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Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Prieto N.,Sustainable Livestock Systems Group | Prieto N.,Scottish Agricultural College SAC | Ross D.W.,Sustainable Livestock Systems Group | Navajas E.A.,Sustainable Livestock Systems Group | And 4 more authors.
Animal | Year: 2011

The objective of this study was to examine the online use of near infrared reflectance (NIR) spectroscopy to estimate the concentration of individual and groups of fatty acids (FA) as well as intramuscular fat (IMF) in crossbred Aberdeen Angus (AA×) and Limousin (LIM×) cattle. This was achieved by direct application of a fibre-optic probe to the muscle immediately after exposing the meat surface in the abattoir at 48 h post mortem. Samples of M. longissimus thoracis from 88 AA× and 106 LIM× were scanned over the NIR spectral range from 350 to 1800 nm and samples of the M. longissimus lumborum were analysed for IMF content and FA composition. Statistically significant differences (P < 0.001) were observed in most FA between the two breeds studied, with FA concentration being higher in AA× meat mainly. NIR calibrations, tested by cross-validation, showed moderate to high predictability in LIM× meat samples for C16:0, C16:1, C18:0, trans11 C18:1, C18:1, C18:2 n-6, C20:1, cis9, trans11 C18:2, SFA (saturated FA), MUFA (monounsaturated FA), PUFA (polyunsaturated FA) and IMF content with R 2 (SECV, mg/100 g muscle) of 0.69 (146), 0.69 (28), 0.71 (62), 0.70 (8.1), 0.76 (192), 0.65 (13), 0.71 (0.9), 0.71 (2.9), 0.68 (235), 0.75 (240), 0.64 (17) and 0.75 (477), respectively. FA such as C14:0, C18:3 n-3, C20:4 n-6, C20:5 n-3, C22:6 n-3, n-6 and n-3 were more difficult to predict by NIR in these LIM× samples (R2 = 0.12 to 0.62; SECV = 0.5 to 26 mg/100 g muscle). In contrast, NIR showed low predictability for FA in AA× beef samples. In particular for LIM×, the correlations of NIR measurements and several FA in the range from 0.81 to 0.87 indicated that the NIR spectroscopy is a useful online technique for the early, fast and relatively inexpensive estimation of FA composition in the abattoir. Copyright © 2010 The Animal Consortium. Source

Guy J.H.,Northumbria University | Cain P.J.,Northumbria University | Seddon Y.M.,Northumbria University | Baxter E.M.,Scottish Agricultural College SAC | Edwards S.A.,Northumbria University
Animal Welfare | Year: 2012

New livestock housing systems designed to improve animal welfare will only see large-scale commercial adoption if they improve profitability, or are at least cost neutral to the farm business. Economic evaluation of new system developments is therefore essential to determine their effect on cost of production and hence the extent of any market premium necessary to stimulate adoption. This paper describes such an evaluation in relation to high welfare farrowing systems for sows where any potential system needs to reconcile the behavioural needs of the sow with piglet survivability, acceptable capital and running costs, farm practicality and ease of management. In the Defra-sponsored PigSAFE project, a new farrowing system has been developed which comprises a loose, straw-bedded pen with embedded design features which promote piglet survival. Data on this and four other farrowing systems (new systems: 360°Farrower and a Danish pen; existing systems: crate and outdoor paddock) were used to populate a model of production cost taking account of both capital and running costs (feed, labour, bedding etc). Assuming equitable pig performance across all indoor farrowing systems, the model estimated a higher production cost for non-crate systems by 1.6, 1.7 and 3.5%, respectively, for 360° Farrower, Danish and PigSAFE systems on a per-sow basis. The outdoor production system had the lowest production cost. An online survey of pig producers confirmed that, whilst some producers would consider installing a non-crate system, the majority of producers remain cautious about considering alternatives to the farrowing crate. If pig performance in alternative indoor systems could be improved from the crate baseline (eg through reduced piglet mortality, improved weaning weight or sow re-breeding), then the differential cost of production could be reduced. Indeed, with further innovation by pig producers, management of alternative farrowing systems may evolve to a point where there can be improvements in both welfare and pig production. However, larger data sets of alternative systems on commercial farms will be needed to explore fully the welfare/production interface before such a relationship can be confirmed for those pig producers who will be replacing their units in the next ten years. © 2012 Universities Federation for Animal Welfare. Source

Tiley G.E.D.,Scottish Agricultural College SAC
Journal of Ecology | Year: 2010

This account presents information on all aspects of the biology of Cirsium arvense that are relevant to understanding its ecological characteristics and behaviour. The main topics are presented within the standard framework of the Biological Flora of the British Isles: distribution, habitat, communities, responses to biotic factors, responses to environment, structure and physiology, phenology, floral and seed characters, herbivores and disease, history, conservation and management.2.Cirsium arvense, creeping thistle (Californian thistle, Canada thistle), one of the world's most troublesome and persistent weeds, is native to Europe and the east northern hemisphere but introduced to North America and the southern hemisphere. Latitudinal distribution north or south is limited by low winter and summer maximum temperatures and by a long day requirement for flowering.3.Cirsium arvense is believed to have originated in the temperate Middle East and its spread has closely followed human migration and agricultural activity. Colonization of new sites is by seed which establishes best in bare or disturbed ground, mirroring its prehistoric ecology as an opportunist pioneer of bare ground and organic residues. It is now a widespread and scheduled agricultural weed in both arable crops and pastures and also a constituent in over 70 British (National Vegetation Classification) plant communities, occurring mainly on waste neglected land, roadsides, hedgerows and disturbed areas.4. Its presence in crops leads to yield losses and in pastures seriously interferes with utilization due to the deterrent effect of the leaf spines on grazing animals. This has led to a long history of investigation into control measures: mechanical, chemical, biological and integrated, which are summarized. Combination treatments and integrated control have achieved some success but effective control requires follow-up procedures over a number of seasons. Climate change studies suggest C. arvense could grow better and be more difficult to control in future.5. Success and persistence derives from an extensive, far-creeping and deep rooting system which ensures survival and rapid vegetative spread under a wide range of soil and management conditions, and a means of escape from sub-aerial control treatments. New adventitious buds capable of shoot development can arise at any point along the horizontal roots, even when these are cut into pieces or damaged. Root buds remain dormant until released from dormancy through damage or decay of the aerial shoots. Carbohydrate root reserves, stored in swollen cortical tissue, fall to a minimum just before flowering and are then replenished for perennation during the subsequent winter. Strategies for control aim to treat the plant when root carbohydrate reserves are at a minimum, to exhaust these reserves and to prevent replenishment for further perennation.6. Balanced against its difficulty as a weed, C. arvense has significant conservation value as a host to numerous insects, many attracted by copious and accessible nectar and strong flower fragrance. It is however a strong competitor to low-growing plants in natural communities.7.Cirsium arvense is dioecious and for flowering has a 14-16 h day length requirement. Seed set is successful if male and female plants are no more than 50-90 m apart to allow insect pollination. In spite of the conspicuous wind-borne pappus, this rarely carries a seed which normally falls near the parent plant. The flower heads and other plant parts are regularly attacked by numerous insects and less frequently by diseases.8. Germination of seed is mainly during the high temperatures of early summer in the year following dispersal and establishment is most successful in open areas. Development of the branching root system and vegetative spread follow rapidly.9. A combination of dioecy and vegetative reproduction has resulted in the maintenance of genotypic and genetic diversities within populations allowing efficient colonization and persistence, contributing greatly to success in the species. © 2010 The Author. Journal compilation © 2010 British Ecological Society. Source

Jones L.A.,Scottish Agricultural College SAC | Jones L.A.,A+ Network | Sakkas P.,Scottish Agricultural College SAC | Sakkas P.,Wageningen University | And 4 more authors.
International Journal for Parasitology | Year: 2012

The degree of periparturient relaxation of immunity to gastrointestinal parasites has a nutritional basis, as overcoming protein scarcity through increased protein supply improves lactational performance, enhances local immune responses and reduces worm burdens. Herein lactating rats, re-infected with Nippostrongylus brasiliensis, are used to test the hypothesis that a similar and rapid improvement of immunity can be achieved through reducing nutrient demand at times of dietary protein scarcity. Reducing litter size from 12 to three pups during lactation resulted, as expected, in cessation of maternal body weight loss and increased pup body weight gain compared with dams which continued to nurse 12 pups. This increase in performance concurred with a rapid decrease in parasitism; within 3. days post nutrient reduction, a 87% reduction in the number of worm eggs found in the colon and 83% reduction in worm burdens was observed, which concurred with increased local immune responses, i.e. 70% more mast cells and 44% more eosinophils in the small intestinal mucosa, to levels similar to those in dams nursing three pups throughout. However, there were no concurrent changes in goblet cell hyperplasia, serum anti-N. brasiliensis-specific antibody levels or mRNA expression of IL-4, IL-10 or IL-13 in the mesenteric lymph nodes. To our knowledge the current study is the first to employ a litter reduction strategy to assess the rate of immune improvement upon overcoming nutrient scarcity in a non-ruminant host. These data support the hypothesis that periparturient relaxation of immunity to gastrointestinal nematodes can be reduced by restoring nutrient adequacy and, importantly, that this improvement can occur very rapidly. © 2012. Source

Watson C.A.,Scottish Agricultural College SAC | Oborn I.,Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences | Edwards A.C.,Scottish Agricultural College SAC | Dahlin A.S.,Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences | And 7 more authors.
Journal of Geochemical Exploration | Year: 2012

Improving the micronutrient composition of food and feed crops is an important aspect of food security and human health. A range of geochemical, environmental and management factors combine to influence micronutrient concentrations in different soil and plant species.The paper addresses four issues; (i) micronutrient concentrations of agricultural soils and implications for production, (ii) micronutrient composition of different crop species, (iii) impact of crop rotation, species mixtures and nutrient management on micronutrient status in soils and crops, and (iv) using farmgate balances to inform micronutrient management on farms. The paper is a literature review focusing on Northern Europe where soil micronutrient concentrations are often low resulting in food and feed crop concentrations failing to meet nutritional requirements. We illustrate the use of geochemical maps for identifying areas of different potential to supply micronutrients to crop production. We then evaluate the micronutrient concentration of a broad range of plant species, showing the value of diverse pasture species for livestock diets. Intercropping and crop rotations facilitate micronutrient management due in part to soil/plant/microbial interactions in the rhizosphere influencing micronutrient availability. Fertilisers and on-farm manures are also an important management mechanism but there are new opportunities to use other off-farm organic and inorganic by-products to optimise crop nutrition although care is needed to balance macro- and micronutrients and potentially toxic elements.Micronutrient farm balances complement soil and crop analysis and macronutrient balances for agricultural and environmental management and can be used to compare farming systems. Arable farms more often showed negative micronutrient balances (e.g. Cu) whereas on livestock farms, feed is a major source of micronutrient import. Farm management approaches such as those described here will complement other approaches e.g. plant breeding. We suggest a food-chain approach to micronutrient management to meet the demands not only of crops but also of livestock and humans; this requires inter-disciplinary collaboration between stakeholders in agriculture, environment and health. © 2012 Elsevier B.V. Source

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