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 parameters as biomarkers in a Salmonella spp. disease model of weaning piglets

    Barba-Vidal, Emili; Buttow Roll, Victor Fernando; Garcia Manzanilla, Edgar; Torrente, Carlos; Moreno Muñoz, Jose Antonio; PeÂrez, Jose Francisco; Martin-Orue, Susana Maria; Spanish Ministry of Education and Science; Laboratorios Ordesa S.L.; CNPQ Brazil; AGL 2012-31924 (PLOS, 2017-10-26)
    Background The weaning pig is used as an experimental model to assess the impact of diet on intestinal health. Blood parameters (BP) are considered a useful tool in humans, but there is very scarce information of such indicators in the weaning pig. The objective of the present study is to evaluate the use of different BP as indicators in an experimental model of salmonellosis. Methodology Seventy-two 28-day-old piglets were divided into four groups in a 2x2 factorial arrangement, with animals receiving or not a probiotic combination based on B. infantis IM1® and B. lactis BPL6 (109 colony forming units (cfu)/d) and orally challenged or not a week later with Salmonella Typhimurium (5x108 cfu). Blood samples of one animal per pen (N = 24) were taken four days post-inoculation for the evaluation of different BP using an I-stat® System and of plasmatic concentrations of zinc, iron and copper. Principal findings Results reported marginal deficiencies of zinc in piglets at weaning. Moreover, plasmatic zinc, copper and iron presented good correlations with weight gain (r 0.57, r -0.67, r 0.54 respectively; P < 0.01). Blood electrolytes (Na+, Cl- and K+) decreased (P < 0.01) only when the performance of the animals was seriously compromised and clinical symptoms were more apparent. Acid-base balance parameters such as HCO3-, TCO2 and BEecf significantly correlated with weight gain, but only in the challenged animals (r -0.54, r -0.55, and r -0.51, respectively; P < 0.05), suggesting metabolic acidosis depending on Salmonella infection. Glucose was affected by the challenge (P = 0.040), while Htc and Hgb increased with the challenge and decreased with the probiotic (P < 0.05). Furthermore, correlations of Glu, Htc and Hgb with weight gain were observed (P < 0.05). Overall, BP could be regarded as simple, useful indexes to assess performance and health of weaning piglets.
  • RNA-seq of muscle from pigs divergent in feed efficiency and product quality identifies differences in immune response, growth, and macronutrient and connective tissue metabolism

    Horodyska, Justyna; Wimmers, Klaus; Reyer, Henry; Trakooljul, Nares; Mullen, Anne Maria; Lawlor, Peadar G; Hamill, Ruth M; European Union; 311794 (Biomed Central, 2018-11-01)
    Background Feed efficiency (FE) is an indicator of efficiency in converting energy and nutrients from feed into a tissue that is of major environmental and economic significance. The molecular mechanisms contributing to differences in FE are not fully elucidated, therefore the objective of this study was to profile the porcine Longissimus thoracis et lumborum (LTL) muscle transcriptome, examine the product quality from pigs divergent in FE and investigate the functional networks underpinning the potential relationship between product quality and FE. Results RNA-Seq (n = 16) and product quality (n = 40) analysis were carried out in the LTL of pigs differing in FE status. A total of 272 annotated genes were differentially expressed with a P < 0.01. Functional annotation revealed a number of biological events related to immune response, growth, carbohydrate & lipid metabolism and connective tissue indicating that these might be the key mechanisms governing differences in FE. Five most significant bio-functions altered in FE groups were ‘haematological system development & function’, ‘lymphoid tissue structure & development’, ‘tissue morphology’, ‘cellular movement’ and ‘immune cell trafficking’. Top significant canonical pathways represented among the differentially expressed genes included ‘IL-8 signalling’, ‘leukocyte extravasation signalling, ‘sphingosine-1-phosphate signalling’, ‘PKCθ signalling in T lymphocytes’ and ‘fMLP signalling in neutrophils’. A minor impairment in the quality of meat, in relation to texture and water-holding capacity, produced by high-FE pigs was observed. High-FE pigs also had reduced intramuscular fat content and improved nutritional profile in terms of fatty acid composition. Conclusions Ontology analysis revealed enhanced activity of adaptive immunity and phagocytes in high-FE pigs suggesting more efficient conserving of resources, which can be utilised for other important biological processes. Shifts in carbohydrate conversion into glucose in FE-divergent muscle may underpin the divergent evolution of pH profile in meat from the FE-groups. Moreover, altered amino acid metabolism and increased mobilisation & flux of calcium may influence growth in FE-divergent muscle. Furthermore, decreased degradation of fibroblasts in FE-divergent muscle could impact on collagen turnover and alter tenderness of meat, whilst enhanced lipid degradation in high-FE pigs may potentially underlie a more efficient fat metabolism in these animals.
  • Intestinal microbiota profiles associated with low and high residual feed intake in chickens across two geographical locations

    Siegerstetter, Sina-Catherine; Schmitz-Esser, Stephan; Magowan, Elizabeth; Wetzels, Stefanie Urimare; Zebeli, Qendrim; Lawlor, Peadar G; O'Connell, Niamh E.; Metzler-Zebeli, Barbara U.; European Union; 311794 (PLOS, 2017-11-15)
    Intestinal microbe-host interactions can affect the feed efficiency (FE) of chickens. As inconsistent findings for FE-associated bacterial taxa were reported across studies, the present objective was to identify whether bacterial profiles and predicted metabolic functions that were associated with residual feed intake (RFI) and performance traits in female and male chickens were consistent across two different geographical locations. At six weeks of life, the microbiota in ileal, cecal and fecal samples of low (n = 34) and high (n = 35) RFI chickens were investigated by sequencing the V3-5 region of the 16S rRNA gene. Location-associated differences in α-diversity and relative abundances of several phyla and genera were detected. RFI-associated bacterial abundances were found at the phylum and genus level, but differed among the three intestinal sites and between males and females. Correlation analysis confirmed that, of the taxonomically classifiable bacteria, Lactobacillus (5% relative abundance) and two Lactobacillus crispatus-OTUs in feces were indicative for high RFI in females (P < 0.05). In males, Ruminococcus in cecal digesta (3.1% relative abundance) and Dorea in feces (<0.1% relative abundance) were best indicative for low RFI, whereas Acinetobacter in feces (<1.5% relative abundance) related to high RFI (P < 0.05). Predicted metabolic functions in feces of males confirmed compositional relationships as functions related to amino acid, fatty acid and vitamin metabolism correlated with low RFI, whereas an increasing abundance of bacterial signaling and interaction (i.e. cellular antigens) genes correlated with high RFI (P < 0.05). In conclusion, RFI-associated bacterial profiles could be identified across different geographical locations. Results indicated that consortia of low- abundance taxa in the ileum, ceca and feces may play a role for FE in chickens, whereby only bacterial FE-associations found in ileal and cecal digesta may serve as useful targets for dietary strategies.
  • Cross-Fostering Implications for Pig Mortality, Welfare and Performance

    Calderón Díaz, Julia A.; García Manzanilla, Edgar; Diana, Alessia; Boyle, Laura; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; 14/S/832 (Frontiers, 2018-06-06)
    This study aimed to (1) identify cross-fostering (CF) practices employed on a commercial farm; (2) characterize CF pigs according to litter of origin traits, and (3) investigate the implications of CF practices on pig mortality, performance and welfare. This was an observational study whereby pigs were managed according to normal farming practice. Pigs (n = 1,016) born within 1 week were classified as non-CF (NCF); CF during the first (CFW1) and second or third (CFW2+) weeks of lactation. Pigs were individually weighed and inspected for the presence of tail (TL), ear (EL) and body lesions (BL) at weaning (7.03 ± 1.61 kg) and at the end of the first (12.9 ± 3.03 kg) and second (31.9 ± 5.50 kg) weaner and grower (66.3 ± 9.12 kg) stages. Mortality was recorded through to slaughter (c. 115 kg). At slaughter, TL were scored and carcass characteristics, presence of pleurisy, enzootic pneumonia, pericarditis and heart condemnations were recorded. 40.8% of CF pigs were CFW1; ANOVA tests revealed these were born to sows with a higher number of piglets born alive than NCF pigs (14.6 ± 2.61 and 12.8 ± 2.68, respectively). The remaining 59.2% of CF pigs were CFW2+; these were, on average, 0.14 kg lighter at birth than NCF pigs. Therefore, a nested case control design was retrospectively applied whereby pigs with complete records to slaughter, were matched for these variables to investigate associations between CF weeks, welfare and performance traits. Growth performance did not differ between CF week (P > 0.05); however, CFW2+ carcasses were 4.9 kg lighter (P < 0.05) compared with NCF and CFW1 pigs. EL were more likely in CFW1 compared to NCF and CFW2+ (P < 0.05) pigs. To investigate the effect of CF week on the risk of mortality, all 1,016 pigs were used. CF pigs were at higher risk of death (P < 0.05) with similar odds in CFW1 and CFW2+ pigs compared with NCF pigs, although other underlying factors could contribute to this result. Performance and health traits were similar between CF weeks. Early cross-fostering appeared to influence the presence of ear lesions but the mechanism is likely indirect and difficult to explain.
  • Use of different wood types as environmental enrichment to manage tail biting in docked pigs in a commercial fully-slatted system

    Chou, Jen-Yun; D'Eath, Rick B.; Sandercock, Dale A.; Waran, Natalie; Haigh, Amy; O'Driscoll, Keelin; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Scotland's Rural College (Elsevier, 2018-04-07)
    Provision of adequate environmental enrichment on pig farms is a legal requirement under current EU legislation and also alleviates the risk of tail biting. Wood is an organic alternative where loose bedding, which has been identified as the optimal enrichment, is not possible on fully-slatted floors since it may disrupt the slurry system. The study compared four different wood types (beech (Fagus sylvatica), larch (Larix decidua), spruce (Picea sitchensis), and Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.)) as enrichment, taking into account the qualities of the wood, economic considerations, and effectiveness at reducing damaging behaviours and lesions. A total of 800 tail docked finisher pigs on an Irish commercial farm were used. Eight pens were provided with each wood type (25 pigs/pen), and the study was conducted over 2 replicates in time. In each pen a single wooden post was presented to the pigs in a metal dispenser with two lateral chains during the finisher period (12–22 weeks of age). The rate of wear, moisture content, and hardness of the wood along with lesion scorings and behavioural observation on pigs were monitored. Spruce was consumed more quickly than other wood types in terms of weight loss and reduction in length (P < 0.001), resulting in a greater cost per pig. Pigs were observed interacting with the spruce more frequently than the other wood types (P < 0.05). Pigs also interacted with the wood more often than the chains in spruce allocated pens (P < 0.001). Overall the interaction with wood posts did not decline significantly across time. However, there was no difference in the frequency of harmful behaviours (tail/ear/flank-biting) observed between wood types, and also no difference in the effectiveness of the different types of wood in reducing tail or ear damage. There was a positive correlation between ear lesion and tear-staining scores (rp= 0.286, P < 0.01), and between tail lesion and tail posture scores (rp= 0.206, P < 0.05). Wood types did not affect visceral condemnation obtained in the slaughterhouse. Wood is a potentially suitable enrichment material, yet the wood species could influence its attractiveness to pigs.
  • Prevalence of welfare outcomes in the weaner and finisher stages of the production cycle on 31 Irish pig farms

    van Staaveren, Nienke; Calderón Díaz, Julia A.; García Manzanilla, Edgar; Hanlon, Alison; Boyle, Laura; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; 11/S/107 (Biomed Central, 2018-03-27)
    Background Knowledge on the most prevalent welfare problems for pigs in different production stages is required to improve herd management plans. Thirty-one farrow-to-finish pig farms were visited between July and November 2015 to assess the welfare of pigs using the multicriteria approach of the Welfare Quality® protocol. On each farm, 6 pens were selected using proportionate stratified sampling in the first weaner (S1, 4 to 8 wks), second weaner (S2, 8 to 13 wks) and finisher stage (S3, 13 to 23 wks), excluding hospital pens. Each pen was observed for 10 min and the number of pigs affected by different welfare outcomes was recorded. The percentage of pigs affected was calculated and ranked to identify the most prevalent outcomes within each production stage. Differences between production stages were analysed using generalised linear mixed models for binomial data with pen within stage and farm as a random effect. Results Tail and ear lesions showed the highest prevalence; however, large variation was observed between farms. In S1 the most prevalent welfare outcomes (presented as median prevalence) were poor body condition (4.4%), lethargic pigs (1.5%), scouring (20.3% of pens) and huddling (3.7%). In S2 and S3 outcomes related to injurious behaviour (tail lesions: 5.9% [S2] and 10.5% [S3], ear lesions: 9.1% [S2] and 3.3% [S3], and flank lesions: 0.4% [S2] and 1.3% [S3]), lameness (0.8% [S2] and 1.1% [S3]), bursitis (3.9% [S2] and 7.5% [S3]) and hernias (1.6% [S2] and 1.8% [S3]) were more prevalent. Conclusions A large variation was observed for the recorded welfare outcomes corresponding to the different challenges pigs experience during the different stages of production on commercial pig farms. The prevalence of pigs affected by lesions caused by injurious behavior is a cause for concern and requires a collaborative approach to identify appropriate intervention strategies. This information could be used to further investigate appropriate benchmark values for different welfare outcomes that would assist the pig industry to develop appropriate health and welfare management plans to minimise welfare problems. At herd level such plans should include information on aspects of intervention, treatment, and the management of hospital pens as well as euthanasia.
  • Do weaner pigs need in-feed antibiotics to ensure good health and welfare?

    Diana, Alessia; Manzanilla, Edgar G.; Calderón Díaz, Julia A.; Leonard, Finola C.; Boyle, Laura (PLOS, 2017-10-05)
    Antibiotics (AB) are used in intensive pig production systems to control infectious diseases and they are suspected to be a major source of antibiotic resistance. Following the ban on AB use as growth promoters in the EU, their prophylactic use in-feed is now under review. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of removing prophylactic in-feed AB on pig health and welfare indicators. Every Monday for six weeks, a subset of 70 pigs were weaned, tagged and sorted into two groups of 35 pigs according to weight (9.2 ± 0.6 kg). AB were removed from the diet of one group (NO, n=6) and maintained in the other group (AB, n=6) for nine weeks. Ten focal pigs were chosen per group. After c. five weeks each group was split into two pens of c.17 pigs for the following 4 weeks. Data were recorded weekly. Skin, tail, ear, flank and limb lesions of focal pigs were scored according to severity. The number of animals per group affected by health deviations was also recorded. The number of fights and harmful behaviours (ear, tail bites) per group was counted during 3×5min observations once per week. Data were analysed using mixed model equations and binomial logistic regression. At group level, AB pigs were more likely to have tail (OR=1.70; P=0.05) but less likely to have ear lesions than NO pigs (OR=0.46; P<0.05). The number of ear bites (21.4±2.15 vs. 17.3±1.61; P<0.05) and fights (6.91±0.91 vs. 5.58±0.72; P=0.09) was higher in AB than in NO pigs. There was no effect of treatment on health deviations and the frequency of these was low. Removing AB from the feed of weaner pigs had minimal effects on health and welfare indicators.
  • Finishing pigs that are divergent in feed efficiency show small differences in intestinal functionality and structure

    Metzler-Zebeli, Barbara U.; Lawlor, Peadar G; Magowan, Elizabeth; McCormack, Ursula M.; Curiao, Tania; Hollmann, Manfred; Ertl, Reinhardt; Aschenbach, Jorg R.; Zebeli, Qendrim (PLOS, 2017-04-05)
    Controversial information is available regarding the feed efficiency-related variation in intestinal size, structure and functionality in pigs. The present objective was therefore to investigate the differences in visceral organ size, intestinal morphology, mucosal enzyme activity, intestinal integrity and related gene expression in low and high RFI pigs which were reared at three different geographical locations (Austria, AT; Northern Ireland, NI; Republic of Ireland, ROI) using similar protocols. Pigs (n = 369) were ranked for their RFI between days 42 and 91 postweaning and low and high RFI pigs (n = 16 from AT, n = 24 from NI, and n = 60 from ROI) were selected. Pigs were sacrificed and sampled on ~day 110 of life. In general, RFI-related variation in intestinal size, structure and function was small. Some energy saving mechanisms and enhanced digestive and absorptive capacity were indicated in low versus high RFI pigs by shorter crypts, higher duodenal lactase and maltase activity and greater mucosal permeability (P < 0.05), but differences were mainly seen in pigs from AT and to a lesser degree in pigs from ROI. Additionally, low RFI pigs from AT had more goblet cells in duodenum but fewer in jejunum compared to high RFI pigs (P < 0.05). Together with the lower expression of TLR4 and TNFA in low versus high RFI pigs from AT and ROI (P < 0.05), these results might indicate differences in the innate immune response between low and high RFI pigs. Results demonstrated that the variation in the size of visceral organs and intestinal structure and functionality was greater between geographic location (local environmental factors) than between RFI ranks of pigs. In conclusion, present results support previous findings that the intestinal size, structure and functionality do not significantly contribute to variation in RFI of pigs.
  • Genome-wide association analysis and functional annotation of positional candidate genes for feed conversion efficiency and growth rate in pigs

    Horodyska, Justyna; Hamill, Ruth M; Varley, Patrick F.; Wimmers, Klaus; European Union; 311794 (PLOS, 12/06/2017)
    Feed conversion efficiency is a measure of how well an animal converts feed into live weight and it is typically expressed as feed conversion ratio (FCR). FCR and related traits like growth rate (e.g. days to 110 kg—D110) are of high interest for animal breeders, farmers and society due to implications on animal performance, feeding costs and environmental sustainability. The objective of this study was to identify genomic regions associated with FCR and D110 in pigs. A total of 952 terminal line boars, showing an individual variation in FCR, were genotyped using 60K SNP-Chips. Markers were tested for associations with estimated breeding values (EBV) for FCR and D110. For FCR, the largest number of associated SNPs was located on chromosomes 4 (30 SNPs), 1 (25 SNPs), X (15 SNPs) and 6 (12 SNPs). The most prominent genomic regions for D110 were identified on chromosomes 15 (10 SNPs), 1 and 4 (both 9 SNPs). The most significantly associated SNPs for FCR and D110 mapped 129.8 Kb from METTL11B (chromosome 4) and 32Kb from MBD5 (chromosome 15), respectively. A list of positional genes, closest to significantly associated SNPs, was used to identify enriched pathways and biological functions related to the QTL for both traits. A number of candidate genes were significantly overrepresented in pathways of immune cell trafficking, lymphoid tissue structure, organ morphology, endocrine system function, lipid metabolism, and energy production. After resequencing the coding region of selected positional and functional candidate genes, six SNPs were genotyped in a subset of boars. SNPs in PRKDC, SELL, NR2E1 and AKRIC3 showed significant associations with EBVs for FCR/D110. The study revealed a number of chromosomal regions and candidate genes affecting FCR/D110 and pointed to corresponding biological pathways related to lipid metabolism, olfactory reception, and also immunological status.
  • Delaying pigs from the normal production flow is associated with health problems and poorer performance

    Calderón Díaz, Julia A.; Diana, Alessia; Boyle, Laura; Leonard, Finola C; McElroy, Máire; McGettrick, Shane; Moriarty, John; García Manzanilla, Edgar (Biomed Central, 2017-07-05)
    Background Delaying pigs from advancing through the production stages could have a negative impact on their health and performance. The objective of this study was to investigate the possible implications of delaying pigs from the normal production flow on pig health and performance in a farrow-to-finish commercial farm with a self-declared All-In/All-Out (AIAO) management. Results Three flows of pigs were defined, flow 1 (i.e. pigs that followed the normal production flow; 8 weeks in the nursery stage, 4 weeks in the growing stage and 8 weeks in the finisher stage), flow 2 (i.e. pigs delayed 1 week from advancing to the next production stage) and flow 3 (i.e. pigs delayed >1 week from advancing to the next production stage). Flow 3 included higher proportions of pigs from first parity sows and of lighter birth weights. When the 3 flows were matched by parity and birth weight, pigs in flow 2 were 3.8 times more likely to be lame prior to slaughter compared with pigs in flow 1. Similarly, pigs in flow 3 were more likely to be lame prior to slaughter, 4.5 times more likely to present pleurisy, 3.3 times more like to present pericarditis and 4.3 times more likely to have their heart condemned at slaughter compared with pigs in flow 1. Additionally, carcasses from pigs in flow 3 were 10 kg lighter compared with carcasses from pigs in flow 1. Conclusion Delayed pigs were more affected by disease and were lighter at slaughter. Besides animal welfare issues, these findings could represent considerable economic loses for pig producers. In practice, delaying pigs from the normal production flow translates into higher feeding costs, increase number of days to slaughter and increased labour requirements reducing production efficiency for the pig operation. In farrow-to-finish farms an ‘all-forward’ policy (i.e. no pig is left behind from stage to stage and a split marketing approach is applied when sending pigs to slaughter) might be more easily adhered to.
  • Survival characteristics of monophasic Salmonella Typhimurium 4,[5],12:i:- strains derived from pig feed ingredients and compound feed

    Burns, Ann Marie; Duffy, Geraldine; Walsh, Des; Tiwari, Brijish K.; Grant, Jim; Lawlor, Peadar G; Gardiner, Gillian E.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; 2011010 (Elsevier, 2015-12-09)
    The presence of Salmonella in animal feed or feed ingredients at the feed mill or on-farm is a cause for concern, as it can be transmitted to food-producing animals and subsequently to humans. The objective of this study was to determine the survival characteristics of five feed ingredient- and feed-derived monophasic Salmonella Typhimurium 4,[5],12:i:- strains. The first part of the study investigated thermal inactivation using an immersed heating coil apparatus. A Weibull model provided a good fit, with low RMSE values (0.04–0.43) and high R2 values (0.93–0.99) obtained. There was considerable inter-strain variation in heat resistance, with D-values ranging from 397.83 to 689 s at 55 °C, 11.35–260.95 s at 60 °C and 1.12 to 6.81 at 65 °C. Likewise, z-values ranged from 2.95 to 5.44 °C. One strain demonstrated a significantly higher thermal tolerance, even though it had been isolated from a meal feed. However, overall the strains investigated do not appear to be that much more heat resistant than Salmonella previously studied. The second part of this study involved assessing the ability of the five Salmonella strains to survive during storage over a 28-day period in pelleted weaner pig feed treated with 0.3% sodium butyrate. While a mean reduction in the Salmonella count of 0.79 log10 CFU was seen in the treated feed during the storage period, a reduction (albeit only 0.49 log10 CFU) was also observed in the control feed. Although there was no overall effect of treatment, sodium butyrate resulted in reductions in Salmonella counts of 0.75 and 0.22 log10 CFU at days 14 and 24 of feed storage, respectively but at the end of the 28-day storage period counts were 0.25 log10 CFU higher in the treated feed. Therefore, the sodium butyrate used appears unsuitable as an agent for feed treatment perhaps due to the protective coating on the particular feed additive used. Overall, the results of this study enhance knowledge about the behaviour and survival characteristics of monophasic S. Typhimurium 4,[5],12:i:- strains in animal feed and may assist the feed industry and pig producers in implementing effective intervention strategies for their control.
  • Stakeholder perspectives on the use of pig meat inspection as a health and welfare diagnostic tool in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland; a SWOT analysis

    Devitt, C.; Boyle, Laura; Teixeira, D. L; O’Connell, N. E; Hawe, M.; Hanlon, A. (Biomed Central, 2016-11-07)
    Background A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis is a strategic management tool applied to policy planning and decision-making. This short report presents the results of a SWOT analysis, carried out with n = 16 stakeholders i) involved in the pig industry in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, and ii) in general animal welfare and food safety policy areas. As part of a larger study called PIGWELFIND, the analysis sought to explore the potential development of pig meat inspection as an animal welfare and diagnostic tool. Findings The final SWOT framework comprised two strengths, three opportunities, six weaknesses, and five threats. Issues around relationships and communication between producers and their veterinary practitioner, processors and producers were common to both the strengths and weakness clusters. Practical challenges within the processing plant were also named. Overall, the SWOT framework complements results reported in Devitt et al. (Ir Vet J 69:2, 2016) regarding problematic issues within the current system of information feedback on meat inspection especially within the Republic of Ireland, and the wider challenges of communication and problems of distrust. Conclusion The results of the SWOT analysis support the conclusions from Devitt et al. (Ir Vet J 69:2, 2016), that trust between all stakeholders across the supply chain will be essential for the development of an effective environment in which to realise the full diagnostic potential of MI data. Further stakeholder engagement could seek to apply the findings of the SWOT analysis to a policy Delphi methodology, as used elsewhere.
  • Effects of dietary fibre and the provision of a foraging substrate on the welfare of sows in different grouping systems

    Boyle, Laura; Lynch, P. Brendan; Stewart, Charlotte; O’Connell, Niamh E. (Teagasc, 2010-01)
    There are no clear guidelines on how best to meet the EU legislative requirement (Council Directive 2001/88/EC) that pregnant sows and gilts should be provided with sufficient amounts of bulky or high fibre diets and high energy food to satisfy hunger and the motivation to chew. Therefore the aim of this project was to investigate the effect of increasing dietary fibre levels and providing access to a foraging substrate on the welfare of sows housed in dynamic and static groups. To achieve this a review paper was compiled and three experiments were conducted. The aim of the review paper was to assess the effectiveness of increasing dietary fibre levels on the welfare of pregnant sows. Previous research found that increasing dietary fibre levels decrease activity levels and the performance of stereotypic behaviour, and increase resting behaviour. However, high fibre diets do not appear to reduce aggression between group-housed pregnant sows. The research clearly showed that the effectiveness of high fibre diets is influenced by the source of fibre, with soluble fibres being more effective in reducing stereotypic behaviours than insoluble fibres. However the optimum fibrous ingredient, or combination of ingredients, and the optimum dietary inclusion rate for these ingredients remains unclear.
  • 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, 25/10/2005)
    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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Pig producer perspectives on the use of meat inspection as an animal health and welfare diagnostic tool in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland

    Devitt, Catherine; Boyle, Laura; Teixeira, D. L; O’Connell, N. E; Hawe, M.; Hanlon, Alison (Biomed Central, 2016-02-09)
    Background Currently, there is growing interest in developing ante and post mortem meat inspection (MI) to incorporate measures of pig health and welfare for use as a diagnostic tool on pig farms. However, the success of the development of the MI process requires stakeholder engagement with the process. Knowledge gaps and issues of trust can undermine the effective exchange and utilisation of information across the supply chain. A social science research methodology was employed to establish stakeholder perspectives towards the development of MI to include measures of pig health and welfare. In this paper the findings of semi-structured telephone interviews with 18 pig producers from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are presented. Results Producers recognised the benefit of the utilisation of MI data as a health and welfare diagnostic tool. This acknowledgment, however, was undermined for some by dissatisfaction with the current system of MI information feedback, by trust and fairness concerns, and by concerns regarding the extent to which data would be used in the producers’ interests. Tolerance of certain animal welfare issues may also have a negative impact on how producers viewed the potential of MI data. The private veterinary practitioner was viewed as playing a vital role in assisting them with the interpretation of MI data for herd health planning. Conclusions The development of positive relationships based on trust, commitment and satisfaction across the supply chain may help build a positive environment for the effective utilisation of MI data in improving pig health and welfare. The utilisation of MI as a diagnostic tool would benefit from the development of a communication strategy aimed at building positive relationships between stakeholders in the pig industry.
  • Managing variability in decision making in swine growing-finishing units

    Agostini, Piero, d S; Manzanilla, Edgar, G; de Blas, Carlos; Fahey, Alan, G; da Silva, Caio, A; Gasa, Josep (Biomed Central, 2015-09-01)
    Analysis of data collected from pig farms may be useful to understand factors affecting pig health and productive performance. However, obtaining these data and drawing conclusions from them can be done at different levels and presents several challenges. In the present study, information from 688 batches of growing-finishing (GF) pigs (average initial and final body weight of 19.1 and 108.5 kg respectively) from 404 GF farms integrated in 7 companies was obtained between July 2008 and July 2010 in Spain by survey. Management and facility factors associated with feed conversion ratio (FCR) and mortality were studied by multiple linear regression analysis in each single company (A to G) and in an overall database (OD). Factors studied were geographic location of the farm, trimester the pigs entered the farm, breed of sire and sex segregation in pens (BREGENSEG), use of circovirus vaccine, number of origins the pigs were obtained from, age of the farm, percentage of slatted floor, type of feeder, drinker and ventilation, number of phases and form of feed, antibiotic administration system, water source, and number and initial weight of pigs. Results In two or more companies studied and/or in OD, the trimester when pigs were placed in the farm, BREGENSEG, number of origins of the pigs, age of the farm and initial body weight were factors associated with FCR. Regarding mortality, trimester of placement, number of origins of the pigs, water source in the farm, number of pigs placed and the initial body weight were relevant factors. Age of the farm, antibiotic administration system, and water source were only provided by some of the studied companies and were not included in the OD model, however, when analyzed in particular companies these three variables had an important effect and may be variables of interest in companies that do not record them. Conclusions Analysing data collected from farms at different levels helps better understand factors associated with productive performance of pig herds. Out of the studied factors trimester of placement and number of origins of the pigs were the most relevant factors associated with FCR and mortality.
  • 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; European Union; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; 211820 (PLOS, 04/05/2012)
    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.
  • Offspring subcutaneous adipose markers are sensitive to the timing of maternal gestational weight gain

    Giblin, Linda; Darimont, Christian; Leone, Patricia; McNamara, Louise B.; Blancher, Florence; Berry, Donagh P.; Castaneda-Gutierrez, Euridice; Lawlor, Peadar G; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Biomed Central, 08/03/2015)
    Background Excessive maternal weight gain during pregnancy impacts on offspring health. This study focused on the timing of maternal gestational weight gain, using a porcine model with mothers of normal pre-pregnancy weight. Methods Trial design ensured the trajectory of maternal gestational weight gain differed across treatments in early, mid and late gestation. Diet composition did not differ. On day 25 gestation, sows were assigned to one of five treatments: Control sows received a standard gestation diet of 2.3 kg/day (30 MJ DE/day) from early to late gestation (day 25–110 gestation). E sows received 4.6 kg food/day in early gestation (day 25–50 gestation). M sows doubled their food intake in mid gestation (day 50–80 gestation). EM sows doubled their food intake during both early and mid gestation (day 25–80 gestation). L sows consumed 3.5 kg food/day in late gestation (day 80–110 gestation). Offspring body weight and food intake levels were measured from birth to adolescence. Markers of lipid metabolism, hypertrophy and inflammation were investigated in subcutaneous adipose tissue of adolescent offspring. Results The trajectory of gestational weight gain differed across treatments. However total gestational weight gain did not differ except for EM sows who were the heaviest and fattest mothers at parturition. Offspring birth weight did not differ across treatments. Subcutaneous adipose tissue from EM offspring differed significantly from controls, with elevated mRNA levels of lipogenic (CD36, ACACB and LPL), nutrient transporters (FABP4 and GLUT4), lipolysis (HSL and ATGL), adipocyte size (MEST) and inflammation (PAI-1) indicators. The subcutaneous adipose depot from L offspring exhibited elevated levels of CD36, ACACB, LPL, GLUT4 and FABP4 mRNA transcripts compared to control offspring. Conclusions Increasing gestational weight gain in early gestation had the greatest impact on offspring postnatal growth rate. Increasing maternal food allowance in late gestation appeared to shift the offspring adipocyte focus towards accumulation of fat. Mothers who gained the most weight during gestation (EM mothers) gave birth to offspring whose subcutaneous adipose tissue, at adolescence, appeared hyperactive compared to controls. This study concluded that mothers, who gained more than the recommended weight gain in mid and late gestation, put their offspring adipose tissue at risk of dysfunction.

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