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Animals, Volume 14, Issue 10 (May-2 2024) – 121 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): In the Mediterranean area, the dairy sheep sector is characterized by semi-extensive farms. Semi-extensive systems are often considered closer to the ethological needs of animals. However, grazing sheep may have problems maintaining an adequate level of welfare mostly concerning climatic variations, the availability of food and water, and predation. The size of dairy herds has increased in developed countries. In the sheep sector, there was a reduction in the number of farms and an increase in the number of animals per flock. Herd size has been associated with increases in stocking density and stock per labor unit and could be hypothesized to increase the risk of adverse animal welfare outcomes. The aim of this paper was to categorize the on-farm welfare risks and to identify if welfare risk changed according to the farm size. View this paper
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25 pages, 6296 KiB  
Article
Cage-Free Pullets Minimally Affected by Stocking Density Stressors
by Meagan E. Abraham, Cara I. Robison, Priscila B. S. Serpa, Natalia J. Strandberg, Marisa A. Erasmus, Gregory S. Fraley, Gisela F. Erf and Darrin M. Karcher
Animals 2024, 14(10), 1513; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14101513 - 20 May 2024
Viewed by 582
Abstract
Management choices during the pullet phase can affect behavior, welfare, and health later in life, but few studies have evaluated the pullet phase, particularly in extensive housing systems. This study was a 2 × 2 factorial randomized complete block design (RCBD) with two [...] Read more.
Management choices during the pullet phase can affect behavior, welfare, and health later in life, but few studies have evaluated the pullet phase, particularly in extensive housing systems. This study was a 2 × 2 factorial randomized complete block design (RCBD) with two strains and two stocking densities. The Lohmann LB-Lite and Lohmann LSL-Lite were housed on the floor at high-stocking density (619–670 cm2/bird) and low-stocking density (1249–1352 cm2/bird), which changed with age from 2 to 16 weeks of age (WOA). Bird-based measures of appearance, blood parameters, organ measurements, and production values were evaluated. Stocking density alone affected (p < 0.05) only relative bursal weight (% of body weight)—3.32% in the low-density versus 3.08% in the high-density group. High-stocking density was correlated with decreased uniformity (high—89.33 ± 0.24%; low—90.41 ± 0.24; p < 0.02) and worse feather coverage in the brown strain. High-stocking density was correlated with greater uniformity (High—90.39 ± 0.24%; Low—88.47 ± 0.24%; p < 0.001) and better feather coverage in the white strain. This study’s feed conversion ratio (FCR) was improved by 0.07 in the low-stocking density for both strains. The remaining parameters were affected by strain and age only. Thus, while stocking density effects vary slightly depending on the strain used, cage-free pullets had limited negative effects at both the high and low-stocking densities tested in this study; there were few to no changes in the numerous bird-based welfare parameters tested. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Poultry Behaviour and Welfare)
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12 pages, 1058 KiB  
Article
Effect of Supplementation with Black Soldier Fly Extract on Intestinal Function in Piglets Infected with Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus
by Chenmin Yu, Mengjun Wu, Lanyuan Sun, Hanxiao Li, Zhaoyang Xu, Qian Zhang, Dan Yi, Lei Wang, Di Zhao, Yongqing Hou and Tao Wu
Animals 2024, 14(10), 1512; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14101512 - 20 May 2024
Viewed by 619
Abstract
Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) has developed as a global problem for the pig business, resulting in significant financial losses. Black soldier fly extract (BFE) has been proven to improve intestinal growth in pigs after weaning. Consequently, the goal of the present investigation [...] Read more.
Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) has developed as a global problem for the pig business, resulting in significant financial losses. Black soldier fly extract (BFE) has been proven to improve intestinal growth in pigs after weaning. Consequently, the goal of the present investigation was to explore the effects of BFE supplementation on intestinal function in PEDV-infected piglets. Eighteen piglets were randomly allocated to three groups: control, PEDV, and BFE + PEDV. The piglets in the BFE + PEDV group received 500 mg/kg BW of BFE orally for seven days from day 4 to 10 of the study. On day 9 of the study, six pigs from each group received either clean saline or PEDV solution at a dosage of 106 TCID50 (50% tissue culture infectious dose) per pig. On day 11, samples of blood and intestine were taken for additional investigation. The results indicated a significant decrease in the average daily gain (ADG) of piglets infected with PEDV (p < 0.05). Additionally, PEDV infection led to an alteration of blood indexes and a reduction in plasma D-xylose concentration and villi height in the small intestine, while it increased plasma diamine oxidase activity and small intestinal crypt depth in piglets (p < 0.05). The PEDV infection significantly reduced antioxidant enzyme activity in plasma and the gut, including total superoxide dismutase and catalase, while increasing contents of oxidation-relevant products such as malondialdehyde and hydrogen peroxide in piglets. Moreover, PEDV infection increased the mRNA expression level of antiviral-related genes (p < 0.05). Nutritional supplementation with BFE improved intestinal histomorphological indicators and reduced oxidative stress produced by PEDV infection in piglets. Interestingly, BFE could significantly promote the mRNA expression level of antiviral-related genes in the ileum (p < 0.05). Overall, the preliminary results suggest that dietary BFE could improve intestinal function in piglets after PEDV infection. Currently, the findings put a spotlight on the role of BFE in the prevention and treatment of PED in piglets. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Pigs)
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6 pages, 1200 KiB  
Brief Report
Mycobacterium kansasii Infection in a Farmed White-Tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in Florida, USA
by Sydney L. Cottingham, An-Chi Cheng, Pedro H. de Oliveira Viadanna, Kuttichantran Subramaniam, William F. Craft, Marley E. Iredale, Samantha M. Wisely and Juan M. Campos Krauer
Animals 2024, 14(10), 1511; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14101511 - 20 May 2024
Viewed by 531
Abstract
A 7-year-old farmed white-tailed deer doe was transported to a Levy County, Florida property and began to decline in health, exhibiting weight loss and pelvic limb weakness. The doe prematurely delivered live twin fawns, both of which later died. The doe was treated [...] Read more.
A 7-year-old farmed white-tailed deer doe was transported to a Levy County, Florida property and began to decline in health, exhibiting weight loss and pelvic limb weakness. The doe prematurely delivered live twin fawns, both of which later died. The doe was treated with corticosteroids, antibiotics, gastric cytoprotectants, and B vitamins but showed no improvement. The doe was euthanized, and a post mortem examination was performed under the University of Florida’s Cervidae Health Research Initiative. We collected lung tissue after the animal was euthanized and performed histological evaluation, using H&E and Ziehl–Neelsen (ZN) staining, and molecular evaluation, using conventional PCR, followed by Sanger sequencing. The microscopic observations of the H&E-stained lung showed multifocal granuloma, while the ZN-stained tissue revealed low numbers of beaded, magenta-staining rod bacteria inside the granuloma formation. Molecular analysis identified the presence of Mycobacterium kansasii. This isolation of a non-tuberculous Mycobacterium in a white-tailed deer emphasizes the importance of specific pathogen identification in cases of tuberculosis-like disease in farmed and free-ranging cervids. We report the first case of M. kansasii infection in a farmed white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in Florida. Although M. kansasii cases are sporadic in white-tailed deer, it is important to maintain farm biosecurity and prevent farmed cervids from contacting wildlife to prevent disease transmission. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wildlife Diseases: Pathology and Diagnostic Investigation)
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13 pages, 1311 KiB  
Article
Density Mediates the Predator-Induced Growth and Metamorphic Plasticity of Chinhai Spiny Newt Larvae
by Xihong Zhu, Xia Qiu, Wei Li, Shiyan Feng and Aichun Xu
Animals 2024, 14(10), 1510; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14101510 - 20 May 2024
Viewed by 514
Abstract
Predators significantly influence amphibian larval development. Predator-induced plasticity is often studied independently from conspecific density effects, but these environmental factors may interact. We conducted two-factor factorial experimental design to manipulate conspecific density and predator cues, aiming to investigate the independently or interactive impacts [...] Read more.
Predators significantly influence amphibian larval development. Predator-induced plasticity is often studied independently from conspecific density effects, but these environmental factors may interact. We conducted two-factor factorial experimental design to manipulate conspecific density and predator cues, aiming to investigate the independently or interactive impacts of these two factors on the development of Chinhai spiny newt larvae (Echinotriton chinhaiensis). Our findings reveal that both high and low conspecific densities constrain spiny newt larval growth and predators also limit growth. Interestingly, high conspecific density restricts predator-induced growth plasticity without interacting effects. Only lower density groups exhibit slower growth responses to predators. Our study investigates how density mediates predator-induced plasticity in the endangered Chinhai spiny newt larvae, providing insights into their intricate life history. These results contribute to the understanding of predator-induced plasticity in amphibians and provide insights into the adaptive strategies of endangered species like Chinhai spiny newt. Such knowledge informs the development of effective conservation strategies for their protection. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Wildlife)
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23 pages, 3591 KiB  
Article
Relationship between Rumen Microbial Differences and Phenotype Traits among Hu Sheep and Crossbred Offspring Sheep
by Haibo Wang, Jinshun Zhan, Haobin Jia, Haoyun Jiang, Yue Pan, Xiaojun Zhong, Shengguo Zhao and Junhong Huo
Animals 2024, 14(10), 1509; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14101509 - 20 May 2024
Viewed by 552
Abstract
This experiment was conducted to investigate the effect of three–way hybrid sheep and Hu sheep on serum indicators, rumen fermentation, rumen enzyme activity, and microorganisms in sheep. Healthy and similar birth weights from three groups (Hu, n = 11; Charolais × Australian White [...] Read more.
This experiment was conducted to investigate the effect of three–way hybrid sheep and Hu sheep on serum indicators, rumen fermentation, rumen enzyme activity, and microorganisms in sheep. Healthy and similar birth weights from three groups (Hu, n = 11; Charolais × Australian White × Hu, CAH, n = 11; Charolais × Dorper × Hu, CDH, n = 11) were selected to be fed by the ewes until 45 days of age. Subsequently, they were weaned intensively and underwent short–term fattening for 3 months along with selected male lambs fed intensively. During this period, they were fed and watered ad libitum. Blood and rumen fluid were collected and analyzed for serum indicators and rumen fluid microorganisms, enzyme activity, and VFA, respectively, at the end of the fattening period. Compared with Hu lamb, the offspring of the three–way hybrid lamb showed significant improvements in body weight, serum lactate dehydrogenase, and creatinine content. However, there was no significant effect on serum immunity and antioxidant indices. In addition, the rumen fluid volatile fatty acid (VFA) molar concentration and microcrystalline cellulose and lipase content were significantly lower in the three–way hybrid lamb compared to Hu lamb, but β–glucosidase, amylase, pepsin, and VFA molar ratio were not significantly affected. Subsequently, 16S rRNA sequencing diversity analysis revealed that three–way hybrid lamb significantly increased rumen microbial ACE and Chao1 indices compared to Hu lamb. Meanwhile, the abundance of Verrucomicrobiota and Synergistota significantly increased at the phylum level. Correlation analysis showed that Prevotella had the highest proportion, while Rikenellaceae_RC9_gut_group correlated most closely with others genus. The microbial communities isovaleric acid molar concentration and proportion were strongly correlated. In addition, there were significant differences in correlations between microbial communities and isobutyric acid, butyric acid and valeric acid content, and their molar proportion, but they were not significantly correlated with digestive enzymes. From the functional enrichment analysis, it was found that hybrid progeny were mainly enriched in the pyruvate metabolism, microbial metabolism in diverse environments, carbon metabolism, and quorum sensing pathways. In contrast, the Hu sheep were primarily enriched in the cysteine and methionine, amino sugar and nucleotide sugar, and biosynthesis of secondary metabolite pathways. These results suggest that hybridization can play a role in regulating organismal metabolism and improve animal production performance by influencing the structure and characteristics of microbial communities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Feeding Livestock for Health Improvement)
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14 pages, 2788 KiB  
Article
Identification of Differentially Expressed Genes and microRNAs in the Gray and White Feather Follicles of Shitou Geese
by Pengyun Guo, Junpeng Chen, Lei Luo, Xumeng Zhang, Xiujin Li, Yunmao Huang, Zhongping Wu and Yunbo Tian
Animals 2024, 14(10), 1508; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14101508 - 20 May 2024
Viewed by 529
Abstract
The Shitou goose, a highly recognized indigenous breed with gray plumage originating from Chaozhou Raoping in Guangdong Province, China, is renowned for being the largest goose species in the country. Notably, during the pure breeding process of Shitou geese, approximately 2% of the [...] Read more.
The Shitou goose, a highly recognized indigenous breed with gray plumage originating from Chaozhou Raoping in Guangdong Province, China, is renowned for being the largest goose species in the country. Notably, during the pure breeding process of Shitou geese, approximately 2% of the offspring in each generation unexpectedly exhibited white plumage. To better understand the mechanisms underlying white plumage color formation in Shitou geese, we conducted a comparative transcriptome analysis between white and gray feather follicles, aiming to identify key genes and microRNAs that potentially regulate white plumage coloration in this unique goose breed. Our results revealed a number of pigmentation genes, encompassing TYR, TYRP1, EDNRB2, MLANA, SOX10, SLC45A2, GPR143, TRPM1, OCA2, ASIP, KIT, and SLC24A5, which were significantly down-regulated in the white feather follicles of Shitou geese. Among these genes, EDNRB2 and KIT emerged as the most promising candidate genes for white plumage coloration in Shitou geese. Additionally, our analysis also uncovered 46 differentially expressed miRNAs. Of these, miR-144-y may play crucial roles in the regulation of feather pigmentation. Furthermore, the expression of novel-m0086-5p, miR-489-y, miR-223-x, miR-7565-z, and miR-3535-z exhibits a significant negative correlation with the expression of pigmentation genes including TYRP1, EDNRB2, MLANA, SOX10, TRPM1, and KIT, suggesting these miRNAs may indirectly regulate the expression of these genes, thereby influencing feather color. Our findings provide valuable insights into the genetic mechanisms underlying white plumage coloration in Shitou geese and contribute to the broader understanding of avian genetics and coloration research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetic Analysis of Important Traits in Domestic Animals)
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15 pages, 2157 KiB  
Article
Taste Preferences in Broilers: Effect of Age, Delivery Matrix, and Number of Chickens per Pen on Selection and Consumption Behaviour
by Paloma Cordero, Sofía Herrera-Alcaíno, Victoria Philp, Geraldine Muñoz, Daniela Luna and Sergio A. Guzmán-Pino
Animals 2024, 14(10), 1507; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14101507 - 20 May 2024
Viewed by 508
Abstract
Due to substantial differences between studies, the understanding of avian taste perception remains incomplete. Also, studies on chicken taste preferences have mainly focused on measuring consumption differences, neglecting consumption behaviour patterns. This study investigated how age, the compound delivery matrix, and the number [...] Read more.
Due to substantial differences between studies, the understanding of avian taste perception remains incomplete. Also, studies on chicken taste preferences have mainly focused on measuring consumption differences, neglecting consumption behaviour patterns. This study investigated how age, the compound delivery matrix, and the number of birds per pen affect broiler chicken preferences and consumption behaviour, and established their preference values for four taste compounds. Ninety-six one-day-old male broiler chickens (Ross 308) were divided into two age groups (initial: days 7–23; final: days 26–42), with two compound delivery matrices (water or ground wheat) and two numbers of birds (one or two chickens per pen), following a 2 × 2 × 2 factorial design. Four taste compounds (sucrose, monosodium glutamate (MSG), L-lysine, and calcium carbonate) were tested at different concentrations. Preferences were assessed at 2, 4, and 8 h post-test, along with recording various behavioural parameters. Initial-stage birds showed higher (p < 0.001) preference values, time of approach (TA), number of bouts (NB), duration of bouts (DB), and number of pecks (NP) than final-stage birds. Birds exposed to a water matrix also exhibited higher (p < 0.001) preference and NB, while those exposed to a ground wheat matrix showed a higher (p < 0.001) NP. Pens with a pair of birds had a higher (p < 0.003) 2 h preference, TA, NB, DB, and NP, than pens with a single chicken. Chickens showed significant preference values for 100 mM sucrose at 2 h (p = 0.025), 150 mM MSG at 4 h (p = 0.026) and 8 h (p = 0.013), and 300 mM MSG at 2 h (p = 0.013). We concluded that all the variables evaluated influence broilers’ taste preferences and consumption behaviour during selection tests. Future studies should prioritize including chickens in the initial stage of the production cycle, testing them in pairs or groups, and delivering compounds via a liquid matrix. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Poultry)
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14 pages, 3139 KiB  
Article
Using Activity Measures and GNSS Data from a Virtual Fencing System to Assess Habitat Preference and Habitat Utilisation Patterns in Cattle
by Magnus Fjord Aaser, Søren Krabbe Staahltoft, Martin Andersen, Aage Kristian Olsen Alstrup, Christian Sonne, Dan Bruhn, John Frikke and Cino Pertoldi
Animals 2024, 14(10), 1506; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14101506 - 19 May 2024
Viewed by 488
Abstract
There has been an increased focus on new technologies to monitor habitat use and behaviour of cattle to develop a more sustainable livestock grazing system without compromising animal welfare. One of the currently used methods for monitoring cattle behaviour is tri-axial accelerometer data [...] Read more.
There has been an increased focus on new technologies to monitor habitat use and behaviour of cattle to develop a more sustainable livestock grazing system without compromising animal welfare. One of the currently used methods for monitoring cattle behaviour is tri-axial accelerometer data from systems such as virtual fencing technology or bespoke monitoring technology. Collection and transmission of high-frequency accelerometer and GNSS data is a major energy cost, and quickly drains the battery in contemporary virtual fencing systems, making it unsuitable for long-term monitoring. In this paper, we explore the possibility of determining habitat preference and habitat utilisation patterns in cattle using low-frequency activity and location data. We achieve this by (1) calculating habitat selection ratios, (2) determining daily activity patterns, and (3) based on those, inferring grazing and resting sites in a group of cattle wearing virtual fencing collars in a coastal setting with grey, wooded, and decalcified dunes, humid dune slacks, and salt meadows. We found that GNSS data, and a measure of activity, combined with accurate mapping of habitats can be an effective tool in assessing habitat preference. The animals preferred salt meadows over the other habitats, with wooded dunes and humid dune slacks being the least preferred. We were able to identify daily patterns in activity. By comparing general trends in activity levels to the existing literature, and using a Gaussian mixture model, it was possible to infer resting and grazing behaviour in the different habitats. According to our inference of behaviour the herd predominantly used the salt meadows for resting and ruminating. The approach used in this study allowed us to use GNSS location data and activity data and combine it with accurate habitat mapping to assess habitat preference and habitat utilisation patterns, which can be an important tool for guiding management decisions. Full article
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24 pages, 10749 KiB  
Article
A Long-Term Video Tracking Method for Group-Housed Pigs
by Qiumei Yang, Xiangyang Hui, Yigui Huang, Miaobin Chen, Senpeng Huang and Deqin Xiao
Animals 2024, 14(10), 1505; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14101505 - 19 May 2024
Viewed by 488
Abstract
Pig tracking provides strong support for refined management in pig farms. However, long and continuous multi-pig tracking is still extremely challenging due to occlusion, distortion, and motion blurring in real farming scenarios. This study proposes a long-term video tracking method for group-housed pigs [...] Read more.
Pig tracking provides strong support for refined management in pig farms. However, long and continuous multi-pig tracking is still extremely challenging due to occlusion, distortion, and motion blurring in real farming scenarios. This study proposes a long-term video tracking method for group-housed pigs based on improved StrongSORT, which can significantly improve the performance of pig tracking in production scenarios. In addition, this research constructs a 24 h pig tracking video dataset, providing a basis for exploring the effectiveness of long-term tracking algorithms. For object detection, a lightweight pig detection network, YOLO v7-tiny_Pig, improved based on YOLO v7-tiny, is proposed to reduce model parameters and improve detection speed. To address the target association problem, the trajectory management method of StrongSORT is optimized according to the characteristics of the pig tracking task to reduce the tracking identity (ID) switching and improve the stability of the algorithm. The experimental results show that YOLO v7-tiny_Pig ensures detection applicability while reducing parameters by 36.7% compared to YOLO v7-tiny and achieving an average video detection speed of 435 frames per second. In terms of pig tracking, Higher-Order Tracking Accuracy (HOTA), Multi-Object Tracking Accuracy (MOTP), and Identification F1 (IDF1) scores reach 83.16%, 97.6%, and 91.42%, respectively. Compared with the original StrongSORT algorithm, HOTA and IDF1 are improved by 6.19% and 10.89%, respectively, and Identity Switch (IDSW) is reduced by 69%. Our algorithm can achieve the continuous tracking of pigs in real scenarios for up to 24 h. This method provides technical support for non-contact pig automatic monitoring. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Pigs)
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16 pages, 923 KiB  
Article
Rearing Management and Its Impact on Caseous Lymphadenitis in Sheep
by Nora El Khalfaoui, Bouchra El Amiri, Jean-François Cabaraux, Mouad Chentouf, Marianne Raes, Tanguy Marcotty and Nathalie Kirschvink
Animals 2024, 14(10), 1504; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14101504 - 18 May 2024
Viewed by 502
Abstract
Two surveys were conducted to assess the prevalence and risk factors of ovine caseous lymphadenitis (CL) and explore the association between its superficial and visceral forms in Sardi sheep in Settat province, Morocco. A total of 1521 sheep, including 318 lambs < 6 [...] Read more.
Two surveys were conducted to assess the prevalence and risk factors of ovine caseous lymphadenitis (CL) and explore the association between its superficial and visceral forms in Sardi sheep in Settat province, Morocco. A total of 1521 sheep, including 318 lambs < 6 months, 572 young sheep aged 6–24 months, and 631 adult sheep > 24 months, were examined from 57 flocks. Superficial CL prevalence levels were as follows: 69/318 in lambs, 292/572 in young sheep, and 114/631 in adult sheep. Additionally, 2124 sheep, including 1813 young and 311 adult sheep, were inspected in slaughterhouses ante- and post-mortem. Among all infected animals, the prevalence of visceral abscesses was notably higher in adult sheep (83%, OR = 9.8, 95% CI = 5.5–17.2) compared to young sheep (35%). Data on flock size, sex, age, body condition score, rearing methods, and hygienic measures were collected. Suspected CL cases were confirmed using quadruplex-PCR. Poor barn ventilation, lack of abscess control, and younger age were identified as key risk factors for CL. Additionally, a high percentage (89%) of animals with thoracic abscesses did not display superficial lesions. While age and abscess control have been reported in previous studies, barn ventilation appears to be a new, but important, risk factor. In conclusion, the identified risk factors in Settat province are linked to breeding management practices. Implementing regular abscess control measures and improving barn ventilation are essential for CL prevention. Full article
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11 pages, 1365 KiB  
Article
Improved Memory and Lower Stress Levels in Male Mice Co-Housed with Ovariectomized Female Mice
by Layung Sekar Sih Wikanthi, Johan Forsström, Birgit Ewaldsson, Vilborg Palsdottir and Therése Admyre
Animals 2024, 14(10), 1503; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14101503 - 18 May 2024
Viewed by 596
Abstract
Aggressiveness, expressed by fighting, is a frequent problem in group-housed laboratory male mice and results in increased stress, injury, and death. One way to prevent fighting is by pairing the male mice with ovariectomized female mice to provide a compatible companion. However, the [...] Read more.
Aggressiveness, expressed by fighting, is a frequent problem in group-housed laboratory male mice and results in increased stress, injury, and death. One way to prevent fighting is by pairing the male mice with ovariectomized female mice to provide a compatible companion. However, the effect of these housing conditions remains unclear. Therefore, we aimed to evaluate behavior and stress levels in two different housing conditions, pair-housed with an ovariectomized female and group-housed with other males. Behavioral tests were performed to assess stress and anxiety-like behavior. Moreover, the corticosterone levels in plasma were measured by ELISA. Based on home cage behavior assessment, pair-housed male mice showed no signs of fighting, not even after isolation and regrouping. Our results also showed that the pair-housed males had a better memory and demonstrated less anxiety-like behavior. Subsequently, the pair-housed male mice had a larger reduction in corticosterone levels compared to group-housed males. Overall, pair-housing reduced anxiety-like behavior and stress levels in male mice compared to standard group-housing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Welfare)
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11 pages, 632 KiB  
Article
Seasonal Effects on Health Status and Parasitological Traits of an Invasive Minnow in Iberian Waters
by David Almeida, Juan Diego Alcaraz-Hernández, Alejandra Cruz, Esther Lantero, David H. Fletcher and Emili García-Berthou
Animals 2024, 14(10), 1502; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14101502 - 18 May 2024
Viewed by 623
Abstract
Biological invasions are of special conservation concern in the Iberian Peninsula and other regions with high levels of endemism. Environmental variability, such as the seasonal fluctuations of Mediterranean streams, is a key factor that affects the spread of aquatic species in novel habitats. [...] Read more.
Biological invasions are of special conservation concern in the Iberian Peninsula and other regions with high levels of endemism. Environmental variability, such as the seasonal fluctuations of Mediterranean streams, is a key factor that affects the spread of aquatic species in novel habitats. Fish parasites have a great potential to reflect such changes in the habitat features of freshwater ecosystems. The aim of this study consisted of seasonally analysing the health status and parasitological traits of non-native fish in Iberian waters. In particular, a strongly invasive population of Languedoc minnow Phoxinus septimaniae (leuciscid species native to south-east France) was assessed in Tordera Stream (north-eastern Iberian Peninsula, Mediterranean conditions). Fish were sampled in April, July, and October 2023 by electrofishing. Health status (external/internal organs) was significantly better in autumn (HAI = 28.8) than spring (HAI = 35.6). Life-cycle complexity was higher in spring (LCI = 1.98), whereas parasite abundance and Shannon diversity were significantly lower in autumn (TA = 19.6 and H’ = 2.15, respectively). In October (more ‘benign’ environmental conditions in Iberian streams), minnows could display elevated foraging activity, with fish increasing their health condition and level of parasite resistance/tolerance. Overall results showed a particular seasonal profile of health and parasite infra-communities that allow this minnow species to thrive under highly fluctuating habitat conditions. This information could help environmental managers to control non-native fish in Mediterranean streams. Full article
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12 pages, 258 KiB  
Article
Aerobic Vaginal Microflora in Gestational and Non-Gestational Bitches (Canis lupus familiaris)
by Raul Alexandru Pop, Iosif Vasiu, Gabriele Meroni, Piera Anna Martino, Roman Dąbrowski, Asta Tvarijonaviciute and Iosif Nicodim Fiţ
Animals 2024, 14(10), 1501; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14101501 - 18 May 2024
Viewed by 459
Abstract
The vaginal tract comprises commensal microorganisms, which play an essential role in the health of the reproductive tract. Any dysbiosis in the vaginal microenvironment may lead to severe urinary tract infections or even infertility. This study aimed to evaluate the aerobic bacterial flora [...] Read more.
The vaginal tract comprises commensal microorganisms, which play an essential role in the health of the reproductive tract. Any dysbiosis in the vaginal microenvironment may lead to severe urinary tract infections or even infertility. This study aimed to evaluate the aerobic bacterial flora isolated from vaginal samples from 100 lactating bitches in the antepartum period (n = 3), postpartum period (n = 80), and with Lactatio sine graviditate (n = 17). Before vaginal swabs, all the bitches went through a gynecology consult, along with milk and blood sampling. Standard microbiological techniques were used for bacterial isolation. Among the 100 vaginal samples analyzed, 82% had a positive microbiological outcome, while 18% were negative. The microbiologic profile listed 17 different genera. The main isolated bacterial families were Micrococcaceae, Staphylococcaceae, Morganellaceae, Bacillaceae, and Rhizobiaceae. At the same time, strains like Agrobacterium radiobacter, Ochrobactrum anthropi, Chromobacterium violaceum, Burkholderia mallei, Bacillus pumllus, or Staphylococcus xylosus were isolated for the first time from the vaginal secretion of lactating bitches. The microbiological data demonstrates that lactating bitches’ vaginal discharge is heterogeneous and may be affected by coitus, sampling season, age, and reproductive status. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Companion Animals)
23 pages, 1131 KiB  
Review
The Best Protocol to Treat Equine Skin Wounds by Second Intention Healing: A Scoping Review of the Literature
by Gesiane Ribeiro, Lúcia Carvalho, João Borges and José Prazeres
Animals 2024, 14(10), 1500; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14101500 - 18 May 2024
Viewed by 629
Abstract
Equine skin wound treatment continues to be a challenge for veterinarians. Despite being a frequent practice, it remains difficult to choose an evidence-based treatment protocol. This study aimed to comprehensively explore the literature and provide a scoping review of therapeutic strategies for equine [...] Read more.
Equine skin wound treatment continues to be a challenge for veterinarians. Despite being a frequent practice, it remains difficult to choose an evidence-based treatment protocol. This study aimed to comprehensively explore the literature and provide a scoping review of therapeutic strategies for equine skin wounds and identify knowledge gaps and opportunities for future research. This review was conducted using specific criteria to select literature that described methods to manage second intention wound healing. After removing duplicates and screening papers for suitability, 81 manuscripts were included for data extraction. Of these, 59 articles were experimental studies, 10 were case reports, 9 were case series, and 3 were clinical studies. The most frequent wound location was the distal limbs. Macroscopic assessment was the main tool used to evaluate treatment effectiveness. All of the case reports, case series, and clinical studies reported positive outcomes with regard to the treatment used, while only 36% of the experimental studies found significant healing improvement in treated wounds compared to control groups. It was found that there are many treatments that have exhibited controversial results, and there exists a lack of evidence for the adoption of specific treatment protocols. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Equine Veterinary Surgery)
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9 pages, 373 KiB  
Article
Serum Biochemical Parameters of Broilers Affected by Wooden Breast Myopathy
by Eglė Lebednikaitė, Neringa Sutkevičienė, Toma Vilkonienė, Žana Balčiauskienė, Kęstutis Kučinskas, Lina Anskienė and Alius Pockevičius
Animals 2024, 14(10), 1499; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14101499 - 17 May 2024
Viewed by 563
Abstract
Wooden breast (WB) myopathy is a pathology of the pectoralis major muscle. Wooden breast is caused by multiple factors. The exact etiopathogenesis of this myodegenerative pathology is still unclear. Fast-growing commercial lines of broilers that are selected for high breast muscle yields are [...] Read more.
Wooden breast (WB) myopathy is a pathology of the pectoralis major muscle. Wooden breast is caused by multiple factors. The exact etiopathogenesis of this myodegenerative pathology is still unclear. Fast-growing commercial lines of broilers that are selected for high breast muscle yields are more susceptible to this myopathy. The biochemical analysis of blood is used to diagnose pathologies and understand disease processes. Therefore, the objective of this research was to determine and compare the changes in the blood serum biochemical parameters of Ross 308 chicken broilers without myopathy and those affected by WB myopathy. Blood samples were collected from male and female Ross 308 broilers that were 43 days old, with an average live weight of 2.98–3.09 kg. Representative blood samples were selected from broilers with WB (n = 33) and without WB (n = 33). In the laboratory, the blood was centrifugated, and biochemical tests were performed with an automated computerized biochemistry analyzer. The research results showed that broilers with WB had elevated blood serum levels of creatine kinase (CK) (p = 0.018), potassium (p = 0.010), and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) (p = 0.012). In conclusion, elevated serum levels of CK and potassium indicated that skeletal muscle cells were damaged. Moreover, increased ALT levels suggested a possible association between WB myopathy and liver damage. Additionally, these research findings underscore the diagnostic significance of CK and hint at its potential as a WB biomarker. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Poultry)
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16 pages, 10525 KiB  
Article
Effects of Hibernation on Colonic Epithelial Tissue and Gut Microbiota in Wild Chipmunks (Tamias sibiricus)
by Juntao Liu, Guangyu Jiang, Hongrui Zhang, Haiying Zhang, Xiaoyan Jia, Zhenwei Gan and Huimei Yu
Animals 2024, 14(10), 1498; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14101498 - 17 May 2024
Viewed by 514
Abstract
The gut microbiota plays a crucial role in the host’s metabolic processes. Many studies have shown significant changes in the gut microbiota of mammals during hibernation to adapt to the changes in the external environment, but there is limited research on the colonic [...] Read more.
The gut microbiota plays a crucial role in the host’s metabolic processes. Many studies have shown significant changes in the gut microbiota of mammals during hibernation to adapt to the changes in the external environment, but there is limited research on the colonic epithelial tissue and gut microbiota of the wild chipmunks during hibernation. This study analyzed the diversity, composition, and function of the gut microbiota of the wild chipmunk during hibernation using 16S rRNA gene high-throughput sequencing technology, and further conducted histological analysis of the colon. Histological analysis of the colon showed an increase in goblet cells in the hibernation group, which was an adaptive change to long-term fasting during hibernation. The dominant gut microbial phyla were Bacteroidetes, Firmicutes, and Proteobacteria, and the relative abundance of them changed significantly. The analysis of gut microbiota structural differences indicated that the relative abundance of Helicobacter typhlonius and Mucispirillum schaedleri increased significantly, while unclassified Prevotella-9, unclassified Prevotellaceae-UCG-001, unclassified Prevotellaceae-UCG-003 and other species of Prevotella decreased significantly at the species level. Alpha diversity analysis showed that hibernation increased the diversity and richness of the gut microbiota. Beta diversity analysis revealed significant differences in gut microbiota diversity between the hibernation group and the control group. PICRUSt2 functional prediction analysis of the gut microbiota showed that 15 pathways, such as lipid metabolism, xenobiotics biodegradation and metabolism, amino acid metabolism, environmental adaptation, and neurodegenerative diseases, were significantly enriched in the hibernation group, while 12 pathways, including carbohydrate metabolism, replication and repair, translation, and transcription, were significantly enriched in the control group. It can be seen that during hibernation, the gut microbiota of the wild chipmunk changes towards taxa that are beneficial for reducing carbohydrate consumption, increasing fat consumption, and adapting more strongly to environmental changes in order to better provide energy for the body and ensure normal life activities during hibernation. Full article
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17 pages, 1868 KiB  
Review
Animal Feed Formulation—Connecting Technologies to Build a Resilient and Sustainable System
by Oreofeoluwa Akintan, Kifle G. Gebremedhin and Daniel Dooyum Uyeh
Animals 2024, 14(10), 1497; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14101497 - 17 May 2024
Viewed by 915
Abstract
The unprecedented challenges presented by the increase in global population have placed substantial demands on the livestock industry for human nutrition, necessitating heightened animal productivity and leading to an increased demand for natural resources to produce animal feed. Feed producers are leading the [...] Read more.
The unprecedented challenges presented by the increase in global population have placed substantial demands on the livestock industry for human nutrition, necessitating heightened animal productivity and leading to an increased demand for natural resources to produce animal feed. Feed producers are leading the charge, consistently refining formulations to adapt to the evolving needs of livestock, driven in part by the cost of over 50% associated with feed production. This paper critically analyses the pressing issues within feed formulation, addressing the requirement for environmentally sustainable practices amidst the challenges of climate change. The exploration extends to how advanced decision support tools can enhance formulation techniques and profitability and contribute to environmental sustainability. Through an in-depth review of current feed formulation technologies, encompassing their applications and limitations, this study aims to enhance the existing knowledge base. Additionally, we examined future trends, highlighting the essential role of connecting technologies to establish a resilient and sustainable system. The emphasis is on the potential of formulation techniques to positively impact the environment and enhance the overall quality and performance of the animals. This paper provides actionable insights to improve animal production by examining feed formulation models and decision support tools. The anticipated outcome is a more informed and sustainable decision-making process, addressing the multifaceted challenges confronted by the livestock industry and making contributions to global efforts in climate change mitigation and environmental stewardship in animal production agriculture. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Nutrition)
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14 pages, 6243 KiB  
Article
Comparative Analysis of the Ultrastructure, Bubble Pores, and Composition of Eggshells of Dwarf Layer-White and Guinea Fowl
by Yi-Tong Wang, Yi-Fan Chen, Jun-Jie Zhang, Quan Zhang, Xiao-Yu Zhao, Rong-Yan Zhou, Hui Chen and De-He Wang
Animals 2024, 14(10), 1496; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14101496 - 17 May 2024
Viewed by 436
Abstract
The decrease in eggshell quality seriously affects production efficiency. Guinea fowl (GF) eggs possess strong eggshells because of their unique crystal structure, and few systematic studies have compared laying hen and GF eggs. Sixty eggs were collected from both 40-week-old Dwarf Layer-White (DWL-White) [...] Read more.
The decrease in eggshell quality seriously affects production efficiency. Guinea fowl (GF) eggs possess strong eggshells because of their unique crystal structure, and few systematic studies have compared laying hen and GF eggs. Sixty eggs were collected from both 40-week-old Dwarf Layer-White (DWL-White) laying hens and GF, and the eggshell quality, ultrastructure, bubble pores, and composition were measured. The results showed that the DWL-White eggs had a higher egg weight and a lower eggshell strength, strength per unit weight, thickness, and ratio than the GF eggs (p < 0.01). There were differences in the mammillary layer thickness ratio, the effective layer thickness ratio, the quantity of bubble pores (QBPs), the ratio of the sum of the area of bubble pores to the area of the eggshell in each image (ARBE), and the average area of bubble pores (AABPs) between the DWL-White and GF eggs (p < 0.01). The composition analysis demonstrated that there were differences in the organic matter, inorganic matter, calcium, and phosphorus between the DWL-White and GF eggs (p < 0.01). There were positive associations between the mammillary knob number in the image and the QBPs and ARBE and a negative correlation with the AABPs in the DWL-White eggs (p < 0.01). This study observed distinctions that offer new insights into enhancing eggshell quality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Poultry)
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19 pages, 3742 KiB  
Article
Disturbances of Ruminal Microbiota and Liver Inflammation, Mediated by LPS and Histamine, in Dairy Cows Fed a High-Concentrate Diet
by Nana Ma, Junfei Guo, Zhenfu Li, Lei Xu, Kai Zhang, Tianle Xu, Guangjun Chang, Juan J. Loor and Xiangzhen Shen
Animals 2024, 14(10), 1495; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14101495 - 17 May 2024
Viewed by 624
Abstract
The ecosystem of ruminal microbiota profoundly affects the health and milk production of dairy cows. High-concentrate diets are widely used in dairy farms and evoke a series of metabolic disorders. Several studies have reported the effects of high-concentrate diets on the ruminal microbiome, [...] Read more.
The ecosystem of ruminal microbiota profoundly affects the health and milk production of dairy cows. High-concentrate diets are widely used in dairy farms and evoke a series of metabolic disorders. Several studies have reported the effects of high-concentrate diets on the ruminal microbiome, while the effect of changes in ruminal microbial flora, induced by high-concentrate diet feeding, on the liver of dairy cows has not been studied before. In this study, 12 mid-lactating Holstein Friesian cows (weight of 455 ± 28 kg; parities of 2.5 ± 0.5; starting milk yield of 31.59 ± 3.2 kg/d; DMI of 21.7 ± 1.1 kg/d; and a DIM at the start of the experiment of 135 ± 28 d) were fitted with ruminal fistulas, as well as with portal and hepatic vein catheters. All cows were randomly divided into 2 groups; then, they fed with low-concentrate diets (LC, concentrate: forage = 40:60) and high-concentrate diets (HC, concentrate: forage = 60:40) for 18 weeks. The forage sources were corn silage and alfalfa hay. After the cows of two groups were euthanized over two consecutive days, ruminal microbiota; the concentration of LPS in the rumen content; cecum content; the levels of blood and histamine in rumen fluid, blood, and the liver; the histopathological status of the rumen and cecum; and the inflammatory response of the liver were assessed in dairy cows under conditions of subacute ruminal acidosis (SARA). These conditions were caused by high-concentrate diet feeding. All data were analyzed using the independent t-test in SPSS. The results showed that high-concentrate diet feeding increased the concentration of LPS and histamine in the rumen and plasma of veins (p < 0.05). The abundance of Bacteroidetes at the phylum level, and of both Bacteroidetes and Saccharibacteria at the genus level, was decreased, while the abundance of Firmicutes at the phylum level and Oscillibacter at the genus level was increased by high-concentrate diet feeding. The decreased pH values of ruminal contents (LC = 6.02, HC = 5.90, p < 0.05) and the increased level of LPS in the rumen (LC = 4.921 × 105, HC = 7.855 × 105 EU/mL, p < 0.05) and cecum (LC = 11.960 × 105, HC = 13.115 × 105 EU/mL, p < 0.01) induced the histopathological destruction of the rumen and cecum, combined with the increased mRNA expression of IL-1β (p < 0.05). The histamine receptor H1R and the NF-κB signaling pathway were activated in the liver samples taken from the HC group. In conclusion, the elevated concentrations of LPS and histamine in the gut may be related to changes in the ruminal microbiota. LPS and histamine induced the inflammatory response in the ruminal epithelium, cecum epithelium, and liver. However, the cause–effect mechanism needs to be proved in future research. Our study offers a novel therapeutic strategy by manipulating ruminal microbiota and metabolism to decrease LPS and histamine release and to improve the health of dairy cows. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Cattle)
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9 pages, 256 KiB  
Article
Carcass, Egg Characteristics and Leg Bone Dimensions of Pigeons of Different Origin
by Kamil Stęczny, Dariusz Kokoszyński, Karol Włodarczyk, Henrieta Arpášová, Michalina Gondek, Mohamed Saleh, Marcin Wegner and Kamil Kądziołka
Animals 2024, 14(10), 1494; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14101494 - 17 May 2024
Viewed by 688
Abstract
In the past, studies have been conducted on the evaluation of meat traits of pigeons, but the knowledge obtained is incomplete and needs to be expanded. The purpose of this study was to obtain information on the weight and proportion of carcass elements, [...] Read more.
In the past, studies have been conducted on the evaluation of meat traits of pigeons, but the knowledge obtained is incomplete and needs to be expanded. The purpose of this study was to obtain information on the weight and proportion of carcass elements, femur and tibia bone dimensions, and egg characteristics of meat of King breed and carrier pigeons. For this study, 16 carcasses of carrier pigeons and 16 carcasses of King pigeons were used, with 8 carcasses of males and 8 carcasses of females of each breed. Additionally, 20 eggs evaluated were from carrier pigeons and 20 eggs from King breed pigeons. The carcasses and eggs were obtained from birds that were 12 months old. The compared pigeon breeds differed (p < 0.05) significantly in terms of the weight of the eviscerated carcass with the neck; the content of neck, wings, pectoral and leg muscles in the carcass; as well as in terms of all specified dimensions of tibia and femur length and width. The origin of the pigeons had an effect (p < 0.05) on egg weight and dimensions, egg index, and the other studied egg traits, with the exception of eggshell weight and eggshell yellowness, yolk weight, yolk height, yolk diameter, and yolk index. So far, there have been no studies comparing carrier pigeons and King breed pigeons in terms of femur and tibia bone dimensions, morphological composition and egg dimensions, and egg content traits, which adds to the knowledge in this area and indicates the need for continuation in the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Poultry)
23 pages, 7080 KiB  
Article
Potential Role of Lauric Acid in Milk Fat Synthesis in Chinese Holstein Cows Based on Integrated Analysis of Ruminal Microbiome and Metabolome
by Huimin Zhang, Yi Wang, Liping Hu, Jiahe Cong, Zhengzhong Xu, Xiang Chen, Shengqi Rao, Mingxun Li, Ziliang Shen, John Mauck, Juan J. Loor, Zhangping Yang and Yongjiang Mao
Animals 2024, 14(10), 1493; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14101493 - 17 May 2024
Viewed by 583
Abstract
The composition and metabolic profile of the ruminal microbiome have an impact on milk composition. To unravel the ruminal microbiome and metabolome affecting milk fat synthesis in dairy cows, 16S rRNA and internal transcribed spacer (ITS) gene sequencing, as well as ultra-high performance [...] Read more.
The composition and metabolic profile of the ruminal microbiome have an impact on milk composition. To unravel the ruminal microbiome and metabolome affecting milk fat synthesis in dairy cows, 16S rRNA and internal transcribed spacer (ITS) gene sequencing, as well as ultra-high performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (UHPLC-MS/MS) methods were used to investigate the significant differences in ruminal bacterial and fungal communities as well as metabolome among Chinese Holstein cows with contrasting milk fat contents under the same diet (H-MF 5.82 ± 0.41% vs. L-MF 3.60 ± 0.12%). Another objective was to culture bovine mammary epithelial cells (BMECs) to assess the effect of metabolites on lipid metabolism. Results showed that the acetate-to-propionate ratio and xylanase activity in ruminal fluid were both higher in H-MF. Microbiome sequencing identified 10 types of bacteria and four types of fungi differently abundant at the genus level. Metabolomics analysis indicated 11 different ruminal metabolites between the two groups, the majority of which were lipids and organic acids. Among these, lauric acid (LA) was enriched in fatty acid biosynthesis with its concentration in milk fat of H-MF cows being greater (217 vs. 156 mg per 100 g milk), thus, it was selected for an in vitro study with BMECs. Exogenous LA led to a marked increase in intracellular triglyceride (TG) content and lipid droplet formation, and it upregulated the mRNA abundance of fatty acid uptake and activation (CD36 and ACSL1), TG synthesis (DGAT1, DGAT2 and GPAM), and transcriptional regulation (SREBP1) genes. Taken together, the greater relative abundance of xylan-fermenting bacteria and fungi, and lower abundance of bacteria suppressing short-chain fatty acid-producing bacteria or participating in fatty acid hydrogenation altered lipids and organic acids in the rumen of dairy cows. In BMECs, LA altered the expression of genes involved in lipid metabolism in mammary cells, ultimately promoting milk fat synthesis. Thus, it appears that this fatty acid plays a key role in milk fat synthesis. Full article
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16 pages, 2207 KiB  
Article
Effects of Five Dietary Carbohydrate Sources on Growth, Glucose Metabolism, Antioxidant Capacity and Immunity of Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides)
by Pengcheng Qian, Yan Liu, Hao Zhang, Penghui Zhang, Yuanyuan Xie and Chenglong Wu
Animals 2024, 14(10), 1492; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14101492 - 17 May 2024
Viewed by 510
Abstract
This study investigated the effects of glucose (GLU), tapioca starch (TS), gelatinized tapioca starch (GTS), potato starch (PS) and gelatinized potato starch (GPS) on growth and physiological responses in juvenile largemouth bass Micropterus salmoides. After 8 weeks, fish fed with starch diets [...] Read more.
This study investigated the effects of glucose (GLU), tapioca starch (TS), gelatinized tapioca starch (GTS), potato starch (PS) and gelatinized potato starch (GPS) on growth and physiological responses in juvenile largemouth bass Micropterus salmoides. After 8 weeks, fish fed with starch diets had better weight gain and growth rates. Counts of red blood cells and monocytes were increased in the PS and GPS groups, compared to GLU group. Contents of serum triglyceride and total cholesterol were markedly elevated in the TS, PS and GPS groups. There were lower levels of serum glucose, insulin and cholecystokinin, and higher agouti-related peptide contents in the PS group compared to GLU group. PS and GPS could enhance glycolysis and TCA cycle by increasing their enzyme activities and transcriptional levels. Additionally, starch sources markedly heightened mRNA levels of key genes involved in the respiratory electron transport chain. Additionally, elevated mRNA levels of key antioxidant genes were shown in the TS and GTS groups. Moreover, TS and PS could promote immunity by upregulating transcriptional levels of the complement system, lysozyme and hepcidin. Taken together, starch exhibited better growth via increasing glycolysis and TCA cycle compared with GLU, and PS could improve antioxidant and immune capacities in largemouth bass. Full article
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16 pages, 710 KiB  
Review
Music and Emotions in Non-Human Animals from Biological and Comparative Perspectives
by Juliana Zapata-Cardona, Maria Camila Ceballos and Berardo de Jesús Rodríguez
Animals 2024, 14(10), 1491; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14101491 - 17 May 2024
Viewed by 768
Abstract
The effects of sound stimulation as a sensorial environmental enrichment for captive animals have been studied. When appropriately implemented for farm animals, it can improve welfare, health, and productivity. Furthermore, there are indications that music can induce positive emotions in non-human animals, similar [...] Read more.
The effects of sound stimulation as a sensorial environmental enrichment for captive animals have been studied. When appropriately implemented for farm animals, it can improve welfare, health, and productivity. Furthermore, there are indications that music can induce positive emotions in non-human animals, similar to humans. Emotion is a functional state of the organism involving both physiological processes, mediated by neuroendocrine regulation, and changes in behavior, affecting various aspects, including contextual perception and welfare. As there is very limited information on non-human animals, the objective of this review is to highlight what is known about these processes from human biological and comparative perspectives and stimulate future research on using music to improve animal welfare. Full article
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23 pages, 5940 KiB  
Article
Deconvolution Enhancement Keypoint Network for Efficient Fish Fry Counting
by Ximing Li, Zhicai Liang, Yitao Zhuang, Zhe Wang, Huan Zhang, Yuefang Gao and Yubin Guo
Animals 2024, 14(10), 1490; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14101490 - 17 May 2024
Viewed by 418
Abstract
Fish fry counting has been vital in fish farming, but current computer-based methods are not feasible enough to accurately and efficiently calculate large number of fry in a single count due to severe occlusion, dense distribution and the small size of fish fry. [...] Read more.
Fish fry counting has been vital in fish farming, but current computer-based methods are not feasible enough to accurately and efficiently calculate large number of fry in a single count due to severe occlusion, dense distribution and the small size of fish fry. To address this problem, we propose the deconvolution enhancement keypoint network (DEKNet), a method for fish fry counting that features a single-keypoint approach. This novel approach models the fish fry as a point located in the central part of the fish head, laying the foundation for our innovative counting strategy. To be specific, first, a fish fry feature extractor (FFE) characterized by parallel dual branches is designed for high-resolution representation. Next, two identical deconvolution modules (TDMs) are added to the generation head for a high-quality and high-resolution keypoint heatmap with the same resolution size as the input image, thus facilitating the precise counting of fish fry. Then, the local peak value of the heatmap is obtained as the keypoint of the fish fry, so the number of these keypoints with coordinate information equals the number of fry, and the coordinates of the keypoint can be used to locate the fry. Finally, FishFry-2023, a large-scale fish fry dataset, is constructed to evaluate the effectiveness of the method proposed by us. Experimental results show that an accuracy rate of 98.59% was accomplished in fish fry counting. Furthermore, DEKNet achieved a high degree of accuracy on the Penaeus dataset (98.51%) and an MAE of 13.32 on a public dataset known as Adipocyte Cells. The research outcomes reveal that DEKNet has superior comprehensive performance in counting accuracy, the number of parameters and computational effort. Full article
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27 pages, 451 KiB  
Review
A Review on Biofloc System Technology, History, Types, and Future Economical Perceptions in Aquaculture
by Bilal Raza, Zhongming Zheng and Wen Yang
Animals 2024, 14(10), 1489; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14101489 - 17 May 2024
Viewed by 666
Abstract
Given the scarcity of water and land resources, coupled with the competitive nature of aquaculture, the long-term viability of this industry will depend on strategies for vertical development. This involves enhancing production environments, increasing productivity, and advancing aquaculture technologies. The use of biofloc [...] Read more.
Given the scarcity of water and land resources, coupled with the competitive nature of aquaculture, the long-term viability of this industry will depend on strategies for vertical development. This involves enhancing production environments, increasing productivity, and advancing aquaculture technologies. The use of biofloc technology offers a potential solution to mitigate the adverse environmental impacts and the heavy reliance on fishmeal in the aquaculture sector. This method is designed to effectively assimilate inorganic nitrogen found in aquaculture wastewater, thereby enhancing water quality. Additionally, this process produces microbial protein, which can serve as a viable supplemental feed for aquatic animals. Furthermore, this technique has the potential to reduce the feed conversion ratio, thereby lowering overall production costs. This article provides an overview of the evolving field of biofloc system technology within aquaculture. In this study, we will examine the historical development and various types of biofloc systems, as well as the factors that influence their effectiveness. Finally, we will explore the economic potential of implementing biofloc systems in aquaculture. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Aquaculture Production Systems)
23 pages, 1959 KiB  
Article
Assessment of Phthalate Esters and Physiological Biomarkers in Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and Killer Whales (Orcinus orca)
by Leila S. Lemos, Amanda C. Di Perna, Karen J. Steinman, Todd R. Robeck and Natalia S. Quinete
Animals 2024, 14(10), 1488; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14101488 - 17 May 2024
Viewed by 688
Abstract
There is growing concern about the potential adverse health effects of phthalates (PAEs) on human health and the environment due to their extensive use as plasticizers and additives in commercial and consumer products. In this study, we assessed PAE concentrations in serum samples [...] Read more.
There is growing concern about the potential adverse health effects of phthalates (PAEs) on human health and the environment due to their extensive use as plasticizers and additives in commercial and consumer products. In this study, we assessed PAE concentrations in serum samples from aquarium-based delphinids (Tursiops truncatus, n = 36; Orcinus orca, n = 42) from California, Florida, and Texas, USA. To better understand the physiological effects of phthalates on delphinids, we also explored potential correlations between phthalates and the biomarkers aldosterone, cortisol, corticosterone, hydrogen peroxide, and malondialdehyde while accounting for sex, age, and reproductive stage. All PAEs were detected in at least one of the individuals. ΣPAE ranges were 5.995–2743 ng·mL−1 in bottlenose dolphins and 5.372–88,675 ng·mL−1 in killer whales. Both species displayed higher mean concentrations of DEP and DEHP. PAEs were detected in newborn delphinids, indicating transference via placenta and/or lactation. Linear mixed model results indicated significant correlations between aldosterone, month, location, status, and ΣPAEs in killer whales, suggesting that aldosterone concentrations are likely affected by the cumulative effects of these variables. This study expands on the knowledge of delphinid physiological responses to PAEs and may influence management and conservation decisions on contamination discharge regulations near these species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Threats to Cetacean Health)
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8 pages, 762 KiB  
Article
Growth of White Leghorn Chicken Immune Organs after Long-Term Divergent Selection for High or Low Antibody Response to Sheep Red Blood Cells
by Christa F. Honaker, Robert L. Taylor, Jr., Frank W. Edens and Paul B. Siegel
Animals 2024, 14(10), 1487; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14101487 - 17 May 2024
Viewed by 474
Abstract
Long-term divergent selection from a common founder population for a single trait—antibody response to sheep erythrocytes 5 days post-injection—has resulted in two distinct lines of White Leghorn chickens with a well-documented difference in antibody titers: high (HAS)- and low (LAS)-antibody selected lines. Subpopulations—high [...] Read more.
Long-term divergent selection from a common founder population for a single trait—antibody response to sheep erythrocytes 5 days post-injection—has resulted in two distinct lines of White Leghorn chickens with a well-documented difference in antibody titers: high (HAS)- and low (LAS)-antibody selected lines. Subpopulations—high (HAR)- and low (LAR)-antibody relaxed—were developed from generation 24 of the selected lines to relax selection. The objective of the current experiment was to determine if this long-term selection and relaxation of selection impacted the growth of two organs important to chicken immunity: the spleen and the bursa of Fabricius. Spleens and bursae were obtained from ten chickens per line at nine timepoints (E18, D0, D6, D13, D20, D35, D49, D63, and D91) throughout their rapid growth phase and presented as a percent of body weight. Significance was set at p ≤ 0.05. For the spleen, all lines consistently increased in size relative to body weight to D49, followed by a consistent decline. All lines had a similar growth pattern, but HAS spleens grew faster than LAS spleens. For the bursa, LAS was smaller than the other three lines as an embryo and also smaller than HAS through D63. In the selected lines, bursa weight peaked at D35, whereas the relaxed lines peaked at D49. By D91, there was no difference between lines. Artificial and natural selection, represented by the long-term selected and relaxed antibody lines, resulted in differences in the growth patterns and relative weights of the spleen and bursa of Fabricius. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetics and Breeding Advances in Poultry Health and Production)
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15 pages, 3881 KiB  
Article
Effect of Population Density on Personality of Crayfish (Procambarus clarkii)
by Li Su, Leiyu Lu, Mengdi Si, Jingjing Ding and Chunlin Li
Animals 2024, 14(10), 1486; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14101486 - 17 May 2024
Viewed by 635
Abstract
Personality is widely observed in animals and has important ecological and evolutionary implications. In addition to being heritable, personality traits are also influenced by the environment. Population density commonly affects animal behavior, but the way in which it shapes animal personality remains largely [...] Read more.
Personality is widely observed in animals and has important ecological and evolutionary implications. In addition to being heritable, personality traits are also influenced by the environment. Population density commonly affects animal behavior, but the way in which it shapes animal personality remains largely unknown. In this study, we reared juvenile crayfish at different population densities and measured their personality traits (shyness, exploration, and aggression) after reaching sexual maturity. Our results showed repeatability for each behavior in all treatments, except for the shyness of females at medium density. There was a negative correlation between shyness and exploration in each treatment, and aggression and exploration were positively correlated in medium- and high-density females. These indicate the presence of a behavior syndrome. On average, the crayfish raised at higher population densities were less shy, more exploratory, and more aggressive. We found no behavioral differences between the sexes in crayfish. These results suggested that population density may affect the average values of behavioral traits rather than the occurrence of personality traits. Our study highlights the importance of considering population density as a factor influencing personality traits in animals and, therefore, might help us to understand animal personality development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Human-Animal Interactions, Animal Behaviour and Emotion)
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14 pages, 277 KiB  
Article
Early Feeding Strategy Mitigates Major Physiological Dynamics Altered by Heat Stress in Broilers
by Ahmed Gouda, Hanan Al-Khalaifah, Afaf Al-Nasser, Nancy N. Kamel, Sherin Gabr and Kamal M. A. Eid
Animals 2024, 14(10), 1485; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14101485 - 16 May 2024
Viewed by 671
Abstract
Heat stress is one of the stressors that negatively affect broiler chickens, leading to a reduction in production efficiency and profitability. This reduction affects the economy in general, especially in hot and semi-hot countries. Therefore, improving heat tolerance of broiler chicks is a [...] Read more.
Heat stress is one of the stressors that negatively affect broiler chickens, leading to a reduction in production efficiency and profitability. This reduction affects the economy in general, especially in hot and semi-hot countries. Therefore, improving heat tolerance of broiler chicks is a key to sustained peak performance, especially under adverse environmental heat stress conditions. The present study investigated three early feed withdrawal regimes (FWD) as a potential mitigation for thermal stress exposure. A total of 240 unsexed one-day-old Cobb-500 chicks were randomly recruited to one of four experimental groups using a completely randomized design (10 birds × 6 replicates). The experimental groups included the control group with no feed withdrawal (control), while the other three groups were subjected to early feed withdrawal for either 24 h on the 5th day of age (FWD-24), 12 h on the 3rd and 5th day of age (FWD-12), or 8 h on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th day of age (FWD-8), respectively. Production performance was monitored throughout the experiment. Meanwhile, blood and liver samples were taken at the end of the experimental period to evaluate major physiological dynamic changes. Our findings demonstrated that under chronic heat stress conditions, FWD treatments significantly improved broilers’ production performance and enhanced several physiological parameters compared with the control. Serum levels of thyroid hormones were elevated, whereas leptin hormone was decreased in FWD groups compared with the control. Moreover, serum total protein, globulin, and hemoglobin levels were higher, while total cholesterol and uric acid were lower in the FWD groups. Furthermore, FWD groups showed significantly higher antioxidant marker activity with a significantly lower lipid peroxidation level. Immunoglobulin levels, lysozyme, complement factor C3, and liver heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) concentration were also elevated in FWD compared with the control. Also, serum interleukin-1β (IL-1β) and interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) significantly increased with FWD. Based on our findings, early feed withdrawal can be applied as a promising non-invasive nutritional strategy for broilers reared under chronic heat stress conditions. Such a strategy promotes the alleviation of the deleterious effects of heat stress on broiler performance, immunity, and redox status, owing to the onset of physiological adaptation and the development of thermotolerance ability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Poultry Production: Physiology and Nutrition)
26 pages, 912 KiB  
Systematic Review
Efficacy and Safety of an Inactivated Phase I Coxiella burnetii Vaccine to Control Q Fever in Ruminants: A Systematic Review
by Philippe Gisbert, Ana Hurtado and Raphaël Guatteo
Animals 2024, 14(10), 1484; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14101484 - 16 May 2024
Viewed by 614
Abstract
Q fever is a disease caused by Coxiella burnetii that affects many animal species and humans. In ruminants, the disease is responsible for several reproductive disorders (such as abortions, stillbirths, premature births, weak offspring, retained foetal membranes and infertility). An inactivated vaccine based [...] Read more.
Q fever is a disease caused by Coxiella burnetii that affects many animal species and humans. In ruminants, the disease is responsible for several reproductive disorders (such as abortions, stillbirths, premature births, weak offspring, retained foetal membranes and infertility). An inactivated vaccine based on a phase I antigen of C. burnetii is available for cattle, goats and sheep. This review aims to summarise the scientific literature regarding the efficacy and safety of this vaccine to control the infection in these three domestic ruminant species. Forty-five publications and one experimental veterinary thesis reporting on experimental studies, case reports, mathematical modelling and intervention studies were selected according to the PRISMA guidelines. Although some studies lack control groups or statistical analyses, for all three species, published data show that vaccination often results in a reduction in abortions and an improvement in reproductive performance in comparison with absence of vaccination. There is also evidence, including in infected herds and animals, that vaccination is associated with a reduction in bacterial shedding, both in intensity and duration in comparison with absence of vaccination. For these reasons, in case of human outbreaks, vaccination is one of the pillars of control measures. Vaccination is generally well tolerated, despite the rare occurrence of mild, transient side-effects, such as hyperthermia and reduction in milk yield. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Coxiella burnetii and Its Impact on Cattle Reproductive System)
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