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Animals, Volume 11, Issue 6 (June 2021) – 366 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Commercial pigs are exposed to several stressful situations as part of routine production, including painful husbandry procedures, close contact with stockpeople, exposure to novel environments, weaning and mixing with unfamiliar pigs. Stress resilience has obvious implications for pigs, as an impaired ability to cope with these routine stressors is likely to negatively affect pig welfare and productivity. Stress resilience can be shaped by several early-life environmental experiences, and for pigs, the physical environment, maternal care from the sow and interactions with humans are likely candidates. This research examined the effects of lactation housing systems and positive human interaction on stress in young pigs. View this paper
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Article
Expression of Transforming Growth Factor Beta Isoforms in Canine Endometrium with Cystic Endometrial Hyperplasia–Pyometra Complex
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1844; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061844 - 21 Jun 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 944
Abstract
Cystic endometrial hyperplasia (CEH) and pyometra are the most frequently diagnosed uterine diseases affecting bitches of different ages. Transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) has been classified in females as a potential regulator of many endometrial changes during the estrous cycle or may be [...] Read more.
Cystic endometrial hyperplasia (CEH) and pyometra are the most frequently diagnosed uterine diseases affecting bitches of different ages. Transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) has been classified in females as a potential regulator of many endometrial changes during the estrous cycle or may be involved in pathological disorders. The aim of this study was to determine the expression of TGF-β1, -β2 and -β3 in the endometrium of bitches suffering from CEH or a CEH–pyometra complex compared to clinically healthy females (control group; CG). A significantly increased level of TGF-β1 mRNA expression was observed in the endometrium with CEH–pyometra compared to CEH and CG. Protein production of TGF-β1 was identified only in the endometrium of bitches with CEH–pyometra. An increase in TGF-β3 mRNA expression was observed in all the studied groups compared to CG. The expression of TGF-β2 mRNA was significantly higher in CEH and lower in CEH–pyometra uteri. The results indicate the presence of TGF-β cytokines in canine endometrial tissues affected by proliferative and degenerative changes. However, among all TGF-β isoforms, TGF-β1 could potentially be a key factor involved in the regulation of the endometrium in bitches with CEH–pyometra complex. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Uterine Meaning in Diseases of Animals)
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Article
Antinematode Activity of Abomasum Bacterial Culture Filtrates against Haemonchus contortus in Small Ruminants
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1843; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061843 - 21 Jun 2021
Viewed by 824
Abstract
Haemonchosis is a parasitic disease of small ruminants that adversely affects livestock production. Haemonchus contortus is one of the most prevalent nematode parasites that infect the abomasum of small ruminants. This parasite reduces milk production, overall growth and sometimes causes the death of [...] Read more.
Haemonchosis is a parasitic disease of small ruminants that adversely affects livestock production. Haemonchus contortus is one of the most prevalent nematode parasites that infect the abomasum of small ruminants. This parasite reduces milk production, overall growth and sometimes causes the death of the infected animals. The evaluation of the biocontrol potential of some abomasum bacterial isolates against H. contortus is investigated in this study. Out of which, three isolates—Comamonas testosteroni, Comamonas jiangduensis, Pseudomonas weihenstephanesis—show significant effect against the nematode L3, adult, and egg hatch inhibition assays. Various concentrations of metabolites from these bacteria are prepared and applied in different treatments compared with control. In the case of adult mortality assay, 50% metabolites of C. testosteroni and P. weihenstephanesis show 46% adult mortality, whereas C. jiangduensis shows 40% mortality. It is observed that decreasing the concentration of bacterial metabolite, lowers nematode mortality. The minimum nematode mortality rate is recorded at the lowest filtrates concentration of all the bacterial isolates. The same trend is observed in egg hatch inhibition assay, where the higher concentration of bacterial culture filtrates shows 100% inhibition of H. contortus egg. It is concluded that the effect of bacterial culture filtrates against H. contortus is dose-dependent for their activity against nematode L3, adult, and inhibition of egg hatchment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Antimicrobial Resistance in Veterinary Medicine and Public Health)
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Article
Serological Survey on the Occurrence of Rickettsia spp., Neospora caninum, Bartonella henselae and Toxoplasma gondii in Cats from Tuscany (Central Italy)
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1842; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061842 - 21 Jun 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 764
Abstract
Asymptomatic cats often harbor pathogens, some of which have not been largely investigated in feline populations. The aim of this study was to evaluate the occurrence of antibodies against Rickettsia conorii, Rickettsia felis, Rickettsia typhi, Neospora caninum, Bartonella henselae [...] Read more.
Asymptomatic cats often harbor pathogens, some of which have not been largely investigated in feline populations. The aim of this study was to evaluate the occurrence of antibodies against Rickettsia conorii, Rickettsia felis, Rickettsia typhi, Neospora caninum, Bartonella henselae and Toxoplasma gondii in cats from Tuscany. Ninety-five blood serum samples, previously collected, were analyzed by indirect immunofluorescence assay. Fifty-six (58.94%) cats had antibodies to at least one investigated pathogen: 28 (29.47%) cats were positive for B. henselae, 17 (17.89%) for R. felis, 14 (14.73%) for R. conorii, 14 (14.73%) for T. gondii, 2 (2.1%) for N. caninum. No cats were positive for R. typhi. Positive reactions to two or more pathogens were detected in 18 (18.94%) cats. The occurrence of antibodies against these microorganisms suggests that cats, even though asymptomatic, may be infected by pathogens, often zoonotic, and thus may be a source of infections for other animals and humans. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Infectious and Parasitic Diseases of Cats)
Article
Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria in Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) Rearing Seawater
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1841; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061841 - 21 Jun 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 806
Abstract
Antibiotic resistance of microorganisms is a serious health problem for both humans and animals. Infection of these bacteria may result in therapy failure, leading to high mortality rates. During an early intervention program process, the Sea Turtle Conservation Center of Thailand (STCCT) has [...] Read more.
Antibiotic resistance of microorganisms is a serious health problem for both humans and animals. Infection of these bacteria may result in therapy failure, leading to high mortality rates. During an early intervention program process, the Sea Turtle Conservation Center of Thailand (STCCT) has faced high mortality rates due to bacterial infection. Previously, investigation of juvenile turtle carcasses found etiological agents in tissue lesions. Further determination of sea water in the turtle holding tanks revealed a prevalence of these causative agents in water samples, implying association of bacterial isolates in rearing water and infection in captive turtles. In this study, we examined the antibiotic resistance of bacteria in seawater from the turtle holding tank for a management plan of juvenile turtles with bacterial infection. The examination was carried out in three periods: 2015 to 2016, 2018, and 2019. The highest isolate numbers were resistant to beta-lactam, whilst low aminoglycoside resistance rates were observed. No gentamicin-resistant isolate was detected. Seventy-nine isolates (71.17%) were resistant to at least one antibiotic. Consideration of resistant bacterial and antibiotic numbers over three sampling periods indicated increased risk of antibiotic-resistant bacteria to sea turtle health. Essentially, this study emphasizes the importance of antibiotic-resistant bacterial assessment in rearing seawater for sea turtle husbandry. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Veterinary Sciences and Sea Turtles)
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Article
Genome-Wide Associations for Microscopic Differential Somatic Cell Count and Specific Mastitis Pathogens in Holstein Cows in Compost-Bedded Pack and Cubicle Farming Systems
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1839; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061839 - 21 Jun 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 870
Abstract
The aim of the present study was to detect significant SNP (single-nucleotide polymorphism) effects and to annotate potential candidate genes for novel udder health traits in two different farming systems. We focused on specific mastitis pathogens and differential somatic cell fractions from 2198 [...] Read more.
The aim of the present study was to detect significant SNP (single-nucleotide polymorphism) effects and to annotate potential candidate genes for novel udder health traits in two different farming systems. We focused on specific mastitis pathogens and differential somatic cell fractions from 2198 udder quarters of 537 genotyped Holstein Friesian cows. The farming systems comprised compost-bedded pack and conventional cubicle barns. We developed a computer algorithm for genome-wide association studies allowing the estimation of main SNP effects plus consideration of SNPs by farming system interactions. With regard to the main effect, 35 significant SNPs were detected on 14 different chromosomes for the cell fractions and the pathogens. Six SNPs were significant for the interaction effect with the farming system for most of the udder health traits. We inferred two possible candidate genes based on significant SNP interactions. HEMK1 plays a role in the development of the immune system, depending on environmental stressors. CHL1 is regulated in relation to stress level and influences immune system mechanisms. The significant interactions indicate that gene activity can fluctuate depending on environmental stressors. Phenotypically, the prevalence of mastitis indicators differed between systems, with a notably lower prevalence of minor bacterial indicators in compost systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Cattle)
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Article
The Comparison of Latero-Medial versus Dorso-Palmar/Plantar Drilling for Cartilage Removal in the Proximal Interphalangeal Joint
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1838; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061838 - 21 Jun 2021
Viewed by 633
Abstract
The aims of the present study were to compare the percentages of articular cartilage removed using a lateral drilling approach of the proximal interphalangeal joint (PIPJ) and a dorsal drilling approach, and to assess the usefulness of digital fluoroscopy when performing a lateral [...] Read more.
The aims of the present study were to compare the percentages of articular cartilage removed using a lateral drilling approach of the proximal interphalangeal joint (PIPJ) and a dorsal drilling approach, and to assess the usefulness of digital fluoroscopy when performing a lateral drilling approach. Sixty cadaveric PIPJs were drilled using a surgical drill bit to remove the articular cartilage. The limbs were divided into three groups containing 10 forelimbs and 10 hindlimbs each. One group received the dorsal drilling approach, the second one received the lateral drilling approach and the last one received the lateral drilling approach under digital fluoroscopy guidance. The percentage of articular cartilage removed from each articular surface was assessed using Adobe Photoshop ® software. The percentages of removed cartilage turned out to be significantly higher with lateral approach, especially under fluoroscopic guidance, both in the forelimbs (p = 0.00712) and hindlimbs (p = 0.00962). In conclusion, the lateral drilling approach seems to be a minimally invasive technique with which to perform PIPJ arthrodesis, even more efficient than the previously reported dorsal approach. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Equine Surgery and Medicine)
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Article
Modified Black Soldier Fly Larva Fat in Broiler Diet: Effects on Performance, Carcass Traits, Blood Parameters, Histomorphological Features and Gut Microbiota
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1837; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061837 - 21 Jun 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1220
Abstract
In this study, a total of 200 male broiler chickens (Ross 308) were assigned to four dietary treatments (5 pens/treatment and 10 birds/pen) for two feeding phases: starter (0–11 days of age) and grower-finisher (11–33 days of age). A basal diet containing soy [...] Read more.
In this study, a total of 200 male broiler chickens (Ross 308) were assigned to four dietary treatments (5 pens/treatment and 10 birds/pen) for two feeding phases: starter (0–11 days of age) and grower-finisher (11–33 days of age). A basal diet containing soy oil (SO) as added fat was used as control group (C), tested against three experimental diets where the SO was partially substituted by BSF larvae fat (BSF) or one of two types of modified BSF larvae fat (MBSF1 and MBSF2, respectively). The two modified BSF larvae fats had a high and low ratio of monobutyrin to monoglycerides of medium chain fatty acid, respectively. Diet did not influence the growth or slaughter performance, pH, color, or the chemical composition of breast and thigh muscles, gut morphometric indices, or histopathological alterations in all the organs. As far as fecal microbiota are concerned, MBSF1 and MBSF2 diets reduced the presence of Clostridium and Corynebacterium, which can frequently cause infection in poultry. In conclusion, modified BSF larva fat may positively modulate the fecal microbiota of broiler chickens without influencing the growth performance and intestinal morphology or showing any adverse histopathological alternations. Full article
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Article
Uncoupling Protein-1 (UCP1) in the Adult Horse: Correlations with Body Weight, Rectal Temperature and Lipid Profile
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1836; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061836 - 20 Jun 2021
Viewed by 743
Abstract
This study aimed to evaluate the possible relationship among UCP1, body weight, rectal temperature and lipid profile in the horse. Thirty clinically healthy Italian Saddle geldings (6–10 years old) were enrolled after the informed owners’ consent. All horses were blood sampled and their [...] Read more.
This study aimed to evaluate the possible relationship among UCP1, body weight, rectal temperature and lipid profile in the horse. Thirty clinically healthy Italian Saddle geldings (6–10 years old) were enrolled after the informed owners’ consent. All horses were blood sampled and their body weight and rectal temperatures were recorded. On the sera obtained after blood centrifugation the concentration of UCP1, total lipids, phospholipids, non-esterified fatty acids (NEFAs), triglycerides, total cholesterol, high density lipoproteins (HDLs), low density lipoproteins (LDLs) and very low density lipoprotein fraction (VLDLs) was evaluated. Pearson’s correlation analysis was applied to assess the possible relationship between serum UCP1 concentration and the values of body weight, rectal temperature and lipid parameters. Serum UCP1 concentration showed no correlation with body weight, rectal temperature, HDLs and LDLs values, whereas it correlated negatively with serum total lipids, phospholipids, NEFAs, total cholesterol, triglycerides and VLDLs values (p < 0.0001). The findings suggest that in the adult horse the role of UCP1 is linked to the lipid metabolism rather than to thermoregulation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Equids)
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Article
An Investigation into the Influence of Different Types of Nesting Materials upon the Welfare of Captive Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1835; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061835 - 20 Jun 2021
Viewed by 1315
Abstract
Ensuring the welfare of captive chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) is crucial, in part because they can act as a conservation resource in the case of wild populations becoming extinct. One strategy often adopted to ensure animal welfare is environmental enrichment. In this [...] Read more.
Ensuring the welfare of captive chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) is crucial, in part because they can act as a conservation resource in the case of wild populations becoming extinct. One strategy often adopted to ensure animal welfare is environmental enrichment. In this study, we investigated the impact of different nesting materials (leaves and branches, long grass, cotton sheets, and shredded newspaper) upon the welfare of chimpanzees housed at Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary (Sierra Leone). Data was collected on 20 subjects (aged 4 to 15 years) between November 2019 and March 2020. Welfare was based on individuals’ relative frequency of affiliative, abnormal and agonistic behaviours, as well as their social and behavioural competence. We found that individuals’ welfare was higher when presented with nesting materials (compared to the control and post-treatment conditions), particularly when given shredded newspaper, regardless of whether the material was presented separately or in conjunction with another. In addition, welfare was highest: during the morning (vs evening); in groups of older individuals (vs younger); with females engaging in less agonistic behaviours compared to males; and males displaying relatively higher behavioural competence. Our results support previous research that captive chimpanzees be supplied with destructible nesting materials, and demonstrate that synthetic enrichments can indeed have a more positive impact upon welfare than their natural alternatives. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Non-human Primates: Emotion, Cognition and Welfare)
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Review
Usefulness of Imaging Techniques in the Diagnosis of Selected Injuries and Lesions of the Canine Tarsus. A Review
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1834; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061834 - 19 Jun 2021
Viewed by 844
Abstract
Tarsus lesions are not common in dogs, but they can cause serious health problem. They can lead to permanent changes in the joint and, in dogs involved in canine sports, to exclusion from training. The most common diseases and injuries involving the tarsal [...] Read more.
Tarsus lesions are not common in dogs, but they can cause serious health problem. They can lead to permanent changes in the joint and, in dogs involved in canine sports, to exclusion from training. The most common diseases and injuries involving the tarsal joint are osteochondrosis, fractures and ruptures of the Achilles tendon. These conditions can be diagnosed primarily through accurate orthopedic examination, but even this may be insufficient for performing a proper diagnosis. Imaging modalities such as radiography, ultrasonography, magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography can facilitate the detection and assessment of lesions in the canine tarsal joint. This review paper briefly presents some characteristics of the above-mentioned imaging techniques, offering a comparison of their utility in the diagnosis of lesions and injuries involving the canine tarsus. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Image-Guided Veterinary Surgery)
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Review
Potential Use of Gut Microbiota Composition as a Biomarker of Heat Stress in Monogastric Species: A Review
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1833; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061833 - 19 Jun 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1404
Abstract
Heat stress is a current challenge for livestock production, and its impact could dramatically increase if global temperatures continue to climb. Exposure of agricultural animals to high ambient temperatures and humidity would lead to substantial economic losses because it compromises animal performance, productivity, [...] Read more.
Heat stress is a current challenge for livestock production, and its impact could dramatically increase if global temperatures continue to climb. Exposure of agricultural animals to high ambient temperatures and humidity would lead to substantial economic losses because it compromises animal performance, productivity, health, and welfare. The gut microbiota plays essential roles in nutrient absorption, energy balance, and immune defenses through profound symbiotic interactions with the host. The homeostasis of those diverse gut microorganisms is critical for the host’s overall health and welfare status and also is sensitive to environmental stressors, like heat stress, reflected in altered composition and functionality. This article aims to summarize the research progress on the interactions between heat stress and gut microbiome and discuss the potential use of the gut microbiota composition as a biomarker of heat stress in monogastric animal species. A comprehensive understanding of the gut microbiota’s role in responding to or regulating physiological activities induced by heat stress would contribute to developing mitigation strategies. Full article
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Article
Adrenal Gland Ultrasonographic Measurements and Plasma Hormone Concentrations in Clinically Healthy Newborn Thoroughbred and Standardbred Foals
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1832; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061832 - 19 Jun 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 997
Abstract
Adrenal hormones, ACTH plasma concentrations and the ultrasonographic evaluation of the adrenal glands are considered complementary in clinical evaluations of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis function in several species. In dogs, age, size and weight have a significant effect on the ultrasonographic size of [...] Read more.
Adrenal hormones, ACTH plasma concentrations and the ultrasonographic evaluation of the adrenal glands are considered complementary in clinical evaluations of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis function in several species. In dogs, age, size and weight have a significant effect on the ultrasonographic size of the adrenal glands. In neonatal foals, ultrasonographic evaluation and measurements of the adrenal glands have been demonstrated to be reliable; however, the effect of individual variables on ultrasonographic features has not been investigated, and the clinical usefulness of adrenal gland ultrasonography is still not known. The aims of this study were: (i) to provide and compare adrenal glands ultrasound measurements in healthy newborn Thoroughbred and Standardbred foals, and assess any effect of age, weight and sex on them; (ii) to assess and compare ACTH and steroid hormone concentrations in healthy neonatal foals of the two breeds. Venous blood samples and ultrasonographic images of the adrenal glands were collected from 10 healthy neonatal Thoroughbred and 10 healthy neonatal Standardbred foals. Ultrasonographic measurements of the adrenal glands were obtained and adrenocorticotropin (ACTH), cortisol, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), progesterone (P4) and aldosterone plasma concentrations were assessed. The ACTH/cortisol, ACTH/progesterone, ACTH/aldosterone, ACTH/DHEA and cortisol/DHEA ratios were calculated. A significant positive correlation was found between the height of the right adrenal gland and the foal’s weight; the width of the right and left adrenal gland and the medulla was significantly lower in Thoroughbreds than in Standardbreds. Cortisol and ACTH plasma concentrations were significantly higher and lower, respectively, in Thoroughbreds compared with Standardbreds. The cortisol/DHEA ratio was significantly higher in Thoroughbreds. This study provides reference ranges for neonatal Thoroughbred and Standardbred foals, and suggests the presence of breed-related differences in ultrasonographic adrenal gland measurements, plasmatic cortisol and ACTH concentrations. The higher cortisol/DHEA ratio detected in Thoroughbred foals could suggest a different response to environmental stimulation in the two breeds. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Equids Medicine, Orthopedic and Surgery)
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Communication
Lack of Evidence That Bird Feeders Are a Source of Salmonellosis during Winter in Poland
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1831; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061831 - 19 Jun 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 905
Abstract
Bird feeders are known to be a transfer site for many important bird pathogens, such as zoonotic Salmonella spp., known to be widespread among wild birds in Poland. The aim of the study was to investigate (1) whether feeders can be a source [...] Read more.
Bird feeders are known to be a transfer site for many important bird pathogens, such as zoonotic Salmonella spp., known to be widespread among wild birds in Poland. The aim of the study was to investigate (1) whether feeders can be a source of Salmonella spp., (2) whether the risk is the same for feeders located in cities and rural areas and (3) whether there is a different level of contamination with Salmonella spp. between old and new feeders. Data were collected in the period 12 January–28 February 2018 in four cities in Poland and nearby rural areas. In total, 204 feeders were sampled. The samples from feeders were taken after a 2-week period of feeding birds. Material for analysis consisted of the remains of food and feces. We did not find the presence of Salmonella spp. in any of the tested samples collected from bird feeders. Therefore, the estimated value of the 95% confidence interval for the binary data was 0.000–0.018. Reasons for the isolation of Salmonella spp. from feeders not being successful lie in the low intensity of bacterial shedding by infected wild birds and low survival of bacteria in the environment in bird feces—which are still not well studied. Full article
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Article
A Retrospective Analysis of Typologies of Animal Abuse Recorded by the SPCA, Hong Kong
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1830; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061830 - 19 Jun 2021
Viewed by 1603
Abstract
We conducted a retrospective study of 254 suspected cruelty offences recorded by the Hong Kong Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) between January 2013 and December 2019. Cases were categorised into four types of abuse: active maltreatment, passive neglect, commercial [...] Read more.
We conducted a retrospective study of 254 suspected cruelty offences recorded by the Hong Kong Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) between January 2013 and December 2019. Cases were categorised into four types of abuse: active maltreatment, passive neglect, commercial exploitation and hoarding. Attributes of defendants, relationship with the owner of the animal (where the owner was not the defendant) and the circumstances of the abuse (species of animal, number of animals involved, type of harm, need for medical care, number of animals seized) were recorded for each case. The majority of prosecuted cases involved traumatic physical injury to dogs, with 30% causing the death of animals. The second most common type of harm prosecuted was neglect, with 27% of cases causing death. The majority of neglect cases involved dogs abandoned inside private premises without food/water. The median number of animals hoarded was 47, with dogs the most common species. The majority of hoarders had collected their animals from strays. The largest hoarding cases (>100 animals) were operating as animal rescue shelters. Strategies to address cruelty to animals in Hong Kong can be informed by an understanding of which species are at greater risk of harm and in what circumstances this harm might occur. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Animal Welfare Policies and Practices)
Article
Impact of Dietary Crude Protein Level on Hepatic Lipid Metabolism in Weaned Female Piglets
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1829; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061829 - 18 Jun 2021
Viewed by 880
Abstract
Amino acids serve not only as building blocks for proteins, but also as substrates for the synthesis of low-molecular-weight substances involved in hepatic lipid metabolism. In the present study, eighteen weaned female piglets at 35 days of age were fed a corn- and [...] Read more.
Amino acids serve not only as building blocks for proteins, but also as substrates for the synthesis of low-molecular-weight substances involved in hepatic lipid metabolism. In the present study, eighteen weaned female piglets at 35 days of age were fed a corn- and soybean meal-based diet containing 20%, 17%, or 14% crude protein (CP), respectively. We found that 17% or 20% CP administration reduced the triglyceride and cholesterol concentrations, while enhanced high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) concentration in serum. Western blot analysis showed that piglets in the 20% CP group had higher protein abundance of hormone-sensitive triglyceride lipase (HSL) and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ coactivator 1α (PGC-1α), as compared with other groups. Moreover, the mRNA expression of sterol regulatory element binding transcription factor 1 (SREBPF1), fatty acid synthase (FASN), and stearoyl-CoA desaturase (SCD) were lower in the 17% or 20% CP group, compared with those of the piglets administered with 14% CP. Of note, the mRNA level of acetyl-CoA carboxylase alpha (ACACα) was lower in the 17% CP group, compared with other groups. Additionally, the mRNA level of lipoprotein lipase (LPL), peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha α (PPARα), glucose-6-phosphatase catalytic subunit (G6PC), and phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase 1 (PKC1) in the liver of piglets in the 20% CP group were higher than those of the 14% CP group. Collectively, our results demonstrated that dietary CP could regulate hepatic lipid metabolism through altering hepatic lipid lipogenesis, lipolysis, oxidation, and gluconeogenesis. Full article
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Article
Sperm Behavior and Response to Melatonin under Capacitating Conditions in Three Sheep Breeds Subject to the Equatorial Photoperiod
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1828; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061828 - 18 Jun 2021
Viewed by 679
Abstract
In this study, we demonstrated that, in seasonal Mediterranean ovine breeds, supplementing the TALP medium with cAMP-elevating agents (the cocktail medium) is effective for achieving ram sperm capacitation, and that melatonin is able to regulate this phenomenon. We investigated the behavior under capacitating [...] Read more.
In this study, we demonstrated that, in seasonal Mediterranean ovine breeds, supplementing the TALP medium with cAMP-elevating agents (the cocktail medium) is effective for achieving ram sperm capacitation, and that melatonin is able to regulate this phenomenon. We investigated the behavior under capacitating conditions using the TALP and cocktail mediums, and the response to melatonin, of spermatozoa from three sheep breeds (Colombian Creole, Romney Marsh, and Hampshire) subject to the equatorial photoperiod, during the dry and the rainy seasons. The cocktail medium was able to induce sperm capacitation, assayed by chlortetracycline staining and phosphotyrosine levels, to a greater extent than TALP, without a higher loss of viability (membrane integrity and viable spermatozoa without phosphatidylserine (PS) translocation). The addition of melatonin at 100 pM or 1 µM in the cocktail medium partially prevented the decrease in viability without PS translocation and the increase in capacitated spermatozoa from all breeds, with no significant effect on phosphotyrosine levels. Differences between breeds and seasons were evidenced. This study shows that melatonin is able to exert direct effects on spermatozoa in ovine breeds under equatorial photoperiod conditions, as it does in seasonal breeds located in temperate regions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reproductive Physiology of Small Ruminants)
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Article
Effects of Season, Plumage Colour, and Transport Distance on Body Weight Loss, Dead-on-Arrival, and Reject Rate in Commercial End-of-Lay Hens
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1827; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061827 - 18 Jun 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 869
Abstract
Transport conditions of end-of-lay hens are important for their welfare. This study investigated the effects of season, plumage colour, and transportation distance on the welfare of end-of-lay hens. Retrospective data from 31,667,274 end-of-lay hens transported to a poultry slaughterhouse in Turkey were analysed. [...] Read more.
Transport conditions of end-of-lay hens are important for their welfare. This study investigated the effects of season, plumage colour, and transportation distance on the welfare of end-of-lay hens. Retrospective data from 31,667,274 end-of-lay hens transported to a poultry slaughterhouse in Turkey were analysed. The mean body weight loss, dead-on-arrival (DOA) rate, and reject rate were 3.723%, 1.397%, and 0.616%, respectively. The effects of season, plumage colour, and transport distance on the evaluated parameters were all statistically significant (p < 0.001). The highest body weight loss was found in winter, while the lowest body weight loss was found in autumn. The average DOA rate was highest in spring and lowest in autumn. The highest average reject rate was found in spring (0.630%). Body weight loss, DOA rates, and reject rates were also significantly different among white and brown hens (p < 0.001; p < 0.001; p = 0.016, respectively). The highest body weight loss and reject rates were found in white plumage hens, while the highest DOA rate was found in brown plumage hens. The body weight loss and DOA rate were positively correlated with transportation distance (p < 0.001). The results of this study indicate that more preventive measures should be taken during the transport of end-of-lay hens, especially in cold seasons such as winter, and over longer transport distances, in regard to the welfare of these animals. Additionally, the transport of these animals should be lessened to a certain distance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Welfare)
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Article
Objective Assessment of Chronic Pain in Horses Using the Horse Chronic Pain Scale (HCPS): A Scale-Construction Study
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1826; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061826 - 18 Jun 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2326
Abstract
The objective assessment of chronic pain is of utmost importance for improving welfare and quality of life in horses. Freedom from disease and pain is one of the ‘five freedoms’ that are necessary for animal welfare. The aim of this study was to [...] Read more.
The objective assessment of chronic pain is of utmost importance for improving welfare and quality of life in horses. Freedom from disease and pain is one of the ‘five freedoms’ that are necessary for animal welfare. The aim of this study was to develop a pain scale for the assessment of chronic pain in horses (Horse Chronic Pain Scale; HCPS), which is based on behavioural and facial expressions. The scale was used to assess 53 horses (26 horses diagnosed with chronic painful conditions by means of clinical examination and additional diagnostic procedures (consisting of osteoarthritis, chronic laminitis, chronic back and neck problems, chronic dental disorders) and 27 healthy control animals). Animals were assessed once daily for three consecutive days by two observers that were blinded to the condition of the animals and were unaware of any analgesic treatment regimens. The HCPS consists of two parts, the Horse Chronic Pain Composite Pain Scale (HCP CPS, with behavioural parameters) and the EQUUS-FAP (Equine Utrecht University Scale for Facial Assessment of Pain). The HCP CPS had good inter-observer reliability (intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) = 0.84, p < 0.001), while the EQUUS-FAP component (with facial expression-based parameters) had poor inter-observer reliability (ICC = 0.45, p < 0.05). The inter-observer reliability of the combined HCPS was good (ICC = 0.78, p < 0.001). The HCPS revealed significant differences between horses with chronic painful conditions and control horses on 2 out of 3 days (p < 0.05). In conclusion, we tested a composite pain scale for the assessment of chronic pain in horses based on behavioural and facial expression-based parameters. Further studies are needed to validate this pain scale before it can be used in practice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Towards a better assessment of acute pain in equines)
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Article
Metagenomic Analysis of the Fecal Archaeome in Suckling Piglets Following Perinatal Tulathromycin Metaphylaxis
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1825; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061825 - 18 Jun 2021
Viewed by 661
Abstract
The gastrointestinal microbiome plays an important role in swine health and wellbeing, but the gut archaeome structure and function in swine remain largely unexplored. To date, no metagenomics-based analysis has been done to assess the impact of an early life antimicrobials intervention on [...] Read more.
The gastrointestinal microbiome plays an important role in swine health and wellbeing, but the gut archaeome structure and function in swine remain largely unexplored. To date, no metagenomics-based analysis has been done to assess the impact of an early life antimicrobials intervention on the gut archaeome. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of perinatal tulathromycin (TUL) administration on the fecal archaeome composition and diversity in suckling piglets using metagenomic sequencing analysis. Sixteen litters were administered one of two treatments (TUL; 2.5 mg/kg IM and control (CONT); saline 1cc IM) soon after birth. Deep fecal swabs were collected from all piglets on days 0 (prior to treatment), 5, and 20 post intervention. Each piglet’s fecal archaeome was composed of rich and diverse communities that showed significant changes over time during the suckling period. At the phylum level, 98.24% of the fecal archaeome across all samples belonged to Euryarchaeota. At the genus level, the predominant archaeal genera across all samples were Methanobrevibacter (43.31%), Methanosarcina (10.84%), Methanococcus (6.51%), and Methanocorpusculum (6.01%). The composition and diversity of the fecal archaeome between the TUL and CONT groups at the same time points were statistically insignificant. Our findings indicate that perinatal TUL metaphylaxis seems to have a minimal effect on the gut archaeome composition and diversity in sucking piglets. This study improves our current understanding of the fecal archaeome structure in sucking piglets and provides a rationale for future studies to decipher its role in and impact on host robustness during this critical phase of production. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Food Animal Microbiomes: Food Production, Microbes, and One Health)
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Article
Analysis of the Gastro-Intestinal Tract of Marine Mammals: A Multidisciplinary Approach with a New Multi-Sieves Tool
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1824; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061824 - 18 Jun 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1268
Abstract
Organs and content of the gastro-intestinal tract (GIT) of marine mammals are relevant for a variety of investigations and provide data to researchers from different fields. Currently used protocols applied to the GIT for specific analysis limit the possibility to execute other investigations [...] Read more.
Organs and content of the gastro-intestinal tract (GIT) of marine mammals are relevant for a variety of investigations and provide data to researchers from different fields. Currently used protocols applied to the GIT for specific analysis limit the possibility to execute other investigations and important information could be lost. To ensure a proper sample collection and a multidisciplinary investigation of the GIT of marine mammals, a new multi-sieves tool and a specific protocol have been developed. This new device and approach allowed the simultaneous sampling of the GIT and its content for the main investigations concerned. The samples collected during these preliminary trials were suitable to perform all the different research procedures considered in this work. The obtained results show that with a few and easy procedural adjustments, a multidisciplinary sampling and evaluation of the GIT of marine mammals is possible. This will reduce the risk of losing important data aimed at understanding the cause of death of the animal, but also biology and ecology of marine mammals, and other important data for their conservation and habitats management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent advances in Marine Mammal Research)
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Article
A Machine Learning Approach to Study Demographic Alterations in Honeybee Colonies Using SDS–PAGE Fingerprinting
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1823; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061823 - 18 Jun 2021
Viewed by 834
Abstract
Honeybees, as social insects, live in highly organised colonies where tasks reflect the age of individuals. As is widely known, in this context, emergent properties arise from interactions between them. The accelerated maturation of nurses into foragers, stimulated by many negative factors, may [...] Read more.
Honeybees, as social insects, live in highly organised colonies where tasks reflect the age of individuals. As is widely known, in this context, emergent properties arise from interactions between them. The accelerated maturation of nurses into foragers, stimulated by many negative factors, may disrupt this complex equilibrium. This complexity needs a paradigm shift: from the study of a single stressor to the study of the effects exerted by multiple stressors on colony homeostasis. The aim of this research is, therefore, to study colony population disturbances by discriminating overaged nurses from proper aged nurses and precocious foragers from proper aged foragers using SDS-PAGE patterns of haemolymph proteins and a machine-learning algorithm. The KNN (K Nearest Neighbours) model fitted on the forager dataset showed remarkably good performances (accuracy 0.93, sensitivity 0.88, specificity 1.00) in discriminating precocious foragers from proper aged ones. The main strength of this innovative approach lies in the possibility of it being deployed as a preventive tool. Depopulation is an elusive syndrome in bee pathology and early detection with the method described could shed more light on the phenomenon. In addition, it enables countermeasures to revert this vicious circle. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evolutionary Ecology of Eusocial Insects in a Changing World)
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Article
Influence of Residual Feed Intake and Cow Age on Dry Matter Intake Post-Weaning and Peak Lactation of Black Angus Cows
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1822; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061822 - 18 Jun 2021
Viewed by 576
Abstract
We evaluated heifer post-weaning residual feed intake (RFI) classification and cow age on dry matter intake (DMI) at two stages of production. Fifty-nine non-lactating, pregnant, (Study 1) and fifty-four lactating, non-pregnant (Study 2) commercial black Angus beef cows were grouped by age and [...] Read more.
We evaluated heifer post-weaning residual feed intake (RFI) classification and cow age on dry matter intake (DMI) at two stages of production. Fifty-nine non-lactating, pregnant, (Study 1) and fifty-four lactating, non-pregnant (Study 2) commercial black Angus beef cows were grouped by age and RFI. Free-choice, hay pellets were fed in a GrowSafe feeding system. In Study 1, cow DMI (kg/d) and intake rate (g/min) displayed a cow age effect (p < 0.01) with an increase in DMI and intake rate with increasing cow age. In Study 2, cow DMI (kg/d) and intake rate (g/min) displayed a cow age effect (p < 0.02) with an increase in DMI and intake rate with increasing cow age. Milk production displayed a cow age × RFI interaction (p < 0.01) where both 5–6-year-old and 8–9-year-old low RFI cows produced more milk than high RFI cows. For both studies, intake and intake behavior were not influenced by RFI (p ≥ 0.16) or cow age × RFI interaction (p ≥ 0.21). In summary, heifer’s post-weaning RFI had minimal effects on beef cattle DMI or intake behavior, however, some differences were observed in milk production. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Cattle)
Article
Illegal Wildlife Trade and Emerging Infectious Diseases: Pervasive Impacts to Species, Ecosystems and Human Health
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1821; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061821 - 18 Jun 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1863
Abstract
Emerging infectious disease (EID) events can be traced to anthropogenic factors, including the movement of wildlife through legal and illegal trade. This paper focuses on the link between illegal wildlife trade (IWT) and infectious disease pathogens. A literature review through Web of Science [...] Read more.
Emerging infectious disease (EID) events can be traced to anthropogenic factors, including the movement of wildlife through legal and illegal trade. This paper focuses on the link between illegal wildlife trade (IWT) and infectious disease pathogens. A literature review through Web of Science and relevant conference proceedings from 1990 to 2020 resulted in documenting 82 papers and 240 identified pathogen cases. Over 60% of the findings referred to pathogens with known zoonotic potential and five cases directly referenced zoonotic spillover events. The diversity of pathogens by taxa included 44 different pathogens in birds, 47 in mammals, 16 in reptiles, two in amphibians, two in fish, and one in invertebrates. This is the highest diversity of pathogen types in reported literature related to IWT. However, it is likely not a fully representative sample due to needed augmentation of surveillance and monitoring of IWT and more frequent pathogen testing on recovered shipments. The emergence of infectious disease through human globalization has resulted in several pandemics in the last decade including SARS, MERS, avian influenza H1N1,and Ebola. We detailed the growing body of literature on this topic since 2008 and highlight the need to detect, document, and prevent spillovers from high-risk human activities, such as IWT. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal System and Management)
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Article
Application of the Ridden Horse Pain Ethogram to Horses Competing at the Hickstead-Rotterdam Grand Prix Challenge and the British Dressage Grand Prix National Championship 2020 and Comparison with World Cup Grand Prix Competitions
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1820; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061820 - 18 Jun 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 908
Abstract
The Ridden Horse Pain Ethogram (RHpE) comprising 24 behaviours was developed to facilitate the identification of musculoskeletal discomfort, with scores of ≥8/24 indicating the presence of pain. The median RHpE score for 147 competitors at World Cup Grand Prix events from 2018 to [...] Read more.
The Ridden Horse Pain Ethogram (RHpE) comprising 24 behaviours was developed to facilitate the identification of musculoskeletal discomfort, with scores of ≥8/24 indicating the presence of pain. The median RHpE score for 147 competitors at World Cup Grand Prix events from 2018 to 2020 was three (interquartile range [IQR] 1–4; range 0–7). The aim of the current study was to apply the RHpE to 38 competitors at the Hickstead-Rotterdam Grand Prix Challenge and 26 competitors at the British Dressage Grand Prix National Championship in 2020. The median RHpE scores were four (IQR 3–6; range 0–8) and six (IQR 4–7; range 1–9), respectively, which were both higher (p = 0.0011 and p = 0.0000) than the World Cup competitors’ scores. Ears back ≥ 5 s (p = 0.005), intense stare ≥ 5 s (p = 0.000), repeated tail swishing (p = 0.000), hindlimb toe drag (p = 0.000), repeated tongue-out (p = 0.003) and crooked tail-carriage (p = 0.000) occurred more frequently. These were associated with a higher frequency of lameness, abnormalities of canter, and errors in rein-back, passage and piaffe, canter flying-changes and canter pirouettes compared with World Cup competitors. There was a moderate negative correlation between the dressage judges’ scores and the RHpE scores (Spearman’s rho −0.66, p = 0.0002) at the British Championship. Performance and welfare may be improved by recognition and appropriate treatment of underlying problems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Equids)
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Review
Current Status for Controlling the Overlooked Caprine Fasciolosis
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1819; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061819 - 18 Jun 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 953
Abstract
The disease fasciolosis is caused by the liver flukes Fasciola hepatica and F. gigantica, which infect a wide range of mammals and production livestock, including goats. These flatworm parasites are globally distributed and predicted to cost the livestock industry a now conservative [...] Read more.
The disease fasciolosis is caused by the liver flukes Fasciola hepatica and F. gigantica, which infect a wide range of mammals and production livestock, including goats. These flatworm parasites are globally distributed and predicted to cost the livestock industry a now conservative USD 3 billion per year in treatment and lowered on-farm productivity. Infection poses a risk to animal welfare and results in lowered fertility rates and reduced production yields of meat, milk and wool. This zoonotic disease is estimated to infect over 600 million animals and up to 2.4 million humans. Current and future control is threatened with the global emergence of flukes resistant to anthelmintics. Drug resistance calls for immediate on-farm parasite management to ensure treatments are effective and re-infection rates are kept low, while a sustainable long-term control method, such as a vaccine, is being developed. Despite the recent expansion of the goat industry, particularly in developing countries, there are limited studies on goat-focused vaccine control studies and the effectiveness of drug treatments. There is a requirement to collate caprine-specific fasciolosis knowledge. This review will present the current status of liver fluke caprine infections and potential control methods for application in goat farming. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Worm Control in Goats)
Review
Veterinary Education during Covid-19 and Beyond—Challenges and Mitigating Approaches
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1818; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061818 - 18 Jun 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1116
Abstract
The public health implications of the Covid-19 pandemic have caused unprecedented and unexpected challenges for veterinary schools worldwide. They are grappling with a wide range of issues to ensure that students can be trained and assessed appropriately, despite the international, national, and local [...] Read more.
The public health implications of the Covid-19 pandemic have caused unprecedented and unexpected challenges for veterinary schools worldwide. They are grappling with a wide range of issues to ensure that students can be trained and assessed appropriately, despite the international, national, and local restrictions placed on them. Moving the delivery of knowledge content largely online will have had a positive and/or negative impact on veterinary student learning gain which is yet to be clarified. Workplace learning is particularly problematic in the current climate, which is concerning for graduates who need to develop, and then demonstrate, practical core competences. Means to optimise the learning outcomes in a hybrid model of curriculum delivery are suggested. Specific approaches could include the use of video, group discussion, simulation and role play, peer to peer and interprofessional education. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Veterinary Clinical Studies)
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Review
Alternative and Unconventional Feeds in Dairy Diets and Their Effect on Fatty Acid Profile and Health Properties of Milk Fat
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1817; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061817 - 18 Jun 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 967
Abstract
Milk fat is an important nutritional compound in the human diet. From the health point of view, some fatty acids (FAs), particularly long-chain PUFAs such as EPA and DHA, have been at the forefront of interest due to their antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and [...] Read more.
Milk fat is an important nutritional compound in the human diet. From the health point of view, some fatty acids (FAs), particularly long-chain PUFAs such as EPA and DHA, have been at the forefront of interest due to their antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and anti-tumor properties, which play a positive role in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases (CVD), as well as linoleic and γ-linolenic acids, which play an important role in CVD treatment as essential components of phospholipids in the mitochondria of cell membranes. Thus, the modification of the FA profile—especially an increase in the concentration of polyunsaturated FAs and n-3 FAs in bovine milk fat—is desirable. The most effective way to achieve this goal is via dietary manipulations. The effects of various strategies in dairy nutrition have been thoroughly investigated; however, there are some alternative or unconventional feedstuffs that are often used for purposes other than basic feeding or modifying the fatty acid profiles of milk, such as tanniferous plants, herbs and spices, and algae. The use of these foods in dairy diets and their effects on milk fatty acid profile are reviewed in this article. The contents of selected individual FAs (atherogenic, rumenic, linoleic, α-linolenic, eicosapentaenoic, and docosahexaenoic acids) and their combinations; the contents of n3 and n6 FAs; n6/n3 ratios; and atherogenic, health-promoting and S/P indices were used as criteria for assessing the effect of these feeds on the health properties of milk fat. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Raw Milk Quality Can be Improved)
Article
How Different Personalities Affect the Reaction to Adoption of Dogs Adopted from a Shelter
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1816; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061816 - 18 Jun 2021
Viewed by 1163
Abstract
Dog shelters provide a valuable service by housing homeless dogs and seeking subsequent adoption for these dogs. Few studies have aimed to monitor the behavior of adopted dogs when adoption is successful. The aim of this study was to detect what behavioral modifications, [...] Read more.
Dog shelters provide a valuable service by housing homeless dogs and seeking subsequent adoption for these dogs. Few studies have aimed to monitor the behavior of adopted dogs when adoption is successful. The aim of this study was to detect what behavioral modifications, based on their personality, occurred in dogs after their adoption. The personality of 34 healthy dogs was evaluated in the pre-adoption phase by means of a Principal Component Analysis (PCA) of their behavioral patterns. In the post-adoption phase, we analyzed the behavior of the same dogs, completing a questionnaire with their owners. Pre- and post-adoption data were standardized and a PCA was run on the differences between these variables. A k-means cluster analysis was run on the six components, obtaining three groups of dogs: for groups one and two, changes in behavior after adoption seemed to be influenced by dog personality: bolder dogs (1st group) became more active, excitable and playful, showed increased aggressive behavior towards humans, and decreased anxious and submissive behavior towards dogs and humans; shyer dogs (2nd group) went in the opposite direction, displaying increased aggressive behavior. For the 3rd group, personality was not predictive of behavior changes. All the dog adoptions in this study were successful. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Companion Animals)
Article
Genomic Prediction in Local Breeds: The Rendena Cattle as a Case Study
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1815; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061815 - 18 Jun 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 589
Abstract
The maintenance of local cattle breeds is key to selecting for efficient food production, landscape protection, and conservation of biodiversity and local cultural heritage. Rendena is an indigenous cattle breed from the alpine North-East of Italy, selected for dual purpose, but with lesser [...] Read more.
The maintenance of local cattle breeds is key to selecting for efficient food production, landscape protection, and conservation of biodiversity and local cultural heritage. Rendena is an indigenous cattle breed from the alpine North-East of Italy, selected for dual purpose, but with lesser emphasis given to beef traits. In this situation, increasing accuracy for beef traits could prevent detrimental effects due to the antagonism with milk production. Our study assessed the impact of genomic information on estimated breeding values (EBVs) in Rendena performance-tested bulls. Traits considered were average daily gain, in vivo EUROP score, and in vivo estimate of dressing percentage. The final dataset contained 1691 individuals with phenotypes and 8372 animals in pedigree, 1743 of which were genotyped. Using the cross-validation method, three models were compared: (i) Pedigree-BLUP (PBLUP); (ii) single-step GBLUP (ssGBLUP), and (iii) weighted single-step GBLUP (WssGBLUP). Models including genomic information presented higher accuracy, especially WssGBLUP. However, the model with the best overall properties was the ssGBLUP, showing higher accuracy than PBLUP and optimal values of bias and dispersion parameters. Our study demonstrated that integrating phenotypes for beef traits with genomic data can be helpful to estimate EBVs, even in a small local breed. Full article
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Article
Stable Isotopes Reveal the Dominant Species to Have the Widest Trophic Niche of Three Syntopic Microtus Voles
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1814; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061814 - 17 Jun 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 681
Abstract
Diets and trophic positions of co-occurring animals are fundamental issues in their ecology, and these issues in syntopic rodents have been studied insufficiently. Using carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) stable isotope ratios from hair samples, we analysed [...] Read more.
Diets and trophic positions of co-occurring animals are fundamental issues in their ecology, and these issues in syntopic rodents have been studied insufficiently. Using carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) stable isotope ratios from hair samples, we analysed the trophic niches of common (Microtus arvalis), field (M. agrestis), and root (M. oeconomus) voles co-occurring in orchards, berry plantations, and nearby meadows (as control habitat to orchards and plantations). We tested if the niche of the dominant common vole was the widest, whether its width depended on the presence of other vole species, and whether there were intraspecific differences. Results suggest stability in the trophic niches of all three Microtus species, as season explained only 2% of the variance. The widest trophic niche was a characteristic of the dominant common vole, the range of δ13C values exceeding the other two species by 1.6, the range of δ15N values exceeding the other two species by 1.9, and the total area of niche exceeding that of the other voles by 2.3–3 times. In the meadows and apple orchards, co-occurring vole species were separated according to δ13C (highest values in the dominant common vole), but they maintained similar δ15N values. Results give new insights into the trophic ecology small herbivores, showing the impact of species co-occurrence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Wildlife)
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