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Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Moustsen V.A.,Pig Research Center | Lahrmann H.P.,Pig Research Center | D'Eath R.B.,Sustainable Livestock Systems
Livestock Science

An animal's physical size and the space it takes up when moving between postures are fundamental to the design of systems for housing, handling and transport. The size of sows is particularly important as they are usually kept in close confinement systems for part of their lives or are being fed in feed stations or feed stalls. In addition, design of pens for loose farrowing sows requires knowledge of sow dimensions. Sows have become larger during the last 25 years in response to genetic selection, and size varies between breeds, so information on body dimensions needs to be breed specific and up to date. Body dimensions of 322 Danish DanBred crossbred (Landrace × Large White) sows between parity 1 and parity 9 from three different herds in Denmark were measured in late gestation. The measurements included weight, height (from floor to back, 30 cm in front of the tail root), width (at the shoulders), length (snout to tail root) and depth (of the body from back to belly in the middle section between front and hind legs). As expected the size of the sows increased with parity (age): length, depth and height increased significantly up to parity 4, and width and weight increased up to parity 5. A full-grown (parity 5 or older) sow had mean (95th percentile) measurements of 193 (202) cm long, 90 (96) cm high, 66 (72) cm deep, 44 (48) cm wide and a mean weight of 317 (359) kg. These measurements are among the largest reported for any breed. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. Source

Murani E.,Leibniz Institute for Farm Animal Biology | Ponsuksili S.,Leibniz Institute for Farm Animal Biology | D'Eath R.B.,Sustainable Livestock Systems | Turner S.P.,Sustainable Livestock Systems | And 7 more authors.
BMC Genetics

Background: Stress, elicited for example by aggressive interactions, has negative effects on various biological functions including immune defence, reproduction, growth, and, in livestock, on product quality. Stress response and aggressiveness are mutually interrelated and show large interindividual variation, partly attributable to genetic factors. In the pig little is known about the molecular-genetic background of the variation in stress responsiveness and aggressiveness. To identify candidate genes we analyzed association of DNA markers in each of ten genes (CRH g.233C>T, CRHR1 c.*866_867insA, CRHBP c.51G>A, POMC c.293_298del, MC2R c.306T>G, NR3C1 c.*2122A>G, AVP c.207A>G, AVPR1B c.1084A>G, UCN g.1329T>C, CRHR2 c.*13T>C) related to the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis, one of the main stress-response systems, with various stress- and aggression-related parameters at slaughter. These parameters were: physiological measures of the stress response (plasma concentrations of cortisol, creatine kinase, glucose, and lactate), adrenal weight (which is a parameter reflecting activity of the central branch of the HPA axis over time) and aggressive behaviour (measured by means of lesion scoring) in the context of psychosocial stress of mixing individuals with different aggressive temperament.Results: The SNP NR3C1 c.*2122A>G showed association with cortisol concentration (p = 0.024), adrenal weight (p = 0.003) and aggressive behaviour (front lesion score, p = 0.012; total lesion score p = 0.045). The SNP AVPR1B c.1084A>G showed a highly significant association with aggressive behaviour (middle lesion score, p = 0.007; total lesion score p = 0.003). The SNP UCN g.1329T>C showed association with adrenal weight (p = 0.019) and aggressive behaviour (front lesion score, p = 0.029). The SNP CRH g.233C>T showed a significant association with glucose concentration (p = 0.002), and the polymorphisms POMC c.293_298del and MC2R c.306T>G with adrenal weight (p = 0.027 and p < 0.0001 respectively).Conclusions: The multiple and consistent associations shown by SNP in NR3C1 and AVPR1B provide convincing evidence for genuine effects of their DNA sequence variation on stress responsiveness and aggressive behaviour. Identification of the causal functional molecular polymorphisms would not only provide markers useful for pig breeding but also insight into the molecular bases of the stress response and aggressive behaviour in general. © 2010 Muráni et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. Source

Murani E.,Leibniz Institute for Farm Animal Biology | Ponsuksili S.,Leibniz Institute for Farm Animal Biology | D'Eath R.B.,Sustainable Livestock Systems | Turner S.P.,Sustainable Livestock Systems | And 7 more authors.
Journal of Molecular Endocrinology

To gain insight into the adrenal stress response, we analysed differential mRNA expression of genes associated with psychosocial stress in the pig (Sus scrofa domestica). Various levels of psychosocial stress were induced by mixing groups of unfamiliar pigs with different aggressiveness. We selected two experimental groups for comparison, each comprising eight animals, which differed significantly in aggressive behaviour and plasma cortisol levels. To identify differentially expressed genes, we compared the adrenal transcriptome of these two groups of pigs, using the Affymetrix GeneChip porcine Genome Array. Bioinformatic analysis revealed that psychosocial stress induced upregulation of transcripts enriched for functions associated with cholesterol accumulation and downregulation of transcripts enriched for functions associated with cell growth and death. These responses are similar to those induced by ACTH stimulation. Nevertheless, the majority of the differentially expressed genes were so far not described as ACTH responsive. Some, such as GAL and GALP, may have responded to sympathoadrenal stimulation. Several of the differentially expressed transcripts, such as AGT, are associated with processes modulating steroidogenic response of adrenocortical cells to ACTH. One of the most significant findings was upregulation of LOC100039095, comprising a precursor of the microRNA miR-202, pointing to a previously unrecognised layer of regulation of adrenal steroidogenesis by microRNA. Our study, performed under entirely physiological conditions, complements previous studies focusing either on a single adrenal tissue and/or on a single stimulus, and contributes to understanding of the fine-tuning of adrenal stress response. © 2011 Society for Endocrinology. Source

Hickman C.F.,Sustainable Livestock Systems | Hickman C.F.,Roslin Institute | Ainslie A.,Sustainable Livestock Systems | Ealy A.D.,University of Florida | And 3 more authors.
Reproduction in Domestic Animals

Contents: This experiment examined the effects of including recombinant ovine granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GMCSF) in in vitro culture on secretion of interferon-τ (IFNT) by bovine blastocysts. At 32h post-insemination (p.i.), cleaved bovine zygotes were selected and incubated with or without GMCSF for either 48h only (between 32 and 80h p.i., Early) or until day 9 p.i. (Throughout). Concentrations of GMCSF (ng/ml) examined were as follows: Experiment 1: 2, 5, 10 and 50 (Early only); Experiment 2: 50 (Early and Throughout); Experiment 3: 2 and 10 (Early and Throughout). In none of the experiments did GMCSF have an effect (p>0.05) on the numbers of blastocysts formed or blastocyst characteristics as assessed by cell number, proportion of apoptotic cells or oxidation of pyruvate. When GMCSF was included in culture medium between 32 and 80h p.i. (Early), IFNT concentrations were lower (in media drops recovered after culture of groups of embryos for 48h between days 7 and 9 p.i. and normalized by the numbers of blastocysts developing within each drop) compared to no inclusion of GMCSF or GMCSF present Throughout culture (Experiment 2, p>0.05; Experiment 3, p=0.038). IFNT was present in media drops in which groups of embryos had been incubated between days 7 and 9 p.i. but in which no blastocysts had developed. Experimental treatment did not influence (p>0.05) IFNT secretion by blastocysts incubated individually for 24h. However, during the 24-h individual culture, blastocysts recovered on day 7 secreted less IFNT than blastocysts recovered on day 8 (mean±SE; 15±1.3 v 30±3.6pg/ml; p<0.001). In conclusion, in contrast to previous studies in the ovine, GMCSF did not increase IFNT secretion but in agreement with the ovine did not affect bovine blastocyst development. © 2010 Blackwell Verlag GmbH. Source

Crawled News Article
Site: http://phys.org/biology-news/

Research findings from data shared between Vet School researcher, Professor Michael Lee and farmer, Neil Darwent, Director of the UK's Free Range Dairy Community Interest Company (CIC), will form part of a keynote address to be given by Professor Lee tomorrow [Wednesday 13 January]. The Global Farm Platform is a multidisciplinary group of scientists working under the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) to find solutions to the major challenges facing global food security in the twenty first century. The partnership is a new initiative to provide high quality scientific investigation in centres of excellence around the world, allowing research to progress further and faster than would otherwise be possible working as individual institutions. An important part of this work is the collaboration not just with scientists but also farmers. This is to ensure that knowledge from farmers contributes to the research agenda and dissemination of best practices and vice versa. An example of the knowledge exchange between farmer and researcher is the data shared between Professor Lee and Neil Darwent, which compared the net margin generated by a robust cow managed on simple, pasture-based system with a high output cow managed under a more intensive regime. The findings highlight that traditional measurement of dairy cow performance, in terms of milk output and margin over feed, is over simplistic and fails to provide a true assessment of animal performance and efficiency. Whilst at first glance, a more intensively managed cow appears to be more economically viable, further investigation reveals that attributes of more robust cows such as good health and fertility, the capacity to produce more valuable beef calves and the ability to thrive on a simple, low-cost system, can more than compensate for lower milk yields. Professor Michael Lee, Chair in Sustainable Livestock Systems in the School of Veterinary Sciences at the University of Bristol and Head of Rothamsted Research, North Wyke site, said: "The Global Farm Platform is striving to develop sustainable solutions for ruminant livestock production as a crucial part of world food security. It is vital to realise that yield alone does not provide the most efficient or indeed sustainable solution. Cattle as ruminants should rely on pasture and home grown forages to provide a high proportion of their diet - such reliance on home grown feed is a clear route towards sustainability. This paper summarises the main benefits of maximising pasture intake in ruminant systems towards economic, environmental and social sustainability and the crucial role the North Wyke Farm Platform is playing." Explore further: Livestock can produce food that is better for the people and the planet More information: The presentation 'Grazing towards sustainability' by Professor Michael Lee using data collected by Neil Darwent to show the benefits of utilising pasture and robust cows over high yield, intensive systems will take place on Wednesday 13 January at 9.20 am at At- Bristol Centre, Harbourside, Bristol BS1 5DB.

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