Effects of Environment on Behaviour, Productivity and Welfare of Farm Animals

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2020) | Viewed by 100933

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
School of Agriculture & Food, Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC 3010, Australia
Interests: functional foods; antioxidants; fatty acids; nutrigenomics; large animal models of human nutrition and obesity; selenium
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Guest Editor
Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, The University of Melbourne, Parkville 3010, Australia
Interests: livestock genetics and environment interactions; heat stress mitigation; sustainable and efficient livestock production; antioxidants; nutrigenomics; stress physiology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The global livestock industries are operating in highly diverse environments, from intensive production systems in temperate and tropical climates with poorly ventilated to well ventilated sheds, and extensive grazing in semiarid and tropical rangelands to irrigated pastures, and feedlots. Though remarkable progress has been achieved in genetic improvement of livestock populations over the last 50 years, the environment still plays a crucial role in farm animal production and welfare. The growing human population and demand for animal protein present a series of opportunities and challenges for the global livestock industry to enhance production to ensure food security. However, recent increases in environmental adversity and climate change (heat and cold waves) affecting animal welfare, animal health, animal production, and quantity and quality of pasture accentuate the need for developing suitable environments conducive for sustainable farm animal production to achieve food security. Much has been accomplished by developing and optimizing various production systems suitable to specific environments, physical modification of the environment to protect animals from inclement weathers, enrichment of the environment to reduce animal stress, and nutritional interventions to improve animal health under adverse climate events. However, a vast amount of genetic potential of the livestock remains to be harnessed by providing suitable environments to livestock to improve animal welfare and productivity.

Prof. Frank Dunshea
Dr Surinder Singh Chauhan
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • animal production
  • animal welfare
  • heat stress
  • hypothermia
  • pasture quality
  • environmental enrichment
  • nutritional supplementation
  • feed additives

Published Papers (18 papers)

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Research

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19 pages, 3989 KiB  
Article
Impact of Housing Condition on Welfare and Behavior of Immunocastrated Fattening Pigs (Sus scrofa domestica)
by Linda Steybe, Kevin Kress, Sonja Schmucker and Volker Stefanski
Animals 2021, 11(3), 618; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11030618 - 26 Feb 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2000
Abstract
The aim of this study was to investigate whether the well-known positive effects of immunocastration on the behavior and welfare of pigs persist under varying environments. One hundred forty-four male pigs were studied with regard to their sex category (EM: entire males, IC: [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to investigate whether the well-known positive effects of immunocastration on the behavior and welfare of pigs persist under varying environments. One hundred forty-four male pigs were studied with regard to their sex category (EM: entire males, IC: immunocastrates, BA: barrows) and housing environment (ENR: enriched, STD: standard, MIX: repeated social mixing). The vaccination of immunocastrates included two injections at the age of 12 and 22 weeks. Regardless of the housing conditions, frequencies of sexual and fighting behavior expressed by immunocastrates shifted from boar-like to barrow-like behavior after the second immunocastration vaccination (Mixed model analysis, p < 0.05). Penis biting decreased in IC after the second vaccination (Wilcoxon signed-rank tests, p = 0.036) and penile injuries were lower in IC animals compared to EM (Mixed model analysis, p < 0.001). Housing-dependent effects on behavior could also be observed in the animals at a relatively young age. Enriched housing showed a beneficial effect on play behavior (Chi-square test, p < 0.001) and the social mixing environment reduced the number of social nosing events (Mixed model analysis, p < 0.05). The positive effects of immunocastration thus are robust to all housing conditions assessed in this study. Full article
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16 pages, 2800 KiB  
Article
Do Camels (Camelus dromedarius) Need Shaded Areas? A Case Study of the Camel Market in Doha
by Martina Zappaterra, Laura Menchetti, Leonardo Nanni Costa and Barbara Padalino
Animals 2021, 11(2), 480; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020480 - 11 Feb 2021
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 3133
Abstract
This study aimed at documenting whether dromedary camels have a preference for shade and how their behavior would change depending on the presence of shade and variable space allowance. A total of 421 animals kept in 76 pens (66 with shelter (Group 1), [...] Read more.
This study aimed at documenting whether dromedary camels have a preference for shade and how their behavior would change depending on the presence of shade and variable space allowance. A total of 421 animals kept in 76 pens (66 with shelter (Group 1), and 10 without shelter (Group 2)) at the camel market in Doha (Qatar) were recorded for 1 min around 11:00 a.m. when the temperature was above 40 °C. The number of animals in the sun and shade and their behaviors were analyzed using an ad libitum sampling method and an ad hoc ethogram. The results of a chi-square test indicated that camels in Group 1 had a clear preference for shade (p < 0.001). The majority of Group 1 camels were indeed observed in the shade (312/421; 74.11%). These camels spent more time in recumbency and ruminating, while standing, walking, and self-grooming were more commonly expressed by the camels in the sun (p < 0.001). Moreover, locomotory stereotypic behaviors (i.e., pacing) increased as space allowance decreased (p = 0.002). Based on the findings of this pilot study, camels demonstrated a preference for shade; shade seemed to promote positive welfare, while overcrowding seemed to trigger stereotypy and poor welfare. Overall, our preliminary results are novel and provide evidence that shaded areas are of paramount importance for camel welfare. Further research, involving designed studies at multiple locations is needed to confirm these results. Full article
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14 pages, 3642 KiB  
Article
Effect of Straw Provision in Racks on Tail Lesions, Straw Availability, and Pen Hygiene in Finishing Pigs
by Torun Wallgren and Stefan Gunnarsson
Animals 2021, 11(2), 379; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020379 - 02 Feb 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 3106
Abstract
Unfulfilled exploratory behavior in pigs has been linked to tail biting, which causes reduced performance and welfare. Provision of straw can reduce tail biting, but large straw rations can cause poor hygiene in pens. This study examined whether provision of straw in racks, [...] Read more.
Unfulfilled exploratory behavior in pigs has been linked to tail biting, which causes reduced performance and welfare. Provision of straw can reduce tail biting, but large straw rations can cause poor hygiene in pens. This study examined whether provision of straw in racks, rather than on the pen floor, can enable larger straw rations without compromising hygiene. The study was conducted on a commercial farm with 458 undocked pigs in 42 pens provided with straw in racks or on the floor. Available straw and manual cleaning requirement were assessed daily, and presence of tail lesions was assessed weekly. Both treatments had a low requirement for manual cleaning (Floor: 1.7%, Rack: 1.8%). Pigs in the rack treatment had a higher incidence of lesions early in the production period, which coincided with these pigs initially not consuming straw from the rack, leading to low straw access. Late in the production period, these pigs had learned how to use the rack and had a lower incidence of lesions than pigs in the floor treatment. Delayed use of the rack may have been linked to undeveloped spatial skills in the pigs, which needs further research. Full article
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16 pages, 3970 KiB  
Article
Effects of Airspeed on the Respiratory Rate, Rectal Temperature, and Immunity Parameters of Dairy Calves Housed Individually in an Axial-Fan-Ventilated Barn
by Wanying Zhao, Christopher Choi, Dapeng Li, Geqi Yan, Hao Li and Zhengxiang Shi
Animals 2021, 11(2), 354; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020354 - 31 Jan 2021
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 2148
Abstract
At many modern dairy farms, calves raised in barns are kept in individual stalls separated by solid partitions, which act as barriers. Ventilation fans blowing air perpendicular to these stalls only provide the optimal airflow to the first few calves, while those further [...] Read more.
At many modern dairy farms, calves raised in barns are kept in individual stalls separated by solid partitions, which act as barriers. Ventilation fans blowing air perpendicular to these stalls only provide the optimal airflow to the first few calves, while those further away receive a slower airflow. To ascertain whatever effects different airflow speeds may have on the health of animals kept in stalls located at increasing distances from ventilation fans, we divided a select group of 43 Holstein dairy calves into six subgroups based on age, and each subgroup was subjected to either a specified high-speed or low-speed airflow as follows: (1) Six 3-day-olds received high-speed airflow (D3-HA); (2) Six 3-day-olds received low-speed airflow (D3-LA); (3) Eight 19 (±3)-day-olds received high-speed airflow (D19-HA); (4) Eight 19 (± 3)-day-olds received low-speed airflow (D19-LA); (5) Eight 29 (±3)-day-olds received high-speed airflow (D29-HA); and (6) Seven 29 (±3)-day-olds received medium-speed airflow (D29-MA). These trials show that the rectal temperatures and respiratory rates of D19-LA (39.37 °C; 72.90 breaths/min) were significantly higher than those of D19-HA (39.14 °C; 61.57 breaths/min) (p ≤ 0.05), and those of D29-MA (39.40 °C; 75.52 breaths/min) were significantly higher than those of D29-HA (39.20 °C; 68.41 breaths/min) (p ≤ 0.05). At 33 (±3) days of age, those calves receiving high-speed airflow (p ≤ 0.05) registered significantly higher immunoglobulins A and M than calves receiving low-speed flow. Those calves subjected to a high-speed airflow also registered significantly lower tumor necrosis factor levels than those receiving low-speed flow (p ≤ 0.05). Among the 29 to 43-day-old calves, no significant differences in immunity parameters were found to exist between groups D29-HA and D29-MA. On the basis of these findings, we were able to conclude that in the warm season, when the calves were less than 0.5 months old, low-speed (0.17–0.18 m/s) airflows had no significant effect on calves; when the calves were 1 month old, low-speed airflow (0.20–0.21 m/s) may impair the immune functions; when the calves were 1 to 1.5 months old, the airflow velocity higher than 0.9 m/s can meet the needs of the calf without a negative impact on the calf. Full article
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14 pages, 591 KiB  
Article
Comparative Assessment of Thermotolerance in Dorper and Second-Cross (Poll Dorset/Merino × Border Leicester) Lambs
by Aleena Joy, Frank R. Dunshea, Brian J. Leury, Kristy DiGiacomo, Iain J. Clarke, Minghao H. Zhang, Archana Abhijith, Richard Osei-Amponsah and Surinder S. Chauhan
Animals 2020, 10(12), 2441; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10122441 - 20 Dec 2020
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 2848
Abstract
The objective of this study was to compare the thermotolerance of second-cross (SC; Poll Dorset × Merino × Border Leicester) and Dorper lambs. Dorper and SC lambs (4–5 months of age) were subjected to cyclic heat stress (HS) (28–40 °C). The temperature was [...] Read more.
The objective of this study was to compare the thermotolerance of second-cross (SC; Poll Dorset × Merino × Border Leicester) and Dorper lambs. Dorper and SC lambs (4–5 months of age) were subjected to cyclic heat stress (HS) (28–40 °C). The temperature was increased to 38–40 °C between 800 and 1700 h daily and maintained at 28 °C for the remainder of the day (30–60% relative humidity (RH)) in climatic chambers for 2 weeks (n = 12/group), with controls maintained in a thermoneutral (TN) (18–21 °C, 40–50% RH) environment (n = 12/group). Basal respiration rate (RR), rectal temperature (RT) and skin temperature (ST) were higher (p < 0.01) in SC lambs than in Dorpers. HS increased RR, RT and ST (p < 0.01) in both genotypes, but the levels reached during HS were lower (p < 0.01) in Dorpers. HS increased (p < 0.01) water intake to a greater extent in SC lambs, while feed intake was reduced (p < 0.05) by HS in SC lambs but not in Dorpers. HS increased (p < 0.01) blood urea nitrogen and creatinine in SC lambs only. Plasma non-esterified fatty acid concentrations were reduced (p < 0.05) by HS in SC lambs but increased (p < 0.05) in Dorpers. There was no effect of HS on pO2, cHCO3 and cSO2, but higher (p < 0.01) blood pH and lower (p < 0.01) pCO2 were recorded under HS in both genotypes. Blood electrolytes and base excess were reduced (p < 0.01) under HS, while a genotype difference (p < 0.05) was only observed in blood K+ and hemoglobin concentrations. Basal plasma prolactin concentrations were lower (p < 0.01) in Dorpers but were elevated at a similar level during HS (p < 0.01) in both genotypes. Dorper lambs are more resilient to HS than SC lambs. Future research should focus on confirming whether the better heat tolerance of Dorpers is translated to better returns in terms of growth performance and carcass traits over the summer months. Full article
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16 pages, 1226 KiB  
Article
The Greater Proportion of Born-Light Progeny from Sows Mated in Summer Contributes to Increased Carcass Fatness Observed in Spring
by Fan Liu, Erin M. Ford, Rebecca S. Morrison, Chris J. Brewster, David J. Henman, Robert J. Smits, Weicheng Zhao, Jeremy J. Cottrell, Brian J. Leury, Frank R. Dunshea and Alan W. Bell
Animals 2020, 10(11), 2080; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10112080 - 10 Nov 2020
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 2620
Abstract
The backfat of pig carcasses is greater in spring than summer in Australia. The unexplained seasonal variation in carcass backfat creates complications for pig producers in supplying consistent lean carcasses. As a novel explanation, we hypothesised that the increased carcass fatness in spring [...] Read more.
The backfat of pig carcasses is greater in spring than summer in Australia. The unexplained seasonal variation in carcass backfat creates complications for pig producers in supplying consistent lean carcasses. As a novel explanation, we hypothesised that the increased carcass fatness in spring was due to a greater percentage of born-light progeny from sows that were mated in summer and experienced hot conditions during early gestation. The first part of our experiment compared the birth weight of piglets born to the sows mated in summer (February, the Southern Hemisphere) with those born to sows mated in autumn (May; the Southern Hemisphere), and the second part of the experiment compared the growth performance and carcass fatness of the progeny that were stratified as born-light (0.7–1.1 kg) and born-normal (1.3–1.7 kg) from the sows mated in these two seasons. The results showed that the sows mated in summer experienced hotter conditions during early gestation as evidenced by an increased respiration rate and rectal temperature, compared with those mated in autumn. The sows mated in summer had a greater proportion of piglets that were born ≤1.1 kg (24.2% vs. 15.8%, p < 0.001), lower average piglet birth weight (1.39 kg vs. 1.52 kg, p < 0.001), lower total litter weights (18.9 kg vs. 19.5 kg, p = 0.044) and lower average placental weight (0.26 vs. 0.31 kg, p = 0.011) than those mated in autumn, although litter sizes were similar. Feed intake and growth rate of progeny from 14 weeks of age to slaughter (101 kg live weight) were greater for the born-normal than born-light pigs within the progeny from sows mated in autumn, but there was no difference between the born-light and normal progeny from sows mated in summer, as evidenced by the interaction between piglet birth weight and sow mating season (Both p < 0.05). Only the born-light piglets from the sows mated in summer had a greater backfat thickness and loin fat% than the progeny from the sows mated in autumn, as evidenced by a trend of interaction between piglet birth weight and sow mating season (Both p < 0.10). In conclusion, the increased proportion of born-light piglets (0.7–1.1 kg range) from the sows mated in summer contributed to the increased carcass fatness observed in spring. Full article
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11 pages, 814 KiB  
Article
The Impact of Antioxidant Supplementation and Heat Stress on Carcass Characteristics, Muscle Nutritional Profile and Functionality of Lamb Meat
by Surinder S. Chauhan, Frank R. Dunshea, Tim E. Plozza, David L. Hopkins and Eric N. Ponnampalam
Animals 2020, 10(8), 1286; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10081286 - 28 Jul 2020
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 3491
Abstract
The impact of antioxidant supplementation and short-term heat stress on lamb body weight gain, meat nutritional profile and functionality (storage stability of lipids and colour) of lamb meat was investigated. A total of 48 crossbred ((Merino × Border Leicester) × Dorset) lambs (42 [...] Read more.
The impact of antioxidant supplementation and short-term heat stress on lamb body weight gain, meat nutritional profile and functionality (storage stability of lipids and colour) of lamb meat was investigated. A total of 48 crossbred ((Merino × Border Leicester) × Dorset) lambs (42 ± 2 kg body weight, 7 mo age) were randomly allocated to three dietary treatments (n = 16) by liveweight (LW) that differed in dosage of vitamin E and selenium (Se) in the diet. Vitamin E and Se levels in the control (CON), moderate (MOD) and supranutritional (SUP) dietary treatments were 28, 130 and 228 mg/kg DM as α-tocopherol acetate and 0.16, 0.66 and 1.16 mg Se as SelPlex™/kg DM, respectively. After four weeks of feeding in individual pens, including one week of adaptation, lambs were exposed to two heat treatments. Animals were moved to metabolism cages for one week and subjected to heat treatments: thermoneutral (TN; 18–21 °C and 40–50% relative humidity) and heat stress (HS; 28–40 °C and 30–40% relative humidity) conditions, respectively. Final LW and hot carcass weight were influenced by dietary treatments with higher final live weight (FLW) (p = 0.05; 46.8 vs. 44.4 and 43.8 kg, respectively) and hot carcass weight (HCW) (p = 0.01; 22.5 vs. 21.3 and 21.0 kg, respectively) recorded in lambs fed the SUP as opposed to the CON and MOD diets. Vitamin E concentration in the longissimus lumborum (LL) muscle tended to be higher in lambs fed MOD or SUP diets than the CON group. Lipid oxidation of aged meat at 72 h of simulated retail display was reduced by antioxidant supplementation. Short-term (one week) heat stress treatment significantly increased muscle linoleic acid and total omega-6 concentrations compared with the CON group. The results demonstrate that four-week antioxidant supplementation at the SUP level improved animal productivity by increasing LW and carcass weight and the functionality of meat exhibited by reduced lipid oxidation. An increase in muscle omega-6 fatty acid concentration from short-term heat stress may induce oxidative stress via proinflammatory action. Full article
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12 pages, 706 KiB  
Article
Heat Stress Impacts on Lactating Cows Grazing Australian Summer Pastures on an Automatic Robotic Dairy
by Richard Osei-Amponsah, Frank R. Dunshea, Brian J. Leury, Long Cheng, Brendan Cullen, Aleena Joy, Archana Abhijith, Michael H. Zhang and Surinder S. Chauhan
Animals 2020, 10(5), 869; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10050869 - 17 May 2020
Cited by 45 | Viewed by 6902
Abstract
The objective of this study was to measure the impacts of summer heat events on physiological parameters (body temperature, respiratory rate and panting scores), grazing behaviour and production parameters of lactating Holstein Friesian cows managed on an Automated Robotic Dairy during Australian summer. [...] Read more.
The objective of this study was to measure the impacts of summer heat events on physiological parameters (body temperature, respiratory rate and panting scores), grazing behaviour and production parameters of lactating Holstein Friesian cows managed on an Automated Robotic Dairy during Australian summer. The severity of heat stress was measured using Temperature-Humidity Index (THI) and impacts of different THIs—low (≤72), moderate (73–82) and high (≥83)—on physiological responses and production performance were measured. There was a highly significant (p ≤ 0.01) effect of THI on respiratory rate (66.7, 84.7 and 109.1/min), panting scores (1.4, 1.9 and 2.3) and average body temperature of cows (38.4, 39.4 and 41.5 °C), which increased as THI increased from low to moderate to high over the summer. Average milk production parameters were also significantly (p ≤ 0.01) affected by THI, such that daily milk production dropped by 14% from low to high THI, milk temperature and fat% increased by 3%, whilst protein% increased by 2%. The lactation stage of cow had no significant effect on physiological parameters but affected (p ≤ 0.05) average daily milk yield and milk solids. Highly significant (p ≤ 0.01) positive correlations were obtained between THI and milk temperature, fat% and protein% whilst the reverse was observed between THI and milk yield, feed intake and rumination time. Under moderate and high THI, most cows sought shade, spent more time around watering points and showed signs of distress (excessive salivation and open mouth panting). In view of the expected future increase in the frequency and severity of heat events, additional strategies including selection and breeding for thermotolerance and dietary interventions to improve resilience of cows need to be pursued. Full article
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11 pages, 257 KiB  
Article
Impacts of Compost Bedded Pack Barns on the Welfare and Comfort of Dairy Cows
by Anna Fernández, Eva Mainau, Xavier Manteca, Adriana Siurana and Lorena Castillejos
Animals 2020, 10(3), 431; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10030431 - 04 Mar 2020
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 3464
Abstract
Three loose housing systems for lactating cows (compost bedded pack, CBP; conventional bedded pack, BP; and freestalls, FS) were assessed on one farm in terms of cow behavior and welfare. An on-farm welfare assessment based on the Welfare Quality protocols was used four [...] Read more.
Three loose housing systems for lactating cows (compost bedded pack, CBP; conventional bedded pack, BP; and freestalls, FS) were assessed on one farm in terms of cow behavior and welfare. An on-farm welfare assessment based on the Welfare Quality protocols was used four times every three months on 757 cows. Video recordings taken twice over four days were used to assess behavior patterns at resting areas. Cows in CBP and BP were dirtier than those in FS (p < 0.0001). Fewer integument alterations were recorded for CBP and BP than FS (p < 0.001). Cows in BP were quicker to lie down and stand up compared to those in CBP or FS (p < 0.001). Percentages of cows needing more attempts before rising were higher for FS (p < 0.01). However, a higher frequency of kneeling was observed in CBP (p = 0.033). A lower percentage of cows lying in the resting area was recorded for FS (56%) than CBP or BP (97 or 84%, respectively, p < 0.05). Overall, in this study, cows kept in bedded pack barns were dirtier but had fewer integument alterations and spent more time lying down in the resting area than cows housed in freestalls. Full article
10 pages, 2136 KiB  
Article
Effect of Heat Stress on Bacterial Composition and Metabolism in the Rumen of Lactating Dairy Cows
by Shengguo Zhao, Li Min, Nan Zheng and Jiaqi Wang
Animals 2019, 9(11), 925; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9110925 - 05 Nov 2019
Cited by 57 | Viewed by 5044
Abstract
Heat stress negatively impacts the health and milk production of dairy cows, and ruminal microbial populations play an important role in dairy cattle’s milk production. Currently there are no available studies that investigate heat stress-associated changes in the rumen microbiome of lactating dairy [...] Read more.
Heat stress negatively impacts the health and milk production of dairy cows, and ruminal microbial populations play an important role in dairy cattle’s milk production. Currently there are no available studies that investigate heat stress-associated changes in the rumen microbiome of lactating dairy cattle. Improved understanding of the link between heat stress and the ruminal microbiome may be beneficial in developing strategies for relieving the influence of heat stress on ruminants by manipulating ruminal microbial composition. In this study, we investigated the ruminal bacterial composition and metabolites in heat stressed and non-heat stressed dairy cows. Eighteen lactating dairy cows were divided into two treatment groups, one with heat stress and one without heat stress. Dry matter intake was measured and rumen fluid from all cows in both groups was collected. The bacterial 16S rRNA genes in the ruminal fluid were sequenced, and the rumen pH and the lactate and acetate of the bacterial metabolites were quantified. Heat stress was associated with significantly decreased dry matter intake and milk production. Rumen pH and rumen acetate concentrations were significantly decreased in the heat stressed group, while ruminal lactate concentration increased. The influence of heat stress on the microbial bacterial community structure was minor. However, heat stress was associated with an increase in lactate producing bacteria (e.g., Streptococcus and unclassified Enterobacteriaceae), and with an increase in Ruminobacter, Treponema, and unclassified Bacteroidaceae, all of which utilize soluble carbohydrates as an energy source. The relative abundance of acetate-producing bacterium Acetobacter decreased during heat stress. We concluded that heat stress is associated with changes in ruminal bacterial composition and metabolites, with more lactate and less acetate-producing species in the population, which potentially negatively affects milk production. Full article
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Review

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21 pages, 1119 KiB  
Review
Bacillus subtilis-Based Probiotic Improves Skeletal Health and Immunity in Broiler Chickens Exposed to Heat Stress
by Sha Jiang, Fei-Fei Yan, Jia-Ying Hu, Ahmed Mohammed and Heng-Wei Cheng
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1494; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061494 - 21 May 2021
Cited by 38 | Viewed by 6934
Abstract
The elevation of ambient temperature beyond the thermoneutral zone leads to heat stress, which is a growing health and welfare issue for homeothermic animals aiming to maintain relatively constant reproducibility and survivability. Particularly, global warming over the past decades has resulted in more [...] Read more.
The elevation of ambient temperature beyond the thermoneutral zone leads to heat stress, which is a growing health and welfare issue for homeothermic animals aiming to maintain relatively constant reproducibility and survivability. Particularly, global warming over the past decades has resulted in more hot days with more intense, frequent, and long-lasting heat waves, resulting in a global surge in animals suffering from heat stress. Heat stress causes pathophysiological changes in animals, increasing stress sensitivity and immunosuppression, consequently leading to increased intestinal permeability (leaky gut) and related neuroinflammation. Probiotics, as well as prebiotics and synbiotics, have been used to prevent or reduce stress-induced negative effects on physiological and behavioral homeostasis in humans and various animals. The current data indicate dietary supplementation with a Bacillus subtilis-based probiotic has similar functions in poultry. This review highlights the recent findings on the effects of the probiotic Bacillus subtilis on skeletal health of broiler chickens exposed to heat stress. It provides insights to aid in the development of practical strategies for improving health and performance in poultry. Full article
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24 pages, 742 KiB  
Review
Heat Stress and Goat Welfare: Adaptation and Production Considerations
by Veerasamy Sejian, Mullakkalparambil V. Silpa, Mini R. Reshma Nair, Chinnasamy Devaraj, Govindan Krishnan, Madiajagan Bagath, Surinder S. Chauhan, Rajendran U. Suganthi, Vinicius F. C. Fonseca, Sven König, John B. Gaughan, Frank R. Dunshea and Raghavendra Bhatta
Animals 2021, 11(4), 1021; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11041021 - 04 Apr 2021
Cited by 40 | Viewed by 15552
Abstract
This review attempted to collate and synthesize information on goat welfare and production constraints during heat stress exposure. Among the farm animals, goats arguably are considered the best-suited animals to survive in tropical climates. Heat stress was found to negatively influence growth, milk [...] Read more.
This review attempted to collate and synthesize information on goat welfare and production constraints during heat stress exposure. Among the farm animals, goats arguably are considered the best-suited animals to survive in tropical climates. Heat stress was found to negatively influence growth, milk and meat production and compromised the immune response, thereby significantly reducing goats’ welfare under extensive conditions and transportation. Although considered extremely adapted to tropical climates, their production can be compromised to cope with heat stress. Therefore, information on goat adaptation and production performance during heat exposure could help assess their welfare. Such information would be valuable as the farming communities are often struggling in their efforts to assess animal welfare, especially in tropical regions. Broadly three aspects must be considered to ensure appropriate welfare in goats, and these include (i) housing and environment; (ii) breeding and genetics and (iii) handling and transport. Apart from these, there are a few other negative welfare factors in goat rearing, which differ across the production system being followed. Such negative practices are predominant in extensive systems and include nutritional stress, limited supply of good quality water, climatic extremes, parasitic infestation and lameness, culminating in low production, reproduction and high mortality rates. Broadly two types of methodologies are available to assess welfare in goats in these systems: (i) animal-based measures include behavioral measurements, health and production records and disease symptoms; (ii) resources based and management-based measures include stocking density, manpower, housing conditions and health plans. Goat welfare could be assessed based on several indicators covering behavioral, physical, physiological and productive responses. The important indicators of goat welfare include agonistic behavior, vocalization, skin temperature, body condition score (BCS), hair coat conditions, rectal temperature, respiration rate, heart rate, sweating, reduced growth, reduced milk production and reduced reproductive efficiency. There are also different approaches available by which the welfare of goats could be assessed, such as naturalistic, functional and subjective approaches. Thus, assessing welfare in goats at every production stage is a prerequisite for ensuring appropriate production in this all-important species to guarantee optimum returns to the marginal and subsistence farmers. Full article
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16 pages, 752 KiB  
Review
Non-Invasive Physiological Indicators of Heat Stress in Cattle
by Musadiq Idris, Jashim Uddin, Megan Sullivan, David M. McNeill and Clive J. C. Phillips
Animals 2021, 11(1), 71; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11010071 - 02 Jan 2021
Cited by 51 | Viewed by 6636
Abstract
Cattle are susceptible to heat stress, especially those kept on high levels of nutrition for the purpose of maximising growth rates, which leads to a significant heat increment in their bodies. Consequences include compromised health and productivity and mortalities during extreme events, as [...] Read more.
Cattle are susceptible to heat stress, especially those kept on high levels of nutrition for the purpose of maximising growth rates, which leads to a significant heat increment in their bodies. Consequences include compromised health and productivity and mortalities during extreme events, as well as serious economic loss. Some measures of heat stress, such as plasma cortisol and temperature in the rectum, vagina, or rumen, are invasive and therefore unlikely to be used on farms. These may cause additional stress to the animal due to handling, and that stress in itself can confound the measure. Consequently, it is desirable to find non-invasive alternatives. Panting score (PS), cortisol metabolites in faeces, milk, or hair, and the infrared temperature of external body surfaces are all potentially useful. Respiratory indicators are difficult and time consuming to record accurately, and cortisol metabolites are expensive and technically difficult to analyse. Infrared temperature appears to offer the best solution but requires further research to determine the thresholds that define when corrective actions are required to ensure optimal health and productivity. Research in this area has the potential to ultimately improve the welfare and profitability of cattle farming. Full article
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14 pages, 281 KiB  
Review
Use of Different Cooling Methods in Pig Facilities to Alleviate the Effects of Heat Stress—A Review
by Dorota Godyń, Piotr Herbut, Sabina Angrecka and Frederico Márcio Corrêa Vieira
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1459; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091459 - 20 Aug 2020
Cited by 43 | Viewed by 7598
Abstract
An increase in the frequency of hot periods, which has been observed over the past decades, determines the novel approach to livestock facilities improvement. The effects of heat stress are revealed in disorders in physiological processes, impaired immunity, changes in behaviour and decreases [...] Read more.
An increase in the frequency of hot periods, which has been observed over the past decades, determines the novel approach to livestock facilities improvement. The effects of heat stress are revealed in disorders in physiological processes, impaired immunity, changes in behaviour and decreases in animal production, thus implementation of cooling technologies is a key factor for alleviating these negative consequences. In pig facilities, various cooling methods have been implemented. Air temperature may be decreased by using adiabatic cooling technology such as a high-pressure fogging system or evaporative pads. In modern-type buildings large-surface evaporative pads may support a tunnel ventilation system. Currently a lot of attention has also been paid to developing energy- and water-saving cooling methods, using for example an earth-air or earth-to-water heat exchanger. The pigs’ skin surface may be cooled by using sprinkling nozzles, high-velocity air stream or conductive cooling pads. The effectiveness of these technologies is discussed in this article, taking into consideration the indicators of animal welfare such as respiratory rate, skin surface and body core temperature, performance parameters and behavioural changes. Full article
18 pages, 275 KiB  
Review
Resilience of Small Ruminants to Climate Change and Increased Environmental Temperature: A Review
by Aleena Joy, Frank R. Dunshea, Brian J. Leury, Iain J. Clarke, Kristy DiGiacomo and Surinder S. Chauhan
Animals 2020, 10(5), 867; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10050867 - 17 May 2020
Cited by 89 | Viewed by 10762
Abstract
Climate change is a major global threat to the sustainability of livestock systems. Climatic factors such as ambient temperature, relative humidity, direct and indirect solar radiation and wind speed influence feed and water availability, fodder quality and disease occurrence, with production being most [...] Read more.
Climate change is a major global threat to the sustainability of livestock systems. Climatic factors such as ambient temperature, relative humidity, direct and indirect solar radiation and wind speed influence feed and water availability, fodder quality and disease occurrence, with production being most efficient in optimal environmental conditions. Among these climatic variables, ambient temperature fluctuations have the most impact on livestock production and animal welfare. Continuous exposure of the animals to heat stress compromises growth, milk and meat production and reproduction. The capacity of an animal to mitigate effects of increased environmental temperature, without progressing into stress response, differs within and between species. Comparatively, small ruminants are better adapted to hot environments than large ruminants and have better ability to survive, produce and reproduce in harsh climatic regions. Nevertheless, the physiological and behavioral changes in response to hot environments affect small ruminant production. It has been found that tropical breeds are more adaptive to hot climates than high-producing temperate breeds. The growing body of knowledge on the negative impact of heat stress on small ruminant production and welfare will assist in the development of suitable strategies to mitigate heat stress. Selection of thermotolerant breeds, through identification of genetic traits for adaption to extreme environmental conditions (high temperature, feed scarcity, water scarcity), is a viable strategy to combat climate change and minimize the impact on small ruminant production and welfare. This review highlights such adaption within and among different breeds of small ruminants challenged by heat stress. Full article
16 pages, 715 KiB  
Review
A Scoping Review: The Impact of Housing Systems and Environmental Features on Beef Cattle Welfare
by Rachel M. Park, Margaret Foster and Courtney L. Daigle
Animals 2020, 10(4), 565; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10040565 - 27 Mar 2020
Cited by 18 | Viewed by 6885
Abstract
Housing systems and environmental features can influence beef cattle welfare. To date, little information has been synthesized on this topic. The aim of this scoping review was to examine the relationship between housing and welfare status, so that beef cattle producers and animal [...] Read more.
Housing systems and environmental features can influence beef cattle welfare. To date, little information has been synthesized on this topic. The aim of this scoping review was to examine the relationship between housing and welfare status, so that beef cattle producers and animal scientists can make informed decisions regarding how their housing choices could impact beef cattle welfare. Housing features were categorized by floor type, space allowance and shade availability, as well as the inclusion of enrichment devices or ventilation features. Evaluation of space allowances across feedlot environments determined behavioral and production benefits when cattle were housed between 2.5 m2 to 3.0 m2 per animal. Over 19 different flooring types were investigated and across flooring types; straw flooring was viewed most favorably from a behavioral, production and hygiene standpoint. Veal calves experience enhanced welfare (e.g., improved behavioral, physiological, and performance metrics) when group housed. There is evidence that the implementation of progressive housing modifications (e.g., shade, environmental enrichment) could promote the behavioral welfare of feedlot cattle. This review presents the advantages and disadvantages of specific housing features on the welfare of beef cattle. Full article
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13 pages, 272 KiB  
Review
Factors Affecting Levels of Airborne Bacteria in Dairy Farms: A Review
by Álvaro Rafael Quintana, Susana Seseña, Ana Garzón and Ramón Arias
Animals 2020, 10(3), 526; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10030526 - 21 Mar 2020
Cited by 23 | Viewed by 4331
Abstract
This review attempts to reflect the importance of different factors that affect the environmental quality of dairy farms and must, therefore, be taken into account when considering the importance of environmental microbiology as a tool in the improvement of the quality of milk [...] Read more.
This review attempts to reflect the importance of different factors that affect the environmental quality of dairy farms and must, therefore, be taken into account when considering the importance of environmental microbiology as a tool in the improvement of the quality of milk and dairy products. The effect of a factor such as temperature is vital for the dairy farm environment, especially when the temperatures are extreme, because a proper choice of temperature range improves the quality of the air and, thus, animal welfare. Similarly, the appropriate level of relative humidity in the environment should be taken into consideration to avoid the proliferation of microorganisms on the farm. Air quality, well-designed livestock housing, proper hygienic practices on the farm, stocking density, and the materials used in the livestock houses are all important factors in the concentration of microorganisms in the environment, promoting better welfare for the animals. In addition, a ventilation system is required to prevent the pollution of the farm environment. It is demonstrated that proper ventilation reduces the microbial load of the environment of dairy farms, enhancing the quality of the air and, therefore, the wellbeing of the animals. All this information is very useful to establish certain standards on dairy farms to improve the quality of the environment and, thereby, achieve better quality milk and dairy products. Full article
14 pages, 4533 KiB  
Review
Cellular and Molecular Adaptation of Bovine Granulosa Cells and Oocytes under Heat Stress
by Adnan Khan, Muhammad Zahoor Khan, Saqib Umer, Ibrar Muhammad Khan, Huitao Xu, Huabin Zhu and Yachun Wang
Animals 2020, 10(1), 110; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10010110 - 09 Jan 2020
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 5661
Abstract
Heat stress has long been recognized as a challenging issue that severely influences the reproductive functions of dairy cattle, disrupting oocyte development during fetal growth. These detrimental effects of heat stress are the result of either the hyperthermia associated with heat stress or [...] Read more.
Heat stress has long been recognized as a challenging issue that severely influences the reproductive functions of dairy cattle, disrupting oocyte development during fetal growth. These detrimental effects of heat stress are the result of either the hyperthermia associated with heat stress or the physiological adjustments made by the heat-stressed animal to regulate body temperature. In addition, elevated temperatures have been implicated in increasing the production of reactive oxygen species. Thus, understanding the impact of heat stress on reproductive functions, from a cellular to molecular level, might help in selecting heat-resilient dairy cattle and developing heat stress mitigation strategies. In the present paper, we have attempted to describe the changes in the reproductive system and function of dairy cattle in response to heat stress by reviewing the latest literature in this area. The review provides useful knowledge on the cellular and genetic basis of oocyte and granulosa cells in heat-stressed dairy cattle, which could be helpful for future research in this area. Full article
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