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Waltham on the Wolds, United Kingdom

Pullen A.J.,University of Bristol | Merrill R.J.N.,Center for Pet Nutrition | Bradshaw J.W.S.,University of Bristol
Applied Animal Behaviour Science | Year: 2010

Toys are often provided for adult dogs housed in kennels, but their effectiveness as environmental enrichment is not well documented. At a minimum, toys need to elicit interest in the animal for which they are intended, before any "enrichment" can be claimed. In this study we have examined short-term preferences for toys with a range of characteristics, using two methods of presentation, in both long-stay dogs in complex kennels, and short-stay dogs in rehoming kennels. The dogs, one sample in residential kennels (LSE, N=. 30) and the other in rehoming kennels (RH, N=. 66), were tested individually with four robust toys, presented both hanging and on the floor, over two 15. min trials. The trial was also repeated with a second RH sample (N=34) comparing the four robust toys with less robust toys, all presented on the floor. Latency to and duration of interaction with each toy were recorded remotely. In the first trial, 34% of RH dogs and 43% of LSE dogs interacted with the toys; of the dogs that interacted, the average duration of interaction was higher among RH dogs (120. s) than among LSE dogs (28. s). Toys on the floor were interacted with for significantly longer than hanging toys by both LSE and RH dogs. RH dogs were faster to interact with the floor toys than the hanging toys, but the LSE dogs did not appear to discriminate between hanging and floor toys in latencies to interact. In the second trial, 76% of the RH dogs interacted with one or more of the toys, interacting for significantly longer with the four less robust toys, but their latencies to interact were similar between the robust and less robust toys. Average duration of interaction (227. s) was higher than in the first trial. Our findings support previous proposals that robust toys are little used by kennel housed dogs. However, with less robust toys, interaction was relatively prolonged, indicating that interest to the dog may be enhanced if the toy can be chewed easily and/or makes a noise. Hanging toys were not favoured, although these have been reported to stimulate high levels of interaction in juvenile laboratory beagles. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.

Longland A.C.,Equine and Livestock Nutrition Services | Barfoot C.,MARS Horse Care UK | Harris P.A.,Center for Pet Nutrition
Veterinary Record | Year: 2011

The aim of this study was to determine the amounts of water-soluble carbohydrate (WSC), WSC constituents and protein leached from a range of UK hays soaked according to common practice. Initial hay WSC content ranged from 123 to 230 g/kg dry matter (DM). Soaking the hays for up to 16 hours in water at a mean temperature of 8°C resulted in a mean loss of 27 per cent (range 6 to 54 per cent) of hay WSC. The mean percentage losses of WSC constituents were 24 per cent (range 14 to 31) for fructan, 41 per cent (range 21 to 70) for fructose, 45 per cent (range 28 to 100) for sucrose and 56 per cent (range 29 to 100) for glucose. The mean crude protein content of the initial hays was 58.7 g/kg DM (range 30 to 86 g/kg DM) and this value was not affected significantly by soaking. Despite a mean WSC loss of 27 per cent, the WSC contents of seven of the hays remained above the suggested upper limit for laminitic animals of 100 g/kg DM.

Snellgrove D.L.,Center for Pet Nutrition
The British journal of nutrition | Year: 2011

Clinical haematology and blood plasma chemistry can be used as a valuable tool to provide substantial diagnostic information for fish. A wide range of parameters can be used to assess nutritional status, digestive function, disease identification, routine metabolic levels, general physiological status and even the assessment and management of wild fish populations. However to evaluate such data accurately, baseline reference intervals for each measurable parameter must be established for the species of fish in question. Baseline data for ornamental fish species are limited, as research is more commonly conducted using commercially cultured fish. Blood samples were collected from sixteen red top ice blue cichlids (Metriaclima greshakei), an ornamental freshwater fish, to describe a range of haematology and plasma chemistry parameters. Since this cichlid is fairly large in comparison with most tropical ornamental fish, two independent blood samples were taken to assess a large range of parameters. No significant differences were noted between sample periods for any parameter. Values obtained for a large number of parameters were similar to those established for other closely related fish species such as tilapia (Oreochromis spp.). In addition to reporting the first set of blood values for M. Greshakei, to our knowledge, this study highlights the possibility of using previously established data for cultured cichlid species in studies with ornamental cichlid fish.

Herborn K.,University of Glasgow | Alexander L.,Center for Pet Nutrition | Arnold K.E.,University of York
Animal Cognition | Year: 2011

Using featural cues such as colour to identify ephemeral food can increase foraging efficiency. Featural cues may change over time however; therefore, animals should use spatial cues to relocate food that occurs in a temporally stable position. We tested this hypothesis by measuring the cue preferences of captive greenfinches Carduelis chloris when relocating food hidden in a foraging tray. In these standardised associative learning trials, greenfinches favoured colour cues when returning to a foraging context that they had encountered before only once ("one-trial test") but switched to spatial cues when they had encountered that scenario on ten previous occasions ("repeated-trial test"). We suggest that repeated encounters generated a context in which individuals had a prior expectation of temporal stability, and hence context-dependent cue selection. Next, we trained birds to find food in the absence of colour cues but tested them in the presence of visual distracters. Birds were able to learn spatial cues after one encounter, but only when visual distracters were identical in colouration. When a colourful distracter was present in the test phase, cue selection was random. Unlike the first one-trial test, birds were not biased towards this colourful visual distracter. Together, these results suggest that greenfinches are able to learn both cue types, colour cue biases represent learning, not simply distraction, and spatial cues are favoured over colour cues only in temporally stable contexts. © 2010 Springer-Verlag.

Arnold K.E.,University of York | Herborn K.A.,University of Glasgow | Adam A.,University of Glasgow | Alexander L.,Center for Pet Nutrition
Functional Ecology | Year: 2015

'Personality traits' are behavioural differences between individuals that are stable within individuals. Different combinations of personality traits can correlate with fitness variation but the mechanisms remain unclear. There is the suggestion that personality reflects variation in physiology. For example, 'fast' (bold, active, fast exploring) individuals are predicted to maintain a higher metabolic rate than 'slow' animals. A raised metabolic rate can result in a proliferation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) which, if unchecked, cause oxidative stress. Thus, the 'extended pace of life theory' predicts that 'fast' individuals will pay higher oxidative costs than 'slow' ones. Alternatively, stress hormones, which are often relatively high in 'slow' individuals, can also cause proliferation of ROS and subsequent oxidative damage. Here, we assessed co-variation between personality and oxidative profile in wild blue tits. The personality traits neophobia (latency to approach food near novel objects), activity level in a novel environment and exploratory tendency (controlling for differences in activity) assayed in captivity were repeatable within individuals but were uncorrelated with each other. Reactive oxygen metabolites (ROMs an index of pro-oxidant status) and OXY (antioxidant capacity) were also uncorrelated with each other and did not vary with age or sex. Blood sampling birds within three minutes of capture from their familiar cage vs. after 15 min of exposure to a standardized stressor did not affect ROMs or OXY. Wintering blue tits that were both highly neophobic and exploratory had low OXY defences and individuals that showed low neophobia and low exploration had high OXY defences. Variation in ROMs was not explained by any personality trait. High exploratory tendency also correlated with a reduction in body condition in captivity, but body condition did not predict ROMs or OXY. Activity level in the exploration trial did not vary with oxidative profile or change in body condition. Personality types differed in antioxidant defences, and it was the combination of an individual's personality traits that proved important. ROS production and antioxidant defences will vary due to many processes for example resource allocation, not just metabolic rate and stress responsiveness. Consequently, the costs of personality traits and thus the predictions regarding fitness are complex. © 2014 British Ecological Society.

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