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Animals, Volume 13, Issue 23 (December-1 2023) – 155 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Effective communication skills are vital for successful veterinary practice and are a core component of veterinary education programs. Methods of teaching clinical communication in veterinary medicine have developed since they became a required part of the curriculum over two decades ago, and there is growing evidence for their effectiveness. However, validated ‘best practices’ for teaching and assessing ‘real-world’ communication competency are less well established. Here, we report three recent developments in communication skills training in the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program at the University of Sydney and evaluate their implications with respect to curriculum design. We conclude that communication in the veterinary curriculum can be more engaging and effective through student-centred design, which increases the realism and authenticity of the student experience. View this paper
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12 pages, 2591 KiB  
Article
Mass Balance Studies of Chlorpheniramine Hydrochloride in the Body of Channel Catfish (Ictalurus punctatus)
Animals 2023, 13(23), 3745; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13233745 - 04 Dec 2023
Viewed by 671
Abstract
This study aims to determine the mass balance of chlorpheniramine hydrochloride (ROBH) in the body of Channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus). ROBH was administered orally at a dose of 20 mg/kg; following drug administration, the water samples were collected at predetermined time [...] Read more.
This study aims to determine the mass balance of chlorpheniramine hydrochloride (ROBH) in the body of Channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus). ROBH was administered orally at a dose of 20 mg/kg; following drug administration, the water samples were collected at predetermined time points (12, 24, 48, 72, 96, 120, 144, and 168 h), the experimental fish were executed after the water samples were obtained at 168 h, and the tissue samples were collected separately from the bones. The water and tissue samples were analyzed by high-performance liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC–MS/MS) for concentrations of ROBH and its potential major metabolites, 4-chlorohippuric acid (PCHA) and 4-chlorobenzoic acid (PCBA). The tissue samples were prepared using a modified QuEChERS procedure; the water samples were prepared using a liquid–liquid extraction (LLE) procedure. The results show that the recovery rate of ROBH in fish is very low, less than 2% of the total amount of the drug, and the recovery in water can reach 80.7% of the total amount of the drug. The content of PCBA accounted for 42.4% of the total amount of the drug; the content of ROBH accounted for 38.3% of the total amount of the drug. The content of PCHA accounted for less than 1% of the total amount of the drug. The results show that, after a single administration, ROBH is rapidly metabolized in vivo and excreted in the form of ROBH as well as metabolite PCBA. ROBH and PCBA can be used as the main targets for the metabolism detection of ROBH in Channel catfish. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics in Aquatic Animals)
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15 pages, 6927 KiB  
Article
In Search of Suitable Breeding Sites: Habitat Heterogeneity and Environmental Filters Determine Anuran Diversity of Western Madagascar
Animals 2023, 13(23), 3744; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13233744 - 04 Dec 2023
Viewed by 679
Abstract
Environmental filtering shapes animal communities by preventing the colonization and persistence of certain species in a given habitat. More heterogenous environments are presumed to support a greater number of species and, consequently, increased species diversity, as environmental filters are also likely more heterogenous. [...] Read more.
Environmental filtering shapes animal communities by preventing the colonization and persistence of certain species in a given habitat. More heterogenous environments are presumed to support a greater number of species and, consequently, increased species diversity, as environmental filters are also likely more heterogenous. Amphibians are especially sensitive to environmental influences due to distinct characteristics like permeable skin and low mobility. By analyzing the species richness and assemblage composition of tadpoles in 132 breeding ponds, we examined how the interplay of environmental variables shapes anuran species assemblages in breeding habitats of the dry forest of Western Madagascar. We found that environmental filtering is prevalent and habitat heterogeneity not only increases larval species richness but also alters species composition between these assemblages. Our study highlights the need for conserving heterogenous habitats to maintain local diversity. Furthermore, we recommend including multivariate modelling approaches to conservation efforts to acknowledge differences between specific habitats and beta diversity. Full article
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12 pages, 305 KiB  
Article
Polymorphism within IGFBP Genes Affects the Acidity, Colour, and Shear Force of Rabbit Meat
Animals 2023, 13(23), 3743; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13233743 - 04 Dec 2023
Viewed by 638
Abstract
Rabbits are important livestock animals, popular for their nutritional value. Nowadays, the molecular background of traits influencing the quality of meat and meat products is in high demand. Therefore, in the current study, we analyse the sequences of IGFBP1, IGFBP2, IGFBP4 [...] Read more.
Rabbits are important livestock animals, popular for their nutritional value. Nowadays, the molecular background of traits influencing the quality of meat and meat products is in high demand. Therefore, in the current study, we analyse the sequences of IGFBP1, IGFBP2, IGFBP4, IGFBP5, and IGFBP6 for possible polymorphisms. Based on a bioinformatics analysis in an association study on 466 animals of different breeds (New Zealand White × Flemish Giant crossbreed (9NZWxFG), Termond White (TW), Popielno White (PW), and Flemish Giant (FG)), we analyse the influence of five polymorphisms within the IGFBP genes. Statistically significant differences were found among the carcass and meat quality traits but not for all of the analysed rabbit breeds. The most promising polymorphism was g.158093018A>T within the IGFBP5 gene. The values of pH24 of m.longissimus lumborum (m.l.l.) and biceps femoris muscles (m.b.f.) were higher for the AT genotypes compared to the AA genotypes for the TW and NZWxFG crossbreeds. Also, for pH24, we found differences in ing.41594308T>C for NZWxFG, where the TT genotype values were higher than the TC values. We found differences in L*24 on m.l.l. for g.41592248A>C for NZWxFG. For m.b.f., significant differences were found in b*45 for g.3431insAC in the FG population and a*45 for g.41592248A>C and g.158093018A>T in the TW population. The shear force statistically differed for g.158093018A>T in TW rabbits and g.41592248A>C for NZWxFG. We conclude that this polymorphism may be promising for better quality rabbit meat and may be implemented in selection processes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Genetics and Genomics)
12 pages, 3625 KiB  
Article
Hair Follicle Development of Rex Rabbits Is Regulated Seasonally by Wnt10b/β-Catenin, TGFβ-BMP, IGF1, and EGF Signaling Pathways
Animals 2023, 13(23), 3742; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13233742 - 04 Dec 2023
Viewed by 731
Abstract
This experiment was conducted to study the effects of different skinning seasons on the fur quality and hair follicle development of Rex rabbits. A total of 80,150-day-old Rex rabbits were slaughtered on 15 July 2022 (summer), 15 October 2022 (autumn), 15 January 2023 [...] Read more.
This experiment was conducted to study the effects of different skinning seasons on the fur quality and hair follicle development of Rex rabbits. A total of 80,150-day-old Rex rabbits were slaughtered on 15 July 2022 (summer), 15 October 2022 (autumn), 15 January 2023 (winter), and 15 April 2023 (spring) in Shandong Province (10 males and 10 females in each season). The results show that the skin weight, skin area, skin thickness, and hair follicle density of the Rex rabbits (at 150 days of age) were lower in summer than in winter (p < 0.05). Moreover, the coat length was shorter in summer than in spring, autumn, and winter (p < 0.05). The shoulder fat weight, perirenal fat weight, and perigastric fat weight of the Rex rabbits in winter were higher than those in summer (p < 0.05). Furthermore, the leptin levels in serum were higher in winter than in summer in the Rex rabbits (p < 0.05). In terms of serum biochemistry, the glucose levels were higher in autumn and winter than in spring and summer (p < 0.05). The cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL), and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) in summer had higher values than in winter in the Rex rabbits (p < 0.05). In winter, the expression of the Wnt10b, catenin beta 1 (CTNNB1), glycogen synthase kinase 3 beta (GSK3β), insulin like growth factor I (IGF-I), Type I insulin-like growth factor receptor (IGF-IR), and epidermal growth factor (EGF) genes was higher (p < 0.05), and the expression of the dickkopf-1 (DDK1), transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGFβ-1), bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP2), and bone morphogenetic protein 4 (BMP4) genes was lower than in summer (p < 0.05). In summer, the heat shock 70 kDa protein (HSP70) expression and CTNNB1 protein phosphorylation levels in skin tissue were higher than in spring, autumn, and winter (p < 0.05). In winter, Wnt10b protein expression was higher (p < 0.05), and GSK-3β protein phosphorylation levels were lower than in spring, autumn, and winter (p < 0.05). These results show that the skinning season can affect the production performance and hair follicle development of Rex rabbits. Compared with other seasons, the quality of skin from rabbits slaughtered in winter is better. Seasons may regulate hair follicle development via the Wnt10b/β-catenin, TGFβ-BMP, IGF1, and EGF signaling pathways in Rex rabbits. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Products)
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13 pages, 994 KiB  
Article
Effects of Phytase Source and Dose on Its Stability during Pelleting Process under Different Conditioning Temperatures
Animals 2023, 13(23), 3741; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13233741 - 03 Dec 2023
Viewed by 746
Abstract
Phytase activity can be impaired during pelleting because of extreme thermal conditions. This study investigated the effects of dose and source of phytase on phytase activity during the conditioning, pelleting, and cooling process. A split-plot design was used in two experiments, with five [...] Read more.
Phytase activity can be impaired during pelleting because of extreme thermal conditions. This study investigated the effects of dose and source of phytase on phytase activity during the conditioning, pelleting, and cooling process. A split-plot design was used in two experiments, with five phytase doses (Exp. 1; 7560, 14310, 33830, 43590 and 61500 FTU/kg) or eight phytase sources (Exp. 2) as the main plot and steam conditioning temperatures (Exp. 1 and 2; 75 and 85 °C) as the subplot. Each treatment processed four batches, one batch per replicate. The results of Exp. 1 showed phytase dose in diets had no effect (p > 0.05) on the recovery rate of phytase activity after the conditioning, pelleting, or cooling process. The recovery rate of phytase activity in each process was higher (p < 0.05) at 75 °C than that at 85 °C for both Exp. 1 and 2. The phytase source significantly affected (p < 0.05) the recovery rate of phytase activity and had varied appearances of structure. In conclusion, the structure, phytase activity, and phytase recovery after steam conditioning–pelleting significantly varied across sources, but the stability of phytase was not affected by dose. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances and Challenges in Animal Feed Safety and Quality Control)
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13 pages, 1004 KiB  
Article
Effect of Acute and Cumulative Stress on Gene Expression in Mammary Tissue and Their Interactions with Physiological Responses and Milk Yield in Saanen Goats
Animals 2023, 13(23), 3740; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13233740 - 03 Dec 2023
Viewed by 961
Abstract
This study addresses the hypothesis that different acute stressors can cumulatively decrease milk yield. In fact, in a time of global warming, the impact of environmental stress and farm management practices on milk production remains unclear. In this context, our objective was to [...] Read more.
This study addresses the hypothesis that different acute stressors can cumulatively decrease milk yield. In fact, in a time of global warming, the impact of environmental stress and farm management practices on milk production remains unclear. In this context, our objective was to investigate the effect of acute and cumulative stress on gene expression in mammary tissue and their interactions with physiological responses and milk yield in Saanen goats. Thirty lactating goats were subjected to two treatments: (1) control (CT), in which goats were maintained following a habitual routine under comfort conditions; (2) stress (ST), in which the goats were subjected to different types of environmental stress: heat stress, adrenocorticotropic hormone administration, hoof care management, and exposure to rain. These stressors were performed sequentially, with one stress per day on four consecutive lactation days, to evaluate their effect on milk quality and milk yield. Our results showed that compared to CT goats, cumulative stress increased the gene expression of glucocorticoid receptor (GR), interferon-gamma (IFN-γ), superoxide dismutase (SOD), and catalase (CAT) in mammary tissue, which are indicators of cortisol action, inflammatory response, and antioxidant enzymes. Furthermore, the acute challenges imposed on ST goats changed their rectal temperature and respiratory frequency and increased cortisol, glucose, cholesterol, triglycerides, and high-density lipoprotein release in plasma when compared to CT goats. Although these physiological and metabolic responses restore homeostasis, ST goats showed lower milk yield and higher somatic cell count in milk than CT goats. In conclusion, the results confirmed our initial hypothesis that different acute stressors cumulatively decrease the milk yield in Saanen goats. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Lactation Physiology and Milk Quality of Small Ruminants)
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12 pages, 604 KiB  
Article
Effects of Species-Specific Auditory Stimulation on Broiler Embryos on Hatchability, Developmental Stability, Behavior, and Performance Characteristics
Animals 2023, 13(23), 3739; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13233739 - 03 Dec 2023
Viewed by 555
Abstract
The aim of this study is to expose broiler embryos to species-specific sounds from the 444th and 468th hours of incubation until the end of incubation and, thus, to determine the effects of these stimulations on their hatching characteristics, performance traits, developmental stability, [...] Read more.
The aim of this study is to expose broiler embryos to species-specific sounds from the 444th and 468th hours of incubation until the end of incubation and, thus, to determine the effects of these stimulations on their hatching characteristics, performance traits, developmental stability, and behavioral characteristics. Auditory stimulation sounds are a total of 5 min of recording consisting of sounds made by embryos during and after internal piping and response sounds made by the broody hen at that time. The auditory stimulation pattern was created as 5 min of recording and 5 min of silence for a total of 20 min of recording, and this sound pattern was played continuously with 65 dB sound intensity and 800 Hz sound frequency. A total of 750 Ross 308 broiler hatching eggs were equally divided into three groups (AS1: auditory stimulation from hour 444, AS2: sound stimulation from hour 468), and two stimulation groups and a control (silent) group were incubated in three homologous incubators. Due to auditory stimulation, the hatching window in embryos exposed to species-specific sounds beginning at the 444th hour of the incubation period was determined to be 28 h in this study. Auditory stimulation was late in the embryos exposed to species-specific sounds from the 468th hour of incubation, and the incubation windows in this group and the silent (control) group were determined to be 36 h and 40 h, respectively. The chicks that were exposed to early auditory stimulation during incubation exhibited a higher average Tona score (99.03) in comparison to the other groups (p < 0.05). Additionally, the number of chicks discarded was comparatively higher than the others (p < 0.05). Auditory stimulation during incubation had no effect on live weight, Gompertz growth curve parameters, feed conversion ratio, slaughter-carcass characteristics, behavioral traits, or developmental balance characteristics. Consequently, it was determined that the incubation window and the number of marketable chicks were both substantially impacted by the implementation of species-specific auditory stimulation. However, further research is required to ascertain the precise timing of this auditory stimulation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Poultry)
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13 pages, 3963 KiB  
Article
The Diversity of Trematodes in Myotis Bats (Chiroptera, Vespertilionidae) from the Samarskaya Luka (European Russia)
Animals 2023, 13(23), 3738; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13233738 - 03 Dec 2023
Viewed by 608
Abstract
Various bat species often occupy the same habitats. Cohabitation should induce different preferences in spatial or trophic components of the bat ecological niche to reduce their competition. This determines the differences in the trematode fauna of Myotis spp. The purpose of our research [...] Read more.
Various bat species often occupy the same habitats. Cohabitation should induce different preferences in spatial or trophic components of the bat ecological niche to reduce their competition. This determines the differences in the trematode fauna of Myotis spp. The purpose of our research was to study the biodiversity of trematodes in syntopic populations of five Myotis species in the Samarskaya Luka National Park. In the 2005–2007 period, we studied 867 bat specimens via the methods of complete helminthological dissection. In total, 11 trematode species from the families Plagiorchiidae (Plagiorchis koreanus, P. mordovii, P. muelleri, and P. vespertilionis), Pleurogenidae (Parabascus duboisi), and Lecithodendriidae (Prosthodendrium ascidia, Pr. chilostomum, Pr. cryptolecithum, Pr. hurkovaae, Pr. longiforme, and Lecithodendrium linstowi) were found in five Myotis species. Only three trematode species, P. koreanus, Pr. chilostomum, and P. duboisi, are common to all studied Myotis spp. Prosthodendrium cryptolecithum was recorded for the first time in Russia. Trematode species diversity is higher in Myotis daubentonii and M. dasycneme. The trematode fauna of M. brandtii, M. nattereri, and M. mystacinus is less diverse. The determining factor in the infection of bats with trematodes is feeding on semi-aquatic insects, possible second intermediate hosts of the parasites. The infection of bats with flukes occurs at different levels of host (Myotis spp.) abundance as a result of the realization of the main bat trophic relationships. Our results confirm the data that the ecological niches of the five Myotis species partially overlap. Analysis of the trematode fauna in Myotis spp. showed that, in the Samarskaya Luka, there may be weak competition for food items among bats. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Wildlife)
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18 pages, 606 KiB  
Article
Energy and Arginine Density in the Diets of Arbor Acre Hens from 40 to 50 Weeks of Age: Effects on Development and Lipid Metabolism of Embryos
Animals 2023, 13(23), 3737; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13233737 - 03 Dec 2023
Viewed by 788
Abstract
The effects of maternal dietary energy and arginine level on embryonic development and serum lipid metabolism were investigated in this study. A 2 × 3 factorial experiment was conducted with six treatments represented by 10 replicates of eight Arbor Acre broiler breeder hens [...] Read more.
The effects of maternal dietary energy and arginine level on embryonic development and serum lipid metabolism were investigated in this study. A 2 × 3 factorial experiment was conducted with six treatments represented by 10 replicates of eight Arbor Acre broiler breeder hens each. Diets fed from 40 to 50 weeks of age were formulated to contain two digestible arginine levels (9.6 g/kg and 14.5 g/kg) and three metabolic energy levels (10.08 MJ ME/kg, 11.88 MJ ME/kg, and 13.68 MJ ME/kg). Artificial insemination was used, and eggs collected from 50 weeks of hens’ age were hatched. Embryonic growth, biochemical and endocrine indexes of embryonic serum and allantoic fluid were measured on different embryonic days (E). The results were as follows: Egg weight (E0, E11, E13) and embryonic weight (E12, E15) in the high-energy group (13.68 MJ ME/kg) were significantly decreased (p < 0.01), as were embryonic breast rate (E13, E15, E21), thigh rate (E13–E21) and liver rate (E15–E21). The reciprocal effects of arginine and energy were significant on breast rate (E11, E13, E17), thigh rate (E19, E21) and liver rate (E11, E19) of the embryo (p < 0.05). CHO (E13–E19), high-density lipoprotein (E13, E15, E21), low-density lipoprotein (E15, E19, E21), and blood glucose (E13) levels in embryonic serum decreased with the increase in maternal dietary energy level (p < 0.05), but triglyceride levels (E19, E21) showed the opposite result (p < 0.05). The levels of cholesterol and blood glucose in embryonic serum at E11 and urea nitrogen in allantoic fluid at E11–E15 were significantly decreased in the 14.5 g/kg arginine group (p < 0.01). With the increase in maternal dietary energy and arginine levels, embryonic serum nitric oxide synthases levels (E11, E15, E19) increased significantly (p < 0.01). The reciprocal effect of arginine and energy in maternal diets was significant on the embryonic serum high-density lipoprotein level at E21 (p < 0.05). Embryonic serum insulin levels at E13 were significantly elevated in the high-energy group (13.68 MJ ME/kg). The reciprocal effect of arginine and energy was significant on the embryonic serum growth hormone level (p < 0.01). Embryonic serum growth hormone levels were significantly reduced in the 14.5 g/kg arginine and 13.68 MJ/kg metabolic energy group (p < 0.01). In conclusion, maternal restricted feeding improved embryonic development and regulated lipid metabolism-related indices in embryonic serum. Maternal dietary addition of digestible arginine had a significant effect on lipid metabolism indices in embryos. There was a maternal effect of maternal dietary energy and arginine levels on embryo growth and development. The deposition of maternal nutrients affects the development of embryos. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Nutrition)
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17 pages, 298 KiB  
Article
Taxonomy of the Family Teneriffiidae (Acari: Prostigmata: Anystoidea): Generic Synonymies with the Key to World Species of the Family
Animals 2023, 13(23), 3736; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13233736 - 02 Dec 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 570
Abstract
The family Teneriffiidae Thor has an equivocal and patchy generic history due to a lack of proper diagnostic character/s, causing the addition of an over-sufficient number of genera (i.e., nine) for the 28 described species. The present study aimed to resolve those taxonomic [...] Read more.
The family Teneriffiidae Thor has an equivocal and patchy generic history due to a lack of proper diagnostic character/s, causing the addition of an over-sufficient number of genera (i.e., nine) for the 28 described species. The present study aimed to resolve those taxonomic uncertainties related to generic divisions and species assignments by thoroughly reviewing all the published literature of the family, identifying key diagnostic character/s for generic divisions while debating on previously used morphological features. In the present research, only two genera, Teneriffia Thor and Parateneriffia Thor, are considered valid genera in the family Teneriffiidae, based on the absence and presence of palpgenu oncophysis, respectively. The previously used other generic diagnostic characters such as coxal setal formula, pectination strength of leg claws, absence or presence of genital papillae, genital discs, and pedal solenidion have been argued for their inconsistencies. A total of four species were synonymized with the closely related species, while additional notes for six poorly described species are given. Moreover, the key to the genera and species of the family Teneriffiidae is provided. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Ecology, Evolution, Systematics and Behaviour of Mites)
21 pages, 3856 KiB  
Article
Factors Influencing Isolation Behavior of Dogs: A Holder-Based Questionnaire and Behavioral and Saliva Cortisol Responses during Separation
Animals 2023, 13(23), 3735; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13233735 - 02 Dec 2023
Viewed by 869
Abstract
This study examined how separation behavior differs between dogs with and without separation-related problem behavior (SRB) and the possible risk factors. The study consisted of an online survey with 940 dog holders, which, in addition to demographic facts, also includes personality, emotional disposition [...] Read more.
This study examined how separation behavior differs between dogs with and without separation-related problem behavior (SRB) and the possible risk factors. The study consisted of an online survey with 940 dog holders, which, in addition to demographic facts, also includes personality, emotional disposition and the attachment by the holder. Furthermore, a separation test was carried out with six non-SRB dogs over a maximum of 6 h, in which behavior and cortisol were determined. The questionnaire revealed that SRB dogs differed significantly from non-SRB dogs regarding the following factors: symptoms with at least a medium effect size such as restlessness, excitement, whining, howling, lip licking, barking and salivation, time to relax after separation, pessimism, persistence, excitability, calmness, separation frequency, greeting of holder and type of greeting. There were several other differences, but with weak effect sizes. The test showed that non-SRB dogs were mostly inactive during separation (lying resting and lying alert). Vocalization was almost non-existent. Behavior and cortisol did not change significantly over the different time periods. The data demonstrated typical symptoms and possible risk factors, some of which may be avoided or changed to improve animal welfare. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Research on the Human–Pet Relationship)
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23 pages, 1128 KiB  
Article
Dietary Supplementation with Nucleotides, Short-Chain Fructooligosaccharides, Xylooligosaccharides, Beta-Carotene and Vitamin E Influences Immune Function in Kittens
Animals 2023, 13(23), 3734; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13233734 - 02 Dec 2023
Viewed by 878
Abstract
Nucleotides, short-chain fructooligosaccharides (scFOS), xylooligosaccharides (XOS), β-carotene and vitamin E are reported to enhance immune function; however, the evidence of this in cats is limited. The aim of this study was to determine the immunomodulatory effects of these ingredients in kittens. Forty domestic [...] Read more.
Nucleotides, short-chain fructooligosaccharides (scFOS), xylooligosaccharides (XOS), β-carotene and vitamin E are reported to enhance immune function; however, the evidence of this in cats is limited. The aim of this study was to determine the immunomodulatory effects of these ingredients in kittens. Forty domestic short hair kittens were designated in litters to control or test diet for 28 weeks. Test diet was fortified with 0.33 g nucleotides, 0.45 g scFOS, 0.3 g XOS, 0.7 mg β-carotene and 66.5 mg vitamin E per 100 g diet. Kittens were vaccinated against feline parvovirus (FPV) and herpesvirus (FHV) at 10, 14 and 18 weeks. Kittens remained healthy, with no measured evidence of adverse health. Serum FPV and FHV antibody titres were significantly (p < 0.05) higher in the test diet group at week 23 and 27, respectively. A significantly (p < 0.05) higher proportion of test diet group kittens demonstrated an adequate response (four-fold titre increase) to FHV vaccination and a significantly (p < 0.05) higher proportion reached a protective antibody titre for FHV. Serum IgM was significantly (p < 0.05) higher in the test diet group. The test diet group demonstrated a stronger humoral immune response to vaccination, suggesting the diet supports immune defence, enabling a greater response to immune challenges. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Nutrition)
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12 pages, 7479 KiB  
Article
Effects of Chronic Heat Stress on Kidney Damage, Apoptosis, Inflammation, and Heat Shock Proteins of Siberian Sturgeon (Acipenser baerii)
Animals 2023, 13(23), 3733; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13233733 - 02 Dec 2023
Viewed by 675
Abstract
Chronic heat stress caused by global warming can have serious implications for fish survival. The kidney plays a central role in many homeostatic functions, including water and electrolyte regulation. However, there is limited knowledge about the effect of heat stress on fish kidneys. [...] Read more.
Chronic heat stress caused by global warming can have serious implications for fish survival. The kidney plays a central role in many homeostatic functions, including water and electrolyte regulation. However, there is limited knowledge about the effect of heat stress on fish kidneys. In this study, water temperatures were increased from 20 °C to 24 °C and 28 °C in 8 days at a warming rate of 1 °C/d, and then maintained for 12 days. We investigated the effects of mild heat stress (24 °C) and high heat stress (28 °C) on Siberian Sturgeon (Acipenser baerii) kidneys using histological observation, flow cytometry detection, and RT-qPCR. Our histological observations revealed that heat stress caused significant infiltration of inflammatory cells in the kidney, especially at 28 °C. The flow cytometry assay demonstrated a significant increase in the number of apoptotic cells after heat stress at 28 °C compared to a control group at 20 °C (p = 0.033). The level of plasma creatinine was significantly increased in the 28 °C group compared to the control group (p = 0.001). In addition, the mRNA expression levels of heat shock protein GRP75 increased (p = 0.009). The results indicate that heat stress at 28 °C caused damage to the kidneys of A. baerii and triggered the protective response of heat shock proteins. In conclusion, this study contributes to the understanding of the coping strategies of the kidney of A. baerii for chronic heat stress. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Health and Welfare in Aquaculture)
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23 pages, 44428 KiB  
Article
Radiological Methods for the Imaging of Congenital Malformations of C6-T1, the First and Second Sternal Ribs and Development of a Classification System, Demonstrated in Warmblood Horses
Animals 2023, 13(23), 3732; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13233732 - 02 Dec 2023
Viewed by 5750
Abstract
There are conflicting data in studies on malformations of the cervicothoracic (C-T) junction (C6 to T2, including the first and second ribs), but evidence is mounting that they can be of clinical significance for horses. The objectives of this study were to establish [...] Read more.
There are conflicting data in studies on malformations of the cervicothoracic (C-T) junction (C6 to T2, including the first and second ribs), but evidence is mounting that they can be of clinical significance for horses. The objectives of this study were to establish a radiographic protocol for imaging the C-T junction in the field and to classify the radiographic variations found in 39 warmblood horses presented for clinical evaluation due to behavioral or performance issues. Malformations of the ventral lamina of C6 and transposition onto the ventral aspect of C7 were seen in 37/39 (94.9%) horses for both conditions. Rib anomalies were found among the horses with C6 and C7 malformations. A missing first rib, unilateral or bilateral, was found in 3/35 (11.4%) horses, a unilateral shortening of the rib in 17/35 (48.6%) horses, a bilateral shortening of the ribs in 12/35 (34.3%) horses, bifid ribs in 3/35 (8.6%) horses, and only 4/35 (11.4%) horses had a normal length of the first rib on both sides. There was a moderately to highly significant association between the grades of left and right malformations of C6 and C7 and first ribs as well as between C6 and C7. A large number of malformations were visualized radiographically at the C-T junction using the newly described methods of latero-lateral and oblique radiographic projections, which allows for these features to be identified in living horses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Equids)
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16 pages, 4001 KiB  
Article
Effects of LED Light Colors on the Growth Performance, Intestinal Morphology, Cecal Short-Chain Fatty Acid Concentrations and Microbiota in Broilers
Animals 2023, 13(23), 3731; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13233731 - 01 Dec 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 716
Abstract
This study aimed to explore the effects of light-emitting diode (LED) light colors on growth, intestinal morphology, and cecal microbiota in broilers. A total of 360 healthy male Arbor Acres (AA) broilers with similar weights were selected and divided into four groups with [...] Read more.
This study aimed to explore the effects of light-emitting diode (LED) light colors on growth, intestinal morphology, and cecal microbiota in broilers. A total of 360 healthy male Arbor Acres (AA) broilers with similar weights were selected and divided into four groups with six replicates in each group and 15 broilers in each replicate: LED white light (W), LED green light (G), LED blue light (B), and LED blue–green composite light (BG). The experimental period was 42 d, the light cycle of each treatment group was 23L:1D (23 h of light, one hour of darkness) from 1 to 3 d, and the light cycle from 4 to 42 d was 16L:8D; light intensity was 20 Lux. The results showed that the average daily feed intake and final weight of broilers receiving the B group were the highest in 21 d and 42 d compared with other groups. The average daily feed intake of the BG group was lower than that of the B group. In the same light color, small intestine villus height grows with age. On days 21 and 42, compared with other groups, the ileal villus height was higher, the crypt depth was lower, and the V/C ratio (villus to crypt ratio) was higher in the BG group. The combination of blue–green composite light was beneficial to increase the content of propionate, isobutyrate, butyrate, isovalerate, and valerate in the cecum of 21-day-old broilers and the content of isobutyrate in the cecum of 42-day-old broilers, and a decrease in cecal short-chain fatty acid concentrations with age. The B group and the BG group had higher abundances of Bacteroidetes at day 21 of age and lower abundances of Phascolarctobacterium at day 42. However, no cecal microbiota differences were detected by the Bonferroni-corrected test. In general, our research results showed that light color could promote the growth of broilers by affecting intestinal morphology, microbiota abundance (needs to be validated by further experiments), and cecal short-chain fatty acid concentrations. And blue and blue–green composite lights are more suitable for broiler growth. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Physiology)
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10 pages, 748 KiB  
Article
Beta-Carotene Supplementation for Sows: Reproductive Parameters and Productive Performance of Piglets
Animals 2023, 13(23), 3730; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13233730 - 01 Dec 2023
Viewed by 823
Abstract
The rapid fetal development and the increased demand for milk result in a catabolic state and oxidative stress in hyperprolific sows. Despite animal defense mechanisms, the dietary supplementation of antioxidants is being evaluated to reduce the impacts of excess free radicals. The aim [...] Read more.
The rapid fetal development and the increased demand for milk result in a catabolic state and oxidative stress in hyperprolific sows. Despite animal defense mechanisms, the dietary supplementation of antioxidants is being evaluated to reduce the impacts of excess free radicals. The aim of this study was to evaluate the short- and long-term effects of beta-carotene supplementation for sows on the reproductive response and performance of suckling piglets. A total of 120 sows were distributed in a 3 × 4 factorial arrangement of three supplementation levels (B0–no supplementation, B200–200 mg beta-carotene/day and B400–400 mg beta-carotene/day) and four groups of parity order (1st, 2nd, 3rd, above 4th). Beta-carotene supplementation during lactation resulted in a higher litter weight at weaning. A higher average weight of piglets and litter weight at birth were observed, as well as a greater number of piglets weaned and litter weight at weaning in sows supplemented with 400 mg of beta-carotene during gestation and lactation periods. Supplementation with 200 and 400 mg of beta-carotene resulted in a greater weight at weaning and daily weight gain in piglets. Daily supplementation with 400 mg of beta-carotene in the prepartum and lactation phases provides a greater litter weight at weaning and, when supplemented in the pre-gestation and gestation periods, results in a greater litter weight at birth and at weaning. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Antioxidants, Nutraceuticals, and Functional Food in Animals)
19 pages, 20069 KiB  
Article
DFCCNet: A Dense Flock of Chickens Counting Network Based on Density Map Regression
Animals 2023, 13(23), 3729; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13233729 - 01 Dec 2023
Viewed by 555
Abstract
With the development of artificial intelligence, automatically and accurately counting chickens has become a reality. However, insufficient lighting, irregular sizes, and dense flocks make this a challenging task. The existing methods cannot perform accurate and stable counting. In this article, a dense flock [...] Read more.
With the development of artificial intelligence, automatically and accurately counting chickens has become a reality. However, insufficient lighting, irregular sizes, and dense flocks make this a challenging task. The existing methods cannot perform accurate and stable counting. In this article, a dense flock of chickens counting network (DFCCNet) is proposed based on density map regression, where features from different levels are merged using feature fusion to obtain more information for distinguishing chickens from the background, resulting in more stable counting results. Multi-scaling is used to detect and count chickens at various scales, which can improve the counting accuracy and ensure stable performance for chickens of different sizes. Feature convolution kernels are adopted to convolve feature maps, which can extract more accurate target information, reduce the impact of occlusion, and achieve more reliable and precise results. A dataset of dense flocks of chickens (namely Dense-Chicken) has been collected and constructed, which contains 600 images of 99,916 chickens, with labeled points and boxes. It can be accessed by researchers as benchmark data. The proposed method was compared with some state-of-the-art algorithms, to validate its effectiveness. With its robustness being verified by counting in three kinds of density situations, with the mean absolute error being 4.26, 9.85, and 19.17, respectively, and a speed of 16.15 FPS. DFCCNet provides an automatic and fast approach to counting chickens in a dense farming environment. It can be easily embedded into handheld devices for application in agricultural engineering. Full article
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13 pages, 2417 KiB  
Article
Identification of Pre-Emptive Biosecurity Zone Areas for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Based on Machine Learning-Driven Risk Analysis
Animals 2023, 13(23), 3728; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13233728 - 01 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1014
Abstract
Over the last decade, highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has severely affected poultry production systems across the globe. In particular, massive pre-emptive depopulation of all poultry within a certain distance has raised concerns regarding animal welfare and food security. Thus, alternative approaches to [...] Read more.
Over the last decade, highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has severely affected poultry production systems across the globe. In particular, massive pre-emptive depopulation of all poultry within a certain distance has raised concerns regarding animal welfare and food security. Thus, alternative approaches to reducing unnecessary depopulation, such as risk-based depopulation, are highly demanded. This paper proposes a data-driven method to generate a rule table and risk score for each farm to identify preventive measures against HPAI. To evaluate the proposed method, 105 cases of HPAI occurring in a total of 381 farms in Jeollanam-do from 2014 to 2023 were evaluated. The accuracy of preventive measure identification was assessed for each case using both the conventional culling method and the proposed data-driven method. The evaluation showed that the proposed method achieved an accuracy of 84.19%, significantly surpassing the previous 10.37%. The result was attributed to the proposed method reducing the false-positive rate by 83.61% compared with the conventional method, thereby enhancing the reliability of identification. The proposed method is expected to be utilized in selecting farms for monitoring and management of HPAI. Full article
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14 pages, 13414 KiB  
Article
Genomic Dissection through Whole-Genome Resequencing of Five Local Pig Breeds from Shanghai, China
Animals 2023, 13(23), 3727; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13233727 - 01 Dec 2023
Viewed by 653
Abstract
China has rich genetic resources of local pig breeds. In this study, whole-genome resequencing was performed on five Shanghai local pig breeds, aiming to analyze their population genetic structure and unique genomic characteristics. Tens of millions of single nucleotide variants were obtained through [...] Read more.
China has rich genetic resources of local pig breeds. In this study, whole-genome resequencing was performed on five Shanghai local pig breeds, aiming to analyze their population genetic structure and unique genomic characteristics. Tens of millions of single nucleotide variants were obtained through the resequencing of a total of 150 individual pigs from five local pig breeds (Meishan, Fengjing, Shawutou, Pudong White, and Shanghai White) after mapping them with the pig reference genome of Sus scrofa 11.1. The results of admixture structure analysis also clearly demonstrated the genetic differences between the Shanghai local pig breeds and the three commercial pig breeds (Duroc, Landrace, and Yorkshire). The genetic infiltration of Landrace and Yorkshire pig breeds in the SHW breed was detected, which is consistent with the early history of crossbreeding in this breed. Selective sweep analysis between four indigenous Shanghai pig breed populations and three commercial pig breed populations identified 270 and 224 genes with selective signatures in the commercial and indigenous Shanghai pig populations, respectively. Six genes (TGS1, PLAG1, CHCHD7, LCORL, TMEM68, and TMEM8B) were found to be associated with animal growth in the commercial pig population through gene enrichment and protein–protein interaction analysis. In contrast, the MSRB3 gene in the indigenous Shanghai pig population was significantly under selection, which correlated with the long pendulous ear phenotype of the indigenous Shanghai pig population. In conclusion, this study is the first genomic profiling of five representative local pig breeds in Shanghai, which provides molecular genetic data and foundations for better conservation and utilization of local pig breed resources in Shanghai, China. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Genetics and Genomics)
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24 pages, 4850 KiB  
Article
Phylogeography and Ecological Niche Modeling of the Alashan Pit Viper (Gloydius cognatus; Reptilia, Viperidae) in Northwest China and Adjacent Areas
Animals 2023, 13(23), 3726; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13233726 - 01 Dec 2023
Viewed by 752
Abstract
The joint impacts of historical geological events and Quaternary climatic oscillations in Northwest China on species evolution have been examined extensively in plant under a phylogeographic perspective. However, animal phylogeographic analyses in this region are still limited. The Alashan pit viper, Gloydius cognatus [...] Read more.
The joint impacts of historical geological events and Quaternary climatic oscillations in Northwest China on species evolution have been examined extensively in plant under a phylogeographic perspective. However, animal phylogeographic analyses in this region are still limited. The Alashan pit viper, Gloydius cognatus, occurs primarily in arid Northwest China and adjacent areas. Based on variation at two mtDNA genes (ND4 and Cytb) in 27 individuals representing 24 populations, the spatial genetic structure and demographic history of G. cognatus were examined across its geographic range. Phylogenetic analyses revealed two well-supported allopatric clades (each with two distinct subclades/lineages), distributed across the southern (Qaidam Basin, Lanzhou Basin, and Zoige Basin [S1]; Loess Plateau [S2]) and northern (Ily Basin [N1]; Junggar Basin and Mongolian Plateau [N2]) regions. AMOVA analysis demonstrated that over 76% of the observed genetic variation was related to these lineage splits, indicating substantial genetic differentiation among the four lineages. A strong pattern of isolation-by-distance across the sampling populations suggested that geographic distance principally shaped the genetic structure. The four lineages diverged by 0.9–2.2% for the concatenated data, which were estimated to have coalesced ~1.17 million years ago (Mya), suggesting that the expansions of the Badain Jaran, Tengger, and Mu Us deserts during the Xixiabangma glaciation likely interrupted gene flow and triggered the observed divergence in the southern and northern regions. Subsequently, the early Pleistocene integration of the Yellow River and associated deserts expansion promoted the differentiation of S1 and S2 lineages (~0.9 Mya). Both mitochondrial evidence and ecological niche modeling (ENM) reject the signature of demographic and range contractions during the LGM for G. cognatus. In addition, ENM predicts that the suitable habitat of G. cognatus will contract in the future. As such, the conservation and management of ESUs should be a priority. Our findings provide the first insights on the lineage diversification and population dynamics of the Alashan pit viper in relation to geological history and Pleistocene climatic oscillations in arid Northwest China. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evolution, Diversity, and Conservation of Herpetofauna)
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14 pages, 3204 KiB  
Article
In Ovo Feeding Techniques of Green Nanoparticles of Silver and Probiotics: Evaluation of Performance, Physiological, and Microbiological Responses of Hatched One-Day-Old Broiler Chicks
Animals 2023, 13(23), 3725; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13233725 - 01 Dec 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1699
Abstract
The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of the in ovo feeding of green nanoparticles of silver (Nano-Ag), probiotics, and their combination on hatchability, carcass criteria and internal organs, biochemical parameters, and cecal microbial populations in hatched one-day-old chicks. On [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of the in ovo feeding of green nanoparticles of silver (Nano-Ag), probiotics, and their combination on hatchability, carcass criteria and internal organs, biochemical parameters, and cecal microbial populations in hatched one-day-old chicks. On day 18 of incubation, 250 live embryo eggs were weighed and randomly assigned to one of five treatment groups: a negative control group, a positive control group consisting of chicks injected with 0.2 mL physiological saline, a group consisting of chicks injected with 0.2 mL Nano-Ag, a group consisting of chicks injected with 0.2 mL probiotics (Bifidobacterium spp.), and a group consisting of chicks injected with 0.2 mL combination of Nano-Ag and probiotics (1:1). The results showed that the in ovo injection of Nano-Ag or probiotics, alone or in combination, had no effect on hatchability, live body weight, or internal organs but improved (p < 0.05) chick carcass yield compared to the control groups. Furthermore, in ovo feeding decreased (p < 0.05) serum levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, urea, creatinine, alanine aminotransferase, and aspartate aminotransferase, as well as cecal E. coli, but increased Bifidobacterium spp. when compared to the control groups. Based on these findings, in ovo injections of green Nano-Ag and probiotics, either alone or in combination, have the potential to improve chick health and balance the microbial populations in hatched one-day-old chicks. Full article
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18 pages, 2238 KiB  
Article
Different Concentrations of Probiotic Pediococcus pentosaceus GT001 on Growth Performance, Antioxidant Capacity, Immune Function, Intestinal Microflora and Histomorphology of Broiler Chickens
Animals 2023, 13(23), 3724; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13233724 - 01 Dec 2023
Viewed by 716
Abstract
Exploring alternatives to antibiotics is imperative in reducing antibiotic resistance and antibiotic residues in poultry products. The beneficial effects of antibiotic products derived from natural sources in comparison with the synthetic ones has been reported. Pediococcus pentosaceus has been applied as an animal [...] Read more.
Exploring alternatives to antibiotics is imperative in reducing antibiotic resistance and antibiotic residues in poultry products. The beneficial effects of antibiotic products derived from natural sources in comparison with the synthetic ones has been reported. Pediococcus pentosaceus has been applied as an animal growth bio-promoter and probiotic. To elucidate the protective mechanisms of P. pentosaceus, this study investigated the effects of different doses of P. pentosaceus supplementation on broiler growth performance, immune function, intestinal development and histomorphology. Five hundred (500) one-day-old Ross 708 broiler chicks were randomly enrolled into five experimental groups with 20 chicks per replicate. The treatments were imposed as follows: (T1) basal diet (control); (T2) basal diet with 1 g/kg antibact 3X; (T3) basal diet with P. pentosaceus GT001 at 4.0 × 108 cfu/g; (T4) basal diet with P. pentosaceus GT001 at 8.0 × 108 cfu/g; and (T5) basal diet with P. pentosaceus GT001 at 1.2 × 109 cfu/g. Dietary inclusion of P. pentosaceus GT001 at 4.0 × 108 cfu/g significantly improved body weight gain, feed intake and lipid profile of the broilers compared to the control group (p < 0.05). The addition of P. pentosaceus GT001 significantly improved the intestinal pH of the broilers. The digestive enzymes of the broilers were impacted with the supplementation of P. pentosaceus GT001 at 4.0 × 108 cfu/g. The highest serum antioxidant production was observed in the P. pentosaceus-treated group compared to the control. P. pentosaceus GT001 at 4.0 × 108 cfu/g increased the levels of serum cytokines and immunoglobin and improved the small intestinal morphology of the broilers in comparison with the control. The load of Pedococcus spp was similar among T3, T4 and T5 but significantly higher than that of the control (T1) and the antibiotics (T2)-fed birds. The load of E. coli in the gut was significantly reduced in T3, T4 and T5 compared to T1 and T2. There was no Salmonella growth among the treatments. This study highlights the importance of probiotics in broiler diets and suggests that Pediococcus pentosaceus GT001 could be used as a feasible substitute to antimicrobials in broiler production. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Physiology)
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11 pages, 1903 KiB  
Article
Ginsenoside Rg1 Alleviates Lipopolysaccharide-Induced Fibrosis of Endometrial Epithelial Cells in Dairy Cows by Inhibiting Reactive Oxygen Species-Activated NLRP3
Animals 2023, 13(23), 3723; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13233723 - 01 Dec 2023
Viewed by 636
Abstract
Abnormal function and the fibrosis of endometrium caused by endometritis in cows may lead to difficult embryo implantation and uterine cavity adhesions. Emerging evidence indicates that ginsenoside Rg1 can effectively resist inflammation and pathological fibrosis in different organs. It is hypothesized that ginsenoside [...] Read more.
Abnormal function and the fibrosis of endometrium caused by endometritis in cows may lead to difficult embryo implantation and uterine cavity adhesions. Emerging evidence indicates that ginsenoside Rg1 can effectively resist inflammation and pathological fibrosis in different organs. It is hypothesized that ginsenoside Rg1 may possess the potential to mitigate endometrial fibrosis induced by lipopolysaccharides (LPS) in dairy cows. Herein, a model of LPS-stimulated fibrosis was constructed using bovine endometrial epithelial cell line (BEND) cells and ICR mice. Western blotting was used to detect the protein level, and reactive oxygen species (ROS) content was measured by means of DCFH-DA. The uterine tissue structure was stained with H&E and Masson staining. The murine endometrium was assessed for oxidative stress by detecting the concentration of MDA together with the activity of enzymatic antioxidants SOD and CAT. Ginsenoside Rg1 interfered with NLRP3 activation by reducing ROS generation. After the application of ROS inhibitor NAC and NLRP3 inhibitor MCC950, ginsenoside Rg1 could interfere in the ROS/NLRP3 inflammasome signaling pathway by suppressing the epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) of BEND cells. Our in vivo data showed that ginsenoside Rg1 relieved endometrial fibrosis of the mouse model of LPS-induced endometritis by restraining the ROS/NLRP3 inflammasome signaling pathway. Ginsenoside Rg1 inhibits LPS-induced EMT progression in BEND cells probably by inhibiting the activation of ROS-NLRP3 inflammasome. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Physiology)
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19 pages, 5342 KiB  
Article
Effects of Multiple Environmental Stressors on Zoobenthos Communities in Shallow Lakes: Evidence from a Mesocosm Experiment
Animals 2023, 13(23), 3722; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13233722 - 01 Dec 2023
Viewed by 701
Abstract
Multiple stressors, including climate change, eutrophication, and pesticide contamination, are significant drivers of the decline in lake zoobenthos. Zoobenthos play a crucial role in aquatic ecosystems, impacting energy dynamics, nutrient cycling, and sediment degradation. However, these stressors have led to a decrease in [...] Read more.
Multiple stressors, including climate change, eutrophication, and pesticide contamination, are significant drivers of the decline in lake zoobenthos. Zoobenthos play a crucial role in aquatic ecosystems, impacting energy dynamics, nutrient cycling, and sediment degradation. However, these stressors have led to a decrease in the abundance and diversity of zoobenthos, resulting in notable changes in species composition and structure. Eutrophication typically increases zoobenthos abundance while reducing taxonomic diversity. Climate change, such as warming and heatwaves, also affects the zoobenthos community structure, with different species exhibiting varying levels of adaptability to temperature changes. Additionally, pesticides like imidacloprid have negative effects on the survival and growth of zoobenthos. However, the interactions between imidacloprid and other stressors remain understudied. Here, we used 48 mesocosms (2500 L) to simulate shallow lakes. We combined nutrient loading, sustained warming, and the imidacloprid pesticide to test how these stressors interactively influence the survival and community of zoobenthos. The experimental results demonstrate that elevated temperatures have a significant impact on aquatic benthic organisms under different treatment conditions. The increase in temperature led to a notable rise in species richness and α-diversity, primarily attributed to the stimulation of metabolic activities in zoobenthos, promoting their growth and reproduction. This finding underscores the potential influence of climate change on aquatic benthic ecosystems, particularly in terms of its promoting effect on α-diversity. However, it is essential to note that elevated temperatures also reduced β-diversity among different sites, implying a potential trend toward homogenization in zoobenthos communities under warmer conditions. Moreover, this study revealed the interactive effects of multiple stressors on the diversity of aquatic benthic communities. Specifically, the pesticide imidacloprid’s impact on zoobenthos is not isolated but demonstrates complex effects within various treatment interactions. In the presence of both temperature elevation and the addition of imidacloprid, the presence of imidacloprid appears to counteract the adverse effects of temperature elevation, resulting in increased species diversity. However, when imidacloprid coincides with nutrient input, it significantly affects α-diversity negatively. These findings highlight the complexity of zoobenthos responses to multiple stressors and how these factors influence both α-diversity and β-diversity. They provide valuable insights for further research on the conservation and management of ecosystems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Ecology and Conservation)
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22 pages, 4761 KiB  
Article
An Improved Method for Broiler Weight Estimation Integrating Multi-Feature with Gradient Boosting Decision Tree
Animals 2023, 13(23), 3721; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13233721 - 01 Dec 2023
Viewed by 639
Abstract
Broiler weighing is essential in the broiler farming industry. Camera-based systems can economically weigh various broiler types without expensive platforms. However, existing computer vision methods for weight estimation are less mature, as they focus on young broilers. In effect, the estimation error increases [...] Read more.
Broiler weighing is essential in the broiler farming industry. Camera-based systems can economically weigh various broiler types without expensive platforms. However, existing computer vision methods for weight estimation are less mature, as they focus on young broilers. In effect, the estimation error increases with the age of the broiler. To tackle this, this paper presents a novel framework. First, it employs Mask R-CNN for instance segmentation of depth images captured by 3D cameras. Next, once the images of either a single broiler or multiple broilers are segmented, the extended artificial features and the learned features extracted by Customized Resnet50 (C-Resnet50) are fused by a feature fusion module. Finally, the fused features are adopted to estimate the body weight of each broiler employing gradient boosting decision tree (GBDT). By integrating diverse features with GBTD, the proposed framework can effectively obtain the broiler instance among many depth images of multiple broilers in the visual field despite the complex background. Experimental results show that this framework significantly boosts accuracy and robustness. With an MAE of 0.093 kg and an R2 of 0.707 in a test set of 240 63-day-old bantam chicken images, it outperforms other methods. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Poultry)
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13 pages, 1632 KiB  
Article
Variation in the HSL Gene and Its Association with Carcass and Meat Quality Traits in Yak
Animals 2023, 13(23), 3720; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13233720 - 01 Dec 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 722
Abstract
Hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL) is involved in the breakdown of triacylglycerols in adipose tissue, which influences muscle tenderness and juiciness by affecting the intramuscular fat content (IMF). This study analyzed the association between different genotypes and haplotypes of the yak HSL gene [...] Read more.
Hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL) is involved in the breakdown of triacylglycerols in adipose tissue, which influences muscle tenderness and juiciness by affecting the intramuscular fat content (IMF). This study analyzed the association between different genotypes and haplotypes of the yak HSL gene and carcass and meat quality traits. We used hybridization pool sequencing to detect exon 2, exon 8, and intron 3 variants of the yak HSL gene and genotyped 525 Gannan yaks via KASP to analyze the effects of the HSL gene variants on the carcass and meat quality traits in yaks. According to the results, the HSL gene is highly expressed in yak adipose tissue. Three single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were identified, with 2 of them located in the coding region and one in the intron region. Variants in the 2 coding regions resulted in amino acid changes. The population had 3 genotypes of GG, AG, and AA, and individuals with the AA genotype had lower WBSF values (p < 0.05). The H3H3 haplotype combinations could improve meat tenderness by reducing the WBSF values and the cooking loss rate (CLR) (p < 0.05). H1H1 haplotype combinations were associated with the increased drip loss rate (DLR) (p < 0.05). The presence of the H1 haplotype was associated the increased CLR in yaks, while that of the H2 haplotype was associated with the decreased DLR in yaks (p < 0.05). These results demonstrated that the HSL gene may influence the meat quality traits in yaks by affecting the IMF content in muscle tissues. Consequently, the HSL gene can possibly be used as a biomarker for improving the meat quality traits in yaks in the future. Full article
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19 pages, 981 KiB  
Article
Quantitative Assessment of Major Biosecurity Challenges of Poultry Production in Central Ethiopia
Animals 2023, 13(23), 3719; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13233719 - 30 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1425
Abstract
The present study aims to assess the level of implementation of biosecurity practices of small-, medium- and large-scale poultry farms in central Ethiopia. A cross-sectional study design was implemented involving 226 poultry farms (153 small-, 53 medium- and 20 large-scale farms) in three [...] Read more.
The present study aims to assess the level of implementation of biosecurity practices of small-, medium- and large-scale poultry farms in central Ethiopia. A cross-sectional study design was implemented involving 226 poultry farms (153 small-, 53 medium- and 20 large-scale farms) in three selected areas of central Ethiopia, including Addis Ababa, Bishoftu and West of Shaggar. The results revealed a very low overall biosecurity score of 43.1% for central Ethiopia compared to the global average score of 64.3%. No significant difference (p > 0.05) in the overall biosecurity practices among the three study sites (36.1% for Addis Ababa, 49% for Bishoftu and 34.9% for West of Shaggar) was observed. Six of the eight external biosecurity components with an overall score of 40.7% as compared to the global average of 64.6% were highly disrupted and scored lower values. With regard to internal biosecurity disease management, cleaning and disinfection practices were found to be 52.6% as opposed to the global average of 64%. The poor biosecurity level among poultry farms of central Ethiopia clearly demonstrates the urgent need for the implementation of appropriate biosecurity practices through the active involvement of all stakeholders to combat the impact of various diseases and boost the productivity of the sector. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal System and Management)
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16 pages, 1904 KiB  
Article
First Molecular Characterization of Small Ruminant Lentiviruses Detected in Romania
Animals 2023, 13(23), 3718; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13233718 - 30 Nov 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 624
Abstract
Small ruminant lentiviruses (SRLVs) are a group of retroviruses that cause multisystem chronic diseases in goats and sheep and lead to production losses in these animals, negatively affecting animal health and welfare. Although molecular characterization of SRLV field isolates has been performed in [...] Read more.
Small ruminant lentiviruses (SRLVs) are a group of retroviruses that cause multisystem chronic diseases in goats and sheep and lead to production losses in these animals, negatively affecting animal health and welfare. Although molecular characterization of SRLV field isolates has been performed in many countries, there is currently no information on SRLV genotypes circulating in sheep and goats in Romania. Therefore, the main objective of this study was to conduct a molecular and phylogenetic analysis of SRLVs from Romania and determine the degree of genetic relatedness of the obtained sequences to other known SRLV reference strains. A total of 81 sheep lung tissue samples and 41 sheep lung lymph node samples were tested using nested real-time PCR, and samples positive for real-time PCR were used to amplify an 800 bp gag-pol fragment and an overlapping 625 bp fragment of the gag gene. Pairwise DNA distance and phylogenetic analysis showed that the Romanian SRLV strains were closely related to the A2 and A3 strains based on gag-pol sequences and to the A3 and A17 subtypes based on gag sequences. No recombination events were found. Our results revealed that the Romanian sequences have similar epitope patterns to other existing subtypes, although E/K and R/K mutations in epitope 3 were found only in the Romanian sequences, which may have potential value in serological diagnosis. This study is the first report on the genetic characterization of SRLV strains circulating in Romania and provides new information on SRLV heterogeneity. Further detailed studies should be conducted to better understand the divergence of SRLV Romanian strains. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Small Ruminants and Lentivirus Research: Future Directions)
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16 pages, 327 KiB  
Article
Efficacy of Medical Ozone as an Adjuvant Treatment in Dogs with Intervertebral Disc Protusions—A Retrospective Study
Animals 2023, 13(23), 3717; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13233717 - 30 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1103
Abstract
Ozone-therapy is used in humans as a coadjutant treatment in intervertebral disc diseases due to its analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. References in dogs are scarce and limited to clinical cases (intradiscal/paravertebral infiltrations). The aim of this study was to assess the use [...] Read more.
Ozone-therapy is used in humans as a coadjutant treatment in intervertebral disc diseases due to its analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. References in dogs are scarce and limited to clinical cases (intradiscal/paravertebral infiltrations). The aim of this study was to assess the use of medical ozone (MO) as an adjunctive treatment in dogs with intervertebral disc protrusions (Hansen Type II/Chronic). A retrospective study was conducted in dogs diagnosed with intervertebral disc protrusions by MRI/CT in which MO was used as an adjuvant therapy to conventional medical treatment. Neurological examination and quality of life (QL) at the beginning and end of study were recorded, as well as posology and possible side effects. A total of 21 patients of different breeds and sex with a mean age of 12 years were included in this study. Results showed pain relief (7 ± 3 days) and improvement of neurologic signs (11 ± 9 days) with a consequent increasement in QL (13 ± 9 days). Thirteen out of the twenty-one patients (62%) showed a complete remission of the clinical signs. No serious adverse effects were observed. Medical ozone could be a potential complementary therapy to medical treatment in dogs with intervertebral disc protrusions. Prospective studies are necessary. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation in Companion Animals)
17 pages, 2499 KiB  
Article
Effects of Dietary Level of Corn Bran on Laying Performance and Cecum Microbial Communities in Laying Ducks
Animals 2023, 13(23), 3716; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13233716 - 30 Nov 2023
Viewed by 448
Abstract
The application of corn bran (CB) to laying ducks via iso-energy and iso-nitrogen diets is rarely reported. Six hundred laying ducks (49 weeks) were equally assigned to five treatments: the control group with 0% CB and the other four groups with 3%, 6%, [...] Read more.
The application of corn bran (CB) to laying ducks via iso-energy and iso-nitrogen diets is rarely reported. Six hundred laying ducks (49 weeks) were equally assigned to five treatments: the control group with 0% CB and the other four groups with 3%, 6%, 9%, and 12% CB. The experiment lasted for 11 weeks. With the increase in CB, the relative weight of the proventriculus, gizzard, and ileum and the content and proportion of butyric acid in the cecal digesta were quadratically changed (p < 0.05), and the highest value was observed in the 12% CB group. Compared with the control, the 12% CB group showed decreased Deferribacteres, Spirochaetota, and Fusobacteriota at the phyla level and showed increased Pediococcus and decreased Bifidobacterium and Rikenellaceae_RC9_gut_group at the genus level (p < 0.10); the 12% CB group also showed 46 different metabolites, which are related to Lactobacillus and Pediococcus (p < 0.05). The 12% CB group showed increased (p < 0.05) albumen height at week 8 and yolk color at weeks 4 and 8 compared with the control. Overall, dietary inclusion of 3% to 12% CB is a possible feeding strategy for laying ducks under iso-energy and iso-nitrogen conditions, and the 12% CB group was more effective. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Physiology)
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