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Open AccessArticle

The Effects of Play Behavior, Feeding, and Time of Day on Salivary Concentrations of sIgA in Calves

1
Institute of Animal Welfare Science, Department for Farm Animals and Veterinary Public Health, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Veterinärplatz 1, 1210 Vienna, Austria
2
Institute of Immunology, Department for Pathobiology, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Veterinärplatz 1, 1210 Vienna, Austria
3
Department of Applied Statistics, JK University Linz, Altenberger Str. 69, 4040 Linz, Austria
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Animals 2019, 9(9), 657; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9090657
Received: 26 May 2019 / Revised: 23 August 2019 / Accepted: 2 September 2019 / Published: 5 September 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Positive Aspects of Animal Welfare)
The focus of animal welfare science has shifted over the last decades from efforts to avoid negative states to ways of allowing animals the experience of positive emotions. The emotional state of an animal interacts with its immune system. Secretory immunoglobulin A, a class of antibodies present on mucosal surfaces and acting as the first line of defense against infections, is influenced by positive and negative emotions in humans; the few studies of its association with emotions in animals focused almost exclusively on the impact of negative emotions and yielded conflicting results. We present the first study that focuses on salivary immunoglobulin A to investigate a possible relationship between positive emotions and immune functioning in calves. We detected a circadian rhythm of immunoglobulin A concentrations, with lowest levels at 14:00 h. Immunoglobulin A concentrations were decreased directly after feeding, possibly due to increased saliva flow rates, and we did not find higher immunoglobulin A concentrations after play. The results are important for the design of future studies of positive emotions, although they do not support immunoglobulin A as an indicator of positive emotional states.
The focus of animal welfare science has shifted over the last decades from efforts to avoid negative states to ways of allowing animals the experience of positive emotions. They may influence physiological processes in farmed animals, potentially providing health benefits; in addition, the physiological changes might be used as indicators of emotional states. We investigated calves’ salivary secretory immunoglobulin A (sIgA) concentrations with regard to a possible circadian rhythm and two situations that elicit positive emotions. Ten saliva samples of 14 calves were taken on two consecutive days; within the course of a day we observed a significant decline in salivary sIgA concentrations at 14:00 h. Further, we probed the animals before and after milk feeding and, contrarily to our prediction, detected lower sIgA concentrations 5 min after feeding than 15 min before. A probable explanation might be an increase in salivary flow rate caused by milk ingestion. We also took samples before and after we stimulated play behavior in calves. There was no significant difference in sIgA concentrations between samples taken before and after play. Although there was a significant correlation between the change in sIgA concentrations and the amount of play behavior shown, the correlation depended on an unexpected decrease of sIgA in animals that played little, and thus, does not support our hypothesis. In general, the data showed a large variability that might arise from different factors that are difficult to standardize in animals. Thus, the use of salivary sIgA concentrations as a marker of positive emotions in calves is not supported conclusively by the present data. View Full-Text
Keywords: immunoglobulin A; saliva; cattle; emotions; circadian rhythm immunoglobulin A; saliva; cattle; emotions; circadian rhythm
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Spiesberger, K.; Lürzel, S.; Patzl, M.; Futschik, A.; Waiblinger, S. The Effects of Play Behavior, Feeding, and Time of Day on Salivary Concentrations of sIgA in Calves. Animals 2019, 9, 657.

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