Challenges facing the pig industry including environmental and animal welfare legislation as well as high production costs and poor pig prices means that there is increasing demand for new knowledge and solutions to problems at farm level. The research aspect of the Pig Production Development Unit based at Moorepark Research Centre, Fermoy, Co. Cork is equipped to meet this demand.

Recent Submissions

  • Blood and faecal biomarkers to assess dietary energy, protein and amino acid efficiency of utilization by growing and finishing pigs

    Camp Montoro, Jordi; Solà-Oriol, David; Muns, Ramon; Gasa, Josep; Llanes, Núria; Manzanilla, Edgar G.; Teagasc Walsh Scholarship Scheme; 0415 (Biomed Central, 2022-07-04)
    Background Diet evaluation and optimization is a slow and expensive process and it is not possible to do it at a farm level. This study aimed to use the blood serum metabolite (BSM) and faecal volatile fatty acid (VFA) profiles as potential biomarkers to identify changes in protein, amino acid and energy dietary content in growing and finishing pig diets at farm level. Results Two studies were conducted. The first study (S1) included 20 pens of 11 pigs (87.0 ± 4.10 kg; 18 weeks old) assigned to 5 diets: control (C1), high or low crude protein (HP1 and LP1, respectively), and high or low net energy (HE1 and LE1, respectively). The second study (S2) included 28 pens of 11 pigs (41.3 ± 2.60 kg; 12 weeks old) assigned to 7 diets: control (C2), high or low crude protein (HP2 and LP2, respectively), high or low amino acid (HA2 and LA2, respectively), and high or low net energy (HE2 and LE2, respectively). Pigs were followed for 10 (S1) and 20 (S2) days, and blood and faecal samples were collected at 20 (S1) and 14 (S2) weeks of age. Data were analysed using general linear models and receiver operating characteristic curve analysis. Urea nitrogen showed the best results as a biomarker. Urea nitrogen was higher in pigs fed high protein diets, HP1 (13.6 ± 0.95 mg/dL) and HP2 (11.6 ± 0.61), compared to those fed low protein diets, LP1 (6.0 ± 0.95) and LP2 (5.2 ± 0.61; P < 0.001), showing good discrimination ability (Area under the curve (AUC) = 98.4 and 100%, respectively). These differences were not observed between diets LA2 (6.5 ± 0.61) and HA2 (8.7 ± 0.61; P > 0.05; AUC = 71.9%), which were formulated based on the ideal protein profile but with no excess of protein. Creatinine, triglycerides, branched-chain fatty acids, albumin, propionic acid, and cholesterol showed differences between at least 2 diets but only in one of the studies. Conclusions Urea nitrogen showed high accuracy to detect excess of crude protein in growing and finishing pig diets. Other biomarkers like BCFA showed promising results and need to be further studied.
  • Antimicrobial resistance in Escherichia coli isolated from on-farm and conventional hatching broiler farms in Ireland

    Byrne, Noelle; O’Neill, Lorcan; Calderon Diaz, Julia; Garcia Manzanilla, Edgar; Vale, Ana P.; Leonard, Finola C.; Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine; 15 S 676 (Biomed Central, 2022-04-22)
    Background On-farm hatching (OH) systems are becoming more common in broiler production. Hatching conditions differ from conventional farms as OH chicks avoid exposure to handling, transport, post-hatch water and feed deprivation. In contrast, chicks in conventional hatching conditions (CH) are exposed to standard hatchery procedures and transported post hatching. The objectives of this pilot study were to investigate the prevalence and frequency of Escherichia coli resistant to antimicrobials, including presumptive ESBL/AmpC-producing E. coli, isolated from environmental and faecal samples from OH versus CH hatching systems, and to investigate the presence of ESBL/AmpC-producing encoding genes. Results Environmental samples were collected from one flock in 10 poultry farms (5 OH farms, 5 CH farms) on day 0 post disinfection of the facilities to assess hygiene standards. On D10 and D21 post egg/chick arrival onto the farm, samples of faeces, boot swabs and water drinker lines were collected. E. coli were isolated on MacConkey agar (MC) and MacConkey supplemented with cefotaxime (MC+). Few E. coli were detected on D0. However, on D10 and D21 E. coli isolates were recovered from faeces and boot swabs. Water samples had minimal contamination. In this study, 100% of cefotaxime resistant E. coli isolates (n=33) detected on selective media and 44% of E. coli isolates (84/192) detected on nonselective media were multidrug resistant (MDR). The antimicrobial resistance (AMR) genotype for the 15 ESBL/AmpC producing isolates was determined using multiplex PCR. Six of these were selected for Sanger sequencing of which two were positive for blaCMY-2, two for blaTEM-1 and two were positive for both genes. Conclusions There was no difference in E. coli isolation rates or prevalence of AMR found between the OH versus CH systems, suggesting that the OH system may not be an additional risk of resistant E. coli dissemination to broilers compared to the CH systems. The frequency of β-lactam resistant E. coli in boot swab and faeces samples across both OH (24/33 (73%)) and CH (9/33 (27%)) systems may indicate that hatcheries could be a reservoir and major contributor to the transmission of AMR bacteria to flocks after entry to the rearing farms.
  • Animal welfare research – progress to date and future prospects

    Boyle, Laura A; Conneely, M.; Kennedy, Emer; O’Connell, N.; O'Driscoll, Keelin; Earley, Bernadette (Teagasc, 2022-02-26)
    RECORDABSTRACTARTICLE Animal welfare research – progress to date and future prospects OTHER Author(s): L. Boyle 1 , M. Conneely 1 , E. Kennedy 1 , N. O’Connell 2 , K. O’Driscoll 1 , B. Earley 3 , Publication date (Electronic): 26 February 2022 Journal: Irish Journal of Agricultural and Food Research Publisher: Compuscript Keywords: Animal welfare, beef, dairy, pig, poultry, welfare assessment Abstract The welfare status of an animal is dependent on its ability to cope and exist in harmony with its environment, such that good physical and psychological health is maintained. Improving animal welfare is an increasingly important aspect of livestock production systems due, in a large extent, to increased consumer concerns about animal production practices. Animal welfare is an integrated part of quality assurance programmes for sustainable animal production, considering that welfare, health, management, economy, consumer acceptance and environmental impact are interdependent. The major welfare concerns in the livestock industry in recent years relate to the rearing and management of dairy calves, the welfare of the dairy cow, effect of husbandry management procedures on the welfare of beef cattle, rearing of sows in gestation and farrowing crates, and the broiler (meat) chicken sector. The paper will focus on scientific research underpinning these welfare concerns, with a particular focus on research conducted on the island of Ireland.
  • An overview of Irish pig production, research and knowledge transfer since 1960

    Boyle, Laura A.; Carroll, C.; Clarke, L.; Garcia Manzanilla, Edgar; Gardiner, G.E.; McCutcheon, G.; McCrum, E.; McKeon, M.; Lawlor, Peadar; Lynch, B.; et al. (Teagasc, 2022-02-09)
    Pig production in Ireland has gone through enormous changes during the past 60 yr, from pigs being primarily produced as a sideline on dairy farms, to an industry with one of the highest average herd sizes in Europe. This happened in part due to external pressure on the industry, whereby economies of scale were needed to compete with pigs produced in other countries, but largely due to the instigation of national programmes to support the pig industry through research, education and knowledge transfer. These efforts helped producers to take advantage of genetic improvements and monitor their own performance over time, as well as allowing for benchmarking of the national herd against other countries. The research programme initiated in the 1960s continues to grow and expand, providing the pig industry with internationally renowned data and knowledge in the areas of nutrition, animal welfare, the environment and energy use. Recent initiatives such as the establishment of the Teagasc and Irish Farmers Association Pig Joint Programme, and a Pig Health Check section in Animal Health Ireland, will help to promote further cross-collaboration between stakeholders in the pig industry, and enable it to rise to the challenges of the years ahead.
  • Why do Irish pig farmers use medications? Barriers for effective reduction of antimicrobials in Irish pig production

    Diana, Alessia; Snijders, Sylvia; Rieple, Alison; Boyle, Laura A (Biomed Central, 2021-04-30)
    Abstract Background In addressing the threat of antimicrobial resistance, it is critical to understand the barriers to the uptake of strategies for the reduction of antimicrobial use (AMU) in the pig industry. In several EU countries, factors such as education level, habits and social pressures are recognised as affecting farmers’ decision-making process in relation to AMU. However, there is a lack of information on the Irish scenario. The aim of this study was to investigate pig farmers’ perspectives and their behaviour towards AMU to identify potential barriers to effectively reduce AMU in Irish pig production. We conducted face-to-face semi-structured interviews with 30 pig farmers, 5 pig veterinarians and 4 focus groups of pig farm personnel. We employed qualitative analyses to explore the objective of the study. Results Qualitative analysis revealed six convergent themes as potential barriers: perceptions about the need for AMU on farm, concept of animal welfare and associated management practices, legislation, culture, economics and standards of communication/type of advice-network. Overall, pig farmers believed that there is poor communication between stakeholders (i.e. farmers, vets and advisors) and a lack of reliable people to approach for advice. They considered themselves as operating responsibly in terms of AMU compared to their national and international colleagues and expressed the importance of a so-called ‘Irish solution’ to the problem of AMU because it was associated with what ‘has always been done’ and was therefore considered reliable and safe. Conclusions Barriers and challenges were in line with those identified in other EU countries highlighting similarities in behavioural and attitudinal patterns among pig farmers. Overall, farmers appeared to be more likely to rely on previous experiences or to wait for an imposed change (e.g. legislation) instead of taking personal action. Thus, considerable behavioural and attitudinal changes are needed to adopt a more responsible AMU in Irish pig production and to develop effective intervention strategies.
  • Effect of space allowance and mixing on growth performance and body lesions of grower-finisher pigs in pens with a single wet-dry feeder

    Camp Montoro, Jordi; Boyle, Laura A; Solà-Oriol, David; Muns, Ramon; Gasa, Josep; Garcia Manzanilla, Edgar; Teagasc Walsh Scholarship Programme; 0415 (Biomed Central, 2021-01-06)
    Background Low space allowance (SA) and mixing may result in reduced growth performance (GP) and animal welfare issues because of adverse social behaviours directed to pen mates. This could be exacerbated in pens with single space feeders owing to social facilitation of feeding behaviour. The present study aimed to investigate the effect of SA and mixing on GP and body lesions (BL) in pens with one single space wet-dry feeder. Results Two experiments were conducted on grower-finisher pigs from 10 to 21 weeks of age. In Exp1, pigs (N = 216) were assigned to three SA; 0.96 m2/pig (n = 6 pens; 10 pigs/pen; SA96), 0.84 m2/pig (n = 6; 12 pigs/pen; SA84) and 0.72 m2/pig (n = 6; 14 pigs/pen; SA72), in a randomized design. In Exp2, pigs (N = 230) were used in a 2 × 2 factorial randomized design considering SA and mixing as treatments. Pigs were assigned to two SA; 0.96 m2/pig (n = 10 pens; 10 pigs/pen; SA96) and 0.78 m2/pig (n = 10; 13 pigs/pen; SA78) and were either mixed or not at the entry to the finishing facility. GP was not affected by SA (P > 0.05) in either experiment. In Exp2, non-mixed pigs were 5.4 kg heavier (P <  0.001), gained 74 g more per day (P = 0.004), consumed 101.8 g more of feed per day (P = 0.007) and tended to have higher feed efficiency (P = 0.079) than mixed pigs from 11 to 21 weeks of age. Number of BL was affected by SA in both experiments. In Exp1, SA72 pigs had 74.4 and 97.4% more BL than SA96 and SA84 pigs at 20 weeks of age respectively (P <  0.01). In Exp2, SA78 pigs had 48.6, 43.6 and 101.3% more BL than SA96 pigs at 12, 16 and 21 weeks of age respectively (P <  0.05). Mixing did not affect the number of BL from 12 to 21 weeks of age in Exp2 (P > 0.05). Conclusion Mixing had a considerable effect on growth performance thus, strategies to avoid or mitigate mixing should be considered. Although space allowance had no effect on growth performance, high number of body lesions in the lower space allowance indicates that space allowances equal or below 0.78 m2/pig are detrimental to the welfare of pigs despite following the EU legislation.
  • Identifying challenges to manage body weight variation in pig farms implementing all-in-all-out management practices and their possible implications for animal health: a case study

    Rodrigues da Costa, Maria; García Manzanilla, Edgar; Diana, Alessia; van Staaveren, Nienke; Torres-Pitarch, Alberto; Boyle, Laura A; Calderón Díaz, Julia A; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; 14/S/832; et al. (Biomed Central, 2021-01-11)
    Background Managing body weight (BW) variation is a challenge in farrow-to-finish farms implementing all-in/all-out (AIAO) production systems due to the lack of “off-site” facilities to segregate slow growing pigs (SGP). This case study investigated different approaches to managing BW variation in a farrow-to-finish commercial pig farm with a self-declared AIAO management and the possible implications for animal health. Case presentation A total of 1096 pigs (1047 pigs born within 1 week plus 49 pigs born 1 week later) were tracked until slaughter as they moved through the production stages. Piglets were individually tagged at birth and their location on the farm was recorded on a weekly basis. In total, 10.3% of pigs died during lactation. Four main cohorts of pigs were created at weaning and retrospectively identified: cohort 1 = pigs weaned at 21 days (4.5%); cohort 2 = pigs weaned at 28 days (81.0%), which was sub-divided at the end of the first nursery stage into sub-cohort 2a = pigs split at 3 weeks post-weaning (29.7%); sub-cohort 2b = pigs split at 3 weeks post-weaning from cohort 2a and split again 5 weeks post-weaning (35.5%) and sub-cohort 2c = remaining smaller size pigs from cohort 2b (10.9%); cohort 3 = pigs weaned at 35 days (2.7%) and cohort 4 = pigs weaned at 49 days (1.5%) that were later mixed with SPG, delayed pigs from other cohorts and sick/injured pigs that recovered. Four strategies to manage BW variation were identified: i) earlier weaning (cohort 1); ii) delayed weaning of SGP (cohort 3 and 4); iii) re-grading pens by BW (sub-cohorts 2a, 2b and 2c) and, iv) delayed movement of SGP to the next production stage (several pigs from all cohorts). A higher percentage of delayed pigs presented pericarditis, pleurisy and enzootic pneumonia like lesions at slaughter compared with pigs under other strategies. Conclusion A variety of management practices were implemented to minimise BW variation during the production cycle. However, several cohorts of pigs were created disrupting AIAO management. Earlier weaning should only be practiced under specific circumstances where optimal animal health and welfare are guaranteed. Delayed weaning of SGP and delaying pigs to move to the next production stage could negatively affect animal health and should be avoided.
  • Antimicrobial resistance in commensal Escherichia coli and Enterococcus spp. is influenced by production system, antimicrobial use, and biosecurity measures on Spanish pig farms

    Mencía-Ares, Oscar; Argüello, Héctor; Puente, Héctor; Gómez-García, Manuel; Manzanilla, Edgar G; Álvarez-Ordóñez, Avelino; Carvajal, Ana; Rubio, Pedro; INIA; Spanish Government (Ministerio de Educación y Formación Profesional); et al. (Biomed Central, 2021-03-19)
    Background Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a global public health threat consequence of antimicrobial use (AMU) in human and animal medicine. In food-producing animals factors such as management, husbandry or biosecurity may impact AMU. Organic and extensive Iberian swine productions are based on a more sustainable and eco-friendly management system, providing an excellent opportunity to evaluate how sustained differences in AMU impact the AMR in indicator bacteria. Here, we evaluate the usefulness of commensal Escherichia coli and Enterococcus spp. isolates as AMR bioindicators when comparing 37 Spanish pig farms from both intensive and organic-extensive production systems, considering the effect of AMU and biosecurity measures, the last only on intensive farms. Results The production system was the main factor contributing to explain the AMR differences in E. coli and Enterococcus spp. In both bacteria, the pansusceptible phenotype was more common (p < 0.001) on organic-extensive farms when compared to intensive herds. The microbiological resistance in commensal E. coli was, for most of the antimicrobials evaluated, significantly higher (p < 0.05) on intensive farms. In enterococci, the lincosamides usage revealed the association between AMR and AMU, with an increase in the AMR for erythromycin (p < 0.01), quinupristin-dalfopristin (p < 0.01) and the multidrug-resistant (MDR) phenotype (p < 0.05). The biosecurity measures implemented on intensive farms influenced the AMR of these bioindicators, with a slightly lower resistance to sulfamethoxazole (p < 0.01) and the MDR phenotype (p < 0.05) in E. coli isolated from farms with better cleaning and disinfection protocols. On these intensive farms, we also observed that larger herds had a higher biosecurity when compared to smaller farms (p < 0.01), with no significant associations between AMU and the biosecurity scores. Conclusions Overall, this study evidences that the production system and, to a lesser extent, the biosecurity measures, contribute to the AMR development in commensal E. coli and Enterococcus spp., with antimicrobial usage as the main differential factor, and demonstrates the potential value of these bacteria as bioindicators on pig farms in AMR surveillance programs.
  • Livestock-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (LA-MRSA) prevalence in humans in close contact with animals and measures to reduce on-farm colonisation

    Crespo-Piazuelo, Daniel; Lawlor, Peadar G.; Irish Health Research Board; JPIAMR-2017–1-A (Biomed Central, 2021-08-06)
    Since the 1940s, Staphylococcus aureus has adapted to the use of different antimicrobials to treat infections. Although S. aureus can act as a commensal bacterium, some strains are facultative pathogens and acquiring them can be fatal. In particular, treating infections caused by S. aureus with acquired antimicrobial resistance is problematic, as their treatment is more difficult. Some of these S. aureus variants are methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) with prevalence across the globe in health-care facilities, community settings and on livestock farms. Apart from humans, MRSA can colonise other animal species, and because of this, resistance to new antimicrobials can appear and jump between species. Livestock and companion animals are particularly important in this regard considering the relatively high usage of antimicrobials in these species. There is a risk to humans who come into direct contact with animals acquiring MRSA but there is also the risk of animals acquiring MRSA from colonised humans. In this review, we summarise studies conducted worldwide to characterise the prevalence of MRSA in veterinarians, farmers and other personnel who come into close contact with animals. Finally, alternative treatment, preventive measures and on-farm strategies to reduce MRSA introduction to a farm and carriage within a herd are discussed.
  • Adding value to food chain information: using data on pig welfare and antimicrobial use on-farm to predict meat inspection outcomes

    Pessoa, Joana; McAloon, Conor; Rodrigues da Costa, Maria; García Manzanilla, Edgar; Norton, Tomas; Boyle, Laura; Teagasc Walsh Scholarship Programme; Meat Industry Ireland (Biomed Central, 2021-10-14)
    Background Using Food Chain Information data to objectively identify high-risk animals entering abattoirs can represent an important step forward towards improving on-farm animal welfare. We aimed to develop and evaluate the performance of classification models, using Gradient Boosting Machine algorithms that utilise accurate longitudinal on-farm data on pig health and welfare to predict condemnations, pluck lesions and low cold carcass weight at slaughter. Results The accuracy of the models was assessed using the area under the receiver operating characteristics (ROC) curve (AUC). The AUC for the prediction models for pneumonia, dorsocaudal pleurisy, cranial pleurisy, pericarditis, partial and total condemnations, and low cold carcass weight varied from 0.54 for pneumonia and 0.67 for low cold carcass weight. For dorsocaudal pleurisy, ear lesions assessed on pigs aged 12 weeks and antimicrobial treatments (AMT) were the most important prediction variables. Similarly, the most important variable for the prediction of cranial pleurisy was the number of AMT. In the case of pericarditis, ear lesions assessed both at week 12 and 14 were the most important variables and accounted for 33% of the Bernoulli loss reduction. For predicting partial and total condemnations, the presence of hernias on week 18 and lameness on week 12 accounted for 27% and 14% of the Bernoulli loss reduction, respectively. Finally, AMT (37%) and ear lesions assessed on week 12 (15%) were the most important variables for predicting pigs with low cold carcass weight. Conclusions The findings from our study show that on farm assessments of animal-based welfare outcomes and information on antimicrobial treatments have a modest predictive power in relation to the different meat inspection outcomes assessed. New research following the same group of pigs longitudinally from a larger number of farms supplying different slaughterhouses is required to confirm that on farm assessments can add value to Food Chain Information reports.
  • Associations between animal and herd management factors, serological response to three respiratory pathogens and pluck lesions in finisher pigs on a farrow-to-finish farm

    Fitzgerald, Rose M; O’Shea, Helen; Manzanilla, Edgar G; Moriarty, John; McGlynn, Hugh; Calderón Díaz, Julia A; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 14/S/832 (Biomed Central, 2020-12-08)
    Background Serological screening is a common method to monitor antibody response to pathogen exposure, but results could vary due to several factors. This study aimed to quantify animal and management related factors associated with variation in antibody levels in finisher pigs at slaughter, in an Irish farrow-to-finish farm endemically infected with Actinobacillus pleuropneumonia (App), Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae (Mhyo) and swine influenza virus (SIV). A second objective was to estimate differences in antibody levels in pigs presenting pluck lesions. This was an observational study whereby pigs were managed as per routine farm practice. Data on sow parity, number of born alive (NBA) pigs per litter, cross-fostering status, birth and weaning body weight were recorded from 1016 pigs born from one farrowing batch. At slaughter, blood samples were collected for serological analysis and pigs were inspected for presence of enzootic pneumonia (EP)-like lesions, pleurisy, pericarditis and heart condemnations. Pigs were retrospectively classified into three production flows, depending on time spent in each production stage: flow 1 (F1; pigs followed the normal production flow); flow 2 (F2; pigs which were delayed by 1 week from advancing forward); and flow 3 (F3; pigs delayed by > 1 week from advancing forward). A nested case-control design was applied by matching pigs from each flow by sow parity, birth weight and NBA. Results Pigs born from primiparous sows had higher antibody levels for App than those born to parity ≥5 sows (P < 0.05) and there was no association between any of the pathogens investigated and other early life indicators (P > 0.05). Pigs in F1 had lower antibody levels for App but higher antibody levels for SIV than F2 and F3 pigs (P < 0.05). There was no association between pluck lesions and respiratory pathogens (P > 0.05), except for increased antibody levels for Mhyo when EP-like lesions were present (P = 0.006). Conclusion Results indicate that offspring from primiparous sows develop higher antibody levels for App IV toxin when exposed to this disease and that enforcement of a strict all-in/all-out production system would reduce on-farm disease circulation. A high percentage of pigs were affected with EP-like lesions which were associated with higher antibody levels for Mhyo.
  • Irish pig farmer’s perceptions and experiences of tail and ear biting

    Haigh, Amy; O'Driscoll, Keelin; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2019-12-17)
    Abnormal behaviours such as ear and tail biting of pigs is of significant welfare and economic concern. Currently, pig welfare legislation is under renewed focus by the EU commission and is likely to be enforced more thoroughly. The legislation prohibits routine tail docking and requires adequate enrichment to be provided. In Ireland, taildocking is still the most utilised control mechanism to combat tail biting, but biting is still widespread even in taildocked pigs. In addition, as pig farms are almost all fully slatted, bedding type material cannot be provided. Thus, the opinions, and practices of farmers in countries like Ireland, which may need to make significant adaptations to typical pig management systems soon, need to be considered and addressed. We carried out a survey of pig farmers during 2015 in order to gain a greater understanding of the extent of biting on Irish farms, perception on the most important preventive measures, current enrichment use and actions following outbreaks. Fifty-eight farmers from 21 Counties responded with an average herd size of 710 ± 597 sows (range 90–3000 sows). Only two farms had experienced no biting in the last year. Of the farms that had experienced tail biting (88%), 86% had also experienced ear biting. The most common concerns relating to biting were condemnation and reduced productivity of bitten pigs with both receiving an average score of 4 (most serious). Ear biting occurred most commonly in the 2nd stage (approximately 47–81 days from weaning) weaner and tail biting in the finishing stage. The most important preventive measures were felt to be taking care of animal health, restricting density, maintaining an even quality of feed/ content and maintaining good air movement. Sixty-five percent of respondents added additional enrichment following an outbreak. Chains were the most common form of enrichment currently used (83%). Those not using chains favoured wood, toys and rope (17%). Identification of the most effective and accessible control and prevention measures both for the animals and for the farming community is thus essential. Improved understanding of the concerns and practices of producers, which this survey contributes to, is a first step towards this aim.
  • Current antimicrobial use in farm animals in the Republic of Ireland

    Martin, Hannah; Manzanilla, Edgar Garcia; More, Simon J.; O’Neill, Lorcan; Bradford, Lisa; Carty, Catherine I.; Collins, Áine B.; McAloon, Conor G.; Food Safety Promotion Board; Fund No. 04– 2018 (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2020-06-26)
    Abstract Antimicrobial resistance has been recognised as one of the most difficult challenges facing human and animal health in recent decades. The surveillance of antimicrobial use in animal health plays a major role in dealing with the growing issue of resistance. This paper reviews current data available on antimicrobial use in farmed animals in the Republic of Ireland, including each of the major livestock production sectors; pigs, poultry, dairy, beef and sheep. A systematic literature search was conducted to identify relevant published literature, and ongoing research was identified through the network of authors and searches of each of the research databases of the main agriculture funding bodies in Ireland. The varying quantities and quality of data available across each livestock sector underlines the need for harmonisation of data collection methods. This review highlights the progress that has been made regarding data collection in the intensive production sectors such as pigs and poultry, however, it is clear there are significant knowledge gaps in less intensive industries such as dairy, beef and sheep. To comply with European regulations an antimicrobial data collection system is due to be developed for all food-producing animals in the future, however in the short-term surveillance studies have allowed us to build a picture of current use within the Republic of Ireland. Further studies will allow us to fill current knowledge gaps and build a more comprehensive overview of antimicrobial use in farm animals in Ireland.
  • Heart to spine measurements to detect left atrial enlargement in dogs with mitral insufficiency

    Sánchez Salguero, Xavier; Prandi, David; Llabrés-Díaz, Francisco; Manzanilla, Edgar G.; Badiella, Llorenç; Bussadori, Claudio (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2019-11-20)
    Background: Radiography is useful to determine left atrial (LA) size when echocardiography is not available. Recently, the authors have described Radiographic Left Atrial Dimension (RLAD) as a new radiographic measurement to assess LA size. The objective of this study was to assess the clinical usefulness of 2 new radiographic measurements to detect and quantify left atrial enlargement (LAE) compared to RLAD and using left atrium to aortic root (LA/Ao) ratio as gold standard. These new measurements, bronchus-to-spine (Br-Spine) and RLAD-to-spine (RLAD-Spine) may be more precise in cases were LA boundaries are not well defined. Fifty dogs, 25 with and 25 without LAE were recruited. Reference LA/Ao ratio was assessed by 2D echocardiography and LAE was considered if LA/Ao > 1.6. Br-spine was measured as a straight vertical line from the main stem bronchus to the ventral border of the vertebra situated immediately dorsal to the heart base. RLAD-Spine was measured from RLAD endpoint perpendicularly to spine. The correlation of RLAD, Br-Spine and RLAD-Spine methods with LA/Ao and their sensitivity and specificity for detecting LAE were calculated. Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) curves were used to estimate the optimal cut-off for each method. Results: Correlations between Br-Spine, RLAD-Spine, RLAD and LA/Ao ratio were − 0.66, − 0.76 and 0.89 respectively (P < 0.001). Sensitivity at the optimal cut-off values for detecting LAE were 32.0, 64.0 and 96.0%, respectively. Specificity was 96.0% in all cases. Conclusion: Br-Spine and RLAD-Spine were less sensitive radiographic measurements than RLAD in detecting LAE in dogs. Both Br-Spine and RLAD-Spine may not be good alternatives to RLAD.
  • Factors Affecting the Welfare of Unweaned Dairy Calves Destined for Early Slaughter and Abattoir Animal-Based Indicators Reflecting Their Welfare On-Farm

    Boyle, Laura A.; Mee, John F (Frontiers Media SA, 2021-04-16)
    In many dairy industries, but particularly those that are pasture-based and have seasonal calving, “surplus calves,” which are mostly male, are killed at a young age because they are of low value and it is not economically viable to raise them. Such calves are either killed on farm soon after birth or sent for slaughter at an abattoir. In countries where calves are sent for slaughter the age ranges from 3-4 days (New Zealand and Australia; “bobby calves”) to 3-4 weeks (e.g., Ireland); they are not weaned. All calves are at the greatest risk of death in the 1st month of life but when combined with their low value, this makes surplus calves destined for early slaughter (i.e., <1 month of age) particularly vulnerable to poor welfare while on-farm. The welfare of these calves may also be compromised during transport and transit through markets and at the abattoir. There is growing recognition that feedback to farmers of results from animal-based indicators (ABI) of welfare (including health) collected prior to and after slaughter can protect animal welfare. Hence, the risk factors for poor on-farm, in-transit and at-abattoir calf welfare combined with an ante and post mortem (AM/PM) welfare assessment scheme specific to calves <1 month of age are outlined. This scheme would also provide an evidence base with which to identify farms on which such animals are more at risk of poor welfare. The following ABIs, at individual or batch level, are proposed: AM indicators include assessment of age (umbilical maturity), nutritional status (body condition, dehydration), behavioral status (general demeanor, posture, able to and stability while standing and moving, shivering, vocalizations, oral behaviors/cross-sucking, fearfulness, playing), and evidence of disease processes (locomotory ability [lameness], cleanliness/fecal soiling [scour], injuries hairless patches, swellings, wounds], dyspnoea/coughing, nasal/ocular discharge, navel swelling/discharge); PM measures include assessment of feeding adequacy (abomasal contents, milk in rumen, visceral fat reserves) and evidence of disease processes (omphalitis, GIT disorders, peritonitis, abscesses [internal and external], arthritis, septicaemia, and pneumonia). Based on similar models in other species, this information can be used in a positive feedback loop not only to protect and improve calf welfare but also to inform on-farm calf welfare management plans, support industry claims regarding animal welfare and benchmark welfare performance nationally and internationally.
  • Factors Affecting the Welfare of Unweaned Dairy Calves Destined for Early Slaughter and Abattoir Animal-Based Indicators Reflecting Their Welfare On-Farm

    Boyle, Laura A.; Mee, John F (Frontiers Media SA, 2021-04-16)
    In many dairy industries, but particularly those that are pasture-based and have seasonal calving, “surplus calves,” which are mostly male, are killed at a young age because they are of low value and it is not economically viable to raise them. Such calves are either killed on farm soon after birth or sent for slaughter at an abattoir. In countries where calves are sent for slaughter the age ranges from 3-4 days (New Zealand and Australia; “bobby calves”) to 3-4 weeks (e.g., Ireland); they are not weaned. All calves are at the greatest risk of death in the 1st month of life but when combined with their low value, this makes surplus calves destined for early slaughter (i.e., <1 month of age) particularly vulnerable to poor welfare while on-farm. The welfare of these calves may also be compromised during transport and transit through markets and at the abattoir. There is growing recognition that feedback to farmers of results from animal-based indicators (ABI) of welfare (including health) collected prior to and after slaughter can protect animal welfare. Hence, the risk factors for poor on-farm, in-transit and at-abattoir calf welfare combined with an ante and post mortem (AM/PM) welfare assessment scheme specific to calves <1 month of age are outlined. This scheme would also provide an evidence base with which to identify farms on which such animals are more at risk of poor welfare. The following ABIs, at individual or batch level, are proposed: AM indicators include assessment of age (umbilical maturity), nutritional status (body condition, dehydration), behavioral status (general demeanor, posture, able to and stability while standing and moving, shivering, vocalizations, oral behaviors/cross-sucking, fearfulness, playing), and evidence of disease processes (locomotory ability [lameness], cleanliness/fecal soiling [scour], injuries hairless patches, swellings, wounds], dyspnoea/coughing, nasal/ocular discharge, navel swelling/discharge); PM measures include assessment of feeding adequacy (abomasal contents, milk in rumen, visceral fat reserves) and evidence of disease processes (omphalitis, GIT disorders, peritonitis, abscesses [internal and external], arthritis, septicaemia, and pneumonia). Based on similar models in other species, this information can be used in a positive feedback loop not only to protect and improve calf welfare but also to inform on-farm calf welfare management plans, support industry claims regarding animal welfare and benchmark welfare performance nationally and internationally.
  • The effect of rubber versus concrete passageways in cubicle housing on claw health and reproduction of pluriparous dairy cows

    Boyle, Laura; Mee, John F; Kierman, Paul J. (Elsevier, 2006)
    The effect of covering the passageways and feed face of a cubicle house with rubber flooring was compared to concrete in terms of claw health, behaviour and reproductive performance of dairy cows from a grass-based milk production system. Sixty-two, autumn calving, pluriparous Holstein–Friesian cows were introduced to the housing treatments prior to calving. Foot lesions were scored at housing, 1, 7, 12 and 16 weeks post-partum. The behaviour (activity, posture, and location) of all cows was recorded by instantaneous scan sampling over 24 h once per week from ca. 3 weeks pre-partum to 12 weeks post-partum. Estrous activity was recorded by visual observation three times daily using tail-paint and continuously by radiotelemetry from 1 week after calving until the end of the breeding season. The rubber flooring had a negligible beneficial effect on heel erosion but no effect on haemorrhage or dermatitis scores and no effect on the proportion of cows affected by severe lesions. Furthermore, there were no benefits for estrous expression or subsequent reproductive performance. There were no differences between treatments in time spent standing by cows, but cows on concrete stood more in the cubicles, while cows on the rubber flooring stood more at the feed face. This suggests that cows prefer to stand on comfortable surfaces while not feeding and that they can use well-bedded, comfortable cubicles for standing to get relief for their feet from concrete floors. This also explains the lack of a difference between treatments in claw health.
  • Effect of increasing dietary energy density during late gestation and lactation on sow performance, piglet vitality, and lifetime growth of offspring

    Rooney, Hazel B; O'Driscoll, Keelin; O’doherty, John V; Lawlor, Peadar G; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 13S428 (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2019-12-25)
    Genetic selection for hyperprolificacy in sows has resulted in a significant increase in the number of piglets born alive per litter but subsequently, decreased piglet vitality and growth. As a consequence, increasing sows’ energy intake during lactation to help increase piglet vitality and growth is increasingly important. The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of increasing dietary energy density for lactating sows on weight and back-fat changes in sows, milk composition, and vitality and growth of progeny. Gestating sows (N = 100; Large White × Landrace) were randomly assigned to one of four energy dense diets at day 108 of gestation until subsequent service; 13.8 (LL), 14.5 (L), 15.2 (H), and 15.9 MJ DE/kg (HH). All diets contained 1.2% total lysine. Blood samples from sows were taken on day 108 of gestation and at weaning (day 26 of lactation) and colostrum (day 0) and milk samples (day 14) were collected during lactation. Sow lactation feed intakes were recorded daily. The number of piglets born per litter (total and live), piglet birth weight (total and live), intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) traits and muscle tone were recorded in piglets at birth. Piglet tympanic ear temperature (TEMP) was recorded at birth and at 24 h. Pigs were weighed on days 1, 6, 14, 26, 33, 40, 54, 75, and 141 of life. Postweaning (PW) pigs were fed standard cereal-based diets. Pig carcass data were collected at slaughter (day 141). Lactation energy intake was higher for HH sows than for all other treatments (P < 0.01). Colostrum and milk composition and lactation feed intake were not affected by treatment. The number of piglets born per litter (total and live) and piglet birthweight (total and live) was similar between treatments. Piglets from LL sows had more IUGR traits (P < 0.01), while those from HH sows had better muscle tone (P < 0.01) than all other treatments. Piglets from LL sows (P < 0.01) and piglets from H sows (P < 0.01) had a higher 24 h TEMP than piglets from HH sows. H sows weaned a greater number of piglets than L sows (P < 0.05) and HH sows (P < 0.01), while L sows weaned lighter litters than H (P < 0.05) and LL sows (P < 0.05). Pig growth PW was unaffected by treatment. High energy dense diets increased energy intake in sows, without depressing appetite. Feeding an HH diet improved piglet muscle tone at birth, whereas feeding an H diet increased litter size at weaning. Inconsistent results were observed for other traits of piglet vitality and for preweaning litter growth performance.
  • Estimating the Effect of Respiratory Disease on Production Performance in Farrow-to-Finish Pig Farms

    Costa, Maria Rodrigues da; Rovira, Albert; Torremorell, Montserrat; Fitzgerald, Rose Mary; Gasa, Josep; O’Shea, Helen; Manzanilla, Edgar Garcia; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; PathSurvPig 14/S/832 (Research Square, 2020-05-22)
    Background Respiratory disease is one of the most important factors impacting pig production worldwide. However, the literature highlights the multitude of confounding factors complicating the clear attribution of growth impairment to respiratory disease, and the extrapolation of the effects of respiratory disease to a wider population has not been thoroughly researched. The objective of this study was to estimate the impact of respiratory disease on production performance in a subset of 56 Irish farrow-to- nish pig farms. Proxies for respiratory disease status such as serology for four major pathogens (inuenza A virus, porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus, Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae and Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae ), slaughter checks (pleurisy, pneumonia, lung abscesses, pericarditis and liver milk spots) and vaccination information were used as predictors for production performance. Results The models to estimate production performance from serology, slaughter checks, and vaccination were able to explain the variability of weaner and nisher mortality by 26 and 20%, respectively, and average daily feed intake (ADFI), average daily gain (ADG) and age at slaughter by 47, 40 and 41%, respectively. Feed conversion ratio and sow performance were not explained by the studied predictors. Conclusions The models tted, especially those for ADFI, ADG and age at slaughter, emphasize the usefulness of sourcing information at different levels to understand the impact of farm health status on pig performance, and highlight the impact of respiratory disease on production performance.
  • Effect of different cleaning procedures on water use and bacterial levels in weaner pig pens

    Misra, Shilpi; van Middelaar, Corina E.; Jordan, Kieran; Upton, John; Quinn, Amy J.; de Boer, Imke J. M.; O’Driscoll, Keelin; Teagasc Walsh Scholarship; Teagasc Internal Funding; 2017147; et al. (Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2020-11-17)
    Pork is one of the most globally eaten meats and the pig production chain contributes significantly to the water footprint of livestock production. However, very little knowledge is available about the on-farm factors that influence freshwater use in the pig production chain. An experiment was conducted to quantify the effect of three different washing treatments on freshwater use, bacterial levels [(total bacterial counts; TBC), Enterobacteriaceae and Staphylococcus] and cleaning time in washing of pens for weaning pigs. Three weaner rooms were selected with each room having 10 pens and a capacity to hold up to 14 pigs each. Pigs were weaned and kept in the pens for 7 weeks. Finally, the pens were cleaned before the next batch of pigs moved in. The washing treatments used were power washing and disinfection (WASH); presoaking followed by power washing and disinfection (SOAK), and presoaking followed by detergent, power washing and disinfection (SOAK + DETER). A water meter was used to collect water use data and swab samples were taken to determine the bacterial levels. The results showed that there was no overall effect of washing treatments on water use. However, there was an effect of treatment on the washing time (p<0.01) with SOAK and SOAK+DETER reducing the washing time per pen by 2.3 minutes (14%) and 4.2 minutes (27%) compared to WASH. Nonetheless, there was an effect of sampling time (before or after washing) (p<0.001) on the levels of TBC and Staphylococcus, but no effect was seen on Enterobacteriaceae levels. Thus, the washing treatments used in this study had no effect on the water use of the pork production chain. Although there was no difference in both water use and bacterial load, from a producer perspective, presoaking and detergent use can save time and labour costs, so this would be the preferred option.

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