• The Effect of Feeding Bt MON810 Maize to Pigs for 110 Days on Intestinal Microbiota

      Buzoianu, Stefan G.; Walsh, Maria C.; Rea, Mary C.; O'Sullivan, Orla; Crispie, Fiona; Cotter, Paul D.; Ross, R. Paul; Gardiner, Gillian E.; Lawlor, Peadar G (PLOS, 2012-05-04)
      Objective To assess the effects of feeding Bt MON810 maize to pigs for 110 days on the intestinal microbiota. Methodology/Principal Findings Forty male pigs (~40 days old) were blocked by weight and litter ancestry and assigned to one of four treatments; 1) Isogenic maize-based diet for 110 days (Isogenic); 2) Bt maize-based diet (MON810) for 110 days (Bt); 3) Isogenic maize-based diet for 30 days followed by a Bt maize-based diet for 80 days (Isogenic/Bt); 4) Bt maize-based diet for 30 days followed by an isogenic maize-based diet for 80 days (Bt/Isogenic). Enterobacteriaceae, Lactobacillus and total anaerobes were enumerated in the feces using culture-based methods on days 0, 30, 60 and 100 of the study and in ileal and cecal digesta on day 110. No differences were found between treatments for any of these counts at any time point. The relative abundance of cecal bacteria was also determined using high-throughput 16 S rRNA gene sequencing. No differences were observed in any bacterial taxa between treatments, with the exception of the genus Holdemania which was more abundant in the cecum of pigs fed the isogenic/Bt treatment compared to pigs fed the Bt treatment (0.012 vs 0.003%; P≤0.05). Conclusions/Significance Feeding pigs a Bt maize-based diet for 110 days did not affect counts of any of the culturable bacteria enumerated in the feces, ileum or cecum. Neither did it influence the composition of the cecal microbiota, with the exception of a minor increase in the genus Holdemania. As the role of Holdemania in the intestine is still under investigation and no health abnormalities were observed, this change is not likely to be of clinical significance. These results indicate that feeding Bt maize to pigs in the context of its influence on the porcine intestinal microbiota is safe.
    • The effect of mixing entire male pigs prior to transport to slaughter on behaviour, welfare and carcass lesions

      van Staaveren, Nienke; Teixeira, Dayane; Hanlon, A.; Boyle, Laura (2014-10-14)
      Research is needed to validate lesions recorded at meat inspection as indicators of pig welfare on farm. The aims were to determine the influence of mixing pigs on carcass lesions and to establish whether such lesions correlate with pig behaviour and lesions scored on farm. Aggressive and mounting behaviour of pigs in three single sex pens was recorded on Day −5, −2, and −1 relative to slaughter (Day 0). On Day 0 pigs were randomly allocated to 3 treatments (n = 20/group) over 5 replicates: males mixed with females (MF), males mixed with males (MM), and males unmixed (MUM). Aggressive and mounting behaviours were recorded on Day 0 at holding on farm and lairage. Skin/tail lesions were scored according to severity at the farm (Day −1), lairage, and on the carcass (Day 0). Effect of treatment and time on behaviour and lesions were analysed by mixed models. Spearman rank correlations between behaviour and lesion scores and between scores recorded at different stages were determined. In general, MM performed more aggressive behaviour (50.4 ± 10.72) than MUM (20.3 ± 9.55, P < 0.05) and more mounting (30.9 ± 9.99) than MF (11.4 ± 3.76) and MUM (9.8 ± 3.74, P < 0.05). Skin lesion scores increased between farm (Day −1) and lairage (P < 0.001), but this tended to be significant only for MF and MM (P = 0.08). There was no effect of treatment on carcass lesions and no associations were found with fighting/mounting. Mixing entire males prior to slaughter stimulated mounting and aggressive behaviour but did not influence carcass lesion scores. Carcass skin/tail lesions scores were correlated with scores recorded on farm (rskin = 0.21 and rtail = 0.18, P < 0.01) suggesting that information recorded at meat inspection could be used as indicators of pig welfare on farm.
    • Effects of Feeding Bt MON810 Maize to Pigs for 110 Days on Peripheral Immune Response and Digestive Fate of the cry1Ab Gene and Truncated Bt Toxin

      Walsh, Maria C.; Buzoianu, Stefan G.; Rea, Mary C.; O'Donovan, Orla; Gelencser, Eva; Ujhelyi, Gabriella; Ross, R Paul; Gardiner, Gillian E.; Lawlor, Peadar G (PLOS, 2012-05-04)
      Background: The objective of this study was to evaluate potential long-term (110 days) and age-specific effects of feeding genetically modified Bt maize on peripheral immune response in pigs and to determine the digestive fate of the cry1Ab gene and truncated Bt toxin. Methodology/Principal Findings: Forty day old pigs (n = 40) were fed one of the following treatments: 1) isogenic maize-based diet for 110 days (isogenic); 2) Bt maize-based diet (MON810) for 110 days (Bt); 3) Isogenic maize-based diet for 30 days followed by Bt maize-based diet for 80 days (isogenic/Bt); and 4) Bt maize-based diet (MON810) for 30 days followed by isogenic maize-based diet for 80 days (Bt/isogenic). Blood samples were collected during the study for haematological analysis, measurement of cytokine and Cry1Ab-specific antibody production, immune cell phenotyping and cry1Ab gene and truncated Bt toxin detection. Pigs were sacrificed on day 110 and digesta and organ samples were taken for detection of the cry1Ab gene and the truncated Bt toxin. On day 100, lymphocyte counts were higher (P<0.05) in pigs fed Bt/isogenic than pigs fed Bt or isogenic. Erythrocyte counts on day 100 were lower in pigs fed Bt or isogenic/Bt than pigs fed Bt/isogenic (P<0.05). Neither the truncated Bt toxin nor the cry1Ab gene were detected in the organs or blood of pigs fed Bt maize. The cry1Ab gene was detected in stomach digesta and at low frequency in the ileum but not in the distal gastrointestinal tract (GIT), while the Bt toxin fragments were detected at all sites in the GIT. Conclusions/Significance: Perturbations in peripheral immune response were thought not to be age-specific and were not indicative of Th 2 type allergenic or Th 1 type inflammatory responses. There was no evidence of cry1Ab gene or Bt toxin translocation to organs or blood following long-term feeding.
    • Effects of husbandry and low-dose lipopolysaccharide challenge on the acute phase response of young pigs

      Llamas Moya, S.; Boyle, Laura; Arkins, S.; Lynch, P.B. (Teagasc, 2006-02-01)
      In recent years, concern has grown for the welfare of domesticated animals in different production systems (Appleby and Hughes, 1997). Poor welfare can result in poor performance and productivity. However, the consumers are also requesting more welfare-friendly systems, as reflected by the importance that ‘organic’ and ‘free-range’ products have gained in our markets. Furthermore, there are ethical reasons for safeguarding the welfare of animals in our care. Thus, it is scientists’ task to be able to develop methods and techniques that can help to assess the welfare objectively. Traditionally, welfare assessment relied on the study of behaviour and the measurement of endocrine parameters. Acute phase response mediators and products, such as pro-inflammatory cytokines and acute phase proteins, emerged recently as potential indicators of infection and herd health status (Eckersall, 2000; Petersen et al., 2004). Thus, investigating the effects of husbandry and low-dose lipopolysaccharide (LPS) challenge on the acute phase response of young pigs can give valuable information on the use of these immune parameters as health and welfare indicators in pigs.
    • Enhancement of pigmeat quality by altering pre-slaughter management

      Lawlor, Peadar G; Lynch, P.B.; Mullane, J.; Kerry, J. P.; Hogan, S. A.; Allen, Paul (Teagasc, 2005-10-25)
      The studies presented in this report were conducted to investigate the effect of breed, slaughter weight, castration of male pigs and strategic feeding strategies on the performance of pigs to slaughter and on their carcass quality. The effect of breed, gender and feeding regimen on the performance of pigs and their carcass quality was examined in the first study (Section 3). From weaning to slaughter Landrace-sired pigs grew at a similar rate but had a better feed conversion efficiency compared with Duroc-sired pigs. Landrace-sired pigs also had a higher carcass lean and greater muscle depth than Duroc-sired pigs. Entire male pigs grew more efficiently, had lower lean content in their carcasses and had a reduced kill out yield when compared with gilts. The eye muscle depth was greater for gilts than entire males. Diluting the diet with grass-meal (GM) reduced growth rate, caused a deterioration in feed conversion efficiency, reduced back fat thickness, reduced eye muscle thickness and reduced kill out yield compared to the control feeding regimen of a cereal based diet. Compensatory growth was observed during a re-alimentation period following a period of diet dilution with grass-meal. However, where it did occur, in most cases it was only partial. Adding 5% rapeseed oil instead of lard to the finisher diet increased nitrogen utilization efficiency and phosphorous utilization efficiency. The effect of gender (boar, castrate, gilt) and slaughter weight (80 to 120kg) on pig performance, carcass quality, meat quality, and nitrogen excretion was investigated in the second study (Section 4). Boars grew faster than gilts and more efficiently than castrates or gilts. Castrates had a higher kill out yield than boars. Nitrogen excretion from castrates was similar to gilts which were both higher than that from boars. The processing value of carcasses from castrates may be higher than that of boars and gilts. In particular castrates had heavier loins and bellies than either boars or gilts. Carcasses from castrates and gilts had a higher temperature (recorded 24 hours post slaughter) than boars. However, pH24 was not affected by gender. The intramuscular fat content of the l. dorsi in castrates was higher than that of boars or gilts, however at 1.65% this was well below the level (2.0%) above which any noticeable sensory attributes might be detected. Feed intake increased with increasing slaughter weight and feed conversion efficiency deteriorated. N excretion also increased with each increment in weight. Carcass lean content increased up to 90kg live EOP 4939.doc 4 25/10/2005 weight then reached a plateau and declined after 110kg live weight. Heavier carcasses yielded more product for approximately the same slaughtering cost and the associated larger muscles could make it easier to use seam butchery techniques that result in lean, well-trimmed, attractive cuts and joints. The pH45 and pH24 were reduced with increasing slaughter weight and drip loss increased. Heavier pigs may be more prone to the development of PSE than lighter pigs as their carcass temperature remains higher for longer than that of lighter pigs.
    • Fate of Transgenic DNA from Orally Administered Bt MON810 Maize and Effects on Immune Response and Growth in Pigs

      Walsh, Maria C.; Buzoianu, Stefan G.; Gardiner, Gillian E.; Rea, Mary C.; Gelencser, Eva; Janosi, Anna; Epstein, Michelle M.; Ross, R Paul; Lawlor, Peadar G (PLOS, 2011-11-23)
      We assessed the effect of short-term feeding of genetically modified (GM: Bt MON810) maize on immune responses and growth in weanling pigs and determined the fate of the transgenic DNA and protein in-vivo. Pigs were fed a diet containing 38.9% GM or non-GM isogenic parent line maize for 31 days. We observed that IL-12 and IFNγ production from mitogenic stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells decreased (P<0.10) following 31 days of GM maize exposure. While Cry1Ab-specific IgG and IgA were not detected in the plasma of GM maize-fed pigs, the detection of the cry1Ab gene and protein was limited to the gastrointestinal digesta and was not found in the kidneys, liver, spleen, muscle, heart or blood. Feeding GM maize to weanling pigs had no effect on growth performance or body weight. IL-6 and IL-4 production from isolated splenocytes were increased (P<0.05) in response to feeding GM maize while the proportion of CD4+ T cells in the spleen decreased. In the ileum, the proportion of B cells and macrophages decreased while the proportion of CD4+ T cells increased in GM maize-fed pigs. IL-8 and IL-4 production from isolated intraepithelial and lamina propria lymphocytes were also increased (P<0.05) in response to feeding GM maize. In conclusion, there was no evidence of cry1Ab gene or protein translocation to the organs and blood of weaning pigs. The growth of pigs was not affected by feeding GM maize. Alterations in immune responses were detected; however, their biologic relevance is questionable.
    • Studies on growth rates in pigs and the effect of birth weight

      Lynch, P.B.; Cahill, A.; Lawlor, Peadar G; Boyle, Laura; O’Doherty, J.V.; le Dividich, J. (Teagasc, 2006-03-01)
      The purpose of this study was to assess some environmental and management factors that affect growth performance on commercial pig units. In experiment 1, a survey was carried out on 22 pig units of known growth performance in south-west Ireland to compare management factors between those showing poor and good growth rates. Low growth rate appears to be due to the cumulative effect of a combination of factors. Experiment 2 was conducted to determine the effects of providing an additional feeder on performance of weaned piglets. No benefits were recorded. Feed consumed from the additional feeder was a replacement for feed that otherwise would have been consumed from the control hopper feeder. Experiment 3 was designed to determine if pig performance and efficiency of growth were affected by weight at birth and at weaning. Lightweight pigs showed inferior growth performance up to the finisher period. Although they compensated some of the inferior growth towards the time of slaughter, they never reached the weights of the heavy birth-weight animals. Males were either significantly heavier or tended to be heavier than females throughout. There was no significant difference between the sexes in the number of days to slaughter. Light and heavy pigs did not differ in the levels of IGF-1 in their blood plasma; however lightweight pigs had significantly lower IgG preweaning. Experiment 4 aimed to determine whether piglet birth weight influenced growth performance, plasma IGF-1 concentrations and muscle fibre characteristics at day 42 of life. At slaughter (Day 42) light birth weight pigs were significantly (P < 0.001) lighter. Plasma IGF-1 concentration was lower by 28% (P=0.06) in light pigs. Muscle fibre cross sectional area and total fibre number were not significantly different between groups. This study should be repeated with bigger numbers.