauterisation treatment. Meloxicam reduced (p < 0.05) both the cortisol response at 30 min after tail docking with the clipper as well as the behavioural response in the first 60 min after tail docking with the clipper. In comparison to the sham treatment, cortisol concentrations at 15 min were higher in the two tail docking treatments whereas the tail docking treatments with meloxicam were similar to the sham handling treatment. In comparison to the sham handling treatment, cortisol concentrations at 30 min post-docking were higher (p < 0.05) only in the clipper treatment. While cauterisation appears to be less aversive than the clipper procedure, the administration of meloxicam did not mitigate the behavioural response during tail docking using either procedure, but reduced standing with head lowered in the first hour after docking for both methods. The commercial viability of administration of meloxicam requires consideration before it is recommended for use compared to cauterisation alone, as it requires additional handling of piglets and costs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Welfare)
Article
Physiological Response of Pelophylax nigromaculatus Adults to Salinity Exposure
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1698; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091698 - 20 Sep 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 773
Abstract
Many freshwater ecosystems are becoming more saline, and amphibians, which have permeable skin, are sensitive to this change. We studied the physiological responses to high salinity and recovery from saline exposure in adult frogs (Pelophylax nigromaculatus). Frogs that experienced severe salinity [...] Read more.
Many freshwater ecosystems are becoming more saline, and amphibians, which have permeable skin, are sensitive to this change. We studied the physiological responses to high salinity and recovery from saline exposure in adult frogs (Pelophylax nigromaculatus). Frogs that experienced severe salinity were exposed to saline conditions for 6 days, while those in the moderate group were exposed to saline conditions for 40 days, followed by a recovery period in freshwater for 20 days. Our data showed that during exposure to saline conditions of severe and moderate groups, serum electrolytes increased, protein concentrations decreased, and creatinine, an indicator of renal function, sharply increased. However, renal tissue sampled after exposure did not show renal dysfunction. In addition, serum components that changed during exposure to salinity returned to their initial values during the recovery period. Thus, adult anurans can be resilient, to some extent, to saline conditions in habitats that experience either rapid or slow salinity changes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Ecology and Conservation)
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Case Report
Dystocia after Unwanted Mating as One of the Risk Factors in Non-Spayed Bitches—A Retrospective Study
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1697; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091697 - 19 Sep 2020
Viewed by 823
Abstract
This article presents a retrospective study on dystocia cases in bitches that were unintentionally mated and carried an unwanted pregnancy in the last 39 years. The evaluated medical records include 76 cases of difficult labour, which is 8.3% of 914 dystocia cases recorded [...] Read more.
This article presents a retrospective study on dystocia cases in bitches that were unintentionally mated and carried an unwanted pregnancy in the last 39 years. The evaluated medical records include 76 cases of difficult labour, which is 8.3% of 914 dystocia cases recorded during the period. Of these bitches, 38.2% (29/76) were 8 years, and 18.4% (14/76) were younger than 12 months. In 67/76 cases (88.2%), conservative (pharmacological and manual) obstetrical assistance proved to be unsuccessful, and caesarian section (CS) had to be performed, in contrast to the remaining recorded cases of dystocia (in which the pregnancy was intended and expected) when CS was performed significantly less often, in 71.5% (599/838) of cases. In unplanned pregnancies, 46.6% (110/236) of delivered pups were dead compared to only 26.4% (864/3273) dead pups in planned pregnancies. p value < 0.05 was considered significant. Despite the widespread availability of the spaying procedure nowadays and its safety, unplanned and unwanted pregnancies in dogs are still a concern in clinical practice. However, throughout the years investigated here, we observed an apparent decrease in the occurrence of dystocia after unintended mating, with much less recorded cases from year 2004 (71 vs. 5). Most probably, this is due to the increasing popularity of surgical castration in both females and males, and rising societal awareness of its importance, giving hope that some improvement in the welfare of dogs has already been achieved. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Reproduction)
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Article
Urinary Reference Values and First Insight into the Urinary Proteome of Captive Giraffes
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1696; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091696 - 19 Sep 2020
Viewed by 780
Abstract
Urinalysis is widely recognized to be a useful tool in routine health investigations, since it can diagnose numerous pathologies. Considering the paucity of knowledge concerning giraffes, urine from 44 giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis) (18 males and 26 females, from 3 months of [...] Read more.
Urinalysis is widely recognized to be a useful tool in routine health investigations, since it can diagnose numerous pathologies. Considering the paucity of knowledge concerning giraffes, urine from 44 giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis) (18 males and 26 females, from 3 months of age to 21 years of age) underwent routine urinalysis, 1D-electrophoresis, and protein identification using mass spectrometry, with the aim of identifying the urinary reference values and the urine proteome. The urine specific gravity (USG), urine total proteins (uTP), urine creatinine (uCr), and urine protein:creatinine ratio (UPC) reference values, reported as the median, and lower limit (LL) and upper limit (UL), were 1.030 (1006–1.049), 17.58 (4.54–35.31) mg/dL, 154.62 (39.59–357.95) mg/dL, and 0.11 (0.07–0.16), respectively. Mass spectrometry, together with electrophoresis, revealed a pattern of common urinary proteins; albumin, lysozyme C, and ubiquitin were the most represented proteins in the giraffe urine. It has been hypothesized that these proteins could act as a defense against microbes. Moreover, in giraffes, urinalysis could be a valid tool for gauging renal function and physiological status changes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomarkers in Animal Health and Disease)
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Commentary
Ethical and Societal Issues Occasioned by Xenotransplantation
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1695; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091695 - 19 Sep 2020
Viewed by 964
Abstract
There are three sorts of issues associated with genetic engineering and, by implication, with xenotransplantation. These are dangers associated with the technology, animal welfare issues, and the claim that genetic engineering represents a technology that humans should not embark upon. Using the hearts [...] Read more.
There are three sorts of issues associated with genetic engineering and, by implication, with xenotransplantation. These are dangers associated with the technology, animal welfare issues, and the claim that genetic engineering represents a technology that humans should not embark upon. Using the hearts of pigs for humans in need of transplants has been a major issue in xenotransplantation. There are dangers associated with such use, such as immunological rejection of the organ, endogenous viruses infecting the recipients, and issues of privacy. In addition, the issue of fair distribution of organs arises. Animal welfare issues also arise, most notably the living conditions of the donor animals, issues notably present in confinement agriculture. A major issue emerges from animals’ being kept under conditions that fail to meet the needs dictated by the animals’ biological and psychological natures. Xenotransplantation animals will be kept under deprived laboratory conditions that similarly fail to meet the animals’ natures. This is a significant concern for society in general. There are also issues of “bad ethics” arising from scientists’ disavowal of ethical concerns in science. This in turn, coupled with societal ignorance of science, creates a climate for proliferation of religious and other non-rational concerns, such as the claim that xenotransplantation violates God’s will. These spurious concerns can only be ameliorated when public understanding of science improves, and scientific understanding of ethics increases. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Human-Animal Interactions, Animal Behaviour and Emotion)
Communication
MHC Genotyping by SSCP and Amplicon-Based NGS Approach in Chamois
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1694; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091694 - 18 Sep 2020
Viewed by 831
Abstract
Genes of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) code for cell surface proteins essential for adaptive immunity. They show the most outstanding genetic diversity in vertebrates, which has been connected with various fitness traits and thus with the long-term persistence of populations. In this [...] Read more.
Genes of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) code for cell surface proteins essential for adaptive immunity. They show the most outstanding genetic diversity in vertebrates, which has been connected with various fitness traits and thus with the long-term persistence of populations. In this study, polymorphism of the MHC class II DRB locus was investigated in chamois with Single-Strand Conformation Polymorphism (SSCP)/Sanger genotyping and Ion Torrent S5 next-generation sequencing (NGS). From eight identified DRB variants in 28 individuals, five had already been described, and three were new, undescribed alleles. With conventional SSCP/Sanger sequencing, we were able to detect seven alleles, all of which were also detected with NGS. We found inconsistencies in the individual genotypes between the two methods, which were mainly caused by allelic dropout in the SSCP/Sanger method. Six out of 28 individuals were falsely classified as homozygous with SSCP/Sanger analysis. Overall, 25% of the individuals were identified as genotyping discrepancies between the two methods. Our results show that NGS technologies are better performing in sequencing highly variable regions such as the MHC, and they also have a higher detection capacity, thus allowing a more accurate description of the genetic composition, which is crucial for evolutionary and population genetic studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Genetics and Genomics)
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Article
Goat Milk Nutritional Quality Software-Automatized Individual Curve Model Fitting, Shape Parameters Calculation and Bayesian Flexibility Criteria Comparison
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1693; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091693 - 18 Sep 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 725
Abstract
SPSS syntax was described to evaluate the individual performance of 49 linear and non-linear models to fit the milk component evolution curve of 159 Murciano-Granadina does selected for genotyping analyses. Peak and persistence for protein, fat, dry matter, lactose, and somatic cell counts [...] Read more.
SPSS syntax was described to evaluate the individual performance of 49 linear and non-linear models to fit the milk component evolution curve of 159 Murciano-Granadina does selected for genotyping analyses. Peak and persistence for protein, fat, dry matter, lactose, and somatic cell counts were evaluated using 3107 controls (3.91 ± 2.01 average lactations/goat). Best-fit (adjusted R2) values (0.548, 0.374, 0.429, and 0.624 for protein, fat, dry matter, and lactose content, respectively) were reached by the five-parameter logarithmic model of Ali and Schaeffer (ALISCH), and for the three-parameter model of parabolic yield-density (PARYLDENS) for somatic cell counts (0.481). Cross-validation was performed using the Minimum Mean-Square Error (MMSE). Model comparison was performed using Residual Sum of Squares (RSS), Mean-Squared Prediction Error (MSPE), adjusted R2 and its standard deviation (SD), Akaike (AIC), corrected Akaike (AICc), and Bayesian information criteria (BIC). The adjusted R2 SD across individuals was around 0.2 for all models. Thirty-nine models successfully fitted the individual lactation curve for all components. Parametric and computational complexity promote variability-capturing properties, while model flexibility does not significantly (p > 0.05) improve the predictive and explanatory potential. Conclusively, ALISCH and PARYLDENS can be used to study goat milk composition genetic variability as trustable evaluation models to face future challenges of the goat dairy industry. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Products Quality and Characterization)
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Review
African Lions and Zoonotic Diseases: Implications for Commercial Lion Farms in South Africa
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1692; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091692 - 18 Sep 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2825
Abstract
African lions (Panthera leo) are bred in captivity on commercial farms across South Africa and often have close contact with farm staff, tourists, and other industry workers. As transmission of zoonotic diseases occurs through close proximity between wildlife and humans, these [...] Read more.
African lions (Panthera leo) are bred in captivity on commercial farms across South Africa and often have close contact with farm staff, tourists, and other industry workers. As transmission of zoonotic diseases occurs through close proximity between wildlife and humans, these commercial captive breeding operations pose a potential risk to thousands of captive lions and to public health. An understanding of pathogens known to affect lions is needed to effectively assess the risk of disease emergence and transmission within the industry. Here, we conduct a systematic search of the academic literature, identifying 148 peer-reviewed studies, to summarize the range of pathogens and parasites known to affect African lions. A total of 63 pathogenic organisms were recorded, belonging to 35 genera across 30 taxonomic families. Over half were parasites (35, 56%), followed by viruses (17, 27%) and bacteria (11, 17%). A number of novel pathogens representing unidentified and undescribed species were also reported. Among the pathogenic inventory are species that can be transmitted from lions to other species, including humans. In addition, 83 clinical symptoms and diseases associated with these pathogens were identified. Given the risks posed by infectious diseases, this research highlights the potential public health risks associated with the captive breeding industry. We recommend that relevant authorities take imminent action to help prevent and manage the risks posed by zoonotic pathogens on lion farms. Full article
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Article
E4 Transcription Factor 1 (E4F1) Regulates Sertoli Cell Proliferation and Fertility in Mice
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1691; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091691 - 18 Sep 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 842
Abstract
In the mammalian testes, Sertoli cells are the only somatic cells in the seminiferous tubules that provide structural, nutritional and regulatory support for developing spermatogenic cells. Sertoli cells only proliferate during the fetal and neonatal periods and enter a quiescent state after puberty. [...] Read more.
In the mammalian testes, Sertoli cells are the only somatic cells in the seminiferous tubules that provide structural, nutritional and regulatory support for developing spermatogenic cells. Sertoli cells only proliferate during the fetal and neonatal periods and enter a quiescent state after puberty. Functional evidences suggest that the size of Sertoli cell population determines sperm production and fertility. However, factors that direct Sertoli cell proliferation and maturation are not fully understood. Transcription factor E4F1 is a multifunctional protein that serves essential roles in cell fate decisions and because it interacts with pRB, a master regulator of Sertoli cell function, we hypothesized that E4F1 may have a functional role in Sertoli cells. E4f1 mRNA was present in murine testis and immunohistochemical staining confirmed that E4F1 was enriched in mature Sertoli cells. We generated a conditional knockout mouse model using Amh-cre and E4f1flox/flox lines to study E4F1 fucntion in Sertoli cells and the results showed that E4f1 deletion caused a significant reduction in testis size and fertility. Further analyses revealed that meiosis progression and spermiogenesis were normal, however, Sertoli cell proliferation was impaired and germ cell apoptosis was elevated in the testis of E4f1 conditional knockout mice. On the basis of these findings, we concluded that E4F1 was expressed in murine Sertoli cells and served important functions in regulating Sertoli cell proliferation and fertility. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Insights into Animal Spermatogenesis)
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Review
Review: Application and Prospective Discussion of Machine Learning for the Management of Dairy Farms
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1690; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091690 - 18 Sep 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1213
Abstract
Dairy farmers use herd management systems, behavioral sensors, feeding lists, breeding schedules, and health records to document herd characteristics. Consequently, large amounts of dairy data are becoming available. However, a lack of data integration makes it difficult for farmers to analyze the data [...] Read more.
Dairy farmers use herd management systems, behavioral sensors, feeding lists, breeding schedules, and health records to document herd characteristics. Consequently, large amounts of dairy data are becoming available. However, a lack of data integration makes it difficult for farmers to analyze the data on their dairy farm, which indicates that these data are currently not being used to their full potential. Hence, multiple issues in dairy farming such as low longevity, poor performance, and health issues remain. We aimed to evaluate whether machine learning (ML) methods can solve some of these existing issues in dairy farming. This review summarizes peer-reviewed ML papers published in the dairy sector between 2015 and 2020. Ultimately, 97 papers from the subdomains of management, physiology, reproduction, behavior analysis, and feeding were considered in this review. The results confirm that ML algorithms have become common tools in most areas of dairy research, particularly to predict data. Despite the quantity of research available, most tested algorithms have not performed sufficiently for a reliable implementation in practice. This may be due to poor training data. The availability of data resources from multiple farms covering longer periods would be useful to improve prediction accuracies. In conclusion, ML is a promising tool in dairy research, which could be used to develop and improve decision support for farmers. As the cow is a multifactorial system, ML algorithms could analyze integrated data sources that describe and ultimately allow managing cows according to all relevant influencing factors. However, both the integration of multiple data sources and the obtainability of public data currently remain challenging. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Improving Milk Quality through Farm Management and Technology)
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Article
Development of a Benchmarking Tool for Dairy Herd Management Using Routinely Collected Herd Records
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1689; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091689 - 18 Sep 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 841
Abstract
Continuous assessment of the herd status is important in order to monitor and adjust to changes in the welfare and health status but can be time consuming and expensive. In this study, herd status indicators from routinely collected dairy herd improvement (DHI) records [...] Read more.
Continuous assessment of the herd status is important in order to monitor and adjust to changes in the welfare and health status but can be time consuming and expensive. In this study, herd status indicators from routinely collected dairy herd improvement (DHI) records were used to develop a remote herd assessment tool with the aim to help producers and advisors benchmark the herd status and identify herd management issues affecting welfare and health. Thirteen DHI indicators were selected from an initial set of 72 potential indicators collected on 4324 dairy herds in Eastern Canada. Data were normalized to percentile ranks and aggregated to a composite herd status index (HSI) with equal weights among indicators. Robustness analyses indicated little fluctuation for herds with a small HSI (low status) or large HSI (high status), suggesting that herds in need of support could be prioritized and effectively monitored over time, limiting the need for time-consuming farm visits. This tool allows evaluating herds relative to their peers through the composite index and highlighting specific areas with opportunities for improvements through the individual indicators. This procedure could be applied to similar multidimensional livestock farming issues, such as environmental and socio-economic studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dairy Cow Health and Welfare)
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