• Effect of floor type on performance, lying time and dirt scores of finishing beef cattle: A meta-analysis

      Keane, Michael P.; McGee, Mark; O'Riordan, Edward G.; Kelly, Alan K.; Earley, Bernadette; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; WF2013073 (Elsevier BV, 2018-03-29)
      Data from individual studies evaluating the effect of housing systems on performance, lying time and dirt scores of finishing beef cattle are conflicting. The objective of this study was to collate the data from previous animal housing studies and quantify, through meta-analysis, the effect of floor type on animal performance, lying time and dirt scores. From 38 peer-reviewed articles, published between 1969 and 2017, 18 were determined to be eligible for meta-analysis. Papers were included in the study if they contained information on the effect of floor surface on animal performance (average daily liveweight gain (ADG), feed conversion ratio (FCR) and carcass weight), lying behaviour or animal cleanliness. There was no difference (P > 0.10) in ADG, FCR or carcass weight between concrete slatted floors (CSF) and CSF overlaid with rubber mats (RM). Using RM had no effect (P > 0.10) on lying duration or dirt scores of cattle. There was no difference (P > 0.10) in the ADG, FCR, carcass weight, lying duration or cleanliness of cattle housed on CSF or straw bedding. It was concluded that using RM or straw instead of CSF had no effect on performance, lying time or dirt scores.
    • Effects of pre-transport fasting on the physiological responses of young cattle to 8-hour road transport

      Earley, Bernadette; Fisher, A.D.; O'Riordan, Edward G. (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2006)
      The effects of fasting animals for 8 h prior to an 8-h road journey and their ability to cope with the stress of transport were investigated. The treatments were: 1) fasted and then transported (n=20); 2) non-fasted and transported (n=18); 3) non-fasted at grass (n=18); 4) fasted then fasted (n=18), and 5) non-fasted then fasted (n=18). There was no significant difference in rectal body temperature, pre- or post-transport, or live weight among treatments on days 0 (pre-transport), 1, 4 or 10 (post-transport). The ambient relative humidity and temperature of the outside environment ranged from 82.8 to 99.8% and 9.9 to 14.5 oC, respectively. Holstein × Friesian bulls (230 kg) undergoing an 8-h transportation at stocking densities of 0.82 m2/animal showed physiological and haematological responses that were within normal referenced ranges. Animals that were fasted for 8 h and transported lost 9.4% of live weight while non-fasted transported animals lost 7.2%. The control non-fasted animals remaining at grass gained 2% of live weight. Animals that were fasted continuously but not transported and the initially non-fasted control animals that were subsequently fasted for 9 h lost 6.1% and 6.2% of live weight, respectively. There was no significant change in concentrations of globulin, glucose, urea, haemoglobin or fibrinogen, or in haematocrit percentage before or after transport. Transport reduced lymphocyte percentage (P < 0.001) and increased neutrophil percentage (P < 0.001) in the fasted and non-fasted animals. Following transport, protein concentration was greater (P ≤0.001) in the fasted and transported animals than in the non-fasted animals at grass and haptoglobin concentrations were higher (P ≤0.001) in the fasted plus transported animals than the controls at grass. In conclusion, from the physiological and haematological measurements, an 8-h journey time, even without access to feed for 8 h prior to transport did not appear to impact negatively on animal welfare.
    • Effects of transporting bulls at different space allowances on physiological, haematological and immunological responses to a 12-h journey by road

      Earley, Bernadette; O'Riordan, Edward G. (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2006)
      The effects of space allowance during transportation on physiological, haematological and immunological responses in nine-month old bulls (250 kg) were assessed before and after a 12-h road journey. Following transport, animals transported at a spatial allowance of 1.27 m2 had higher (P ≤0.001) non-esterified fatty acid concentrations than control. The stimulated production of interferon-, in response to concanavalin-A and keyhole limpet haemocyanin, and plasma cortisol were not different at the 0.85 m2 and 1.27 m2 stocking densities. Glucose and albumin concentrations were higher (P ≤0.001) post-transport in all transported animals than control. The percentage lymphocytes was reduced (P ≤0.001) and neutrophil percentage and the number of neutrophils were increased (P ≤0.001) in all transported treatments. There were no changes (P 0.05) in monocyte numbers, monocyte percentage or platelet numbers following transportation. The haematocrit values were higher (P ≤0.001) in the transported treatments while RBC numbers were higher (P ≤0.001) in the animals transported at a spatial allowance of 1.27 m2 than control. Protein, globulin, urea and lactate concentrations, and white blood cell numbers were not changed at any time during the study. The concentration of -hydroxybutyrate was lower (P ≤0.001) in all animals following transport. Plasma haptoglobin concentrations were unchanged following transportation while plasma fibrinogen concentrations were reduced in all transported treatments. There were no differences among treatments in rectal temperature or live weights pre- and post-transport. The results indicate that within the conditions of the study, there was no welfare advantage in transporting bulls at 1.27 m2 versus the standard spatial allowance of 0.85 m2 on a 12-h road journey.