Now showing items 1-20 of 115

    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Impact of Intestinal Microbiota on Growth and Feed Efficiency in Pigs: A Review

      Gardiner, Gillian E.; Metzler-Zebeli, Barbara U.; Lawlor, Peadar G. (MDPI AG, 2020-11-28)
      This review summarises the evidence for a link between the porcine intestinal microbiota and growth and feed e ciency (FE), and suggests microbiota-targeted strategies to improve productivity. However, there are challenges in identifying reliable microbial predictors of host phenotype; environmental factors impact the microbe–host interplay, sequential di erences along the intestine result in segment-specific FE- and growth-associated taxa/functionality, and it is often di cult to distinguish cause and e ect. However, bacterial taxa involved in nutrient processing and energy harvest, and those with anti-inflammatory e ects, are consistently linked with improved productivity. In particular, evidence is emerging for an association of Treponema and methanogens such as Methanobrevibacter in the small and large intestines and Lactobacillus in the large intestine with a leaner phenotype and/or improved FE. Bacterial carbohydrate and/or lipid metabolism pathways are also generally enriched in the large intestine of leaner pigs and/or those with better growth/FE. Possible microbial signalling routes linked to superior growth and FE include increased intestinal propionate production and reduced inflammatory response. In summary, the bacterial taxa and/or metabolic pathways identified here could be used as biomarkers for FE/growth in pigs, the taxa exploited as probiotics or the taxa/functionality manipulated via dietary/breeding strategies in order to improve productivity in pigs.
    • A cross-sectional survey on respiratory disease in a cohort of Irish pig farms

      Rodrigues da Costa, Maria; Fitzgerald, Rose Mary; Manzanilla, Edgar Garcia; O’Shea, Helen; Moriarty, John; McElroy, Máire C.; Leonard, Finola Catherine; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Teagasc Walsh Scholarship; 14/5/832 (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2020-11-21)
      Background Respiratory disease is one of the most important factors impacting pig production worldwide. There is no available information on the prevalence of key pathogens implicated in Irish pig production. The objective of this study was to describe the prevalence of pleurisy, pneumonia, lung abscesses, pericarditis and liver milk spots in finisher pigs of a cohort of Irish pig farms, and to describe the seroprevalence of: influenza A virus (IAV), porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSv), Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae (Mhyo) and Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae (APP). Results In brief, 56 farrow-to-finish farms (29% of the Irish breeding herd) were enrolled in the study in 2017. Data on lungs, heart, and liver lesions were assessed for each farm at slaughter. An average of 417 (range 129–1154) plucks per farm were assessed for pleurisy, pneumonia, lung abscesses, pericarditis, and liver milk spots. Blood samples from 32 finisher pigs were collected at slaughter for each farm. The observed prevalence of pleurisy and pneumonia was one of the lowest reported in similar studies in Europe (13 and 11% estimated average within farm, respectively). Pleurisy lesions were mostly moderate and severe. Pneumonia lesions affected a low level of lung surface (5.8%). Prevalence of pericarditis was mid-high (8%) and the prevalence of liver milk spots was high, with an average of 29% of the livers affected. For serology, 78.6% of the farms were positive for IAV, 50% were positive for PRRSv, 71.4% were positive for Mhyo, and 98.2% were positive for APP. Influenza virus was the main pathogen associated with pleurisy (P < 0.001) and Mhyo was the main pathogen associated with pneumonia (P < 0.001) and pericarditis (P = 0.024). Conclusions Farms affected with pleurisy had moderate to severe lesions. Farms affected with pneumonia had mild lesions, which could be the effect of the generalised use of Mhyo vaccination in piglets. The seroprevalence of IAV, PRRSv, Mhyo and APP in the present study sample is similar to or lower than in other European countries. Further research on the PRRSv and APP strains circulating in Ireland is necessary to support the design of national or regional control plans.
    • Feed Restriction Reveals Distinct Serum Metabolome Profiles in Chickens Divergent in Feed Efficiency Traits

      Metzler-Zebeli, Barbara; Siegerstetter, Sina-Catherine; Magowan, Elizabeth; Lawlor, Peadar; O’Connell, Niamh; Zebeli, Qendrim; European Union; 311794 (MDPI AG, 2019-02-25)
      Restrictive feeding influences systemic metabolism of nutrients; however, this impact has not been evaluated in chickens of diverging feed efficiency. This study investigated the effect of ad libitum versus restrictive feeding (85% of ad libitum) on the serum metabolome and white blood cell composition in chickens of diverging residual feed intake (RFI; metric for feed efficiency). Blood samples were collected between days 33 and 37 post-hatch. While serum glucose was similar, serum uric acid and cholesterol were indicative of the nutritional status and chicken’s RFI, respectively. Feed restriction and RFI rank caused distinct serum metabolome profiles, whereby restrictive feeding also increased the blood lymphocyte proportion. Most importantly, 10 amino acids were associated with RFI rank in birds, whereas restrictive feeding affected almost all detected lysophosphatidylcholines, with 3 being higher and 6 being lower in restrictively compared to ad libitum fed chickens. As indicated by relevance networking, isoleucine, lysine, valine, histidine, and ornithine were the most discriminant for high RFI, whereas 3 biogenic amines (carnosine, putrescine, and spermidine) and 3 diacyl-glycerophospholipids (38:4, 38:5, and 40:5) positively correlated with feed intake and body weight gain, respectively. Only for taurine, feed intake mostly explained the RFI-associated variation, whereas for most metabolites, other host physiological factors played a greater role for the RFI-associated differences, and was potentially related to insulin-signaling, phospholipase A2, and arachidonic acid metabolism. Alterations in the hepatic synthesis of long-chain fatty acids and the need for precursors for gluconeogenesis due to varying energy demand may explain the marked differences in serum metabolite profiles in ad libitum and restrictively fed birds.
    • Effect of split marketing on the welfare, performance, and carcass traits of finishing pigs

      Conte, S.; Lawlor, Peadar; O'Connell, N.; Boyle, Laura A; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2012-01-01)
      The aim of this study was to compare a split marketing (SM) strategy, in which the heaviest pigs in a group are removed and slaughtered earlier than the others, with an all-out (AO) marketing strategy, in which all pigs are removed from the pen simultaneously and slaughtered on the same day, in terms of welfare, performance, and carcass traits of noncastrated (i.e., intact) male and female pigs. The experimental treatments were arranged in a 2 × 2 factorial array with 1) marketing strategy (SM vs. AO) and 2) sex (males vs. females), which yielded 4 treatment groups of 14 pigs (73.1 ± 4.8 kg): male SM, male AO, female SM, and female AO (7 replicates/group). Pigs in AO groups were all slaughtered after 6 wk on trial, whereas in SM groups the 3 heaviest pigs were removed and slaughtered 2 wk before the remainder of the group, which were slaughtered at the same time as the AO pigs. Pigs were fed a liquid diet from a long trough 3 times daily. Behavioral observations were conducted before and after SM, the day of SM, and 1 and 2 wk later. Behavior was recorded both during and between feed events, and skin lesions were scored on all, except the 3 pigs removed from SM groups before and 2 wk after SM. Growth performance, feed efficiency, and carcass traits were recorded. The number of aggressive interactions during feed events decreased after the 3 pigs were removed from SM groups. This reduction in aggressive interactions was observed on the day of SM in male groups (before SM: 24.3 vs. the day of SM: 14.7, SED = 3.31, P < 0.05 for interaction) and in subsequent observations in female groups (before SM: 21.4 vs. days after SM: 13.4, SED = 3.31, P < 0.05 for interaction). However, SM had no effect on behaviors recorded between feed events or on the number and severity of skin lesions (P > 0.10). There were no differences between the 11 remaining pigs in SM groups and the 14 pigs in AO groups in terms of growth performance, feed efficiency, and carcass traits of female or intact male pigs (P > 0.10). However, reduced within-pen CV in carcass weight was detected in pigs from SM groups compared with pigs from AO groups (8.6 vs. 10.9, SEM = 0.72, P < 0.05). Therefore, in restrictively fed pigs, a SM strategy improved the welfare of both female and intact male pigs by reducing aggressive interactions during feeding but had no effect on performance or carcass traits.
    • Longitudinal study of the effect of rubber slat mats on locomotory ability, body, limb and claw lesions, and dirtiness of group housed sows

      Calderon Diaz, Julia; Fahey, A. G.; KilBride, A. L.; Green, L. E.; Boyle, Laura A; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2013-08-01)
      This study evaluated the influence of floor type on sow welfare with particular focus on lameness, claw lesions (CL), and injuries. The study used 164 gilts housed in groups of 8 from AI to 110 d of pregnancy in pens with concrete (n = 84) slatted floor left uncovered or covered by 10-mm rubber slat mats (n = 80) through 2 parities. Lameness (0 = normal to 5 = severe), limb (0 = normal to 6 = severe) and body (0 = normal to 5 = severe) lesions, and manure on the body (MOB; score 0 to 2) were recorded at AI, 24 to 72 h postmixing, between 50 and 70 d of pregnancy, and 2 wk before farrowing. Claw lesions (score 0 = normal to 3 = severe) were recorded at AI and between 50 and 70 d of pregnancy. The dirtiness and wetness of the floors was scored weekly (score 0 = clean to 4 = >75% of the pen soiled/wet). Data from the first and second parities were analyzed separately. Sows were categorized as nonlame (score ≤ 1) or lame (score ≥ 2). Median (Me) scores were calculated for CL and body and limb lesions and were classified as less than or equal to the median or greater than the median lesion scores. Sows on rubber slat mats had a reduced risk of lameness during both parities (P < 0.01) compared with sows on concrete. They also had an increased risk of scores greater than the median for toe overgrowth (Me = 2 and Me = 3 in the first and second parity, respectively) and heel sole crack (HSC; Me = 3) during both parities (P < 0.01) and for cracks in the wall (CW; Me = 4) and white line damage (WL; Me = 4; P < 0.01) in the first and second parity, respectively. There was a reduced risk of lameness in sows with scores greater than the median for HSC (P = 0.05) in the first parity and WL (Me = 3; P < 0.01) and CW (Me = 3; P < 0.05) in the second parity. Wounds (Me = 3) and severe lesions (Me = 0) on the limbs with scores greater than the median were associated with an increased risk of lameness (P < 0.01) in the first and second parity, respectively. Sows on rubber slat mats had a reduced risk of scores greater than the median for swellings (Me = 4) and wounds (P < 0.01) during both parities. Pens with rubber slat mats were dirtier than uncovered pens (P < 0.01); however, there was no association between MOB and flooring type. There was also no association between body lesion score and flooring type. In this study, CL were not associated with an increased risk of lameness. Therefore, even though rubber slat mats were associated with an increased risk of CL, they improved the welfare of group housed sows by reducing the risk of lameness and limb lesions.
    • Effects of gestation housing system and floor type during lactation on locomotory ability; body, limb, and claw lesions; and lying-down behavior of lactating sows

      Calderon Diaz, Julia; Fahey, A. G.; Boyle, Laura A; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2014-04-01)
      This study evaluated the influence of housing system during gestation and floor type during lactation on the welfare and lying-down behavior of lactating sows. Multiparous sows (n = 85) were housed either in individual gestation stalls (n = 42) or loose (n = 43) in a single dynamic group with 2 electronic sow feeders moved to farrowing crates on either slatted steel (n = 48) or cast iron (n = 37) flooring. Lameness (0 = normal to 5 = severely lame) was scored on transfer to the farrowing crate (-5 d). Limb and body lesions were recorded on -5 d, 24 h after entering the farrowing crate (-4 d), 10-d postpartum, and before weaning. Claw lesions were recorded on -5 d and before weaning, whereas all behavioral observations were made on -5, -4, and 10 d. Median (Me) scores were calculated for claw, body, and limb lesions and classified as either less than or equal to the Me or greater than the Me lesion scores. Sows were classified as nonlame (£ 1) or lame (³ 2). Loose-housed sows had an increased (P < 0.01) risk of lameness; a reduced (P < 0.05) risk for claw lesions, particularly white line damage, horizontal wall cracks, and dewclaw injuries; and a reduced (P < 0.05) risk for calluses and bursitis on the limbs compared to stall-housed sows. Sows housed on cast iron floors during lactation had a reduced (P < 0.01) risk for heel overgrowth and erosion and heel-sole cracks compared with sows on slatted steel floors. There was no (P > 0.05) association between flooring type during lactation and body lesion score. On -4 d, loose-housed sows had a shorter latency to lie down (P < 0.01), spent more time inactive (P < 0.05), and shifted weight between the limbs more often (P = 0.05) while standing compared with stall-housed sows. Lame sows had a shorter (P < 0.01) latency to lie down compared to nonlame sows on -5 and -4 d. In conclusion, there was an increased risk of lameness in sows housed loose compared to those housed in gestation stalls on transfer to the farrowing crate. Claw health deteriorated in the farrowing crate regardless of gestation housing or floor type but the deterioration in claw health was increased on slatted steel compared to on cast iron
    • Can increased dietary fibre level and a single enrichment device reduce the risk of tail biting in undocked growing-finishing pigs in fully slatted systems?

      Chou, Jen-Yun; O'Driscoll, Keelin; Sandercock, Dale A.; D’Eath, Rick B.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Scotland’s Rural College; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2020-10-30)
      This study evaluated the effectiveness of combined dietary and enrichment strategies to manage tail biting in pigs with intact tails in a conventional fully-slatted floor housing system. A 2 × 2 × 2 factorial design was used. Pigs had either a high fibre (weaner 5.3% and finisher 11.6% of crude fibre) or standard fibre diet (weaner 3.7% and finisher 5.9% of crude fibre). In the weaner stage, pigs had either a spruce wooden post (supplied in a wall-mounted dispenser) or a rubber floor toy as a enrichment device, and in the finisher stage, they had either the same or alternate enrichment item. Six hundred and seventy-two pigs were assigned to 48 pens of 14 pigs and followed from weaning until slaughter. Individual tail lesion scores and pen level behaviours were directly recorded every 2 weeks. Twenty-six pens had tail biting outbreaks and 161 injured pigs needed removal for treatment. Pigs fed with the high fibre diet performed more tail biting (p < 0.05) and tended to have a worse tail damage scores than those fed the standard fibre diet (p = 0.08). Pigs which had the floor toy as weaners and wood as finishers tended to have fewer tail lesions in the finisher stage than their counterparts (p = 0.06). Pigs receiving the floor toy as enrichment interacted with the enrichment more frequently overall (p < 0.001) and performed fewer harmful behaviours in the weaner stage (p < 0.05). Overall, higher fibre in the diet in a relatively barren environment did not help reduce tail biting or tail lesions. Altering the fibre level in the pigs’ diet and providing a single enrichment device to undocked pigs on fully slatted floors resulted in a high level of tail biting and a large proportion of pigs with partial tail amputation.
    • Does Diversity Matter? Behavioural Differences between Piglets Given Diverse or Similar Forms of Enrichment Pre-Weaning

      Schmitt, Océane; Poidevin, Aurélie; O'Driscoll, Keelin; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 13S428 (MDPI AG, 2020-10-09)
      This study investigated the behavioural effects of providing different enrichment materials to suckling piglets from 7 days-old until weaning. One object was attached to the pen wall (WALL), and the other was suspended in the middle of the pen (MID). Control group had the hessian fabric in both locations, and the two diverse groups had hessian and bamboo stick in alternate locations (i.e., BMID-HWALL and HMID-BWALL). Piglets behaviour was recorded on D0 (object introduction), D1, D5, D8, D12, and D14; at weaning and 1, 3, 5 and 15 days after. Groups did not differ in approaching or interacting with objects on D0. MID objects attracted more attention than WALL objects (p < 0.01). Piglets interacted more with hessian than bamboo (p < 0.001). They performed more oral manipulation and shaking with hessian (p < 0.001), but more pushing of bamboo (p < 0.001). Interactions with objects increased with time (p < 0.001), especially with hessian (p < 0.01), while interest in bamboo remained unchanged. Control piglets performed more biting than piglets with diverse enrichment (pooled data), both pre- and post-weaning (p < 0.05). Therefore, providing different types of enrichment material can reduce biting behaviour pre- and post-weaning. Hessian was favoured, possibly because this was easier to bite and shake, which were the behaviours most often observed.
    • Strategies to Meet Nutritional Requirements and Reduce Boar Taint in Meat from Entire Male Pigs and Immunocastrates

      Bee, Giuseppe; Quiniou, Nathalie; Maribo, Hanne; Zamaratskaia, Galia; Lawlor, Peadar G. (MDPI AG, 2020-10-23)
      This paper reviews the current knowledge on the nutritional requirements of entire male and immunocastrated pigs to obtain an efficient growth, low boar taint level, and good carcass and meat quality. We present the reasons for offering entire males ad libitum access to the diets in order to optimize their protein deposition potential. Boar taint is one of the major issues in the production of entire males; therefore, the impact of various skatole- and indole-reducing feed ingredients is discussed regarding their efficiency and the possible mechanism affecting skatole and indole production in the hindgut. Entire males have lean carcasses, so their intramuscular fat content can be lower than that of surgical castrates or females and the adipose tissue can be highly unsaturated. The possible nutritional strategies to counteract these effects are summarized. We conclude that immunocastrates can be fed similarly to entire males until the second vaccination. However, due to the metabolic changes occurring shortly after the second vaccination, the requirements for essential amino acids are markedly lower in immunocastrates than in entire males.
    • Effect of dietary inclusion of benzoic acid (VevoVitall®) on the microbial quality of liquid feed and the growth and carcass quality of grow-finisher pigs

      O’ Meara, F.M.; Gardiner, G.E.; O’ Doherty, J.V.; Lawlor, P.G.; Lawlor, Peadar; Teagasc Walsh Scholarship Programme (Elsevier BV, 2020-07)
      Benzoic acid has long been used as a food preservative due to its antibacterial and antifungal effects. Supplementation to pig diets has also been shown to inhibit microbial free amino acid degradation and to control yeast growth in fermented liquid feed. However, the effect of dietary inclusion of benzoic acid (BA) in fresh liquid feed for grow-finisher pigs on feed quality and the resultant effects on pig growth remain unclear. The objective of the current study was to compare four inclusion levels of BA (VevoVitall®) on feed microbial quality and on the growth performance of grow-finisher pigs. Two-hundred and sixteen pigs with a starting weight of 30.0kg (± 7.43 SD) were used in the experiment. The four dietary treatments were as follows: (1) Basal diet + 0kg/t BA (0kg/t BA), (2) Basal diet + 2.5kg/t BA (2.5kg/t BA), (3) Basal diet + 5kg/t BA (5kg/t BA), (4) Basal diet + 10kg/t BA (10kg/t BA). Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) counts in the mixing tank were similar across treatments (P>0.05) but were lower in the troughs for the feed supplemented with 10kg/t BA than for all other treatments (P<0.01). The pH of the 10kg/t BA treatment was also lower than that of the other three treatments. However, this only occurred in the mixing tank (P<0.01), as in the trough, the basal diet had the lowest pH (lower than the other three treatments; P<0.01). Dietary BA inclusion did not affect average daily gain, average daily feed intake, feed conversion efficiency, final live-weight, carcass weight or carcass quality during the experimental period (P>0.05). In conclusion, while BA may limit the growth of LAB in liquid feed and stabilise feed pH, its inclusion in the diet did not improve the growth performance or carcass quality of grow-finisher pigs.
    • Characterization of the lying and rising sequence in lame and non-lame sows

      Mumm, Jared Michael; Calderon Diaz, Julia; Stock, Joseph Daniel; Kerr Johnson, Anna; Ramirez, Alejandro; Azarpajouh, Samaneh; Stalder, Kenneth J.; National Pork Board; #15-004 (Elsevier BV, 2020-05)
      This study aimed to identify possible differences in the lying and standing sequence between lame and non-lame gestating sows. A total of 85 stall-housed sows (average parity 0.9 ± 1.14; range 0–4) were scored for walking lameness on a 3-point scale (1 = normal to 3=severely lame) while moving to a separate gestation stall for recording of one lying-standing event on days 30, 60 and 90 of gestation. A video camera was positioned on the adjacent stall so sows’ profiles were visible. Observations ceased when the sow laid-down and stood-up, or 2.5 h elapsed from recording commencement. From videos, postures and movements that occurred during lying-standing sequences were identified. Time (seconds) from kneeling to shoulder rotation (KSR), shoulder rotation to lying (SRHQ), total time to lie (TLIE); latency to lie (LATENCY; minutes) and number of attempts to successfully lie were recorded. Also, time taken from first leg fold to sit (TLS), time from sit to rise (TSR), and total time to rise (TRISE) were recorded. Sows were re-classified as non-lame (score 1) and lame (scores ≥ 2). Data were analyzed using mixed model methods with gestation day, and lameness as fixed effects and sow the random effect. On average, sows took 14.3 ± 1.39 s for KSR, 7.7 ± 0.79 s for SRHQ, 21.0 ± 1.37 s for TLIE and 63.6 ± 5.97 min for LATENCY. Furthermore, sows took 8.8 ± 2.80 s for TLS, 5.95 ± 1.73 s for TSR, and 10.3 ± 2.02 s for TRISE. There were no associations between lameness status or gestation day with time required for or the likelihood of performing the different movements of the lying and standing sequences (P >  0.05). Except for lame sows tending to sit more while transitioning from lying to standing than non-lame sows (P =  0.09). Seven different lying and 4 different standing combination deviation from the normal sequences, albeit each combination was infrequent and did not allow for statistical analysis. However, all together, deviations from the normal lying and standing sequence accounted for 22.7 % and 35 % of total observations; respectively. Under the conditions of this study, lameness did not influence the time taken or the likelihood of performing different movements and/or postures during normal lying-standing sequences. However, this could be due to lameness recorded here not being severe enough to affect the sequences. The observed deviations suggest that there is variation in the way sows lie and stand although more research is necessary to understand which factors contribute to such variation.