Management of Stress Impact on Domestic Animals Physiology and Welfare

A special issue of Animals (ISSN 2076-2615). This special issue belongs to the section "Animal Physiology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 June 2024 | Viewed by 17040

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Laboratory of Physiology, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Thessaly, 43131 Karditsa, Greece
Interests: physiology of reproduction and milk production in ruminants; management of reproduction; assisted reproduction; embryonic and neonatal development; heat stress; oxidative stress; antioxidants

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Laboratory of Physiology, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Thessaly, 43130 Karditsa, Greece
Interests: physiology/physiopathology and endocrinology of male and female small ruminant’s reproduction; effects of endogenous/exogenous factors on hormones concentration and specific proteolytic enzymes activity; sperm physiology/cryopreservation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Stress is a complex process of stressor(s) action(s) and organism’s homeostatic reaction(s), with many aspects that still need to be elucidated. When a stressor stimulus persists the adapting mechanisms may not overpower it, compromising the animal’s growth, productive and reproductive performance and immune system function, leading to increased susceptibility to diseases. Additionally, maternal stress during pregnancy can affect developmental programming and may alter the offspring’s phenotype. Several biomarkers (biochemical, molecular, metabolic, endocrinological, immunological, redox status e.t.c.) have been used for evaluating the impact of stress on animals’ physiology, performance and welfare, producing a variety of results.

This Special Issue aims to provide recent insights on common used and novel stress biomarkers (e.g., omics) for improving our knowledge of the complex pathways involved in stress response. The ultimate goal of this issue is to suggest preventive or therapeutic management practices for mitigating the harmful effects of stress on animal’s physiology and welfare. In this regard, the administration of antioxidant regimes (natural or pharmaceutical) has been recommended in order to alleviate the oxidative stress and, thus, ameliorate the performance and immune competence of animals subjected to stress stimuli.

For these purposes, researchers are invited to submit original research articles and review articles, including in vivo as well as in vitro studies.

Dr. Irene Valasi
Dr. Ekaterini K. Theodosiadou
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • stress
  • domestic animals physiology
  • stress biomarkers
  • antioxidants
  • management
  • performance
  • welfare

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Research

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15 pages, 398 KiB  
Article
Is It Possible to Mitigate Fear of Fireworks in Dogs? A Study on the Behavioural and Physiological Effects of a Psychoactive Supplement
by Daniela Ramos, Karina V. B. Yazbek, Amanda C. Brito, Barbara Georgetti, Luisa M. L. Dutra, Fabiola O. P. Leme and Angélica S. Vasconcellos
Animals 2024, 14(7), 1025; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14071025 - 28 Mar 2024
Viewed by 595
Abstract
Canine fear of fireworks is a common problem worldwide, with serious implications for the welfare of both dogs and their owners. Therapies for the problem are available, and herbal and nutraceutical agents are increasingly suggested by professionals; nonetheless, studies on their real efficacy [...] Read more.
Canine fear of fireworks is a common problem worldwide, with serious implications for the welfare of both dogs and their owners. Therapies for the problem are available, and herbal and nutraceutical agents are increasingly suggested by professionals; nonetheless, studies on their real efficacy in reducing firework fear are lacking. In a randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study, 44 dogs (25 in the “supplement” group and 19 in the “placebo” group) completed a long-term continuous treatment with either a supplement made of tryptophan, valerian, and passiflora or a placebo, including two real exposures to fireworks (on 2020 Christmas and 2021 New Years’ Eve, after 42 and 48 days of treatment, respectively). Owners of both groups received the same general environmental management and food/toy offering recommendations for trying with their dogs on those nights. Behavioural (measured by LSSS—Lincoln Sound Sensitivity Scale and PANAS—Positive and Negative Activation scale, as rated by the owners) and stress (measured via salivary cortisol measures) reactions were evaluated. Significantly greater fear decrease (LSSS) was recorded in the “supplement” dogs, as compared to the “placebo” group. Cortisol dosages on New Year’s Eve (“noisy” night) were in line with behavioural results; “supplement” dogs showed a smaller increase in the stress response from 22:30 to 00:30 h on New Year’s Eve and a greater decrease in their stress response from 02:30 h to 10:30 h on New Year’s Day compared to “placebo” dogs. Smaller cortisol levels were also shown by “supplement” dogs than “placebo” dogs on a controlled “quiet night” (27th December). Owners’ rates on PANAS remained stable during the whole period of therapy for both groups. The evaluated supplement, a combination of tryptophan, valerian, and passiflora, showed satisfactory results and rare side effects when treating dogs fearful of fireworks. Full article
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29 pages, 9425 KiB  
Article
Proteomics Analysis of Pregnancy in Ewes under Heat Stress Conditions and Melatonin Administration
by Efterpi Bouroutzika, Stavros Proikakis, Ekaterini K. Theodosiadou, Konstantinos Vougas, Angeliki I. Katsafadou, George T. Tsangaris and Irene Valasi
Animals 2024, 14(3), 400; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14030400 - 26 Jan 2024
Viewed by 638
Abstract
Melatonin is an indoleamine with broad spectrum properties that acts as a regulator of antioxidant and immune response in organisms. In our previous studies, melatonin improved redox status and inflammatory response in pregnant ewes under heat stress conditions. In the present study, using [...] Read more.
Melatonin is an indoleamine with broad spectrum properties that acts as a regulator of antioxidant and immune response in organisms. In our previous studies, melatonin improved redox status and inflammatory response in pregnant ewes under heat stress conditions. In the present study, using proteomics, the proteins regulated by melatonin during different stages of pregnancy and lambing were assessed. Twenty-two ewes equally divided into two groups, the melatonin (M) (n = 11) and control (C) group (n = 11), participated in the study and were exposed to heat stress during the first months of pregnancy. In the M group, melatonin implants were administered throughout pregnancy, every 40 days, until parturition (a total of four implants per ewe). Blood samples were collected at the beginning of the study simultaneously with the administration of the first melatonin implant (blood samples M1, C1), mating (M2, C2), second implant (M3, C3), fourth implant (M4, C4) and parturition (M5, C5), and MALDI-TOF analysis was performed. The results revealed the existence of 42 extra proteins in samples M2, M3 and M4 and 53 in M5 (sample at parturition) that are linked to melatonin. The biological processes of these proteins refer to boosted immune response, the alleviation of oxidative and endoplasmic reticulum stress, energy metabolism, the protection of the maternal organism and embryo development. This proteomics analysis indicates that melatonin regulates protective mechanisms and controls cell proliferation under exogenous or endogenous stressful stimuli during pregnancy and parturition. Full article
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16 pages, 3380 KiB  
Article
Comparison of Uterine Involution and the Resumption of Ovarian Cyclicity between Lame and Sound Holstein Cows
by Anastasia Praxitelous, Panagiotis D. Katsoulos, Angeliki Tsaousioti, Christos Brozos, Marion Schmicke, Constantin M. Boscos and Georgios Tsousis
Animals 2023, 13(23), 3645; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13233645 - 25 Nov 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 777
Abstract
The aim of the study was to examine the effect of lameness and energy status on the involution of the uterus and the resumption of ovarian cyclicity in dairy cows. Lame (lameness score of four and the presence of hoof lesions, n = [...] Read more.
The aim of the study was to examine the effect of lameness and energy status on the involution of the uterus and the resumption of ovarian cyclicity in dairy cows. Lame (lameness score of four and the presence of hoof lesions, n = 22) and sound (normal gait and the absence of hoof lesions, n = 25) multiparous cows with healthy puerperium were enrolled simultaneously in the study and were monitored from day 10 antepartum (ap) to day 50 post-partum (pp). Ultrasonography of the cervix, the formerly gravid uterine horn and the ovarian structures was performed on d 8, 11, 14, 23, 30, and 42 pp. Blood sampling for progesterone, β-hydroxybutyrate (BHBA), and non-esterified fatty acids (NEFAs) was used to assess cyclicity and energy status. Lame compared to sound cows had higher NEFA concentrations on day 14 pp (0.54 ± 0.05 vs. 0.37 ± 0.05, respectively, p = 0.005), delayed involution of the cervix and the formerly pregnant uterine horn (p = 0.0003 and p = 0.02, respectively), lower ovulation rates within the experimental period (63.6% vs. 88%, respectively, p = 0.05), and higher rates of atresia or cyst formation on day 50 pp (36.4% vs. 12%, respectively, p = 0.05). Independently of lameness status, cows with high NEFA concentrations had lower ovulation rates within the experimental period (65.5% vs. 94.4%, p = 0.02), lower normal ovarian activity on day 50 pp (58.6% vs. 88.9%, p = 0.03), and higher rates of atresia or cyst formation on day 50 pp (34.5% vs. 5.6%, p = 0.02) compared to cows with optimal NEFA concentrations. Furthermore, an interaction between lameness and increased NEFA concentrations was observed regarding the ovulation rate within the experimental period and the percentage of atresia or cyst formation on day 50 pp. Sound cows with low NEFA levels had the lowest mean cervical diameter compared to cows with lameness (both with elevated and optimal NEFA concentrations, p = 0.009 and p = 0.002, respectively). Conclusively, lameness during puerperium negatively affected ovarian function and uterine involution. These effects were exacerbated (through interaction or cumulation) in relation to elevated NEFA concentrations. Full article
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12 pages, 1542 KiB  
Article
Adaptation Response in Sheep: Ewes in Different Cortisol Clusters Reveal Changes in the Expression of Salivary miRNAs
by Isabella Manenti, Irene Viola, Ugo Ala, Paolo Cornale, Elisabetta Macchi, Paola Toschi, Eugenio Martignani, Mario Baratta and Silvia Miretti
Animals 2023, 13(20), 3273; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13203273 - 20 Oct 2023
Viewed by 912
Abstract
Farm procedures have an impact on animal welfare by activating the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis that induces a wide array of physiological responses. This adaptive system guarantees that the animal copes with environmental variations and it induces metabolic and molecular changes that can be quantified. [...] Read more.
Farm procedures have an impact on animal welfare by activating the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis that induces a wide array of physiological responses. This adaptive system guarantees that the animal copes with environmental variations and it induces metabolic and molecular changes that can be quantified. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play a key role in the regulation of homeostasis and emerging evidence has identified circulating miRNAs as promising biomarkers of stress-related disorders in animals. Based on a clustering analysis of salivary cortisol trends and levels, 20 ewes were classified into two different clusters. The introduction of a ram in the flock was identified as a common farm practice and reference time point to collect saliva samples. Sixteen miRNAs related to the adaptation response were selected. Among them, miR-16b, miR-21, miR-24, miR-26a, miR-27a, miR-99a, and miR-223 were amplified in saliva samples. Cluster 1 was characterized by a lower expression of miR-16b and miR-21 compared with Cluster 2 (p < 0.05). This study identified for the first time several miRNAs expressed in sheep saliva, pointing out significant differences in the expression patterns between the cortisol clusters. In addition, the trend analyses of these miRNAs resulted in clusters (p = 0.017), suggesting the possible cooperation of miR-16b and -21 in the integrated stress responses, as already demonstrated in other species as well. Other research to define the role of these miRNAs is needed, but the evaluation of the salivary miRNAs could support the selection of ewes for different profiles of response to sources of stressors common in the farm scenario. Full article
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17 pages, 2021 KiB  
Article
Melatonin Protects Bovine Spermatozoa by Reinforcing Their Antioxidant Defenses
by Sophia N. Lavrentiadou, Vasiliki Sapanidou, Elena E. Tzekaki, Ioannis Margaritis and Maria P. Tsantarliotou
Animals 2023, 13(20), 3219; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13203219 - 15 Oct 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1190
Abstract
Cryopreserved semen is widely used in assisted reproductive techniques. Post-thawing spermatozoa endure oxidative stress due to the high levels of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, which are produced during the freezing/thawing process, and the depletion of antioxidants. To counteract this depletion, supplementation of [...] Read more.
Cryopreserved semen is widely used in assisted reproductive techniques. Post-thawing spermatozoa endure oxidative stress due to the high levels of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, which are produced during the freezing/thawing process, and the depletion of antioxidants. To counteract this depletion, supplementation of sperm preparation medium with antioxidants has been widely applied. Melatonin is a hormone with diverse biological roles and a potent antioxidant, with an ameliorative effect on spermatozoa. In the present study, we assessed the effect of melatonin on thawed bovine spermatozoa during their handling. Cryopreserved bovine spermatozoa were thawed and incubated for 60 min in the presence or absence of 100 μΜ melatonin. Also, the effect of melatonin was assessed on spermatozoa further challenged by the addition of 100 μΜ hydrogen peroxide. Spermatozoa were evaluated in terms of kinematic parameters (CASA), viability (trypan blue staining) and antioxidant capacity (glutathione and NBT assay, determination of iNOS levels by Western blot analysis). In the presence of melatonin, spermatozoa presented better kinematic parameters, as the percentage of motile and rapid spermatozoa was higher in the melatonin group. They also presented higher viability and antioxidant status, as determined by the increased cellular glutathione levels and the decreased iNOS protein levels. Full article
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31 pages, 8654 KiB  
Article
Climate Spaces and Cliffs: A Novel Bovine Thermodynamic and Mass Balances Model
by Warren P. Porter, Alexa E. Bertz, Paul D. Mathewson, Luis C. Solorzano, Peter N. Dudley, Riccardo Bonazza and Kifle G. Gebremedhin
Animals 2023, 13(19), 3043; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13193043 - 27 Sep 2023
Viewed by 890
Abstract
The effects of climate change on animals are typically viewed in terms of survivability and wellbeing. In this study, we broaden that purview to include climate impacts on reproductive capability. There are not only climate spaces for daily function, but climate cliffs that [...] Read more.
The effects of climate change on animals are typically viewed in terms of survivability and wellbeing. In this study, we broaden that purview to include climate impacts on reproductive capability. There are not only climate spaces for daily function, but climate cliffs that represent reproductive failures in the face of climate warming. This alternative focus suggests that climate warming challenges may be more immediate and profound than initially imagined. This research describes a state-of-the-art mechanistic model, Dairy Niche Mapper (DNM), and independent validation tests. Where test data are absent, the calculated results are consistent with expected responses. Simulations of metabolic chamber conditions reveal the local steady-state impacts of climate and animal variables on milk production capacity, metabolic rate, food consumption and water needs. Simulations of a temperature humidity index (THI) show strengths and limitations of that approach. Broader time- and spatial-scale calculations applied in the western and eastern halves of the northern hemisphere identify current and future monthly latitudinal climate change impacts on milk production potential, feed and water needs in dairy cows of different sizes. Dairy Niche Mapper (DNM) was developed from a broadly tested mechanistic microclimate-animal model, Niche Mapper (NM). DNM provides an improved quantitative understanding of the complex nonlinear interactions of climate variation and dairy bovine properties’ effects on current and future milk production, feed and water needs for grazing and confinement dairy operations. DNM outputs include feasible activity times, milk production and water and feed needs of different-sized Holstein cows on high-grain (confinement feeding) versus high-forage (grazing feeding) diets at three arbitrary north latitudes, 12°, 30° and 60°, for North and Central America and for Asia. These three latitudes encompass current northern hemisphere bovine production environments and possible future production locations. The greatest impacts of climate change will be in the low elevations in tropical and subtropical regions. Global regions above 30° and below 60° latitude with reliable rainfall will be least affected by current projected levels of climate change. This work provides the basis for computational animal design for guiding agricultural development via breeding programs, genetic engineering, management options including siting or the manipulation of other relevant environmental and animal variables. Full article
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18 pages, 2707 KiB  
Article
Melatonin Administration to Pregnant Ewes for Coccidiosis Control in Their Offspring
by Efterpi Bouroutzika, Maria Giovanna Ciliberti, Mariangela Caroprese, Vaia Kantzoura, Ekaterini K. Theodosiadou, Georgios Batikas, Marios-Lazaros Michailidis, Evaggelos-Georgios Stampinas, Zafeiro Mimikou, Georgios Pantsios, Anastasios Saratsis and Irene Valasi
Animals 2023, 13(14), 2381; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13142381 - 21 Jul 2023
Viewed by 1345
Abstract
In livestock research, there has been a growing interest in the impact of melatonin on both health and disease conditions. The hypothesis of the present study was that melatonin treatment prenatally could support the immune competence and growth of experimentally infected lambs. This [...] Read more.
In livestock research, there has been a growing interest in the impact of melatonin on both health and disease conditions. The hypothesis of the present study was that melatonin treatment prenatally could support the immune competence and growth of experimentally infected lambs. This is the first study that aimed to investigate the impact of melatonin administration throughout pregnancy on immunity and oocyst excretion of pre-partum ewes and their offspring after experimental infection with Eimeria species. Thirty pregnant ewes were allocated into five equal groups, ΚΜ, ΚC, CM, CC, and NC, and gave birth to 47 lambs. Ewes of the KM and KC groups were orally challenged with a cocktail of Eimeria-sporulated oocysts (mainly consisting of Eimeria ovinoidalis), on day 120 of pregnancy, as well as all the lambs at the age of 5–9 days apart from those born from the NC group (environmental control). Fecal samples were collected from all ewes before infection and at parturition and from all lambs 14 times (S0–S13), before infection and during the following 8 weeks, for counting oocysts per gram of feces (OPG). Immunoglobulin (IgG) and cytokine (IL-1β, IL-6, IL-10, IFN-γ) levels were determined in ewes’ plasma collected before infection and at parturition, in lambs’ plasma at 24 and 72 h after their birth, and in colostrum samples at parturition and 72 h later. Body weight of lambs was recorded five times from birth until the age of 60 days. Accordingly, the leucogram was evaluated in blood samples collected six times within the same period. On average, IgG concentration was higher (p < 0.05) in the blood of KM-ewes compared to KC and CC groups and in colostrum of KM-ewes compared to other groups (p < 0.001). KM-lambs had greater IgG titer and IFN-γ level than the other groups (p < 0.05). The IL-10/ IFN-γ ratio in KM-ewes was lower than the CC group (p = 0.06). Overall, the growth rate of lambs did not differ among groups (p > 0.05). Total oocysts’ excretion in KM- and CM-lambs was reduced by 94.9% (p = 0.05) and 92.6% (p = 0.025), respectively, compared to KC-lambs, following the 3-week period after challenge, when E. ovinoidalis predominated in all groups. The dominant type of leucocytes was monocytes in all experimentally infected lambs, but not in NC-lambs, while overall lymphocytes were lower in KC-lambs than in NC-lambs (p < 0.05). Considering that almost all young indoor-reared lambs are exposed to coccidia species during their early life, melatonin treatment prenatally could suggest an alternative management tool in alleviating infection pressure. Full article
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12 pages, 1141 KiB  
Article
Comparison of Telomere Length in Age-Matched Primiparous and Multiparous Brahman Cows
by Sydney E. O’Daniel, Kelli J. Kochan, Charles R. Long, David G. Riley, Ronald D. Randel and Thomas H. Welsh, Jr.
Animals 2023, 13(14), 2325; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13142325 - 16 Jul 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1124
Abstract
Physiological and psychological stressors have been associated with the attrition of telomeres, which are the protective caps of chromosomes. This study compares the telomere length (TL) in 4-year-old Brahman cows grouped by the first parity (n = 8) and the second parity (n [...] Read more.
Physiological and psychological stressors have been associated with the attrition of telomeres, which are the protective caps of chromosomes. This study compares the telomere length (TL) in 4-year-old Brahman cows grouped by the first parity (n = 8) and the second parity (n = 11). The cows were bled via jugular venipuncture, weighed, and had their body condition scores recorded at Day −28 prior to calving and at Day + 7 and Day + 28 post-calving. The duration of labor (Dlabor) and parturition ease were recorded. The peripheral leukocytes were isolated, the leukocyte blood count with differential was recorded, and the genomic DNA was extracted. The relative quantity of telomere products, which is proportional to the average TL, was determined via multiplex quantitative PCR using the ratio (T/S ratio) of bovine telomere and β-globulin DNA. Standards of the bovine telomere (1012–107 dilution series) and β-globulin (109–104 dilution series) genes were utilized to produce relative copy numbers. The samples were assayed in triplicate and were included if the triplicate Cq difference was less than 0.25 cycles. The parity was the fixed effect, and the random effects included the sire and day repeated with the cow as the subject. Statistical significance was not observed in the leukocyte number or type (p > 0.1). A reduction in the TL of approximately 9225 telomeric copies was found between Parity 1 and Parity 2 (p = 0.02). A trend was found between the TL and Dlabor (p = 0.06). The stress of parturition and raising the first calf of a cow’s life may be responsible for TL attenuation. Parity may be considered a stressor of cow longevity. Full article
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12 pages, 1492 KiB  
Article
Non-Invasive Biomarkers in Saliva and Eye Infrared Thermography to Assess the Stress Response of Calves during Transport
by Mariana Caipira Lei, Luís Félix, Ricardo Cardoso, Sandra Mariza Monteiro, Severiano Silva and Carlos Venâncio
Animals 2023, 13(14), 2311; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13142311 - 14 Jul 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1094
Abstract
Animal transport is currently a stressful procedure. Therefore, animal-based indicators are needed for reliable and non-invasive welfare assessment. Saliva is a biospecimen with potential validity for the determination of cortisol and oxidative stress, although its use to assess calf welfare during transport has [...] Read more.
Animal transport is currently a stressful procedure. Therefore, animal-based indicators are needed for reliable and non-invasive welfare assessment. Saliva is a biospecimen with potential validity for the determination of cortisol and oxidative stress, although its use to assess calf welfare during transport has never been tested. Similarly, the applicability and reliability of infrared thermography to assess temperature change during calves’ transport have never been evaluated. These objectives were outlined following the known and growing need to identify non-invasive methodologies for stress assessment in bovines. This study was conducted on 20 calves of the Arouquesa autochthone breed, at about nine months of age, during their transport to slaughter. For each animal, saliva samples and thermographic images of the eye were collected at three time points: before transport, after transport, and at slaughter. The saliva was then processed to measure cortisol levels and oxidative stress parameters (reactive oxygen species, thiobarbituric acid reactive substance, carbonyls, and advanced oxidation protein products), and the images were analyzed using FLIR Tools+ software. There was an increase in cortisol concentration and oxidative stress parameters (reactive oxygen species, thiobarbituric acid reactive substance, carbonyls, and advanced oxidation protein products) in saliva after transport. An increase in eye temperature triggered by transport was also observed. The cortisol and eye temperature results at slaughter were returned to values similar to those before transport; however, the values of oxidative stress remained increased (mainly TBARS values). These non-invasive techniques seem to be reliable indicators of stress in bovine transport, and oxidative stress parameters in saliva may be a persistent marker for welfare assessment. Full article
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14 pages, 6342 KiB  
Article
Comparative Assessment of the Stress Response of Cattle to Common Dairy Management Practices
by Katja Koenneker, Martin Schulze, Laura Pieper, Markus Jung, Marion Schmicke and Fritz Beyer
Animals 2023, 13(13), 2115; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13132115 - 26 Jun 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1457
Abstract
While studies have been conducted examining the stress response of dairy cattle to individual acute and chronic stressors, the results are difficult to compare due to differences in study design and analysis methods. The aim of the present study was to conduct a [...] Read more.
While studies have been conducted examining the stress response of dairy cattle to individual acute and chronic stressors, the results are difficult to compare due to differences in study design and analysis methods. The aim of the present study was to conduct a comparative assessment of the impact of eight common stimuli: artificial insemination (AI), embryo transfer (ET), morning milking (MM), evening milking (EM), veterinary examination (VE), ultrasound examination (US), hoof trimming (HT), and natural breeding (NB) on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and milk production of 24 Holstein-Friesian cattle. After random allocation into control and treatment groups, a total of five blood samples were collected 40 min (Ba1) and 20 min (Ba2) prior to stimulus application, immediately following the stimulus (St), as well as 20 min (Re1) and 40 min (Re2) post-stimulus. A comparison between the overall serum cortisol concentrations in the treatment groups showed a significant difference between HT to AI (p = 0.006), ET (p = 0.010), MM (p = 0.021), VE (p = 0.009), EM (p = 0.007), and US (p = 0.010), except for NB (p = 0.542). There is no significant difference between the control groups (p > 0.05). The stimuli HT (p < 0.001) and NB (p < 0.001) showed significant increases in cortisol following stimulus application, and the levels failed to decrease significantly by sample Re2. No significant differences in daily milk yield (kg) were measured amongst the tested stimuli (p = 0.472) nor amongst the groups ‘Control’, ‘Treatment’ and ‘no stimulus’ (p = 0.350). In conclusion, when factors such as increased physical activity, novel social interaction, sexual arousal, and a more intense restriction of movement are present, the animal’s perceived controllability and predictability might decrease, affecting the animal’s response to stress. Treatments carried out while animals are restrained in a headlock while remaining within their regular group likely result in a less intense activation of the HPA axis. Full article
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14 pages, 705 KiB  
Article
Measuring Chronic Stress in Broiler Chickens: Effects of Environmental Complexity and Stocking Density on Immunoglobulin-A Levels
by Andrew M. Campbell, Mallory G. Anderson and Leonie Jacobs
Animals 2023, 13(13), 2058; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13132058 - 22 Jun 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1373
Abstract
Commercial housing conditions may contribute to chronic negative stress in broiler chickens, reducing their animal welfare. The objective of this study was to determine how secretory (fecal) and plasma immunoglobulin-A (IgA) levels in fast-growing broilers respond to positive and negative housing conditions. In [...] Read more.
Commercial housing conditions may contribute to chronic negative stress in broiler chickens, reducing their animal welfare. The objective of this study was to determine how secretory (fecal) and plasma immunoglobulin-A (IgA) levels in fast-growing broilers respond to positive and negative housing conditions. In three replicated experiments, male Ross 708 broilers (n = 1650/experiment) were housed in a 2 × 2 factorial study of high or low environmental complexity and high or low stocking density. In experiments 1 and 3 but not in experiment 2, high complexity tended to positively impact day 48 plasma IgA concentrations. When three experiments were combined, high complexity positively impacted day 48 plasma IgA concentrations. Stocking density and the complexity × density interaction did not impact day 48 plasma IgA concentrations. Environmental complexity and the complexity × density interaction did not impact day 48 secretory IgA concentrations. A high stocking density negatively impacted day 48 secretory IgA concentrations overall but not in individual experiments. These results suggest that environmental complexity decreased chronic stress, while a high stocking density increased chronic stress. Thus, plasma IgA levels increased under high-complexity housing conditions (at day 48), and secretory IgA levels (at day 48) decreased under high-density conditions, suggesting that chronic stress differed among treatments. Therefore, these measures may be useful for quantifying chronic stress but only if the statistical power is high. Future research should replicate these findings under similar and different housing conditions to confirm the suitability of IgA as a measure of chronic stress in broiler chickens. Full article
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Review

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24 pages, 1198 KiB  
Review
Heat Stress: A Serious Disruptor of the Reproductive Physiology of Dairy Cows
by Eleni Dovolou, Themistoklis Giannoulis, Ioannis Nanas and Georgios S. Amiridis
Animals 2023, 13(11), 1846; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13111846 - 01 Jun 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 3810
Abstract
Global warming is a significant threat to the sustainability and profitability of the dairy sector, not only in tropical or subtropical regions but also in temperate zones where extreme summer temperatures have become a new and challenging reality. Prolonged exposure of dairy cows [...] Read more.
Global warming is a significant threat to the sustainability and profitability of the dairy sector, not only in tropical or subtropical regions but also in temperate zones where extreme summer temperatures have become a new and challenging reality. Prolonged exposure of dairy cows to high temperatures compromises animal welfare, increases morbidity, and suppresses fertility, resulting in devastating economic losses for farmers. To counteract the deleterious effects of heat stress, cattl e employ various adaptive thermoregulatory mechanisms including molecular, endocrine, physiological, and behavioral responses. These adaptations involve the immediate secretion of heat shock proteins and cortisol, followed by a complex network of disrupted secretion of metabolic and reproductive hormones such as prolactin, ghrelin, ovarian steroid, and pituitary gonadotrophins. While the strategic heat stress mitigation measures can restore milk production through modifications of the microclimate and nutritional interventions, the summer fertility records remain at low levels compared to those of the thermoneutral periods of the year. This is because sustainment of high fertility is a multifaceted process that requires appropriate energy balance, undisrupted mode of various hormones secretion to sustain the maturation and fertilizing competence of the oocyte, the normal development of the early embryo and unhampered maternal—embryo crosstalk. In this review, we summarize the major molecular and endocrine responses to elevated temperatures in dairy cows, as well as the impacts on maturing oocytes and early embryos, and discuss the consequences that heat stress brings about in dairy cattle fertility. Full article
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