Animal and Veterinary science Group

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Animal and Veterinary science Group

Edinburgh, United Kingdom
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Duthie C.-A.,Future Farming Systems Group | Haskell M.,Animal and Veterinary science Group | Hyslop J.J.,SAC Consulting Ltd | Waterhouse A.,Future Farming Systems Group | And 3 more authors.
Animal | Year: 2017

This study was undertaken to further develop our understanding of the links between breed, diet and the rumen microbial community and determine their effect on production characteristics and methane (CH4) emissions from beef cattle. The experiment was of a 2×2 factorial design, comprising two breeds (crossbred Charolais (CHX); purebred Luing (LU)) and two diets (concentrate-straw or silage-based). In total, 80 steers were used and balanced for sire within each breed, farm of origin and BW across diets. The diets (fed as total mixed rations) consisted of (g/kg dry matter (DM)) forage to concentrate ratios of either 500 : 500 (Mixed) or 79 : 921 (Concentrate). Steers were adapted to the diets over a 4-week period and performance and feed efficiency were then measured over a 56-day test period. Directly after the 56-day test, CH4 and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions were measured (six steers/week) over a 13-week period. Compared with LU steers, CHX steers had greater average daily gain (ADG; P<0.05) and significantly (P<0.001) lower residual feed intake. Crossbred Charolais steers had superior conformation and fatness scores (P<0.001) than LU steers. Although steers consumed, on a DM basis, more Concentrate than Mixed diet (P<0.01), there were no differences between diets in either ADG or feed efficiency during the 56-day test. At slaughter, however, Concentrate-fed steers were heavier (P<0.05) and had greater carcass weights than Mixed-fed steers (P<0.001). Breed of steer did not influence CH4 production, but it was substantially lower when the Concentrate rather than Mixed diet was fed (P<0.001). Rumen fluid from Concentrate-fed steers contained greater proportions of propionic acid (P<0.001) and lower proportions of acetic acid (P<0.001), fewer archaea (P<0.01) and protozoa (P=0.09), but more Clostridium Cluster XIVa (P<0.01) and Bacteroides plus Prevotella (P<0.001) than Mixed-fed steers. When the CH4 to CO2 molar ratio was considered as a proxy method for CH4 production (g/kg DM intake), only weak relationships were found within diets. In conclusion, although feeding Concentrate and Mixed diets produced substantial differences in CH4 emissions and rumen characteristics, differences in performance were influenced more markedly by breed. © The Animal Consortium 2017


Walker J.K.,University of Edinburgh | Walker J.K.,The New Zealand Companion Animal Council Inc. | Dale A.R.,RNZSPCA | D'Eath R.B.,Animal and Veterinary science Group | Wemelsfelder F.,Animal and Veterinary science Group
Applied Animal Behaviour Science | Year: 2016

Qualitative Behaviour Assessment (QBA) was utilised to examine the behavioural expression of dogs in different housing environments and the results were compared to measurements of quantitative behaviour and physiology. Firstly, quantitative behavioural and physiological differences were investigated between dogs in 3 housing environments (short-term shelter confinement, ≤4 days, n = 10; long-term shelter confinement, >30 days, n = 9; and domestic living situations, n = 10). Each dog's behaviour was recorded over a 4 h period using an ethogram consisting of 21 behaviour categories. Dogs in both short (SD) and long (LD) term confinement displayed higher frequencies of paw-lifting (P < 0.001), displacement behaviour (digging and/or drinking P < 0.01), vocalisation (P < 0.05) and locomotory activity (P < 0.001) compared to dogs maintained as family pets (PD). Salivary cortisol concentrations did not differ amongst groups (H = 0.55, P = 0.76). Secondly, quantitative behaviour and QBA were combined to investigate differences among these same 29 dogs when filmed for 1 min in both their Home Environment and a standardised Novel Environment. QBA of these video clips was made by 10 observers utilising Free-Choice-Profiling methodology. Generalised Procrustes Analysis was used to calculate a consensus profile and three main dimensions of dog expression in both Environments. The observers repeated dog scores on these dimensions with high accuracy (P < 0.001). Observers perceived dogs as more ‘relaxed/content’ in the Home Environment (H = 17.86, P < 0.0001), and more ‘calm/relaxed’ in the Novel Environment (H = 13.58, P < 0.001), than SD and LD dogs. In the Novel Environment, LD dogs were perceived as more ‘inquisitive/curious’ (H = 5.97, P < 0.05), and SD dogs as more ‘curious/cautious’ (H = 6.82, P < 0.05), than the other groups. Quantitative assessment of the 1 min Home and Novel Environment video clips were analysed using Principle Component Analysis (PCA), generating two main factors explaining 88% and 76% of the variation respectively. PCA factor 1 (‘rest’) and QBA Dimension 1 (‘relaxed/content’) correlated (P < 0.0001) in the Home Environment’. In the Novel Environment PCA factor 1 (‘stand’, ‘sniff’) correlated with QBA Dimension 1 (‘clam/relaxed’) and PCA factor 2 (‘sniff’, ‘walk’) correlated with QBA Dimension 2 (‘curious/inquisitive’). There was no correlation between QBA dimensions and cortisol concentrations. In sum, these results indicate that a combined quantitative/qualitative assessment facilitates the interpretation of behavioural variances resulting from housing differences and supports utilising QBA for the assessment of dog behavioural expression. © 2016


PubMed | Animal and Veterinary science Group, 1Beef and Sheep Research Center and SAC Consulting Ltd.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Animal : an international journal of animal bioscience | Year: 2016

Adding nitrate to the diet or increasing the concentration of dietary lipid are effective strategies for reducing enteric methane emissions. This study investigated their effect on health and performance of finishing beef cattle. The experiment was a twotwothree factorial design comprising two breeds (CHX, crossbred Charolais; LU, Luing); two basal diets consisting of (g/kg dry matter (DM), forage to concentrate ratios) 520 : 480 (Mixed) or 84 : 916 (Concentrate); and three treatments: (i) control with rapeseed meal as the main protein source replaced with either (ii) calcium nitrate (18 g nitrate/kg diet DM) or (iii) rapeseed cake (RSC, increasing acid hydrolysed ether extract from 25 to 48 g/kg diet DM). Steers (n=84) were allocated to each of the six basal diettreatments in equal numbers of each breed with feed offered ad libitum. Blood methaemoglobin (MetHb) concentrations (marker for nitrate poisoning) were monitored throughout the study in steers receiving nitrate. After dietary adaptation over 28 days, individual animal intake, performance and feed efficiency were recorded for a test period of 56 days. Blood MetHb concentrations were low and similar up to 14 g nitrate/kg diet DM but increased when nitrate increased to 18 g nitrate/kg diet DM (P0.05). Neither basal diet nor treatment affected carcass quality (P>0.05), but CHX steers achieved a greater killing out proportion (P<0.001) than LU steers. Thus, adding nitrate to the diet or increasing the level of dietary lipid through the use of cold-pressed RSC, did not adversely affect health or performance of finishing beef steers when used within the diets studied.


Andreasen S.N.,Copenhagen University | Wemelsfelder F.,Animal and Veterinary science Group | Sandoe P.,Copenhagen University | Forkman B.,Copenhagen University
Applied Animal Behaviour Science | Year: 2013

The effort to develop methods for assessing animal welfare at farm level has grown dramatically since the end of the 1990s, culminating in the protocols developed by the European-wide project Welfare Quality® (WQ). However, these protocols are time consuming and lack transparency in how scores are aggregated into welfare outcomes. The current study investigates the potential of Qualitative Behavior Assessment (QBA), a much less time-consuming approach, to be used as a stand-alone integrative screening tool for identifying farms with compromised welfare before applying the full WQ protocol. QBA is a 'whole-animal' approach asking human observers to summarize animals' expressive demeanor and its context into descriptors such as relaxed, anxious, content or frustrated -terms which given their emotional connotation appear to have direct relevance to animal welfare. Two trained QBA-assessors, and one trained Welfare Quality® assessor visited 43 Danish dairy cattle farms at different times, the former focusing on QBA and the latter making a full WQ protocol assessment. The QBA scores were analyzed using Principal Component Analysis (correlation matrix, no rotation), and WQ protocol data were analyzed and integrated according to the WQ protocol. The resulting QBA and WQ protocol outcomes were correlated using non-parametric methods (Spearman Rank and Kendall W). Highly significant inter-observer agreement was found between the two QBA-assessors (P<0.0001). QBA scores showed some weak correlations to WQ measures but no meaningful pattern of relationship between these measures emerged. The present study does not support the application of QBA as a stand-alone welfare assessment tool capable of predicting the outcome of the larger WQ protocol. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.


Desire S.,Animal and Veterinary science Group | Turner S.P.,Animal and Veterinary science Group | D'Eath R.B.,Animal and Veterinary science Group | Doeschl-Wilson A.B.,Roslin Institute | And 2 more authors.
Animal | Year: 2016

Aggression at regrouping is a common issue in pig farming. Skin lesions are genetically and phenotypically correlated with aggression and have been shown to have a significant heritable component. This study predicts the magnitude of reduction in complex aggressive behavioural traits when using lesion numbers on different body regions at two different time points as selection criteria, to identify the optimum skin lesion trait for selection purposes. In total, 1146 pigs were mixed into new social groups, and skin lesions were counted 24 h (SL24h) and 3 weeks (SL3wk) post-mixing, on the anterior, centre and posterior regions of the body. An animal model was used to estimate genetic parameters for skin lesion traits and 14 aggressive behavioural traits. Estimated breeding values (EBVs) and phenotypic values were scaled and standardised to allow direct comparison across multiple traits. Individuals with SL24h and SL3wk EBVs in the least aggressive 10% of the population were compared with the population mean to predict the expected genetic and phenotypic response in aggressive behaviour to selection. At mixing, selection for low anterior lesions was predicted to affect substantially more behavioural traits of aggressiveness than lesions obtained on other body parts, with EBVs between −0.21 and −1.17 SD below the population mean. Individuals with low central SL24h EBVs also had low EBVs for aggressive traits (−0.33 to −0.55). Individuals with high SL3wk EBVs had low EBVs for aggression at mixing (between −0.24 and −0.53 SD below the population mean), although this was predicted to affect fewer traits than selection against SL24h. These results suggest that selection against anterior SL24h would result in the greatest genetic and phenotypic reduction in aggressive behaviour recorded at mixing. Selection for increased SL3wk was predicted to reduce aggression at mixing; however, current understanding about aggressive behaviour under stable social conditions is insufficient to recommend using this trait for selection purposes. © The Animal Consortium 2016


Eaglen S.A.E.,Animal and Veterinary science Group | Eaglen S.A.E.,Roslin Institute | Coffey M.P.,Animal and Veterinary science Group | Woolliams J.A.,Roslin Institute | Wall E.,Animal and Veterinary science Group
Genetics Selection Evolution | Year: 2012

Background: The focus in dairy cattle breeding is gradually shifting from production to functional traits and genetic parameters of calving traits are estimated more frequently. However, across countries, various statistical models are used to estimate these parameters. This study evaluates different models for calving ease and stillbirth in United Kingdom Holstein-Friesian cattle. Methods. Data from first and later parity records were used. Genetic parameters for calving ease, stillbirth and gestation length were estimated using the restricted maximum likelihood method, considering different models i.e. sire (maternal grandsire), animal, univariate and bivariate models. Gestation length was fitted as a correlated indicator trait and, for all three traits, genetic correlations between first and later parities were estimated. Potential bias in estimates was avoided by acknowledging a possible environmental direct-maternal covariance. The total heritable variance was estimated for each trait to discuss its theoretical importance and practical value. Prediction error variances and accuracies were calculated to compare the models. Results and discussion. On average, direct and maternal heritabilities for calving traits were low, except for direct gestation length. Calving ease in first parity had a significant and negative direct-maternal genetic correlation. Gestation length was maternally correlated to stillbirth in first parity and directly correlated to calving ease in later parities. Multi-trait models had a slightly greater predictive ability than univariate models, especially for the lowly heritable traits. The computation time needed for sire (maternal grandsire) models was much smaller than for animal models with only small differences in accuracy. The sire (maternal grandsire) model was robust when additional genetic components were estimated, while the equivalent animal model had difficulties reaching convergence. Conclusions: For the evaluation of calving traits, multi-trait models show a slight advantage over univariate models. Extended sire models (maternal grandsire) are more practical and robust than animal models. Estimated genetic parameters for calving traits of UK Holstein cattle are consistent with literature. Calculating an aggregate estimated breeding value including direct and maternal values should encourage breeders to consider both direct and maternal effects in selection decisions. © 2012Eaglen et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.


Athanasiadou S.,Animal and Veterinary Science Group
Veterinary Parasitology | Year: 2012

The dissection of the molecular interactions between nutrition and immunity to nematodes is of strategic importance to predict the risk of infection, define disease predisposition and develop sustainable measures for parasite control in ruminants. Despite the evidence on the effects of nutrition on the manifestations of immunity to gastrointestinal parasites at phenotypic level, the lack of progress on the characterisation of the molecular interactions is directly related to the current lack of appropriate tools for such advancements, including fully sequenced and annotated genomes and immunological tools for small ruminants. To overcome such constraints and achieve rapid progress in exploring the molecular interactions between nutrition and immunity to nematodes, it is proposed here that we capitalise more on the advancements in small mammal models. In this paper, first the literature deriving from growing animals is reviewed, where most evidence originates from primary infection models. The focus is then shifted on peri-parturient animals; the immunomodulatory effects of nutrition are investigated during re-infection. Finally, an approach is suggested on how advancements made in the rodent models, can be utilised in order to expand our understanding in sheep and provide specific examples on how this should work to address sustainable parasite control in ruminants. © 2012 .


Turner S.P.,Animal and Veterinary science Group | Jack M.C.,Animal and Veterinary science Group | Lawrence A.B.,Animal and Veterinary science Group
Journal of Animal Science | Year: 2013

Human safety can be compromised by the response of beef cows to handling or when defending their calf. However, little is known about how precalving temperament, postcalving defensiveness, and maternal care are related. The impacts of cow temperament on calf neonatal vigor and ADG are also unknown. Data were collected on 2 farms (Farm 1, n = 143, 1 parity; Farm 2, n = 237, 2 parities). Temperament was recorded before calving when restrained in a crush (crush score), on exit from the crush (flight speed), and when isolated with a handler. Defensiveness was recorded within 4 d after calving during handling of the calf. Maternal interactions with the calf and calf vigor were recorded for 3 h after calving (Farm 1 only) and ADG was measured over 7 mo. Crush score and flight speed were repeatable within a parity (range in repeatability 0.33 to 0.49; P < 0.001). Crush score (0.50; P < 0.001) and defensiveness (up to 0.71; P < 0.001) were repeatable across parities. Temperament and defensiveness were unrelated on Farm 1; on Farm 2 a fearful crush score was associated with heightened defensiveness as measured by vigorous movement during calf handling (P < 0.001). Temperament and defensiveness were unrelated to calving ease or the amount of maternal behavior shown to the calf. At Farm 1, cows that exited the crush quickly had calves with a lighter birth weight (P = 0.023) and those that were agitated when isolated had calves with a decreased ADG (P = 0.017). Defensiveness was unrelated to ADG and neither temperament nor defensiveness affected calf vigor. Cow precalving temperament and postcalving defensiveness are repeatable but appear to be independent traits, neither of which is related to maternal interactions with the neonatal calf. Reducing precalving fearfulness should not affect postcalving behavior and changing postcalving defensiveness should not affect other maternal care traits. Fearful cows may produce calves with decreased birth weight and ADG, which, if confirmed, suggests that cow fearfulness may have wider economic implications than previously realized. © 2013 American Society of Animal Science. All rights reserved.


MacKay J.R.D.,Animal and Veterinary science Group | MacKay J.R.D.,University of Edinburgh | Deag J.M.,University of Edinburgh | Haskell M.J.,Animal and Veterinary science Group
Applied Animal Behaviour Science | Year: 2012

Tri-axial accelerometers, typically used in activity monitors for detecting oestrus events in dairy cattle, are potentially a valuable device in the ethologist's toolbox. They open up the possibility of monitoring large numbers of animals over long periods of time with minimum human intervention. The use of such devices on domesticated cattle is widespread, however there is little systematic information available on how the animals react to being 'tagged'. Typically accelerometers are attached to a hind limb. In this study, the behaviour and feed intake of 28 lactating dairy cattle (sound n= 22, lame n= 6) was observed in housed cows for three consecutive periods: a baseline period, a period without accelerometers and a period with accelerometers. The effect of being tagged on the behaviour of the animal and whether habituation occurred within the tagged period were investigated. There was no evidence of a general change in feed intake (P= 0.438), in the proportion of time spent lying (P= 0.703) or proportion of time spent lying on the untagged side (P= 0.708) between tagged or untagged periods. All animals showed an increase in time spent standing and decrease in time spent lying over the first two tagged days, which became non significant by Day 3, when compared to the last untagged day (lying P= 0.575, standing P= 0.974), suggesting a habituation period of two days after tagging for animals to adjust to wearing the tags. From these results, the authors conclude that accelerometers are a non-invasive tool for the study of cattle behaviour, but recommend that data may not be reliable until two days after the attachment of the device. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.


PubMed | Animal and Veterinary science Group
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Journal of animal science | Year: 2013

Human safety can be compromised by the response of beef cows to handling or when defending their calf. However, little is known about how precalving temperament, postcalving defensiveness, and maternal care are related. The impacts of cow temperament on calf neonatal vigor and ADG are also unknown. Data were collected on 2 farms (Farm 1, n = 143, 1 parity; Farm 2, n = 237, 2 parities). Temperament was recorded before calving when restrained in a crush (crush score), on exit from the crush (flight speed), and when isolated with a handler. Defensiveness was recorded within 4 d after calving during handling of the calf. Maternal interactions with the calf and calf vigor were recorded for 3 h after calving (Farm 1 only) and ADG was measured over 7 mo. Crush score and flight speed were repeatable within a parity (range in repeatability 0.33 to 0.49; P < 0.001). Crush score (0.50; P < 0.001) and defensiveness (up to 0.71; P < 0.001) were repeatable across parities. Temperament and defensiveness were unrelated on Farm 1; on Farm 2 a fearful crush score was associated with heightened defensiveness as measured by vigorous movement during calf handling (P < 0.001). Temperament and defensiveness were unrelated to calving ease or the amount of maternal behavior shown to the calf. At Farm 1, cows that exited the crush quickly had calves with a lighter birth weight (P = 0.023) and those that were agitated when isolated had calves with a decreased ADG (P = 0.017). Defensiveness was unrelated to ADG and neither temperament nor defensiveness affected calf vigor. Cow precalving temperament and postcalving defensiveness are repeatable but appear to be independent traits, neither of which is related to maternal interactions with the neonatal calf. Reducing precalving fearfulness should not affect postcalving behavior and changing postcalving defensiveness should not affect other maternal care traits. Fearful cows may produce calves with decreased birth weight and ADG, which, if confirmed, suggests that cow fearfulness may have wider economic implications than previously realized.

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