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Animals, Volume 14, Issue 13 (July-1 2024) – 178 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Cartilaginous fish face significant threats due to overfishing and slow reproductive rates, leading to rapid declines in their populations globally. Traditional capture-based surveys, while valuable for gathering ecological information, pose risks to the health and survival of these species. Baited remote underwater video systems (BRUVS) offer a non-invasive alternative, allowing for standardized surveys across various habitats with minimal disturbance to marine life. This study presents a comprehensive review of BRUVS applications in studying cartilaginous fish, examining 81 peer-reviewed papers spanning from 1990 to 2023. Overall, this study underscores the value of BRUVS as a powerful tool for studying and conserving cartilaginous fish populations worldwide. View this paper
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20 pages, 792 KiB  
Review
Temperature-Dependent Sex Determination in Crocodilians and Climate Challenges
by Boglárka Mária Schilling-Tóth, Scott M. Belcher, Josefine Knotz, Silvia Ondrašovičová, Tibor Bartha, István Tóth, Attila Zsarnovszky and Dávid Sándor Kiss
Animals 2024, 14(13), 2015; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14132015 - 8 Jul 2024
Viewed by 352
Abstract
The sex of crocodilians is determined by the temperature to which the eggs, and hence the developing embryo are exposed during critical periods of development. Temperature-dependent sex determination is a process that occurs in all crocodilians and numerous other reptile taxa. The study [...] Read more.
The sex of crocodilians is determined by the temperature to which the eggs, and hence the developing embryo are exposed during critical periods of development. Temperature-dependent sex determination is a process that occurs in all crocodilians and numerous other reptile taxa. The study of artificial incubation temperatures in different species of crocodiles and alligators has determined the specific temperature ranges that result in altered sex ratios. It has also revealed the precise temperature thresholds at which an equal number of males and females are generated, as well as the specific developmental period during which the sex of the hatchlings may be shifted. This review will examine the molecular basis of the sex-determination mechanism in crocodilians elucidated during recent decades. It will focus on the many patterns and theories associated with this process. Additionally, we will examine the consequences that arise after hatching due to changes in incubation temperatures, as well as the potential benefits and dangers of a changing climate for crocodilians who display sex determination based on temperature. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sex Determination in Ectothermic Vertebrates)
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19 pages, 2999 KiB  
Article
Effects of Hypoxia on the Antibacterial Activity of Epidermal Mucus from Chilean Meagre (Cilus gilberti)
by Belinda Vega, Teresa Toro-Araneda, Juan F. Alvarado, Claudia B. Cárcamo, Fanny Guzmán, Félix Acosta, Marcia Oliva, Edison Serrano, Janeth I. Galarza and Claudio A. Álvarez
Animals 2024, 14(13), 2014; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14132014 - 8 Jul 2024
Viewed by 260
Abstract
Comprehending the immune defense mechanisms of new aquaculture species, such as the Chilean meagre (Cilus gilberti), is essential for sustaining large-scale production. Two bioassays were conducted to assess the impact of acute and intermittent hypoxia on the antibacterial activity of juvenile [...] Read more.
Comprehending the immune defense mechanisms of new aquaculture species, such as the Chilean meagre (Cilus gilberti), is essential for sustaining large-scale production. Two bioassays were conducted to assess the impact of acute and intermittent hypoxia on the antibacterial activity of juvenile Chilean meagre epidermal mucus against the potential pathogens Vibrio anguillarum and Vibrio ordalii. Lysozyme and peroxidase activities were also measured. In general, fish exposed to hypoxia showed a 9–30% reduction in mucus antibacterial activity at the end of hypoxic periods and after stimulation with lipopolysaccharide. However, following water reoxygenation, the activity of non-stimulated fish was comparable to that of fish in normoxic conditions, inhibiting bacterial growth by 35–52%. In the case of fish exposed to chronic hypoxia, the response against V. anguillarum increased by an additional 19.8% after 6 days of control inoculation. Lysozyme exhibited a similar pattern, while no modulation of peroxidase activity was detected post-hypoxia. These results highlight the resilience of C. gilberti to dissolved oxygen fluctuations and contribute to understanding the potential of mucus in maintaining the health of cultured fish and the development of future control strategies. Full article
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25 pages, 2077 KiB  
Article
Polish Dairy Farm Transformations and Competitiveness 20 Years after Poland’s Accession to the European Union
by Wojciech Ziętara, Michał Pietrzak and Agata Malak-Rawlikowska
Animals 2024, 14(13), 2013; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14132013 - 8 Jul 2024
Viewed by 351
Abstract
Poland is one of the leading milk producers in the EU, being the fifth largest after countries such as Germany, France, Italy, and the Netherlands. From Poland’s accession to the European Union in 2004 up to 2022, Polish milk production experienced dynamic development. [...] Read more.
Poland is one of the leading milk producers in the EU, being the fifth largest after countries such as Germany, France, Italy, and the Netherlands. From Poland’s accession to the European Union in 2004 up to 2022, Polish milk production experienced dynamic development. In this, there occurred a strong decline in the number of dairy farms (by −78%) and the number of cows (by −21%), an increase in dairy herd size (3.5 times) and increase in milk production (+60%) and milk yield per cow (by +62%). These were among the highest growth dynamics among the analysed countries. As a result of this significant transformation, Poland maintained an important position in milk exports, with a 31% export share in production in 2022. The scale of milk production was the basic factor determining the efficiency and competitiveness of dairy farms in Poland. Milk yield, farmland productivity, labour productivity, milk price, and the Corrected Competitiveness Index (based on labour and land opportunity costs) all showed a positive relationship with cow herd size on the farm. Milk production is highly uncompetitive for smaller farms (<15 cows). Despite substantial public support, the smaller farms, where subsidies equal up to 47% of total production value, could not earn sufficient income to cover the cost of capital, risk, and management in 2008, and even more so in 2021. This is because the farm income is too small to cover the extremely high opportunity cost of labour. The larger farms (with 30 cows and more) are competitive and responsible for the majority (~60–70%) of milk produced and delivered to the market. The most challenging from the sectoral policy point of view are medium farms (10–29 cows), whose share in production and deliveries is still important. To survive as economically viable units, these farms have to increase in scale and improve productivity. Otherwise, they will be gradually supplanted by larger farms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability of Local Dairy Farming Systems)
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10 pages, 378 KiB  
Review
Animal Welfare Guidelines for International Development Organisations in the Global South
by Paul Ssuna, Andrew Crump and Karin Siegmund
Animals 2024, 14(13), 2012; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14132012 - 8 Jul 2024
Viewed by 455
Abstract
International development organisations have improved billions of human lives in the Global South. However, in both their projects and advice to governments, most of these organisations neglect animal welfare. This blindspot matters. Poor welfare standards risk the organisation’s reputation, particularly with donors; they [...] Read more.
International development organisations have improved billions of human lives in the Global South. However, in both their projects and advice to governments, most of these organisations neglect animal welfare. This blindspot matters. Poor welfare standards risk the organisation’s reputation, particularly with donors; they reduce livestock lifespans and productivity, harming recipients; and they cause animals unnecessary pain and suffering. Here, we set out animal welfare guidelines for international development organisations. They were developed through extensive stakeholder engagement with organisations, donors, and recipients, especially in Africa. To comprehensively cover animal welfare, the guidelines encompass governance structure within the organisation, staff training, standard operating procedures, water, food, housing, social isolation, enrichment, drainage and waste disposal, disease, invasive procedures, transport, slaughter, breeds, record-keeping, and monitoring and evaluation of success. We urge international development organisations to adopt and institutionalise these guidelines, so they promote good animal welfare. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Welfare)
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14 pages, 1578 KiB  
Article
Relationship between Pelvic Dimensions and Maximum Traction Forces Required during Parturition in Holstein Cows Using a Biomechanical Obstetric Simulator
by Angeliki Tsaousioti, Anastasia Praxitelous, Michail Patsikas, Meik Becker, Heinrich Bollwein, Constantin M. Boscos, Evangelos Kiossis and Georgios Tsousis
Animals 2024, 14(13), 2011; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14132011 - 8 Jul 2024
Viewed by 224
Abstract
The primary aim of this study was to investigate the effect of the pelvic dimensions of Holstein cows on the traction forces during parturition. Additionally, the relationship between calf measurements and traction forces was explored. For this purpose, a modified in vitro biomechanical [...] Read more.
The primary aim of this study was to investigate the effect of the pelvic dimensions of Holstein cows on the traction forces during parturition. Additionally, the relationship between calf measurements and traction forces was explored. For this purpose, a modified in vitro biomechanical model simulating obstetric tractions was used. For the requirements of the experiment, six bone pelvises of deceased Holstein cows were collected based on their estimated pelvic inlet area (EPA) and prepared. Additionally, six stillborn calves were collected based on their body weight (BW). The parameters of the pelvic inlet and cavity were measured using computed tomography (CT). Using the simulator, every calf was pulled in a random order through all pelvises, realizing a total of 36 obstetrical tractions, and the required forces were documented with appropriate software. In each extraction, three peaks of forces were recorded, with the first peak occurring at the entrance of the elbows into the maternal pelvic cavity, the second peak at the entrance of the thorax, and the third at the entrance of the calf’s pelvis. Logistic regression revealed an exponential relationship between pelvic parameters and traction forces for the entrance of the elbows and the pelvis, with the recorded forces being higher in the two smallest pelvises and stabilizing at a lower level thereafter, while for the entrance of the thorax, the correlations were either exponential or linear. The adjusted coefficients of determination (r2) were generally above the threshold of 0.5 for the entrance of the elbows and pelvis and lower (0.3–0.4) regarding the thorax and were statistically significant (p < 0.05) in all cases. Regarding the relationships between the calf dimensions and the required traction forces, the types of correlations were primarily linear and of lower magnitude. The combination of pelvic and calf parameters in a multivariate model resulted in an r2 of 0.72 for the entrance of the elbows using the pelvic diagonal and calf’s body weight, an r2 of 0.62 using the pelvic area and calf’s thoracic circumference, and an r2 of 0.75 using the pelvic diagonal and calf’s fetlock joint width. In conclusion, under the conditions of the present experimentation, the applied traction forces were mainly influenced by the pelvic dimensions in an exponential manner, whereas the calf body measurements showed a weaker effect. Based on these findings, critical cut-off points exist, different for every pelvic parameter, below which a significant increase in the required traction forces is expected. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Technological Applications in Farm Animal Reproduction)
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14 pages, 1157 KiB  
Article
Sequential Behavior of Broiler Chickens in Enriched Environments under Varying Thermal Conditions Using the Generalized Sequential Pattern Algorithm: A Proof of Concept
by Juliana Maria Massari, Daniella Jorge de Moura, Irenilza de Alencar Nääs, Danilo Florentino Pereira, Stanley Robson de Medeiros Oliveira, Tatiane Branco and Juliana de Souza Granja Barros
Animals 2024, 14(13), 2010; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14132010 - 8 Jul 2024
Viewed by 309
Abstract
Behavior analysis is a widely used non-invasive tool in the practical production routine, as the animal acts as a biosensor capable of reflecting its degree of adaptation and discomfort to some environmental challenge. Conventional statistics use occurrence data for behavioral evaluation and well-being [...] Read more.
Behavior analysis is a widely used non-invasive tool in the practical production routine, as the animal acts as a biosensor capable of reflecting its degree of adaptation and discomfort to some environmental challenge. Conventional statistics use occurrence data for behavioral evaluation and well-being estimation, disregarding the temporal sequence of events. The Generalized Sequential Pattern (GSP) algorithm is a data mining method that identifies recurrent sequences that exceed a user-specified support threshold, the potential of which has not yet been investigated for broiler chickens in enriched environments. Enrichment aims to increase environmental complexity with promising effects on animal welfare, stimulating priority behaviors and potentially reducing the deleterious effects of heat stress. The objective here was to validate the application of the GSP algorithm to identify temporal correlations between heat stress and the behavior of broiler chickens in enriched environments through a proof of concept. Video image collection was carried out automatically for 48 continuous hours, analyzing a continuous period of seven hours, from 12:00 PM to 6:00 PM, during two consecutive days of tests for chickens housed in enriched and non-enriched environments under comfort and stress temperatures. Chickens at the comfort temperature showed high motivation to perform the behaviors of preening (P), foraging (F), lying down (Ld), eating (E), and walking (W); the sequences <{Ld,P}>; <{Ld,F}>; <{P,F,P}>; <{Ld,P,F}>; and <{E,W,F}> were the only ones observed in both treatments. All other sequential patterns (comfort and stress) were distinct, suggesting that environmental enrichment alters the behavioral pattern of broiler chickens. Heat stress drastically reduced the sequential patterns found at the 20% threshold level in the tested environments. The behavior of lying laterally “Ll” is a strong indicator of heat stress in broilers and was only frequent in the non-enriched environment, which may suggest that environmental enrichment provides the animal with better opportunities to adapt to stress-inducing challenges, such as heat. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Enrichment in Farm Animals)
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11 pages, 452 KiB  
Article
Effect of Heat Stress on Subsequent Estrous Cycles Induced by PGF2α in Cross-Bred Holstein Dairy Cows
by Passawat Thammahakin, Adisorn Yawongsa and Theera Rukkwamsuk
Animals 2024, 14(13), 2009; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14132009 - 8 Jul 2024
Viewed by 416
Abstract
This study aimed to determine the effect of heat stress (HS) on reproductive parameters (calving to first service (CTFS) and the first-service conception rate (FSCR)) and general physiological responses (rectal temperature (RT) and respiratory rate (RR)) in tropical cross-bred Holstein dairy cows raised [...] Read more.
This study aimed to determine the effect of heat stress (HS) on reproductive parameters (calving to first service (CTFS) and the first-service conception rate (FSCR)) and general physiological responses (rectal temperature (RT) and respiratory rate (RR)) in tropical cross-bred Holstein dairy cows raised in Ratchaburi province, Thailand. HS was determined using the temperature–humidity index (THI), calculated from temperature and humidity inside the barns, and was classified as moderate HS (THI: 80.67 ± 0.79) and mild HS (THI: 77.81 ± 1.09) in this study. Cows with detected corpus luteum were defined as cyclic cows and were injected with PGF2α at the beginning of the experimental period. Reproductive and physiological parameters were recorded. Cows showed significantly lower RT and RR in the mild HS group (38.47 ± 0.21 °C and 41.04 ± 4.55 bpm, respectively) than in the moderate HS group (38.87 ± 0.15 °C and 51.17 ± 10.52 bpm). The percentage of cows that ovulated after being induced by PGF2α and showed estrus signs was higher in the mild than the moderate HS groups (54.55% vs. 18.18%). Furthermore, the FSCR of cows under mild HS tended to be higher than that in the moderate HS group (42.11% and 15%, respectively) (p = 0.06), while the average CTFS interval was significantly shorter under mild HS than moderate HS (69.47 ± 18.18 and 84.60 ± 27.68 days, respectively). These results indicate that moderate HS impairs reproductive performance in crossbred Holstein cows, compared to mild HS conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Reproduction)
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2 pages, 175 KiB  
Correction
Correction: Otgontamir et al. Assessing Changes in the Distribution Patterns of the European Wildcat in Hungary. Animals 2024, 14, 785
by Chimed Otgontamir, Ádám Fehér, Gergely Schally, Miklós Heltai, László Szabó, Róbert Lehoczki, Davaa Lkhagvasuren and Zsolt Biró
Animals 2024, 14(13), 2008; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14132008 - 8 Jul 2024
Viewed by 166
Abstract
In the original publication [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Mammals)
12 pages, 2346 KiB  
Article
Population Morphometry of Conger myriaster (Anguilliformes: Congridae) along the Coast of China: Implications for Population Structure and Fishery Management
by Peiyi Xiao and Tianyan Yang
Animals 2024, 14(13), 2007; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14132007 - 7 Jul 2024
Viewed by 394
Abstract
In this study, the traditional morphometry method was applied to analyze the standardized measurements together with the meristic counts so as to provide supplementary information for fishery biology, population assessment, and fishery resources protection of C. myriaster. The results of one-way analysis [...] Read more.
In this study, the traditional morphometry method was applied to analyze the standardized measurements together with the meristic counts so as to provide supplementary information for fishery biology, population assessment, and fishery resources protection of C. myriaster. The results of one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) showed that the greatest divergence was observed between the Dalian and Qingdao populations, whereas the smallest difference was found between the Lianyungang and Zhoushan populations. Statistical difference in tail length (TAL) was detected between all populations. The morphological traits with high C.D values were mostly related to body weight (BW), confirming greater potential variations of these weight-related traits. Principal component analysis (PCA) extracted 7 principal components (PCs) with eigenvalues greater than 1, and the cumulative contribution rate was 72.790%. The results of cluster analysis, together with the PCA and DFA, supported separating the populations into three groups linked with their geographic distribution and their specific environment localization. Considering the particularity of the natural environment of the Bohai Sea and the sophisticated oceanic circulations of the Shandong Peninsula, the relationships of C. myriaster populations in the northwest Pacific Ocean along the China coast were closely related to their geographical distributions and oceanic circulations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Morphological and Physiological Research on Fish)
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16 pages, 11098 KiB  
Article
Screening of Reference Genes for Quantitative Real-Time PCR Analysis in Tissues and during Testis Development, and Application to Analyze the Expression of kifc1 in Hemibarbus labeo (Teleostei, Cypriniformes, Cyprinidae)
by Xinming Gao, Siqi Liu, Yaoping Lv, Qingmin Dai, Ling Zhu, Zehui Hu, Junkai Lu, Haidong Zhou and Jing Jin
Animals 2024, 14(13), 2006; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14132006 - 7 Jul 2024
Viewed by 329
Abstract
The selection of proper reference genes is vital for ensuring precise quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) assays. This study evaluates the stability of the expression of nine candidate reference genes in different tissues and during testicular development in H. labeo. The results show [...] Read more.
The selection of proper reference genes is vital for ensuring precise quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) assays. This study evaluates the stability of the expression of nine candidate reference genes in different tissues and during testicular development in H. labeo. The results show that eef1a is recommended as a reference gene for qPCR analysis in tissues and during testicular development. Furthermore, we evaluated the optimal number of reference genes needed when calculating gene expression levels using the geomean method, revealing that two reference genes are sufficient. Specifically, eef1a and rps27 are recommended for analysis of gene expression in tissues, whereas eef1a and actb are advised for evaluating gene expression during testicular development. In addition, we examined the expression pattern of kifc1, a kinesin involved in the reshaping of spermatids. We detected peak expression levels of kifc1 in testes, with its expression initially increasing before decreasing throughout testicular development. The highest expression of kifc1 was observed in stage IV testes, the active period of spermiogenesis, suggesting a possible role for kifc1 in the regulation of the reshaping of spermatids and hence testicular development. This study represents the first investigation of reference genes for H. labeo, providing a foundation for studying gene expression patterns and investigating gene expression regulation during testicular development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Physiology)
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15 pages, 8651 KiB  
Article
Molecular and Serological Surveillance for Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium lepromatosis in Wild Red Squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) from Scotland and Northern England
by Zijie Zhou, Anouk van Hooij, Gaby N. Wassenaar, Emma Seed, Els M. Verhard-Seymonsbergen, Paul L. A. M. Corstjens, Anna L. Meredith, Liam A. Wilson, Elspeth M. Milne, Katie M. Beckmann and Annemieke Geluk
Animals 2024, 14(13), 2005; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14132005 - 7 Jul 2024
Viewed by 510
Abstract
Leprosy is a poverty-associated infectious disease in humans caused by Mycobacterium leprae or M. lepromatosis, often resulting in skin and peripheral nerve damage, which remains a significant public health concern in isolated areas of low- and middle-income countries. Previous studies reported leprosy [...] Read more.
Leprosy is a poverty-associated infectious disease in humans caused by Mycobacterium leprae or M. lepromatosis, often resulting in skin and peripheral nerve damage, which remains a significant public health concern in isolated areas of low- and middle-income countries. Previous studies reported leprosy in red squirrels in the British Isles, despite the fact that autochthonous human cases have been absent for centuries in this region. To investigate the extent of M. leprae and M. lepromatosis presence in wild red squirrels in the northern UK, we analyzed 220 blood/body cavity fluid samples from opportunistically sampled red squirrels (2004–2023) for specific antibodies against phenolic glycolipid-I, a cell wall component specific for these leprosy bacilli. Additionally, we assessed bacillus-derived DNA by real-time PCR (qPCR) in 250 pinnae from the same cohort. M. lepromatosis and M. leprae DNA were detected by qPCR in 20.4% and 0.8% of the squirrels, respectively. No cases of co-detection were observed. Detectable levels of anti-PGL-I antibodies by UCP-LFA were observed in 52.9% of animals with the presence of M. lepromatosis determined by qPCR, and overall in 15.5% of all animals. In total, 22.6% (n = 296) of this UK cohort had at least some exposure to leprosy bacilli. Our study shows that leprosy bacilli persist in red squirrels in the northern UK, emphasizing the necessity for ongoing molecular and serological monitoring to study leprosy ecology in red squirrels, gain insight into potential zoonotic transmission, and to determine whether the disease has a conservation impact on this endangered species. Full article
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4 pages, 358 KiB  
Editorial
Evolution, Diversity, and Conservation of Herpetofauna
by Wei Zhu, Bin Wang and Jianping Jiang
Animals 2024, 14(13), 2004; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14132004 - 7 Jul 2024
Viewed by 333
Abstract
Amphibians and reptiles play a critical role in the evolution of Tetrapoda, showcasing significant diversity in terms of their genetics, species, morphology, life history traits, and evolutionary functions [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evolution, Diversity, and Conservation of Herpetofauna)
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11 pages, 492 KiB  
Article
Effect of Heat Stress on Lactating and Non-Lactating Blackbelly Ewes under Tropical Conditions during Summer
by Edgar Valencia-Franco, Ethel Caterina García y González, Aurora Matilde Guevara-Arroyo, Fernando Torres-Agatón, José Manuel Robles-Robles, José del Carmen Rodríguez-Castillo, Marisol Paredes-Alvarado, Luis Alaniz-Gutiérrez, Maricela Ruiz-Ortega and José Luis Ponce-Covarrubias
Animals 2024, 14(13), 2003; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14132003 - 7 Jul 2024
Viewed by 328
Abstract
Two groups of ewes (10 lactating and 10 non-lactating) were used to evaluate the effect of heat stress during summer under tropical conditions. In this study, a temperature and humidity index (THI) was found that ranged between 65 and 79 (morning and afternoon). [...] Read more.
Two groups of ewes (10 lactating and 10 non-lactating) were used to evaluate the effect of heat stress during summer under tropical conditions. In this study, a temperature and humidity index (THI) was found that ranged between 65 and 79 (morning and afternoon). Likewise, a heat tolerance coefficient (HTC) of 6 units was observed. The highest breathing frequency (BF; 115.46 ± 35.25 breaths per minute (bpm)) and rectal temperature (RT; 38.95 ± 0.51 °C) were found during the afternoon in the group of lactating ewes. The means were compared by group, time of the day, and interaction, and only significant differences were found between groups for RT and udder temperature (p < 0.001). In the case of time of day, all parameters were higher during the afternoon, regardless of the group of ewes (p < 0.001). Likewise, an interaction was found in the parameters RT, right paralumbar fossa (RPF), rump, leg, and udder (p < 0.001). In conclusion, Blackbelly ewes lactating during the summer in the tropics have higher skin temperatures, and also raise BF and RT to tolerate HS in tropical climates. Full article
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10 pages, 1211 KiB  
Article
The Influence of Male Biostimulation on Cloacal Anatomy and Egg-Laying Behavior in Young Female Muscovy Ducks (Cairina moschata forma domestica)
by Martin Linde, Axel Wehrend and Abbas Farshad
Animals 2024, 14(13), 2002; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14132002 - 7 Jul 2024
Viewed by 289
Abstract
The importance of Muscovy ducks in industrial poultry production is growing; however, little is known about the physiology of their reproductive cycles. This study investigated the influence of male biostimulation on female ducks before the commencement of the laying phase. A total of [...] Read more.
The importance of Muscovy ducks in industrial poultry production is growing; however, little is known about the physiology of their reproductive cycles. This study investigated the influence of male biostimulation on female ducks before the commencement of the laying phase. A total of 30 muscovy ducks, hatched in the same year at 289–341 days of age, were divided into two groups of 15 birds each and kept with and without contact with a male duck until the day of first egg-laying—319 ± 14 and 335 ± 13, respectively. Before reaching egg-laying maturity, the cloacae of 29 adult ducks were subjected to daily clinical assessments. The evaluations yielded four unique categories of outcomes, determined by assessing factors such as the degree of redness and protrusion of the mucous membrane, the moisture level, and swelling of the cloacal sphincter muscle. The results of this study on biostimulation revealed that, on average, female ducks that had contact with males laid their first egg 16 days earlier, weighing 78.7 ± 3.0 g, compared to the isolated female ducks, weighing 79.1 ± 7.0 g. Furthermore, there was no significant difference observed in the mean initial egg weight between the groups (p = 0.841). The cloacal morphology indicated significant morphological changes 25–26 days before laying. Efforts to improve Muscovy production and develop biotechnological techniques to modify these ducks’ reproductive cycle will benefit from these advancements. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Poultry)
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18 pages, 3767 KiB  
Article
Assessment of Ammonia Concentrations and Climatic Conditions in Calf Housing Using Stationary and Mobile Sensors
by Julia Moser, Samuel Kohler, Jérémy Hentgen, Mireille Meylan and Gertraud Schüpbach-Regula
Animals 2024, 14(13), 2001; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14132001 - 7 Jul 2024
Viewed by 388
Abstract
In calf fattening, housing climate conditions are essential for optimal performance and welfare. Validated methods to measure the long-term housing climate are lacking. The present study investigated climate parameters for 14 weeks in Swiss calf fattening housing with two different ammonia (NH3 [...] Read more.
In calf fattening, housing climate conditions are essential for optimal performance and welfare. Validated methods to measure the long-term housing climate are lacking. The present study investigated climate parameters for 14 weeks in Swiss calf fattening housing with two different ammonia (NH3) sensors: six stationary sensors (Dräger Polytron 8100) were installed at animal level and four mobile sensors (Dräger x-AM 5100) were attached to the calves’ heads. Temperature, relative humidity, and carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations were recorded by two stationary data loggers (testo 160 IAQ). Data were analyzed descriptively, and 4 h mean values of maximum NH3 concentrations of mobile and stationary sensors were compared using the Wilcoxon test for paired data. The 4 h mean values of temperature, relative humidity, and CO2 concentrations and the 4 h mean values of maximum NH3 concentrations of stationary and mobile sensors were analyzed by ANOVA in two linear models. The overall 4 h mean of maximum NH3 concentrations ranged between 5.9–9.4 ppm for measurements of stationary sensors and between 11.3–14.7 ppm for measurements of mobile sensors. The NH3 concentrations measured by mobile sensors showed significantly higher peak values and more fluctuations. Additionally, an interaction effect was observed between the NH3 concentrations measured by either sensor and CO2 concentrations (p < 0.01 (mobile sensors); p < 0.0001 (stationary sensors), temperature values (p < 0.0001 (both sensors)), and relative humidity (p < 0.0001 (both sensors)). The measurements of the implemented method showed that corresponding housing climate parameters fluctuated strongly, and NH3 reached high peak values. Validated measurement methods might allow for a detailed assessment of the housing climate in practice, and for further research on suitable management methods for housing climate optimization in the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Cattle)
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15 pages, 1124 KiB  
Article
Proteomic Identification and Quantification of Basal Endogenous Proteins in the Ileal Digesta of Growing Pigs
by Iris Elisa Ávila-Arres, Elba Rodríguez Hernández, Sergio Gómez Rosales, Tércia Cesária Reis de Souza and Gerardo Mariscal-Landín
Animals 2024, 14(13), 2000; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14132000 - 7 Jul 2024
Viewed by 661
Abstract
The accurate estimation of basal endogenous losses (BEL) of amino acids at the ileum is indispensable to improve nutrient utilization efficiency. This study used a quantitative proteomic approach to identify variations in BEL in the ileal digesta of growing pigs fed a nitrogen-free [...] Read more.
The accurate estimation of basal endogenous losses (BEL) of amino acids at the ileum is indispensable to improve nutrient utilization efficiency. This study used a quantitative proteomic approach to identify variations in BEL in the ileal digesta of growing pigs fed a nitrogen-free diet (NFD) or a casein diet (CAS). Eight barrow pigs (39.8 ± 6.3 kg initial body weight (BW)) were randomly assigned to a 2 × 2 crossover design. A total of 348 proteins were identified and quantified in both treatments, of which 101 showed a significant differential abundance between the treatments (p < 0.05). Functional and pathway enrichment analyses revealed that the endogenous proteins were associated with intestinal metabolic function. Furthermore, differentially abundant proteins (DAPs) in the digesta of pigs fed the NFD enriched terms and pathways that suggest intestinal inflammation, the activation of innate antimicrobial host defense, an increase in cellular autophagy and epithelial turnover, and reduced synthesis of pancreatic and intestinal secretions. These findings suggest that casein diets may provide a more accurate estimation of BEL because they promote normal gastrointestinal secretions. Overall, proteomic and bioinformatic analyses provided valuable insights into the composition of endogenous proteins in the ileal digesta and their relationship with the functions, processes, and pathways modified by diet composition. Full article
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12 pages, 1445 KiB  
Article
Are Users Good Assessors of Social Dominance in Domestic Horses?
by Ewa Jastrzębska, Marta Siemieniuch, Adriana Bizio, Julia Pietruszka and Aleksandra Górecka-Bruzda
Animals 2024, 14(13), 1999; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14131999 - 7 Jul 2024
Viewed by 325
Abstract
Horse users and caretakers must be aware of the risks of mixing social groups. The current study investigated whether eight equine practitioners can assess the social dominance rank of 20 horses. The horses’ feeding time and agonistic/aggressive and submissive behaviours were observed during [...] Read more.
Horse users and caretakers must be aware of the risks of mixing social groups. The current study investigated whether eight equine practitioners can assess the social dominance rank of 20 horses. The horses’ feeding time and agonistic/aggressive and submissive behaviours were observed during the feed confrontation test, and the dominance index (DI) was calculated. Kendal’s W, Spearman correlations and factor analysis were applied to test the raters’ agreement, the relationship between dominance ranks and the behavioural variables, and to determine the clustered behaviours. The agreement between all raters in the classification of dominance order ranged from moderate to perfect. The ranking by every rater was strongly and negatively correlated with the time of eating in feed confrontation tests and with the DI, evidencing shorter feeding times for more submissive horses. The withdrawal of the horse when threatened was the behavioural variable that was most often correlated with raters’ ranking. The current study confirmed the abilities of practitioners to categorise the horses under their care according to their social interactions. Additionally, rolling when denied access to feed was proposed as frustration-releasing (redirected) behaviour. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Welfare)
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15 pages, 2828 KiB  
Article
Transcriptional Signatures of Domestication Revealed through Meta-Analysis of Pig, Chicken, Wild Boar, and Red Junglefowl Gene Expression Data
by Motoki Uno and Hidemasa Bono
Animals 2024, 14(13), 1998; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14131998 - 6 Jul 2024
Viewed by 465
Abstract
Domesticated animals have undergone significant changes in their behavior, morphology, and physiological functions during domestication. To identify the changes in gene expression associated with domestication, we collected the RNA-seq data of pigs, chickens, wild boars, and red junglefowl from public databases and performed [...] Read more.
Domesticated animals have undergone significant changes in their behavior, morphology, and physiological functions during domestication. To identify the changes in gene expression associated with domestication, we collected the RNA-seq data of pigs, chickens, wild boars, and red junglefowl from public databases and performed a meta-analysis. Gene expression was quantified, and the expression ratio between domesticated animals and their wild ancestors (DW-ratio) was calculated. Genes were classified as “upregulated”, “downregulated”, or “unchanged” based on their DW-ratio, and the DW-score was calculated for each gene. Gene set enrichment analysis revealed that genes upregulated in pigs were related to defense from viral infection, whereas those upregulated in chickens were associated with aminoglycan and carbohydrate derivative catabolic processes. Genes commonly upregulated in pigs and chickens are involved in the immune response, olfactory learning, epigenetic regulation, cell division, and extracellular matrix. In contrast, genes upregulated in wild boar and red junglefowl are related to stress response, cell proliferation, cardiovascular function, neural regulation, and energy metabolism. These findings provide valuable insights into the genetic basis of the domestication process and highlight potential candidate genes for breeding applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biotechnology and Bioinformatics in Livestock)
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15 pages, 763 KiB  
Article
Comparison of Butorphanol, Methadone, and Pethidine in Combination with Alfaxalone for Premedication in Isoflurane-Anesthetized Cats Undergoing Ovariectomy
by Giulia Moretti, Irene Mattiuzzi, Lisa Garofanini, Eleonora Monti, Benedetta Serni, Antonello Bufalari and Sara Nannarone
Animals 2024, 14(13), 1997; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14131997 - 6 Jul 2024
Viewed by 306
Abstract
The aim of this study was to compare three different anesthetic protocols administered intramuscularly (IM) in cats undergoing elective ovariectomy, while evaluating the quality of sedation, antinociceptive, isoflurane-sparing effect, and analgesia in the intra-operative and post-operative phases. A total of 71 female cats [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to compare three different anesthetic protocols administered intramuscularly (IM) in cats undergoing elective ovariectomy, while evaluating the quality of sedation, antinociceptive, isoflurane-sparing effect, and analgesia in the intra-operative and post-operative phases. A total of 71 female cats were sedated IM with alfaxalone (3 mg/kg) combined with either butorphanol (0.3 mg/kg), methadone (0.3 mg/kg), or pethidine (5 mg/kg). During surgery, vital parameters were constantly monitored; at the end of the procedure, the quality of recovery was assessed through a specific form and each cat was scored for perceived pain using the UNESP-Botucatu scale for 5 days, and rescue analgesia was provided with buprenorphine IM when indicated. Moreover, differences between two different post-operative resting regimens (hospital kennels vs. home) were also assessed. A significant difference emerged for the amount of IM dexmedetomidine required to achieve an adequate level of sedation for intravenous catheterization, highlighting a greater need in the pethidine group (p = 0.021). There was no significant difference between opioid groups for the requirement of intra-operative rescue analgesia, and the clinical parameters were kept within physiological ranges regardless of the opioid used in premedication. Lastly, differences between the UNESP-Botucatu scores were detected from day 3 to day 5 post-operatively, with lower scores in cats with home resting regimens compared to the hospitalized animals, likely due to the presence of an unfamiliar condition and the absence of a cat-friendly environment. Full article
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12 pages, 1740 KiB  
Article
Using Thermal Signature to Evaluate Heat Stress Levels in Laying Hens with a Machine-Learning-Based Classifier
by Isaac Lembi Solis, Fernanda Paes de Oliveira-Boreli, Rafael Vieira de Sousa, Luciane Silva Martello and Danilo Florentino Pereira
Animals 2024, 14(13), 1996; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14131996 - 6 Jul 2024
Viewed by 349
Abstract
Infrared thermography has been investigated in recent studies to monitor body surface temperature and correlate it with animal welfare and performance factors. In this context, this study proposes the use of the thermal signature method as a feature extractor from the temperature matrix [...] Read more.
Infrared thermography has been investigated in recent studies to monitor body surface temperature and correlate it with animal welfare and performance factors. In this context, this study proposes the use of the thermal signature method as a feature extractor from the temperature matrix obtained from regions of the body surface of laying hens (face, eye, wattle, comb, leg, and foot) to enable the construction of a computational model for heat stress level classification. In an experiment conducted in climate-controlled chambers, 192 laying hens, 34 weeks old, from two different strains (Dekalb White and Dekalb Brown) were divided into groups and housed under conditions of heat stress (35 °C and 60% humidity) and thermal comfort (26 °C and 60% humidity). Weekly, individual thermal images of the hens were collected using a thermographic camera, along with their respective rectal temperatures. Surface temperatures of the six featherless image areas of the hens’ bodies were cut out. Rectal temperature was used to label each infrared thermography data as “Danger” or “Normal”, and five different classifier models (Random Forest, Random Tree, Multilayer Perceptron, K-Nearest Neighbors, and Logistic Regression) for rectal temperature class were generated using the respective thermal signatures. No differences between the strains were observed in the thermal signature of surface temperature and rectal temperature. It was evidenced that the rectal temperature and the thermal signature express heat stress and comfort conditions. The Random Forest model for the face area of the laying hen achieved the highest performance (89.0%). For the wattle area, a Random Forest model also demonstrated high performance (88.3%), indicating the significance of this area in strains where it is more developed. These findings validate the method of extracting characteristics from infrared thermography. When combined with machine learning, this method has proven promising for generating classifier models of thermal stress levels in laying hen production environments. Full article
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18 pages, 1961 KiB  
Article
The Effect of Subclinical Ketosis on the Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cell Inflammatory Response and Its Crosstalk with Depot-Specific Preadipocyte Function in Dairy Cows
by Hunter R. Ford, Ty M. Mitchell, Tanner Scull, Oscar J. Benitez and Clarissa Strieder-Barboza
Animals 2024, 14(13), 1995; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14131995 - 6 Jul 2024
Viewed by 332
Abstract
During the periparturient period, cows undergo heightened energy demands at lactation onset, paired with reduced dry matter intake, leading to negative energy balance (NEB). Excessive lipolysis-driven adipose tissue remodeling, triggered by NEB, significantly contributes to ketosis in periparturient dairy cows. However, the role [...] Read more.
During the periparturient period, cows undergo heightened energy demands at lactation onset, paired with reduced dry matter intake, leading to negative energy balance (NEB). Excessive lipolysis-driven adipose tissue remodeling, triggered by NEB, significantly contributes to ketosis in periparturient dairy cows. However, the role of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) in the pathogenesis of ketosis and in modulating adipose tissue function remains poorly understood. Here, we investigated how ketosis affects the transcriptional profile and secretome of PBMCs and its influence on preadipocyte function in visceral adipose tissue (VAT) and subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT). Twenty-one postpartum Holstein dairy cows were categorized as either subclinical ketosis (SCK; BHB ≥ 1.0 mM) or control (CON; BHB < 0.8 mM) based on blood beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) concentration screening. Blood samples were collected intravenously for the isolation of PBMCs and serum metabolic profiling. Ketosis elevated circulating NEFA and BHB levels but reduced total WBC and neutrophil counts. Isolated PBMCs were evaluated for gene expression and used to produce conditioned media (PBMC-CM), during which PBMCs were stimulated with 10 ng/mL LPS. The overall phenotype of PBMCs was largely consistent between SCK and CON cows, with minimal differences detected in immunomodulatory cytokine expression and PBMC-CM composition following stimulation. Preadipocytes isolated from non-ketotic cows were treated with PBMC-CM to assess the effect of PBMC secretomes on adipose cell function. Preadipocytes treated with SCK PBMC-CM showed reduced lipid accumulation compared to those treated with CON PBMC-CM regardless of the depot. SAT preadipocytes had heightened expression of lipid metabolism-related genes, including DGAT1, LIPE, and FASN, compared to VAT when treated with SCK PBMC-CM. Preadipocytes treated with CM from PBMC stimulated by LPS exhibited upregulation in IL1B and IL6 regardless of the depot or source of PBMCs. Together, these results indicate that although PBMC profiles showed minimal differences, preadipocytes treated with PBMC-CM may be influenced by additional factors, leading to altered preadipocyte function and gene expression that may contribute to adipose cellular dysfunction. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modulating Immunometabolism in Transition Dairy Cows)
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12 pages, 2732 KiB  
Article
Relationship between Indel Variants within the JAK2 Gene and Growth Traits in Goats
by Xian-Feng Wu, Qian Xu, Ao Wang, Ben-Zhi Wang, Xian-Yong Lan, Wen-Yang Li and Yuan Liu
Animals 2024, 14(13), 1994; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14131994 - 6 Jul 2024
Viewed by 279
Abstract
Janus kinase 2 (JAK2) plays a critical role in myoblast proliferation and fat deposition in animals. Our previous RNA-Seq analyses identified a close association between the JAK2 gene and muscle development. To date, research delving into the relationship between the JAK2 [...] Read more.
Janus kinase 2 (JAK2) plays a critical role in myoblast proliferation and fat deposition in animals. Our previous RNA-Seq analyses identified a close association between the JAK2 gene and muscle development. To date, research delving into the relationship between the JAK2 gene and growth traits has been sparse. In this study, we sought to investigate the relationship between novel mutations within the JAK2 gene and goat growth traits. Herein, two novel InDel (Insertion/Deletion) polymorphisms within the JAK2 gene were detected in 548 goats, and only two genotypes were designated as ID (Insertion/Deletion) and DD (Deletion/Deletion). The results indicate that the two InDels, the del19008 locus in intron 2 and del72416 InDel in intron 6, showed significant associations with growth traits (p < 0.05). Compared to Nubian and Jianzhou Daer goats, the del72416 locus displayed a more pronounced effect in the Fuqing breed group. In the Nubian breed (NB) group, both InDels showed a marked influence on body height (BH). There were strong linkages observed for these two InDels between the Fuqing (FQ) and Jianzhou (JZ) populations. The DD-ID diplotype was associated with inferior growth traits in chest width (ChW) and cannon circumference (CaC) in the FQ goats compared to the other diplotypes. In the NB population, the DD-DD diplotype exhibited a marked negative impact on BH and HuWI (hucklebone width index), in contrast to the other diplotypes. In summary, our findings suggest that the two InDel polymorphisms within the JAK2 gene could serve as valuable molecular markers for enhancing goat growth traits in breeding programs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetic Analysis of Important Traits in Domestic Animals)
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11 pages, 2269 KiB  
Article
First Feeding of Cuttlefish Hatchlings: Pioneering Attempts in Captive Breeding
by Francesca Maradonna, Andrea Pessina, Ghasem Ashouri, Emilio Notti, Giulia Chemello, Giulia Russo, Giorgia Gioacchini and Oliana Carnevali
Animals 2024, 14(13), 1993; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14131993 - 6 Jul 2024
Viewed by 368
Abstract
In the last few decades, the cuttlefish market has grown to approximately 14% of the world’s fisheries, and operators have begun to express concerns about the decline of this resource. In this context, the production of cuttlefish through aquaculture could offer a diversifying [...] Read more.
In the last few decades, the cuttlefish market has grown to approximately 14% of the world’s fisheries, and operators have begun to express concerns about the decline of this resource. In this context, the production of cuttlefish through aquaculture could offer a diversifying and valuable response to the increasing market demand and help alleviate the environmental pressure on this species. Therefore, the aim of this study is to identify a dry, cost-effective, and easy-to-administer diet that can successfully support the initial phases of cuttlefish growth and provide a similar performance to a krill-based diet, which closely mimics their natural diet. To achieve this objective, cuttlefish hatchlings were distributed among different experimental tanks, each receiving one of the five different diets (namely Diets A to E). Mortality and morphological parameters were monitored until day 10 post hatching, and the two most effective diets (Diets A and B) were chosen for further trials. The results indicated that Diet B had similar survival and growth rates to Diet A, which was based on frozen krill. Histological analysis revealed a comparable degree of gut maturity between the organisms fed the two diets. Likewise, levels of amylase and trypsin enzymes and hsp70, cat, and sod mRNA did not exhibit significant differences between the two groups. In conclusion, our findings provide preliminary evidence supporting the possibility of cultivating cuttlefish in captivity using a pelleted diet, representing a promising starting point for larger-scale breeding efforts. Full article
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8 pages, 403 KiB  
Communication
Lack of Efficacy of Albendazole against Dicrocoelium dendriticum Infection in a Sheep Farm in France
by Julie Petermann, Christelle Grisez, Sophie Lavigne and Philippe Jacquiet
Animals 2024, 14(13), 1992; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14131992 - 5 Jul 2024
Viewed by 310
Abstract
Dicrocoeliosis is a common parasitic disease in European sheep farming. The prevalence of infection by this parasite can reach almost 70% in areas where the environment is favorable to intermediate hosts. In France, only one drug is currently available for the treatment of [...] Read more.
Dicrocoeliosis is a common parasitic disease in European sheep farming. The prevalence of infection by this parasite can reach almost 70% in areas where the environment is favorable to intermediate hosts. In France, only one drug is currently available for the treatment of dicrocoeliosis: albendazole at a dose of 15 mg/kg in a single administration. However, a control coproscopy following a routine treatment led us to suspect that the efficacy of albendazole against Dicrocoelium dendriticum had diminished. Therefore, we carried out an efficacy test on 15 animals by treating them with albendazole at a dose of 15 mg/kg and performing a coproscopy on D0 and a control coproscopy 14 days later. We obtained a 39% reduction in the excretion of D. dendriticum eggs. This shows a reduction in the expected efficacy of albendazole, which is normally more than 90% in other studies involving this molecule at a dosage of 15 mg/kg. These results are of major concern as albendazole is currently the only drug available in France to treat dicrocoeliosis. Full article
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14 pages, 1231 KiB  
Article
Effects of Steviol Glycosides on Growth Performance, Ruminal Fermentation and Microbial Diversity of Hu Sheep
by Jianeng Zhang, Xiongxiong Li, Yuzhu Sha, Zhengwen Wang, Shuai Qi, Xia Zhang, Shengguo Zhao and Ting Jiao
Animals 2024, 14(13), 1991; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14131991 - 5 Jul 2024
Viewed by 313
Abstract
The experiment was conducted to investigate the potential effects of steviol glycosides on growth performance, rumen fermentation processes, and microbial diversity in Hu sheep. A single-factor design was used for the trial. Twenty healthy weaned Hu lambs, possessing comparable body weights averaging 18.31 [...] Read more.
The experiment was conducted to investigate the potential effects of steviol glycosides on growth performance, rumen fermentation processes, and microbial diversity in Hu sheep. A single-factor design was used for the trial. Twenty healthy weaned Hu lambs, possessing comparable body weights averaging 18.31 ± 1.24 kg, were randomly allocated into two distinct groups: the control group (CON) and the experimental group (STE), with each comprising 10 lambs. The CON was fed the basal diet, and the STE was supplemented with 0.07% steviol glycosides based on the basal diet. During the experimental period, variations in body weight and feed intake were closely monitored and recorded. After feeding for 90 d, blood was collected to determine blood biochemical indices, and rumen fluid samples were gathered for an in-depth analysis of rumen fermentation parameters and microbial diversity. The outcomes revealed no statistically significant differences in growth performance or serum biochemical indices between the two groups (p > 0.05). Rumen pH in STE and CON was within the normal range. The rumen ammonia nitrogen (NH3-N) and acetic acid (AA) content of STE decreased significantly compared with CON (p < 0.05). No significant variations were observed in the levels of other volatile fatty acids (VFAs) between the two groups (p > 0.05). The rumen microbial OTUs count, as well as the Shannon, Simpson, Chao1, and Ace indices, were notably lower in the STE group compared to the CON group (p < 0.05). Additionally, at the phylum level, the relative abundance of Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes, and Proteobacteria collectively accounted for over 97% of the total phylum composition. In comparison to the CON group, the STE group exhibited an increase in the relative abundance of Proteobacteria (p < 0.05), accompanied by a significant reduction in the relative abundance of Patescibacteria and Desulfobacteria (p < 0.05). At the genus level, there was a notable increase in the relative abundance of Prevotella_7 and Succinivibrionaceae_UCG_001 in the STE group, whereas the relative abundance of Rikenellaceae_RC9_gut_group significantly decreased (p < 0.05). According to the correlation analysis between rumen microflora and VFAs, the relative abundance of Succinivibrionaceae_UCG_001 displayed a significant negative correlation with AA (p < 0.05), whereas Lactobacillus exhibited a notable positive correlation with isobutyric acid (IBA) (p < 0.05). In summary, steviol glycosides had no significant effect on the production performance and blood biochemical indexes of Hu sheep. Steviol glycosides can improve rumen fermentation parameters and rumen microflora structure of Hu sheep and have a certain effect on rumen microbial diversity and composition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Small Ruminants)
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15 pages, 5819 KiB  
Article
Integrated Lipidomics and Transcriptomics Analyses Reveal Key Regulators of Fat Deposition in Different Adipose Tissues of Geese (Anser cygnoides)
by Maodou Xu, Yaoyao Zhang, Yang Zhang, Qi Xu, Yu Zhang and Guohong Chen
Animals 2024, 14(13), 1990; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14131990 - 5 Jul 2024
Viewed by 301
Abstract
The fat deposition of different adipose tissues is widely recognized as correlated, with distinct effects on meat quality traits and reproductive performance in poultry. In this study, we utilized lipidomics and transcriptomics analyses to investigate the heterogeneity and regulators of intramuscular fat (IMF), [...] Read more.
The fat deposition of different adipose tissues is widely recognized as correlated, with distinct effects on meat quality traits and reproductive performance in poultry. In this study, we utilized lipidomics and transcriptomics analyses to investigate the heterogeneity and regulators of intramuscular fat (IMF), abdominal fat (AF), and subcutaneous fat (SF) in geese. Lipidomic profiling revealed 165, 129, and 77 differential lipid molecules (DLMs) between AF vs. IMF, SF vs. IMF, and SF vs. AF, respectively, with 47 common DLMs identified between AF vs. IMF and SF vs. IMF. Transcriptomic analysis identified 3369, 5758, and 131 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) between AF vs. IMF, SF vs. IMF, and SF vs. AF, respectively, with 2510 common DEGs identified between AF vs. IMF and SF vs. IMF. The KEGG results indicate that DLMs were predominantly enriched in glycerophospholipid and glycerolipid metabolism pathways, while DEGs were primarily enriched in metabolic pathways. Pearson correlation analysis identified FABP4, LPL, PLCB1, DSE, and PDE5A as potential factors influencing fat deposition. This study elucidates the heterogeneity and regulatory factors of different adipose tissues in geese, offering new insights for targeted improvements in goose meat quality and production efficiency. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Physiology)
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19 pages, 10970 KiB  
Article
Pig-Derived Probiotic Bacillus tequilensis YB-2 Alleviates Intestinal Inflammation and Intestinal Barrier Damage in Colitis Mice by Suppressing the TLR4/NF-κB Signaling Pathway
by Heng Yin, Chengbi Wang, Yi Shuai, Zhuoya Xie and Jingbo Liu
Animals 2024, 14(13), 1989; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14131989 - 5 Jul 2024
Viewed by 413
Abstract
The search for new probiotics has been regarded as an important approach to improving intestinal health in animals. Bacillus has many advantages, such as strong resistance to harmful external factors, wide distribution, and easy colonization of the intestine. Hence, this study aims to [...] Read more.
The search for new probiotics has been regarded as an important approach to improving intestinal health in animals. Bacillus has many advantages, such as strong resistance to harmful external factors, wide distribution, and easy colonization of the intestine. Hence, this study aims to screen for a probiotic Bacillus strain that improves animal intestinal health and to elucidate its probiotic mechanism so as to provide probiotic resources for the development of feed-using probiotic formulations. In this research, a strain of Bacillus was isolated from adult pig feces and named B. tequilensis YB-2. In vitro probiotic experiments showed that B. tequilensis YB-2 had strong acid and bile salt resistance, indicating that this strain can customize in the intestine. To further explore the effect of B. tequilensis YB-2 upon animal intestinal health, DSS-induced murine colitis models were established, and the body weight, colonic morphology, inflammatory cytokines level, and intestinal-barrier- and TLR4/NF-κB-pathway-related protein were determined. The results showed that mice receiving drinking water with 3% DSS were found to develop colitis symptoms, including body weight loss and increased disease activity index (DAI); colon length and microvilli shedding were shortened; tight junctions were disrupted; goblet cells decreased; anti-inflammatory cytokines were inhibited; and pro-inflammatory cytokines and the TLR4/NF-κB signaling pathway were activated. Notably, orally received B. tequilensis YB-2 alleviated symptoms of DSS-induced colitis in mice. The above results indicated that B. tequilensis YB-2 was capable of improving colitis in mice by weakening inflammation and intestinal barrier damage, and its mechanism may involve the TLR4/NF-κB pathway. Overall, this research suggests that B. tequilensis YB-2 has the potential to serve as an animal feed additive to prevent intestinal inflammation. Full article
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13 pages, 1655 KiB  
Article
Dietary Supplementation with Rumen-Protected Arginine or N-Carbamylglutamate Enhances Fetal Liver Development in Nutrient-Restricted Pregnant Hu Ewes
by Yuexia Lin, Lingwei Sun, Mengqian He, Jiehuan Xu, Caifeng Wu, Jun Gao and Jianjun Dai
Animals 2024, 14(13), 1988; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14131988 - 5 Jul 2024
Viewed by 387
Abstract
This study was conducted in nutrient-restricted pregnant Hu ewes to determine whether rumen-protected arginine (RP-Arg) or N-carbamylglutamate (NCG) supplementation affects fetal liver growth and development. From 35 d to 110 d of gestation, 32 Hu ewes were randomly divided into four groups: a [...] Read more.
This study was conducted in nutrient-restricted pregnant Hu ewes to determine whether rumen-protected arginine (RP-Arg) or N-carbamylglutamate (NCG) supplementation affects fetal liver growth and development. From 35 d to 110 d of gestation, 32 Hu ewes were randomly divided into four groups: a control group (100% of the National Research Council (NRC) requirements), a nutrient-restricted group (50% of the NRC requirements), and two treatment groups (ARG and NCG, 50% of the NRC requirements, supplemented with 20 g/day RP-Arg or 5 g/day NCG, respectively). Fetal body weights, fetal liver growth performance, the capability of antioxidation, and the expression of the mRNA and proteins of apoptosis-related genes in the fetal liver were determined and analyzed at 110 d of gestation. The dry matter, water, fat, protein, and ash components of the fetal livers in the RG group were found to be lower than in the CG group, and these components were significantly higher in the NCG group than in the RG group (p < 0.05). A decrease in DNA, RNA, and protein concentrations and contents, as well as in protein/DNA ratios, was observed in the RG group in comparison to the CG group (p < 0.05). Compared with the RG group, the NCG group had higher concentrations of DNA, RNA, and protein, as well as higher protein/DNA ratios (p < 0.05). The RG group had lower concentrations of cholinesterase, nitric oxide, nitric oxide synthase, superoxide dismutase, alanine aminotransferase, and total protein than the CG group (p < 0.05). The RG group had higher levels of glutathione peroxidase, maleic dialdehyde, and aspartate aminotransferase than the CG group (p < 0.05). In the RG group, the mRNA and protein expression of p53 and Bax was significantly increased (p < 0.05) compared with the CG group, and the gene expression of FasL and Bcl-2, the ratio of Bcl-2 to Bax, and the protein expression of Bcl-2 in the RG group were lower (p < 0.05) than in the CG group. It appears that RP-Arg and NCG supplementation during pregnancy could influence fetal liver growth and development. A nutrition-based therapeutic intervention to alleviate reduced fetal growth can be developed based on this study, which has demonstrated that maternal undernutrition during pregnancy induces the maldevelopment of the fetal liver. Full article
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14 pages, 288 KiB  
Article
Influence of Fermented Broccoli Residues on Fattening Performance, Nutrient Utilization, and Meat Properties of Finishing Pigs
by Zhiwei Zhao, Jie Wu, Xiaohong Yao, Hong Sun, Yifei Wu, Hanghai Zhou, Xin Wang, Kai Guo, Bo Deng and Jiangwu Tang
Animals 2024, 14(13), 1987; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14131987 - 5 Jul 2024
Viewed by 279
Abstract
The study determined the impacts of dietary fermented residues’ (FBR) inclusion on growth, nutrient utilization, carcass characteristics, and meat properties in fattening pigs. Seventy-two robust pigs were randomly assigned to two experimental groups (Duroc × Landrace × Yorkshire, thirty-six pigs each). Each group [...] Read more.
The study determined the impacts of dietary fermented residues’ (FBR) inclusion on growth, nutrient utilization, carcass characteristics, and meat properties in fattening pigs. Seventy-two robust pigs were randomly assigned to two experimental groups (Duroc × Landrace × Yorkshire, thirty-six pigs each). Each group was subjected to a 52-day trial, during which they received either a corn–soybean meal-based diet or diet enhanced with a 10% addition of FBR. Consequently, adding 10% FBR caused a significant decrease in the digestive utilization of crude dietary components in fattening pigs (p < 0.05) but showed no significant impact on the growth performance. Additionally, FBR inclusion increased the marbling scores (p < 0.05) and total antioxidant functions (p < 0.05) of muscle tissues, indicating improved meat quality. Gender affected backfat depth, with barrows showing thicker backfat depth. In conclusion, dietary supplementation with 10% FBR in finishing pigs influenced the meat quality by improving the marbling score and antioxidant performance while reducing digestibility without compromising growth performance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Nutrition)
19 pages, 2419 KiB  
Article
Arginine Promoted Ovarian Development in Pacific White Shrimp Litopenaeus vannamei via the NO-sGC-cGMP and TORC1 Signaling Pathways
by Xin Zhang, Yanan Yin, Haitao Fan, Qicun Zhou and Lefei Jiao
Animals 2024, 14(13), 1986; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14131986 - 5 Jul 2024
Viewed by 279
Abstract
This study aimed to evaluate the effects of arginine (0.5%, 1%, 1.5%, 2%, and 2.5% arginine supplementation levels were selected) on the ovarian development of Pacific white shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei). The analyzed arginine supplementation levels in each diet were 2.90%, 3.58%, [...] Read more.
This study aimed to evaluate the effects of arginine (0.5%, 1%, 1.5%, 2%, and 2.5% arginine supplementation levels were selected) on the ovarian development of Pacific white shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei). The analyzed arginine supplementation levels in each diet were 2.90%, 3.58%, 4.08%, 4.53%, 5.04%, and 5.55%, respectively. A total of 540 shrimp (an initial weight of approximately 14 g) with good vitality were randomly distributed into six treatments, each of which had three tanks (300 L in volume filled with 200 L of water), with 30 shrimp per duplicate. Shrimp were fed three times a day (6:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., and 6:00 p.m.). The results showed that after the 12-week raring cycle, shrimp fed with 4.08% and 4.53% Arg achieved better ovary development, which was identified by ovarian stage statistics, ovarian morphology observation, serum hormone levels (methylfarneside (MF); 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT); estradiol (E2); and gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH)), gene expression (DNA meiotic recombinase 1 (dmc1), proliferating cell nuclear antigen (pcna), drosophila steroid hormone 1 (cyp18a), retinoid X receptor (rxra), and ecdysone receptor (ecr)). Further in-depth analysis showed that 4.08% and 4.53% Arg supplementation increased the concentration of vitellogenin in hepatopancreas and serum (p < 0.05) and upregulated the expression level of hepatopancreatic vg and vgr (p < 0.05), which promoted the synthesis of hepatopancreas exogenous vitellogenin and then transported it into the ovary through the vitellogenin receptor and further promoted ovarian maturation in L. vannamei. Meanwhile, compared with the control group, the expression level of vg in the ovary of the 4.53% Arg group was significantly upregulated (p < 0.05), which indicated endogenous vitellogenin synthesis in ovarian maturation in L. vannamei. Moreover, the expression of genes related to the mechanistic target of the rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) pathway and protein levels was regulated by dietary arginine supplementation levels. Arginine metabolism-related products, including nitric oxide synthase (NOS), nitric oxide (NO), and cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP), were also affected. RNA interference was applied here to study the molecular regulation mechanism of arginine on ovarian development in L. vannamei. A green fluorescent protein (GFP)-derived double-stranded RNA (dsGFP) is currently commonly used as a control, while TOR-derived dsRNA (dsTOR) and NOS-derived dsRNA (dsNOS) were designed to build the TOR and NOS in vivo knockdown model. The results showed that the mTORC1 and NO-sGC-cGMP pathways were inhibited, while the vitellogenin receptor and vitellogenin gene expression levels were downregulated significantly in the hepatopancreas and ovary. Overall, dietary arginine supplementation could enhance endogenous and exogenous vitellogenin synthesis to promote ovary development in L. vannamei, and the appropriate dosages were 4.08% and 4.53%. The NO-sGC-cGMP and mTORC1 signaling pathways mediated arginine in the regulation of ovary development in L. vannamei. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Nutrition)
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