• Delaying pigs from the normal production flow is associated with health problems and poorer performance

      Calderon Díaz, Julia; Diana, Alessia; Boyle, Laura; Leonard, Finola C; McElroy, Máire; McGettrick, Shane; Moriarty, John; Garcia 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.
    • Development of on-farm control measures for the reduction of Salmonellosis in slaughter pigs

      Lynch, P Brendan; Leonard, N.; Egan, J.; Kozlowski, M.; Mannion, C. (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2007)
      The purpose of this study was to assess on-farm control measure for the reduction in the incidence of Salmonella on commercial pig units which were in Category 3 (high incidence) based on the slaughter-plant meat juice Elisa test under the national Salmonella control scheme. In Task 1, a survey was carried out on 86 pig units of known Salmonella status, 45 were in category 3 or high Category 2 (high incidence) and 41 were in Category 1 (low incidence). Information was collected on the physical facilities, location, ownership and management practices on these farms with a view to identifying risk factors associate with a high prevalence of Salmonellosis. Task 2 was the development (in conjunction with the farm owner/operator and his veterinary adviser) of control programmes for selected farms (n = 14). Farms were selected on the basis of being in Salmonella level Category 3 and the willingness of the operator to participate. Task 3 involved monitoring of the Salmonella incidence on the farms in Task 2 for a 24 month period. This involved collection of blood and faeces samples from pigs from each production stage on the unit at approximately 6-month intervals. Task 4 was an assessment of the costs to the pig industry (and individual producer) of measures associated with the Salmonella control programme. Task 5 was a study of the effect of hygiene, transport and lairage practices on Salmonella prevalence in slaughtered pigs.
    • Differences in leukocyte profile, gene expression, and metabolite status of dairy cows with or without sole ulcers

      O'Driscoll, Keelin; McCabe, Matthew; Earley, Bernadette (Elsevier, 2014-12-31)
      Sole ulcers are one of the most severe pathologies causing lameness in dairy cows and are associated with abnormal behavior and impaired production performance. However, little is known about how or whether lameness caused by sole ulcers affects the cow systemically. This study compared hematology profile, leukocyte gene expression, and physiological responses [metabolite, cortisol, the endogenous steroid hormone dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and haptoglobin concentrations] of cows with sole ulcers and healthy cows. Twelve clinically lame cows (lame) were identified as having at least one sole ulcer and no other disorder, and matched with a cow that had good locomotion and no disorders (sound), using days in milk, liveweight, body condition score, and diet. Blood samples were taken from all 24 cows within 24 h of sole ulcer diagnosis. Leukocyte counts were obtained using an automated cell counter, cortisol and DHEA concentration by ELISA, and plasma haptoglobin, urea, total protein, creatine kinase, and glucose were analyzed on an Olympus analyzer. Expression of 16 genes associated with lameness or stress were estimated using reverse transcription-PCR. Data were analyzed using the MIXED procedure in SAS software (version 9.3; SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC). Lame cows had a higher neutrophil percentage, a numerically lower lymphocyte percentage, and tended to have a higher neutrophil:lymphocyte ratio than sound cows. Serum cortisol and DHEA concentrations were higher in lame than in sound cows. Lame cows also tended to have higher haptoglobin and glucose levels than sound, as well as higher protein yet lower urea levels. Sound cows tended to have higher relative expression of the gene coding for colony-stimulating factor 2 than lame, but in all other cases where differences were detected in cytokine gene expression (IL-1α, IL-1β, CXCL8, and IL-10), relative gene expression in sound cows tended to be, or was, lower than in lame. Relative expression of MMP-13, GR-α, Fas, haptoglobin, and CD62L were, or tended to be, higher in lame than sound cows. A high neutrophil:lymphocyte ratio in combination with higher cortisol levels in cows with ulcers is indicative of physiological stress. Moreover, increased DHEA and a higher cortisol:DHEA ratio, as well as a tendency for higher haptoglobin levels and increased haptoglobin mRNA expression, are indicative of systemic inflammation. Increased cytokine mRNA expression indicates activation of the immune system compared with healthy cows. Increased expression of MMP-13 mRNA has been found in cows with impaired locomotion and thus could be implicated in development of claw horn disorders.
    • Do weaner pigs need in-feed antibiotics to ensure good health and welfare?

      Diana, Alessia; Manzanilla, Edgar G.; Calderon Diaz, Julia A.; Leonard, Finola C.; Boyle, Laura A. (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.
    • The duration of the outdoor rearing period of pigs influences Iberian ham characteristics

      Carrapiso, A.I.; Jurado, Á.; Martin, L.; Garcia, C. (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2007)
      The effect of outdoor rearing duration (75 v 50 days) and rearing system (outdoor v indoor based systems) of Iberian pigs on the chemical composition (fatty acid composition of fat and intramuscular fat, moisture, salt, pigment concentrations and water activity of lean meat), the instrumental colour (CIEL*a*b* system) and the sensory characteristics (descriptive analysis) of dry-cured hams were investigated. The fatty acid composition of subcutaneous fat was weakly affected by outdoor rearing duration, but greatly affected by rearing system with the indoor hams showing larger proportion of saturated fatty acids than outdoor rearing. Rearing system also affected L* of subcut aneous fat (the indoor hams were lighter than the outdoor ones). The instrumental colour of lean was only affected by outdoor rearing duration (scores for a* and its derived variables were larger in the long-outdoor group than in the short-outdoor one). The effect of outdoor rearing duration on the sensory characteristics of Iberian hams was marked, 13 sensory characteristics being affected. Among them, odour intensity, flavour intensity, and flavour persistence were greater in the long-outdoor hams than in the short-outdoor ones, whereas these characteristics were not affected by rearing system. However, rearing system also had a large effect influencing 12 sensory characteristics.
    • Effect of creep feeding, dietary fumaric acid and level of dairy product in the diet on post-weaning pig performance

      Lawlor, Peadar G; Lynch, P Brendan; Caffrey, Patrick J. (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2005)
      Fumaric acid (FA), level of dairy product in the diet and creep feeding were evaluated in three experiments using individually fed pigs (weaned at ca. 21 days and weighing about 6 kg). They were assigned at random to treatments. In Experiment 1, the treatments were: (1) no pre-weaning creep and no FA post-weaning, (2) no pre-weaning creep and 20 g/kg FA post-weaning, (3) pre-weaning creep and no FA post-weaning, and (4) pre-weaning creep and 20 g/kg FA post-weaning. In Experiment 2, the treatments were: (1) 50 g/kg dried whey, (2) 50 g/kg whey with 20 g/kg FA, (3) 50 g/kg whey with 30 g/kg FA, (4) 200 g/kg whey, (5) 200 g/kg whey with 20 g/kg FA, (6) 200 g/kg whey with 30 g/kg FA. In Experiment 3, the treatments were: (1) high dairy product (whey plus skim milk powder) diet, (2) high dairy product diet with 20 g/kg FA, (3) low dairy product diet, (4) low dairy product diet with 20 g/kg FA. The number of pigs per treatment in Experiments 1, 2 and 3 was 16, 10 and 10, respectively. All diets contained barley, wheat, herring meal and full-fat soybean meal. In Experiment 1, FA inclusion increased intake (518 ν. 466, s.e.d. 21.5 g/day, P < 0.05), daily gain (339 ν. 280, s.e.d. 18.1 g/day, P < 0.01) and improved feed conversion rate (1.55 ν. 1.70, s.e.d. 0.06, P < 0.05) in the first 3 weeks post-weaning. In Experiment 2, there was no effect of treatment. In Experiment 3, increasing the level of dairy product in the diet increased feed intake (P = 0.06) and daily gain (P < 0.05) and improved feed conversion rate (P < 0.01). The conclusions are that FA improved post-weaning performance and that increasing the level of dairy products in postweaning diets also improved performance.
    • The Effect of Dietary Supplementation with Spent Cider Yeast on the Swine Distal Gut Microbiome

      Upadrasta, Aditya; O'Sulivan, Lisa; O'Sullivan, Orla; Sexton, Noel; Lawlor, Peadar G; Hill, Colin; Fitzgerald, Gerald F.; Stanton, Catherine; Ross, R Paul (PLOS, 2013-10-09)
      Background: There is an increasing need for alternatives to antibiotics for promoting animal health, given the increasing problems associated with antibiotic resistance. In this regard, we evaluated spent cider yeast as a potential probiotic for modifying the gut microbiota in weanling pigs using pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA gene libraries. Methodology and Principal Findings: Piglets aged 24–26 days were assigned to one of two study groups; control (n = 12) and treatment (n = 12). The control animals were fed with a basal diet and the treatment animals were fed with basal diet in combination with cider yeast supplement (500 ml cider yeast containing ,7.6 log CFU/ml) for 21 days. Faecal samples were collected for 16s rRNA gene compositional analysis. 16S rRNA compositional sequencing analysis of the faecal samples collected from day 0 and day 21 revealed marked differences in microbial diversity at both the phylum and genus levels between the control and treatment groups. This analysis confirmed that levels of Salmonella and Escherichia were significantly decreased in the treatment group, compared with the control (P,0.001). This data suggest a positive influence of dietary supplementation with live cider yeast on the microbial diversity of the pig distal gut. Conclusions/Significance: The effect of dietary cider yeast on porcine gut microbial communities was characterized for the first time using 16S rRNA gene compositional sequencing. Dietary cider yeast can potentially alter the gut microbiota, however such changes depend on their endogenous microbiota that causes a divergence in relative response to that given diet.
    • The Effect of Feeding Bt MON810 Maize to Pigs for 110 Days on Intestinal Microbiota

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

      Lewis, Eva; Boyle, Laura; O’Doherty, J.V.; Brophy, P.; Lynch, P Brendan (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2005)
      The effect on piglet welfare of different combinations of flooring in the sow and piglet areas of farrowing crates was examined. One hundred and three multiparous sows were housed, from one week pre-farrowing through farrowing and lactation to weaning, in farrowing crates with one of five flooring combinations: SS – slatted steel in both the sow and piglet areas of the crate; SP – slatted steel sow flooring and plasticcoated expanded metal for the piglets; AP – slatted steel (with a checker-plate panel)sow flooring and plastic-coated expanded metal for the piglets; CP – expanded cast iron sow flooring and plastic-coated expanded metal for the piglets; PP – plastic-coated woven wire sow flooring and plastic-coated expanded metal for the piglets. The number of litters assigned to SS, SP, AP, CP and PP were 27, 23, 17, 18 and 18, respectively. All piglet areas had a water-heated pad. Piglets were examined for lesions, scored from zero to three according to severity, at six locations on each foot and at seven locations on each limb during the suckling period. Addition of scores at each location yielded a foot and limb lesion score. In addition, the proportion of piglets in a litter affected by at least one injury was calculated for each of the following: the carpal joints, coronets, accessory digits, footpads. Piglet behaviour was recorded for 2 h, between 1330 and 1630, at 24 h after birth. Litters were weighed at birth and at weaning, and all deaths were recorded during the suckling period. SS litters had higher foot and limb lesion scores (P < 0.001). In addition, a greater proportion of piglets in SS litters were affected by at least one injury to the carpal joint, coronet, accessory digit and footpad (P < 0.001). SP piglets were active on the heatpad in more observations than AP piglets (P < 0.05). PP piglets were inactive in other areas of the pen in more observations than SS piglets (P < 0.05). There was no effect of treatment on piglet weight gain or mortality. It is concluded that the use of slatted steel in piglet areas of farrowing crates cannot be recommended because of injuries to piglets’ feet and limbs. The combination of slatted steel in the sow area and plastic-coated expanded metal in the piglet area encourages use of the heatpad. However, use of plastic-coated woven wire in the sow area encourages piglets to use this area which puts them in danger of being overlaid by the sow.
    • Effect of fumaric acid, calcium formate and mineral levels in diets on the intake and growth performance of newly weaned pigs

      Lawlor, Peadar G; Lynch, P Brendan; Caffrey, Patrick J. (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2006)
      The weaned pig has limited ability to acidify its stomach contents. The objective of this study (comprising three experiments) was to examine the effect of feeding diets containing fumaric acid (FA), calcium formate (CF) or diets of low acid binding capacity (ABC) on post-weaning pig performance. In all three experiments, pigs (10 per treatment) were weaned at 19 to 24 days, blocked on sex and weight and assigned at random to one of six treatments. In Experiment 1, treatments were: (1) control diet, (2) control 20 g/kg FA, (3) control 15 g/kg CF, (4) low Ca (2.8 g/kg) and P (5.1 g/kg) (LCaP) diet for seven days followed by the control diet, (5) LCaP diet for seven days followed by control 20 g/kg FA, and (6) LCaP diet for seven days followed by control 15 g/kg CF. In Experiment 2, treatments were: (1) control diet, (2) control 20 g/kg FA, (3) control 15 g/kg CF, (4) LCaP diet for 14 days followed by the control diet, (5) LCaP diet for 14 days followed by control 20 g/kg FA, and (6) LCaP diet for seven days followed by control diet. In Experiment 3, treatments were: (1) high Ca (HC) diet (12 g/kg), (2) medium Ca (MC) diet (9 g/kg), (3) low Ca (LC) diet (6 g/kg), (4) HC 20 g/kg FA, (5) MC 20 g/kg FA, and (6) LC 20 g/kg FA. Pigs were individually fed for 26 days. In Experiment 1, CF tended to depress daily feed intake (DFI) in the final two weeks (691 v. 759 and 749, (s.e. 19) g/day, P = 0.07) and overall average daily gain (322 v. 343 and 361 (s.e. 11) g/day, P = 0.09) compared with the control and FA supplemented diets, respectively. Feeding diets with LCaP for seven days post weaning increased DFI (208 v. 178, (s.e. 8) g/day, P < 0.01) in week 1 and tended to improve feed conversion rate in the first two weeks (1.65 v. 1.85, s.e. 0.10, P = 0.09). In Experiment 2, treatment had no significant effect on pig performance but feed conversion rate in weeks three and four was improved for Treatment 5 compared with Treatment 4 (1.30 v. 1.39 (s.e. 0.06) g/g, P < 0.01). In experiment 3, FA increased (P < 0.05) pig weight at day 14 (8.4 v. 7.7 (s.e. 0.2) kg) and feed intake in weeks one and two (223 v. 251, (s.e. 9) g/day). It is concluded that CF did not improve performance but reducing diet ABC or including FA in the diet did improve performance.
    • Effect of genetic group and feed system on locomotion score, clinical lameness and hoof disorders of pasture-based Holstein–Friesian cows

      Olmos, G.; Boyle, Laura; Horan, Brendan; Berry, Donagh P.; O'Connor, P.; Mee, John F; Hanlon, A. (Cambridge University Press, 2009-01)
      The aim of the present study was to determine the effect of the genetic group of the Holstein–Friesian (HF) and pasture-based feeding system (3 × 2 factorial arrangement) on locomotion score (six gait aspects scored from one to five), clinical lameness and hoof disorders within a seasonal calving milk production system. The three genetic groups compared had an average Economic Breeding Index (EBI) value of 40, 70 and 80: representing the Irish national average genetic merit (LOW-NA), high EBI genetic merit of North American ancestry (HIGH-NA) and high EBI genetic merit of New Zealand ancestry (HIGH-NZ), respectively. Two feed systems were compared: a high grass allowance, low-concentrate system typical of spring-calving herds in Ireland (control) and a high-concentrate system. Data from 126 cows collected across a complete lactation period were analysed using generalised estimating equations and survival analysis. Genetic group of HF had a significant effect on locomotion score, clinical lameness and hoof disorders. Higher EBI cows (HIGH-NA and HIGH-NZ) had lower hazard of poor locomotion score in some gait aspects (e.g. spine curvature) and lower odds of clinical lameness in the first 200 days post-calving (Odds ratios 0.08 and 0.24, respectively, relative to the LOW-NA) and some hoof disorders (e.g. traumatic lesions) compared with LOW-NA cows. The high-concentrate feed system showed a higher incidence and severity of digital dermatitis (P < 0.01). Thus, high EBI cows have better locomotion, fewer cases of clinical lameness and less-severe hoof disorders (i.e. digital dermatitis, white line disease and traumatic lesions) than low EBI cows. These findings have important implications for cow welfare and productivity.
    • Effect of Holstein–Friesian genetic group on peripartum and early lactation haematological and acute phase proteins profiles, health and fertility

      Olmos, G.; Boyle, Laura; Horan, Brendan; Berry, Donagh P.; Sayers, Riona; Hanlon, A.; Mee, John F (Cambridge University Press, 2009-07)
      Pasture-based Holstein–Friesian cows from three genetic groups differing in the Irish ‘Economic Breeding Index’ (EBI) value and genetic background, namely North-American (NA) national average EBI genetic merit (LOW-NA, n542), North-American high EBI genetic merit (HIGH-NA, n542) and New Zealand (NZ) high EBI genetic merit (HIGH-NZ, n542), were studied. These genetic groups have been selected in different environments: pasture for NZ and confinement for NA. The objective was to determine the effect of genetic group on haematological and acute phase proteins profiles (white blood cell (WBC) counts, red blood cell (RBC) counts, acute phase proteins: serum amyloid A (SAA) and haptoglobin), health (rectal temperature (RT), clinical mastitis (CM) and somatic cell score), calving performance (stillbirth, calving assistance) and post-partum reproductive parameters (endometritis and ovarian cyclicity). Blood sampling and data recording took place 3 weeks pre-calving up to 7 weeks post-calving. Linear mixed models, logistic regression and generalised estimating equations were used for data analysis. HIGH-NZ animals had the highest ( P,0.05) RBC mean corpuscular volume (50.0 fl), exhibited a different WBC distribution pattern ( P,0.05) and had the lowest ( P,0.05) mean RT (38.48C) for the first 10 days post-calving. These findings suggest enhanced reticulocyte turnover, peripartum response mechanisms and thermoregulation in the HIGH-NZ compared to the other two genetic groups. LOW-NA animals had the highest SAA peak throughout the peripartum period (55.12 mg/l, P,0.05) and a tendency for higher somatic cell scores ( P,0.10) in early lactation. The HIGH-NA animals had the lowest incidence of udder quarter milk sample bacteria at calving, suggesting better udder health when commencing lactation. No differences were detected between genetic groups in calving performance, post-partum reproductive parameters or CM in the first 42 days post-calving. These results suggest that while inherited peripartum adaptation strategies have been developed by the different genetic groups selected in different environments (pasture5NZ v. confinement5NA), such differences have minimal impact on peripartum clinical health.
    • Effect of housing on rubber slat mats during pregnancy on the behaviour and welfare of sows in farrowing crates

      Calderon Diaz, J.A.; Boyle, Laura (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2014)
      The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of flooring type during gestation, lameness and limb lesion scores on welfare and behaviour of sows in farrowing crates. Sixty sows group-housed during gestation in pens with solid concrete floored feeding stalls and a concrete, fully slatted group area either uncovered (CON; n = 30) or covered with 10 mm thick rubber slat mats (RUB; n = 30) were transferred to the farrowing crate at 110d of gestation (-5d). Lameness was scored on -5d and at weaning (28 d postfarrowing). Limb lesions were scored on -5d, 24 h later (-4d), 3 to 5 days post farrowing and at weaning (i.e., day 28 post farrowing). Sows were video recorded for 24 h on -5d, after the last piglet was born (FARROW) and prior to weaning. Videos were sampled every 10 min and an index of the proportion of time spent in different postures (standing [S], ventral [VL] and lateral lying [LL] and total lying) and number of postural changes was calculated. Median scores were calculated for limb lesions and classified as ≤ median or > median. Postural data were tested for normality and analysed using mixed model equations methodology. Flooring during gestation did not affect any of the variables recorded in this study. However, RUB sows tended to make more postural changes than CON sows (P = 0.10). Sows with swelling scores > median spent more time LL (68.9 vs. 63.1 ± 2.19%; P < 0.05) and less time VL (19.9 vs. 25.8 ± 2.27%; P < 0.05) than sows with swelling scores ≤ median. Time spent S and VL decreased and LL increased at FARROW compared to -5d and prior to weaning (P < 0.01). We found no effect of flooring type during gestation on welfare and behaviour in the farrowing crate. Factors such as limb lesions and adaptation to confinement (i.e., time spent inside the farrowing crate) appeared to have a greater influence on sow welfare and behaviour in farrowing crates than the flooring on which they were housed during gestation.
    • Effect of Lactobacillus salivarius Bacteriocin Abp118 on the Mouse and Pig Intestinal Microbiota

      Riboulet-Bisson, Eliette; Sturme, Mark H. J.; Jeffery, Ian B.; O'Donnell, Michelle M.; Neville, B. Anne; Forde, Brian M.; Claesson, Marcus J.; Harris, Hugh; Gardiner, Gillian E.; Casey, Patrick G.; Lawlor, Peadar G; O'Toole, Paul W.; Ross, R Paul (PLOS, 2012-02-17)
      Lactobacilli are Gram-positive bacteria that are a subdominant element in the human gastrointestinal microbiota, and which are commonly used in the food industry. Some lactobacilli are considered probiotic, and have been associated with health benefits. However, there is very little culture-independent information on how consumed probiotic microorganisms might affect the entire intestinal microbiota. We therefore studied the impact of the administration of Lactobacillus salivarius UCC118, a microorganism well characterized for its probiotic properties, on the composition of the intestinal microbiota in two model animals. UCC118 has anti-infective activity due to production of the bacteriocin Abp118, a broad-spectrum class IIb bacteriocin, which we hypothesized could impact the microbiota. Mice and pigs were administered wild-type (WT) L. salivarius UCC118 cells, or a mutant lacking bacteriocin production. The microbiota composition was determined by pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA gene amplicons from faeces. The data show that L. salivarius UCC118 administration had no significant effect on proportions of major phyla comprising the mouse microbiota, whether the strain was producing bacteriocin or not. However, L. salivarius UCC118 WT administration led to a significant decrease in Spirochaetes levels, the third major phylum in the untreated pig microbiota. In both pigs and mice, L. salivarius UCC118 administration had an effect on Firmicutes genus members. This effect was not observed when the mutant strain was administered, and was thus associated with bacteriocin production. Surprisingly, in both models, L. salivarius UCC118 administration and production of Abp118 had an effect on Gram-negative microorganisms, even though Abp118 is normally not active in vitro against this group of microorganisms. Thus L. salivarius UCC118 administration has a significant but subtle impact on mouse and pig microbiota, by a mechanism that seems at least partially bacteriocin-dependent
    • The effect of mixing entire male pigs prior to transport to slaughter on behaviour, welfare and carcass lesions

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

      Buzoianu, Stefan G.; Walsh, Maria C.; Rea, Mary C.; O'Donovan, Orla; Gelencser, Eva; Ujhelyi, Gabriella; Szabo, Erika; Nagy, Andras; Ross, R Paul; Gardiner, Gillian E.; Lawlor, Peadar G (PLOS, 2012-10-16)
      Background: We aimed to determine the effect of feeding transgenic maize to sows during gestation and lactation on maternal and offspring immunity and to assess the fate of transgenic material. Methodology/Principal Findings: On the day of insemination, sows were assigned to one of two treatments (n = 12/treatment); 1) non-Bt control maize diet or 2) Bt-MON810 maize diet, which were fed for ~143 days throughout gestation and lactation. Immune function was assessed by leukocyte phenotyping, haematology and Cry1Ab-specific antibody presence in blood on days 0, 28 and 110 of gestation and at the end of lactation. Peripheral-blood mononuclear cell cytokine production was investigated on days 28 and 110 of gestation. Haematological analysis was performed on offspring at birth (n = 12/treatment). Presence of the cry1Ab transgene was assessed in sows' blood and faeces on day 110 of gestation and in blood and tissues of offspring at birth. Cry1Ab protein presence was assessed in sows' blood during gestation and lactation and in tissues of offspring at birth. Blood monocyte count and percentage were higher (P<0.05), while granulocyte percentage was lower (P<0.05) in Bt maize-fed sows on day 110 of gestation. Leukocyte count and granulocyte count and percentage were lower (P<0.05), while lymphocyte percentage was higher (P<0.05) in offspring of Bt maize-fed sows. Bt maize-fed sows had a lower percentage of monocytes on day 28 of lactation and of CD4+CD8+ lymphocytes on day 110 of gestation, day 28 of lactation and overall (P<0.05). Cytokine production was similar between treatments. Transgenic material or Cry1Ab-specific antibodies were not detected in sows or offspring. Conclusions/Significance: Treatment differences observed following feeding of Bt maize to sows did not indicate inflammation or allergy and are unlikely to be of major importance. These results provide additional data for Bt maize safety assessment.
    • Effects of Feeding Bt MON810 Maize to Pigs for 110 Days on Peripheral Immune Response and Digestive Fate of the cry1Ab Gene and Truncated Bt Toxin

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

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

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