Publications by authors named "Bas Kemp"

77 Publications

Low Incubation Temperature During Late Incubation and Early Feeding Affect Broiler Resilience to Necrotic Enteritis in Later Life.

Front Vet Sci 2021 14;8:784869. Epub 2021 Dec 14.

Adaptation Physiology Group, Department of Animal Sciences, Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen, Netherlands.

Resilient animals can cope with environmental disturbances in life with minimal loss of function. Resilience can be enhanced by optimizing early-life conditions. In poultry, eggshell temperature () during incubation and early feeding are two early-life conditions that are found to alter neonatal chick quality as well as immune response in later life. However, whether these early-life conditions affect disease resilience of chickens at later ages has never been studied yet. Hence, we studied the effects of EST [(37.8°C () or 36.7°C ()] during late incubation (≥embryonic days 17-19.5) and feeding strategy after hatch [immediately () or 51-54 h delayed ()] on later-life broiler resilience in a 2 × 2 factorial arrangement. At hatch, 960 broilers of both sexes from a 54-week-old Ross breeder flock were equally divided over 32 pens (eight replicate pens per treatment combination) and grown for 6 weeks. Necrotic enteritis was induced by a single inoculation of spp. at d 21 and repeated inoculation (3×/d) during d 21-25. Mortality and body weight (BW) gain were measured daily during d 21-35 as indicators of resilience. Additionally, disease morbidity was assessed (gut lesions, dysbacteriosis, shedding of oocysts, footpad dermatitis, and natural antibody levels in blood). Results showed a lack of interaction between EST and feeding strategy for the vast majority of the variables. A lower EST resulted in lower BW gain at d 5 and 8 post inoculation ( = 0.02) and more oocysts in feces at d 8 post inoculation compared to control EST ( < 0.01). Early feeding tended to lower mortality compared to delayed feeding ( = 0.06), but BW gain was not affected by feeding strategy. Morbidity characteristics were hardly affected by EST or feeding strategy. In conclusion, a few indications were found that a lower EST during late incubation as well as delayed feeding after hatch may each impair later-life resilience to necrotic enteritis. However, these findings were not manifested consistently in all parameters that were measured, and conclusions are drawn with some restraint.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2021.784869DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8713642PMC
December 2021

Maternal Dietary Nitrate Supplementation Lowers Incidence of Stillbirth in Hyper Prolific Sows under Commercial Circumstances.

Animals (Basel) 2021 Nov 24;11(12). Epub 2021 Nov 24.

Adaptation Physiology Group, Wageningen University and Research, P.O. Box 338, 6700 AH Wageningen, The Netherlands.

The objective of the current experiment was to investigate whether or not maternal dietary nitrate supplementation, a nitric oxide (NO) precursor, could reduce piglet losses under commercial circumstances. In the current experiment, 120 hyper prolific gilts and sows (Landrace x Yorkshire: Danbred) on a commercial farm in Denmark received either a control lactation diet or a lactation diet containing 0.1% of calcium nitrate (containing 63.1% of nitrate) from approximately 5 days pre-farrowing until day 4 of lactation. The number of piglets born total, alive, and stillborn, as well as birth weights, weights after cross-fostering (approximately 1 day of age), 24 h after cross-fostering, day 3 of age, and at weaning was recorded. Placentas of sows were collected after expulsion and scored on redness. No effect of nitrate supplementation was found on piglet weight, piglet growth, placental redness score, and pre-weaning mortality during lactation. Maternal dietary nitrate supplementation decreased stillbirth percentage with 2.5% (9.9 vs. 7.4%; = 0.05). It can be concluded that maternal dietary nitrate supplementation shows the potential to decrease the incidence of stillbirth in hyper prolific sows.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani11123364DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8698137PMC
November 2021

Effects of pen enrichment on leg health of fast and slower-growing broiler chickens.

PLoS One 2021 23;16(12):e0254462. Epub 2021 Dec 23.

Adaptation Physiology Group, Wageningen University and Research, Wageningen, Gelderland, The Netherlands.

Pen enrichment for broiler chickens is one of the potential strategies to stimulate locomotion and consequently contribute to better leg health and welfare. This study was designed to evaluate effects of using a plethora of pen enrichments (barrier perches, angular ramps, horizontal platforms, large distance between feed and water and providing live Black Soldier fly larvae in a dustbathing area) on tibia characteristics, locomotion, leg health and home pen behaviour of fast and slower-growing broiler chickens. The experiment was set up as a 2 x 2 factorial arrangement with a total of 840 male broiler chickens in a complete randomized design (7 pens per treatment and 30 chickens per pen) with the following treatments: 1) pen enrichment (enriched pen or non-enriched pen); 2) broiler strain (fast-growing Ross 308 or slower-growing Hubbard JA 757). Home pen behaviour and use of enrichment were observed. At approximately 1400 and 2200 g body weight, two chickens per pen were randomly selected and slaughtered, to investigate tibia morphological, biophysical and mechanical characteristics and leg health. Pen enrichment positively affected tibia biophysical characteristics, e.g., osseous volume (Δ = 1.8 cm3, P = 0.003), total volume (Δ = 1.4 cm3, P = 0.03) and volume fraction (Δ = 0.02%, P = 0.002), in both fast and slower-growing chickens, suggesting that pen enrichment particularly affects ossification and mineralization mechanisms. Accordingly, locomotion and active behaviours were positively influenced by pen enrichment. However, pen enrichment resulted in lower body weight gain in both strains, which might be due to higher activity or lower feed intake as a result of difficulties of crossing the barrier perches. Regarding the strain, slower-growing chickens showed consistently more advanced tibia characteristics and more active behaviour than fast-growing chickens. It can be concluded that pen enrichment may lead to more activity and better bone development in both fast and slower-growing chickens.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0254462PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8700046PMC
December 2021

Animal-Based Factors Prior to Infection Predict Histological Disease Outcome in Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome Virus- and -Infected Pigs.

Front Vet Sci 2021 17;8:742877. Epub 2021 Nov 17.

Wageningen Livestock Research, Department of Animal Health and Welfare, Wageningen, Netherlands.

A large variety of clinical manifestation in individual pigs occurs after infection with pathogens involved in porcine respiratory disease complex (PRDC). Some pigs are less prone to develop respiratory disease symptoms. The variation in clinical impact after infection and the recovery capacity of an individual animal are measures of its resilience. In this paper, we examined which ones of a range of animal-based factors (rectal temperature, body weight, skin lesion scores, behavior, natural antibody serum levels, serum levels of white blood cells, and type of T and granulocyte subsets) when measured prior to infection are related to disease severity. These animal-based factors and the interaction with housing regimen of the piglets (conventional or enriched) were modeled using linear regression to predict disease severity using a dataset acquired from a previous study using a well-established experimental coinfection model of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) and . Both PRRSV and are often involved in PRDC. Histological lung lesion score of each animal was used as a measure for PRDC severity after infection. Prior to infection, higher serum levels of lymphocytes (CD3), naïve T helper (CD3CD4CD8), CD8 (as well as higher relative levels of CD8), and memory T helper (CD3CD4CD8) cells and higher levels of granulocytes (CD172) were related to reduced disease severity in both housing systems. Raised serum concentrations of natural IgM antibodies binding to keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH) were also related to reduced disease severity after infection. Increased levels of skin lesions at the central body part (after weaning and before infection) were related to increased disease severity in conventional housing systems only. High resisters showed a lower histological lung lesion score, which appeared unrelated to sex. Body temperature, behavior, and growth prior to infections were influenced by housing regimen but could not explain the variation in lung lesion scores after infection. Raised basal lymphocyte counts and lower skin lesion scores are related to reduced disease severity independent of or dependent on housing system, respectively. In conclusion, our study identifies intrinsic animal-based measures using linear regression analysis that predicts resilience to infections in pigs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2021.742877DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8635501PMC
November 2021

Digital Phenotyping in Livestock Farming.

Animals (Basel) 2021 Jul 5;11(7). Epub 2021 Jul 5.

Adaptation Physiology Group, Department of Animal Sciences, Wageningen University & Research, 6700 AH Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Currently, large volumes of data are being collected on farms using multimodal sensor technologies. These sensors measure the activity, housing conditions, feed intake, and health of farm animals. With traditional methods, the data from farm animals and their environment can be collected intermittently. However, with the advancement of wearable and non-invasive sensing tools, these measurements can be made in real-time for continuous quantitation relating to clinical biomarkers, resilience indicators, and behavioral predictors. The digital phenotyping of humans has drawn enormous attention recently due to its medical significance, but much research is still needed for the digital phenotyping of farm animals. Implications from human studies show great promise for the application of digital phenotyping technology in modern livestock farming, but these technologies must be directly applied to animals to understand their true capacities. Due to species-specific traits, certain technologies required to assess phenotypes need to be tailored efficiently and accurately. Such devices allow for the collection of information that can better inform farmers on aspects of animal welfare and production that need improvement. By explicitly addressing farm animals' individual physiological and mental (affective states) needs, sensor-based digital phenotyping has the potential to serve as an effective intervention platform. Future research is warranted for the design and development of digital phenotyping technology platforms that create shared data standards, metrics, and repositories.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani11072009DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8300347PMC
July 2021

Digital Twins in Livestock Farming.

Animals (Basel) 2021 Apr 3;11(4). Epub 2021 Apr 3.

Adaptation Physiology Group, Department of Animal Sciences, Wageningen University & Research, 6700 AH Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and big data are consistently called upon to analyze and comprehend many facets of modern daily life. AI and ML in particular are widely used in animal husbandry to monitor both the animals and environment around the clock, which leads to a better understanding of animal behavior and distress, disease control and prevention, and effective business decisions for the farmer. One particularly promising area that advances upon AI is digital twin technology, which is currently used to improve efficiencies and reduce costs across multiple industries and sectors. In contrast to a model, a digital twin is a digital replica of a real-world entity that is kept current with a constant influx of data. The application of digital twins within the livestock farming sector is the next frontier and has the potential to be used to improve large-scale precision livestock farming practices, machinery and equipment usage, and the health and well-being of a wide variety of farm animals. The mental and emotional states of animals can be monitored using recognition technology that examines facial features, such as ear postures and eye white regions. Used with modeling, simulation and augmented reality technologies, digital twins can help farmers to build more energy-efficient housing structures, predict heat cycles for breeding, discourage negative behaviors of livestock, and potentially much more. As with all disruptive technological advances, the implementation of digital twin technology will demand a thorough cost and benefit analysis of individual farms. Our goal in this review is to assess the progress toward the use of digital twin technology in livestock farming, with the goal of revolutionizing animal husbandry in the future.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani11041008DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8065673PMC
April 2021

Providing live black soldier fly larvae (Hermetia illucens) improves welfare while maintaining performance of piglets post-weaning.

Sci Rep 2021 04 1;11(1):7371. Epub 2021 Apr 1.

Adaptation Physiology Group, Department of Animal Sciences, Wageningen University & Research, P.O. Box 338, 6700 AH, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

During weaning, piglets experience concurrent social, physical, and nutritional stressors. Consequently, piglets often have poor feed intake and display increased oral manipulative behaviours post-weaning, indicative of compromised welfare. Black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) possess many attractive properties for pigs and could therefore function as effective edible enrichment, potentially alleviating weaning stress by facilitating exploration and promoting feed intake. In this study, pairs of piglets received a small amount of either live BSFL or wood shavings (8 pens/treatment) scattered throughout the pen twice a day for 11 days after weaning. Home-pen behaviour was scored by instantaneous scan sampling on day 2, 5 and 8, and behavioural responses to a novel environment and novel object were scored on day 10/11. Performance-related parameters were observed regularly. Larvae provisioning increased floor-directed exploration and decreased object-directed exploration, pig-directed oral manipulation, fighting and eating of pellets, and reduced neophobia towards a novel object. Pellet intake was significantly decreased by BSFL provisioning during day 4-11 post-weaning, although feed and net energy intake including BSFL never differed between treatments. BSFL provisioning did not influence piglet growth, feed efficiency, energy efficiency, and faecal consistency. To conclude, live BSFL provisioning positively affected post-weaning piglet behaviour while maintaining performance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-86765-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8016837PMC
April 2021

Effects of pre-transport diet, transport duration and transport condition on immune cell subsets, haptoglobin, cortisol and bilirubin in young veal calves.

PLoS One 2021 16;16(2):e0246959. Epub 2021 Feb 16.

Wageningen Livestock Research, Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

The aim of this study was to investigate effects of pre-transport diets, transport durations and transport conditions on immune cell subsets, haptoglobin, cortisol and bilirubin of young calves upon arrival at the veal farm. An experiment was conducted with a 2 × 2 × 2 factorial arrangement with 3 factors: 1) provision of rearing milk or electrolytes at the collection center (CC); 2) transport duration (6 or 18 hours) and 3) transport condition (open truck or conditioned truck). Holstein-Friesian and cross-bred calves were used (N = 368; 18 ± 4 days; 45.3 ± 3.3 kg). Blood samples were collected from calves (N = 128) at the collection center, immediately post-transport (T0) and 4, 24, 48 hours, week 1, 3 and 5 post-transport. Blood was analyzed for cortisol, bilirubin, haptoglobin, IgG and IgM. Moreover, cell counts of neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, basophils and eosinophils were measured in blood samples taken at the collection center and T0. In these same blood samples, different lymphocyte populations were characterized by flow cytometry, including CD14+ cells, NK cells, δγ+ T cells, CD8+ cells, CD4+ cells and CD21+ cells. Calves transported in the conditioned truck had higher amounts of white blood cell count (WBC) (Δ = 1.39 × 109/l; P = 0.01), monocytes (Δ = 0.21 × 109/l; P = 0.04), neutrophils (Δ = 0.93 × 109/l; P = 0.003), than calves transported in the open truck regardless, of pre-transport diet or transport duration. The study showed that transport condition and duration influenced parts of the innate immune system of young veal calves. Cortisol, bilirubin and WBC seemed to be connected by similar underlying mechanisms in relation to transport conditions. However, it is unclear which specific pathways in the immune system of young calves are affected by different transport conditions (e.g. temperature, humidity, draught).
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0246959PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7886138PMC
August 2021

Social Network Analysis in Farm Animals: Sensor-Based Approaches.

Animals (Basel) 2021 Feb 8;11(2). Epub 2021 Feb 8.

Adaptation Physiology Group, Department of Animal Sciences, Wageningen University & Research, 6700 AH Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Natural social systems within animal groups are an essential aspect of agricultural optimization and livestock management strategy. Assessing elements of animal behaviour under domesticated conditions in comparison to natural behaviours found in wild settings has the potential to address issues of animal welfare effectively, such as focusing on reproduction and production success. This review discusses and evaluates to what extent social network analysis (SNA) can be incorporated with sensor-based data collection methods, and what impact the results may have concerning welfare assessment and future farm management processes. The effectiveness and critical features of automated sensor-based technologies deployed in farms include tools for measuring animal social group interactions and the monitoring and recording of farm animal behaviour using SNA. Comparative analyses between the quality of sensor-collected data and traditional observational methods provide an enhanced understanding of the behavioural dynamics of farm animals. The effectiveness of sensor-based approaches in data collection for farm animal behaviour measurement offers unique opportunities for social network research. Sensor-enabled data in livestock SNA addresses the biological aspects of animal behaviour via remote real-time data collection, and the results both directly and indirectly influence welfare assessments, and farm management processes. Finally, we conclude with potential implications of SNA on modern animal farming for improvement of animal welfare.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani11020434DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7914829PMC
February 2021

Effects of hatching system on the welfare of broiler chickens in early and later life.

Poult Sci 2021 Mar 23;100(3):100946. Epub 2020 Dec 23.

Adaptation Physiology Group, Wageningen University & Research, 6700 AH Wageningen, the Netherlands; Animals in Science and Society, Department of Population Health Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, 3508 TD Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Broiler chicks usually hatch in the hatchery without access to feed and water until placement at the farm. This can affect their health and welfare negatively. Therefore, alternative strategies have been developed, for instance providing chicks with early nutrition in the hatchery or hatching eggs directly on-farm. However, information on the physical and mental welfare of chicks hatched in these systems compared to conventionally hatched chicks is limited. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of alternative hatching systems on the welfare of broiler chickens in early and later life. A system comparison was performed with chickens that hatched conventionally in a hatchery (HH), in a system which provided light, feed, and water in a hatcher (hatchery-fed, HF), or on-farm (on-farm hatched, OH, where feed and water were available and transport of day-old chicks from the hatchery to the farm was not necessary). Chickens were reared in 3 batches, in 12 floor pens per batch (approximately 1,155 animals per pen), with a total of 12 replicates per treatment. Animal-based welfare indicators were assessed following standard protocols: plumage cleanliness, footpad dermatitis (FPD), hock burn, skin lesions (all at day 21 and 35 of age), and gait score (day 35). Furthermore, a set of behavioral tests was carried out: novel environment (day 1 and 21), tonic immobility, novel object, and avoidance distance test (day 4 and 35). Plumage cleanliness, hock burn, and skin lesions were affected by age but not by hatching system, with older broilers scoring worse than younger ones (P < 0.05). An effect of hatching system was only found for FPD, with the highest prevalence in HH chickens, followed by HF and OH chickens (P < 0.05). All responses measured in the behavioral tests were affected by age but not by hatching system. In later life, chickens were significantly less fearful than during the first days of life. The results indicate that conventionally hatched chickens scored significantly worse for FPD, whereas, in general, hatching system seemed to have minor effects on other broiler welfare indicators.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.psj.2020.12.043DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7936212PMC
March 2021

Day-old chicken quality and performance of broiler chickens from 3 different hatching systems.

Poult Sci 2021 Mar 23;100(3):100953. Epub 2020 Dec 23.

Wageningen Livestock Research, Wageningen University and Research, Wageningen 6700 AH, The Netherlands. Electronic address:

In on-farm hatching systems, eggs are transported at d 18 of incubation to the broiler farm, where chickens have immediate access to feed and water after hatching. In hatchery-fed systems, newly hatched chickens have immediate access to feed and water in the hatchery and are transported to the farm thereafter. Conventionally hatched chickens can remain without access to feed and water up to 72 h after hatching until placement on the farm. The current study compared day-old chicken quality, performance, and slaughter yield of broiler chickens that were on-farm hatched (OH), hatchery-fed (HF), or conventionally hatchery-hatched (HH). The experiment was performed in 6 rooms in 1 house. Each room contained 2 duplicate pens with approximately 1,155 chickens per pen; 2 rooms with each 2 duplicate pens were assigned to 1 treatment. The experiment was repeated during 3 consecutive production cycles. Chickens originated from young parent stock flocks. Results showed that HF and OH chickens were heavier and longer than HH chickens at day (D) 1. Relative weight of stomach and intestines were highest for OH chickens. The OH chickens had worse day-old chicken quality in terms of navel condition and red hocks than HH and HF chickens. Treatments did not differ in first wk and total mortality. From D0 until slaughter age, body weight was highest for OH, followed by HF and HH. Furthermore, carcass weight at slaughter age (D40) was highest for OH chickens, followed by HF and HH chickens. Breast fillets showed a higher incidence of white striping and wooden breast in HF and OH chickens compared with HH chickens. In conclusion, the current study showed that both OH and HF chickens of young parent flocks had better growth performance, which could explain the higher prevalence of breast myopathies, compared with HH. The worse day-old chicken quality for OH compared with HH and HF does not seem to affect first wk mortality and later life performance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.psj.2020.12.050DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7936180PMC
March 2021

Measuring Farm Animal Emotions-Sensor-Based Approaches.

Sensors (Basel) 2021 Jan 14;21(2). Epub 2021 Jan 14.

Adaptation Physiology Group, Department of Animal Sciences, Wageningen University & Research, 6700 AH Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Understanding animal emotions is a key to unlocking methods for improving animal welfare. Currently there are no 'benchmarks' or any scientific assessments available for measuring and quantifying the emotional responses of farm animals. Using sensors to collect biometric data as a means of measuring animal emotions is a topic of growing interest in agricultural technology. Here we reviewed several aspects of the use of sensor-based approaches in monitoring animal emotions, beginning with an introduction on animal emotions. Then we reviewed some of the available technological systems for analyzing animal emotions. These systems include a variety of sensors, the algorithms used to process biometric data taken from these sensors, facial expression, and sound analysis. We conclude that a single emotional expression measurement based on either the facial feature of animals or the physiological functions cannot show accurately the farm animal's emotional changes, and hence compound expression recognition measurement is required. We propose some novel ways to combine sensor technologies through sensor fusion into efficient systems for monitoring and measuring the animals' compound expression of emotions. Finally, we explore future perspectives in the field, including challenges and opportunities.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/s21020553DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7830443PMC
January 2021

Transport of Young Veal Calves: Effects of Pre-transport Diet, Transport Duration and Type of Vehicle on Health, Behavior, Use of Medicines, and Slaughter Characteristics.

Front Vet Sci 2020 18;7:576469. Epub 2020 Dec 18.

Wageningen Livestock Research, Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen, Netherlands.

The aim of this study was to investigate effects of different early life transport-related factors on health, behavior, use of medicines and slaughter characteristics of veal calves. An experiment was conducted with a 2 × 2 × 2 factorial arrangement with 3 factors: (1) provision of rearing milk or electrolytes before transport, (2) transport duration (6 or 18 h), and (3) type of vehicle (open truck or conditioned truck). The study included male Holstein-Friesian and cross-bred calves ( = 368; 18 ± 4 days; 45.3 ± 3.3 kg). Data on health status of calves were collected at the collection center and at the veal farm until week 27 post-transport. Behavior of calves was recorded during transport and at the veal farm until week 13 post-transport. Use of herd and individual medical treatments was recorded at the veal farm. The prevalence of loose or liquid manure at the veal farm from day 1 until week 3 post-transport was lower in electrolyte-fed calves transported in the conditioned truck compared to electrolytes-fed calves transported in the open truck or milk-fed calves transported in both the conditioned and open truck (Δ = 11% on average; = 0.02). In comparison with the open truck, calves transported in the conditioned truck had lower prevalence of navel inflammation in the first 3 weeks post-transport (Δ = 3 %; = 0.05). More milk-fed calves received individual antibiotic treatments compared to electrolyte-fed calves at the veal farm ( = 0.05). In conclusion, the transport-related factors examined in the present study affected health and behavior of calves in the short-term, but there was no evidence for long-term effects. It remains unknown why no long-term effects were found in this study. Perhaps this absence of transport-related effects was due to multiple use of medical treatments in the first weeks at the veal farm. Alternatively, it might be that the collective effects of the transition from the dairy farm to the veal farm, and of the husbandry conditions during the subsequent rearing period, on the adaptive capacity of calves were so large that effects of individual transport-related factors were overruled.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2020.576469DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7775590PMC
December 2020

Effects of Creep Feed Provision on Behavior and Performance of Piglets Around Weaning.

Front Vet Sci 2020 12;7:520035. Epub 2020 Nov 12.

Adaptation Physiology Group, Department of Animal Sciences, Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen, Netherlands.

Creep feed provision may ease weaning, hence we determined the impact of providing fibrous creep feed before weaning and adding this feed to the post-weaning diet on piglet behavior and performance. Pre-weaning, litters with on average 12 piglets were given creep feed (CF, = 12 litters) or not (NF, = 10 litters). Post-weaning, piglets ( = 8 pens with 4 piglets/treatment) were given a weaner diet (CON) or weaner diet supplemented with creep feed (CS). Behaviors were scored in the home pen at d11, 16, 22 and 27 after birth and at wk 1 and 2 post-weaning. Feed intake, growth and fecal consistency were measured up to d14 post-weaning. A blood sample was taken at d2, 15 and 29 after birth and d2, 5 and 14 post-weaning. CF-piglets consumed on average 397 ± 71 g creep feed before weaning. CF-piglets grew faster in the last week before weaning than NF-piglets (249 ± 7 vs. 236 ± 11 g/d, = 5.81, = 0.03). However, CF- and NF-piglets did not differ in weaning weight, within-litter coefficient of variation in weaning weight, behaviors in the farrowing and weaner pen, and haptoglobin concentrations. Creep feed supplementation enhanced feed exploration at wk 2 post-weaning (0.29 ± 0.08 vs. 0.11 ± 0.03%, = 5.27, = 0.03), but did not affect other post-weaning behaviors. Pre-weaning creep feed provision and post-weaning creep feed supplementation did not affect overall feed intake, growth, feed efficiency and fecal consistency for the first 14 days post-weaning, neither body weight at d14 post-weaning. Nevertheless, CF-piglets had a lower within-pen coefficient of variation in body weight at d14 post-weaning than NF-piglets (13.6 ± 1.9 vs. 15.1 ± 1.5%, = 6.89, = 0.01). In conclusion, pre-weaning creep feed provision and post-weaning creep feed supplementation had no clear effects on piglet behavior and performance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2020.520035DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7689248PMC
November 2020

Long-term access to live black soldier fly larvae (Hermetia illucens) stimulates activity and reduces fearfulness of broilers, without affecting health.

Sci Rep 2020 10 15;10(1):17428. Epub 2020 Oct 15.

Adaptation Physiology Group, Department of Animal Sciences, Wageningen University and Research, P.O. Box 338, 6700 AH, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Commercially housed broilers frequently experience limited environmental stimulation and various health issues, compromising their welfare. Providing environmental enrichment can alleviate these problems by facilitating natural behaviour and activity. We investigated the effect of providing live black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) to broilers housed at commercial densities (33 kg/m) on behaviour, fearfulness, health and performance. One-day-old broilers were distributed over five treatments with eight pens/treatment: a control treatment without BSFL; two treatments where 5% of the daily nutrient intake was replaced with live BSFL, provided four or seven times a day; and two treatments where 10% of the daily dietary intake was replaced with live BSFL provided four times a day or in transparent, movable tubes with holes. In all BSFL treatments foraging behaviour, and thereby broiler activity, was increased. Prolonged access to live BSFL, either by providing larvae seven times a day or in tubes, caused the largest increase in activity while also decreasing the time spend in tonic immobility, indicating reduced fearfulness. Broiler final weight and health were not affected. Overall, long-term access to live BSFL seems most effective in improving broiler welfare by facilitating natural behaviour and reducing fearfulness, without hindering broiler performance and health.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-74514-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7566458PMC
October 2020

Metabolomics of Milk Reflects a Negative Energy Balance in Cows.

J Proteome Res 2020 08 17;19(8):2942-2949. Epub 2020 Jul 17.

Laboratory of Biochemistry, Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen 6708 PB, the Netherlands.

Dairy cows can experience a negative energy balance (NEB) in early lactation when feed intake is too low to meet the energy requirements for body maintenance and milk production. Metabolic changes occur in mammary gland cells of animals experiencing a negative energy balance. We studied these metabolic changes in milk samples from dairy cows in relation to energy balance status using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (QQQ-LC-MS) and nuclear magnetic resonance (H NMR). NMR and LC-MS techniques are complementary techniques that enabled a comprehensive overview of milk metabolites in our study. Energy balance and milk samples were obtained from 87 dairy cows. A total of 55 milk metabolites were reliably detected, of which 15 metabolites were positively correlated to energy balance and 20 were negatively correlated to energy balance. Cows in NEB produced more milk with increased milk fat yield and higher concentrations of citrate, -aconitate, creatinine, glycine, phosphocreatine, galactose-1-phosphate, glucose-1-phosphate, UDP--acetyl-galactosamine, UDP--acetyl-glucosamine, and phosphocholine but lower concentrations of choline, ethanolamine, fucose, -acetyl-neuraminic acid, -acetyl-glucosamine, and -acetyl-galactosamine. During NEB, we observed an increased leakage of cellular content, increased synthesis of nucleic acids and cell membrane phospholipids, an increase in one-carbon metabolic processes, and an increase in lipid-triglyceride anabolism. Overall, both apoptosis combined with cellular renewal is paramount in the mammary gland in cows in NEB.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.jproteome.9b00706DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7426013PMC
August 2020

Consequences of Transition Treatments on Fertility and Associated Metabolic Status for Dairy Cows in Early Lactation.

Animals (Basel) 2020 Jun 25;10(6). Epub 2020 Jun 25.

Department of Animal Sciences, Adaptation Physiology Group, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 338, 6700 AH Wageningen, The Netherlands.

This study aimed to (1) investigate effects of reducing postpartum dietary energy level for cows after a 0-d dry period (DP) on resumption of ovarian cyclicity and reproductive performance, (2) relate days open with other reproductive measures, and (3) relate onset of luteal activity (OLA) and days open with metabolic status in early lactation. Holstein-Friesian dairy cows were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 transition treatments: no DP and low postpartum dietary energy level from 22 days in milk( DIM )onwards (0-d DP (LOW)) ( = 42), no DP and standard postpartum dietary energy level (0-d DP (STD)) ( = 43), and a short DP and standard postpartum dietary energy level (30-d DP (STD)) ( = 43). Milk progesterone concentration was determined three times per week until 100 DIM. Plasma metabolite and hormone concentrations were measured weekly until week 7 postpartum. Reducing postpartum dietary energy level in older cows (parity ≥ 3) after no DP and 22 DIM did not affect milk production but prevented a positive energy balance and shortened the interval from calving to OLA. In addition, services per pregnancy and days open were reduced in cows of parity ≥ 3 on 0-d DP (LOW), compared with cows of parity ≥ 3 with 0-d DP (STD), but not in cows of parity 2.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani10061100DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7341263PMC
June 2020

High levels of contact dermatitis and decreased mobility in broiler breeders, but neither have a relationship with floor eggs.

Poult Sci 2020 Jul 24;99(7):3355-3362. Epub 2020 Apr 24.

Adaptation Physiology Group, Wageningen University, 6700 AH Wageningen, The Netherlands; Animals in Science and Society, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, 3508 TD Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Contact dermatitis, both on the foot pads and hocks, is a well-known health issue in broilers. Less is known about contact dermatitis in broiler breeders, however, although they have many risk factors for developing leg health problems in common with broilers. This study aimed to describe the prevalence and severity of contact dermatitis during the production cycle in 5 lines of broiler breeders, investigate possible causes of contact dermatitis, and study its relationship with gait, egg production, and floor egg percentage. Five commercially available genetic lines of broiler breeders were housed in 21 pens of 550 females and 50 males from 20 to 60 wk of age. Every 10 wk litter quality, leg health measurements (foot pad dermatitis, hock burn, and gait) and body weight were assessed of 50 random hens per pen. Total number of eggs, number of eggs laid outside the nest (floor eggs), and mortality were recorded daily per pen. Prevalence of foot pad dermatitis, hock burn, and gait problems increased with age. Litter quality started to decrease at 50 wk of age. Prevalence of foot pad dermatitis was affected by litter quality, whereas genetic line had little effect. One genetic line was more prone to developing hock burns, though generally the prevalence of hock burn (13%) was much lower than that of foot pad dermatitis (74%). The percentage of broiler breeders with gait problems increased up to 24% with age, but this was not related to the prevalence of contact dermatitis. The lines differed in body weight from 32 wk of age onwards, and a higher body weight was related to lower egg production and higher cumulative mortality. The percentage of floor eggs was not related to leg health parameters or genetic line. Broiler breeders thus have similar leg health problems as broilers, but these problems are not related to the percentage of floor eggs, suggesting that other factors are involved in the undesirable behavior of floor laying.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.psj.2020.04.010DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7597859PMC
July 2020

Effects of Early and Current Environmental Enrichment on Behavior and Growth in Pigs.

Front Vet Sci 2020 4;7:268. Epub 2020 Jun 4.

Adaptation Physiology Group, Department of Animal Sciences, Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen, Netherlands.

Enriched environments are known to beneficially affect the behavior of pigs, as compared with barren pens. The influence of enrichment may, however, depend on pigs' early life housing experiences. The aim of this study was to investigate the long-term effects of early and later life environmental enrichment on behavior and growth in pigs with different coping styles. Pigs were housed in either barren pens or in larger pens enriched with rooting substrates from birth, and half of them experienced a housing switch, i.e., a loss or gain of enrichment, at 7 weeks of age, creating four treatment groups. Home pen behavior and body weight were recorded until 19 weeks of age. Pigs were classified as reactive or proactive based on a backtest at 2 weeks of age. Enrichment increased time spent exploring, chewing, and play and decreased oral manipulation of penmates and pen-directed exploring and chewing. Behavior of pigs that switched from barren to enriched pens or vice versa reflected not only their actual environment, but also their early life housing. As early and later life enrichment affected most behaviors in opposite directions, effects of enrichment, or lack thereof, after the switch were more pronounced in pigs that had experienced a different early life condition. For instance, pigs experiencing an upgrade from barren to enriched pens seemed to "catch-up" by showing more exploration and play. Conversely, pigs exposed to a downgrade displayed more oral manipulation of penmates than ones kept barren throughout, which particularly held for pigs with a reactive coping style. Effects of early life and current housing on several other behaviors depended on coping style too. Pigs housed in enriched conditions appeared better able to cope with weaning than barren housed pigs, as they gained more weight and had higher feed intake post-weaning. Barren housed pigs had a lower body weight than enriched pigs just before the switch, after which growth was mainly determined by actual housing, with enriched kept pigs having a higher feed intake and body weight. Thus, not only current housing conditions, but also a (mis)match with the early life environment may affect behavior and growth of pigs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2020.00268DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7287207PMC
June 2020

Short communication: Prediction of hyperketonemia in dairy cows in early lactation using on-farm cow data and net energy intake by partial least square discriminant analysis.

J Dairy Sci 2020 Jul 21;103(7):6576-6582. Epub 2020 May 21.

Adaptation Physiology group, Department of Animal Sciences, Wageningen University and Research, PO Box 338, 6700 AH, Wageningen, the Netherlands. Electronic address:

The objectives of this study were (1) to evaluate if hyperketonemia in dairy cows (defined as plasma β-hydroxybutyrate ≥1.0 mmol/L) can be predicted using on-farm cow data either in current or previous lactation week, and (2) to study if adding individual net energy intake (NEI) can improve the predictive ability of the model. Plasma β-hydroxybutyrate concentration, on-farm cow data (milk yield, percentage of fat, protein and lactose, fat- and protein-corrected milk yield, body weight, body weight change, dry period length, parity, and somatic cell count), and NEI of 424 individual cows were available weekly through lactation wk 1 to 5 postpartum. To predict hyperketonemia in dairy cows, models were first trained by partial least square discriminant analysis, using on-farm cow data in the same or previous lactation week. Second, NEI was included in models to evaluate the improvement of the predictability of the models. Through leave-one trial-out cross-validation, models were evaluated by accuracy (the ratio of the sum of true positive and true negative), sensitivity (68.2% to 84.9%), specificity (61.5% to 98.7%), positive predictive value (57.7% to 98.7%), and negative predictive value (66.2% to 86.1%) to predict hyperketonemia of dairy cows. Through lactation wk 1 to 5, the accuracy to predict hyperketonemia using data in the same week was 64.4% to 85.5% (on-farm cow data only), 66.1% to 87.0% (model including NEI), and using data in the previous week was 58.5% to 82.0% (on-farm cow data only), 59.7% to 85.1% (model including NEI). An improvement of the accuracy of the model due to including NEI ranged among lactation weeks from 1.0% to 4.4% when using data in the same lactation week and 0.2% to 6.6% when using data in the previous lactation week. In conclusion, trained models via partial least square discriminant analysis have potential to predict hyperketonemia in dairy cows not only using data in the current lactation week, but also using data in the previous lactation week. Net energy intake can improve the accuracy of the model, but only to a limited extent. Besides NEI, body weight, body weight change, milk fat, and protein content were important variables to predict hyperketonemia, but their rank of importance differed across lactation weeks.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3168/jds.2019-17284DOI Listing
July 2020

Relationship between energy balance and metabolic profiles in plasma and milk of dairy cows in early lactation.

J Dairy Sci 2020 May 26;103(5):4795-4805. Epub 2020 Feb 26.

Adaptation Physiology Group, Department of Animal Sciences, Wageningen University and Research, PO Box 338, 6700 AH, Wageningen, the Netherlands.. Electronic address:

Negative energy balance in dairy cows in early lactation is related to alteration of metabolic status. However, the relationships among energy balance, metabolic profile in plasma, and metabolic profile in milk have not been reported. In this study our aims were: (1) to reveal the metabolic profiles of plasma and milk by integrating results from nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) with data from liquid chromatography triple quadrupole mass spectrometry (LC-MS); and (2) to investigate the relationship between energy balance and the metabolic profiles of plasma and milk. For this study 24 individual dairy cows (parity 2.5 ± 0.5; mean ± standard deviation) were studied in lactation wk 2. Body weight (mean ± standard deviation; 627.4 ± 56.4 kg) and milk yield (28.1 ± 6.7 kg/d; mean ± standard deviation) were monitored daily. Milk composition (fat, protein, and lactose) and net energy balance were calculated. Plasma and milk samples were collected and analyzed using LC-MS and NMR. From all plasma metabolites measured, 27 were correlated with energy balance. These plasma metabolites were related to body reserve mobilization from body fat, muscle, and bone; increased blood flow; and gluconeogenesis. From all milk metabolites measured, 30 were correlated with energy balance. These milk metabolites were related to cell apoptosis and cell proliferation. Nine metabolites detected in both plasma and milk were correlated with each other and with energy balance. These metabolites were mainly related to hyperketonemia; β-oxidation of fatty acids; and one-carbon metabolism. The metabolic profiles of plasma and milk provide an in-depth insight into the physiological pathways of dairy cows in negative energy balance in early lactation. In addition to the classical indicators for energy balance (e.g., β-hydroxybutyrate, acetone, and glucose), the current study presents some new metabolites (e.g., glycine in plasma and milk; kynurenine, panthothenate, or arginine in plasma) in lactating dairy cows that are related to energy balance and may be of interest as new indicators for energy balance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3168/jds.2019-17777DOI Listing
May 2020

Early-life microbiota transplantation affects behavioural responses, serotonin and immune characteristics in chicken lines divergently selected on feather pecking.

Sci Rep 2020 02 17;10(1):2750. Epub 2020 Feb 17.

Adaptation Physiology Group, Department of Animal Sciences, Wageningen University and Research, Wageningen, the Netherlands.

Gut microbiota influences host behaviour and physiology, such as anxiety, stress, serotonergic and immune systems. These behavioural and physiological characteristics are related to feather pecking (FP), a damaging behaviour in chickens that reduces animal welfare and productivity. Moreover, high FP (HFP) and low FP (LFP) lines differed in microbiota composition. However, it is unknown whether microbiota can influence the development of FP. For the first time, we identified the effects of microbiota transplantation on FP, and behavioural and physiological characteristics related to FP. HFP and LFP chicks received sterile saline (control), HFP or LFP microbiota transplantation during the first two weeks post-hatch. Microbiota transplantation influenced behavioural responses of the HFP line during treatment and of the LFP line after treatment. In both lines, homologous microbiota transplantation (i.e., receiving microbiota from their line) resulted in more active behavioural responses. Furthermore, microbiota transplantation influenced immune characteristics (natural antibodies) in both lines and peripheral serotonin in the LFP line. However, limited effects on microbiota composition, stress response (corticosterone) and FP were noted. Thus, early-life microbiota transplantation had immediate and long-term effects on behavioural responses and long-term effects on immune characteristics and peripheral serotonin; however, the effects were dependent on host genotype. Since early-life microbiota transplantation influenced behavioural and physiological characteristics that are related to FP, it could thus influence the development of FP later in life.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-59125-wDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7026165PMC
February 2020

Early and later life environmental enrichment affect specific antibody responses and blood leukocyte subpopulations in pigs.

Physiol Behav 2020 04 7;217:112799. Epub 2020 Jan 7.

Adaptation Physiology Group, Department of Animal Sciences, Wageningen University & Research, 6700 AH Wageningen, the Netherlands. Electronic address:

This study addressed the impact of early and later life environmental enrichment, and their combination, on specific antibody responses and peripheral blood leukocyte subpopulations in pigs. Pigs were kept in either barren (B1) or enriched (E1) housing from birth, and half of the pigs switched to barren or enriched housing on day 47, resulting in four treatment combinations: B1B2, B1E2, E1B2, E1E2). Pigs were immunized with keyhole limpet hemocyanin-conjugated trinitrophenyl (KLH-TNP) on day 74 and 109 to induce primary and secondary antibody responses. Blood samples were taken weekly until day 130, and IgM and IgG antibody responses were measured. Leukocyte subpopulations were measured on day 74 and 130. Time course of the antibody responses was not affected by housing. Early life enrichment increased the IgG response to KLH, particularly the primary one. At day 74 the relative frequency of lymphocytes, DC and SLA-II expression on monocytes were higher in E1 pigs, whereas the percentage of granulocytes tended to be lower in E1 pigs at day 74. Early life enrichment increased the SLA-II expression on monocytes, the granulocyte to lymphocyte ratio, and tended to increase the percentage of granulocytes, but tended to decrease the percentage of monocytes at day 130. Later life enrichment reduced percentages of CD4+CD8α T cells before and after immunization and the SLA-II expression on monocytes at day 74, the percentage of granulocytes and the granulocyte to lymphocyte ratio at day 130. Notably, early and later life housing interacted in their effects on several immune parameters. KLH-IgM responses (both primary and secondary) were affected by the interaction between early and later life housing. IgM titers were higher for B1B2 than for E1E2, with the switched animals (B1E2 and E1B2) moving towards the titers of the animals kept in their later life environment from birth onwards. At day 130 the percentage of gamma delta T cells, CD8α cytotoxic T cells and DC were not different between pigs kept in B1B2 and E1E2, but there was a clear impact of the switch in housing conditions, particularly for the pigs that changed from barren to enriched housing. We also found effects of coping style (personality) and sex on some immune parameters. In conclusion, both early life and later life enrichment, and, notably a switch in housing conditions influenced specific antibodies and leukocyte subpopulations in pigs. The current study implies that the early life history of animals and the (mis)match with their current environment could thus be of major importance for their immune system. Further research is needed to investigate potential consequences for the pigs' health.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2020.112799DOI Listing
April 2020

Steroid profile of porcine follicular fluid and blood serum: Relation with follicular development.

Physiol Rep 2019 12;7(24):e14320

Human and Animal Physiology, Wageningen University and Research, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

The aim of this study was to identify follicular fluid (FF) steroids which reflect follicular development in the early stages of the follicular phase and to establish whether the levels of these FF steroids correspond to their levels in serum. If these relations are established, serum steroid profiles may be used to monitor follicular development already in this early stage of the follicular phase. We used samples of two experiments, one with multiparous sows at the onset of the follicular phase (weaning) and one with primiparous sows at the midfollicular phase (48 hr after weaning). Complete steroid profiles were measured in pooled FF of the 15 largest follicles and serum using high-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. In experiment 1, pooled FF volume, as a measure for average follicle size, tended to be positively related to higher FF 17β-estradiol levels (β = 0.56, p = .08). In experiment 2, a larger FF volume was related not only to FF higher 17β-estradiol levels (β = 2.11, p < .001) but also to higher levels of β-nortestosterone (β = 1.15, p < .0001) and its metabolite 19-norandrostenedione (β = 1.27, p < .01). In addition, FF volume was related to higher FF 17α-OH-pregnenolone (β = 1.63, p = .03) and 17α-OH-progesterone (β = 1.83, p < .001), which could indicate that CYP17,20-lyase activity is limiting for 17β-estradiol production in larger follicles at the beginning of the follicular phase. In serum, most of the steroids were present at lower levels compared to FF, except for the corticosteroids. Serum progestins and androgens were never related to follicle pool volume and steroid levels did not differ in the midfollicular phase compared to the onset of the follicular phase in the second experiment. Serum steroid levels therefore poorly reflect the developmental stage of the follicle pool in the first half of the follicular phase of the estrous cycle in sows.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.14814/phy2.14320DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6934872PMC
December 2019

Pigs Like It Varied; Feeding Behavior and Pre- and Post-weaning Performance of Piglets Exposed to Dietary Diversity and Feed Hidden in Substrate During Lactation.

Front Vet Sci 2019 19;6:408. Epub 2019 Nov 19.

Adaptation Physiology Group, Department of Animal Sciences, Wageningen University and Research, Wageningen, Netherlands.

Timely intake of solid feed is essential to ease the nutritional change from sow's milk to solid feed at weaning and thereby to reduce weaning-related problems. A significant percentage of piglets, however, do not or hardly consume solid feed before weaning. We studied effects of dietary variety and presenting the feed in substrate during lactation on the feeding behavior and performance of piglets up to 2 weeks post-weaning. Feed was provided from d4 in two feeders, with four bowls each. In a 2 × 2 arrangement, 40 litters received either creep feed as a monotonous diet (MO) or four feed items simultaneously, i.e., creep feed, celery, cereal honey loops and peanuts, as a diverse diet (DD) and the feed was either provided without (CON) or with substrate (SUB), i.e., sand, in one of the two feeders up to weaning. Dietary diversity highly stimulated feed exploration and eating (≥2.5 times), feed intake and the percentage of (good) eaters from early in lactation, and enhanced piglet growth toward weaning (by 29 g/d), although MO-piglets spent more time eating creep feed from d18. Within MO, SUB-litters consisted of more good eaters than CON-litters. At weaning (d28) four piglets from the same treatment were grouped ( = 40 pens). DD-CON had the highest post-weaning feed intake and gain between d5-15 and the lowest proportion of pigs with higher tail damage scores. However, effects regarding behavior remained inconclusive, as DD-piglets had a lower and higher number of body lesions at 4 h and d15 post-weaning, respectively, spent less time exploring the feed(er) and drinker and environment, and more time nosing pen mates than MO-piglets. SUB-piglets showed a reduction in total post-weaning feed intake, gain (particularly between d0-2) and inactivity, increased levels of manipulation and aggression at week 1 and a higher number of body lesions at 4 h and d15 post-weaning. In conclusion, dietary diversity seems a promising feeding strategy in getting piglets to eat during lactation. Provision of substrate in the feeder subtly stimulated foraging behavior, but negatively impacted post-weaning adaptation, probably because treatments were not reinforced after weaning and piglets thus experienced loss of enrichment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2019.00408DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6877737PMC
November 2019

Feed intake of the sow and playful creep feeding of piglets influence piglet behaviour and performance before and after weaning.

Sci Rep 2019 11 6;9(1):16140. Epub 2019 Nov 6.

Adaptation Physiology Group, Department of Animal Sciences, Wageningen University & Research, P.O. Box 338, 6700 AH, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Creep feed intake is variable and may be partly homeostatically and exploratory driven. We studied effects of maternal feed restriction and a 'play-feeder' on piglet behaviour and performance. 37 Litters received creep feed in a conventional (CON) or play-feeder (PL) and their sows were full-fed (FF) or restrictedly-fed (RES). Eaters were determined via rectal swabs. At weaning (d24) four piglets from the same treatment were grouped (n = 36 pens). RES hindered piglet growth by 41 g/d and enhanced time eating, creep feed intake and percentage of eaters at weaning versus FF. RES-PL had the largest proportion of moderate and good eaters. PL stimulated feeder exploration and attracted more piglets to the feeder than CON. Post-weaning, RES increased exploratory behaviours, feed intake between d0-5, and growth between d0-2, and reduced body lesions between d0-2 (within CON), drinking and ear biting. PL increased ingestive behaviours, feed intake and growth between d0-15, and BW at d15 post-weaning by 5%. PL also lowered the prevalence of watery diarrhoea, number of body lesions and piglets with ear (within FF) and tail (within RES) damage at d15 post-weaning. Treatments did not affect FCR. To conclude, RES and particularly PL (broader and for longer) result in less weaning-associated-problems.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-52530-wDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6834851PMC
November 2019

Prediction of metabolic status of dairy cows in early lactation with on-farm cow data and machine learning algorithms.

J Dairy Sci 2019 Nov 30;102(11):10186-10201. Epub 2019 Aug 30.

Laboratory of Systems and Synthetic Biology, Wageningen University and Research, Stippeneng 4, 6708 WE, Wageningen, the Netherlands. Electronic address:

Metabolic status of dairy cows in early lactation can be evaluated using the concentrations of plasma β-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), free fatty acids (FFA), glucose, insulin, and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). These plasma metabolites and metabolic hormones, however, are difficult to measure on farm. Instead, easily obtained on-farm cow data, such as milk production traits, have the potential to predict metabolic status. Here we aimed (1) to investigate whether metabolic status of individual cows in early lactation could be clustered based on their plasma values and (2) to evaluate machine learning algorithms to predict metabolic status using on-farm cow data. Through lactation wk 1 to 7, plasma metabolites and metabolic hormones of 334 cows were measured weekly and used to cluster each cow into 1 of 3 clusters per week. The cluster with the greatest plasma BHB and FFA and the lowest plasma glucose, insulin, and IGF-1 was defined as poor metabolic status; the cluster with the lowest plasma BHB and FFA and the greatest plasma glucose, insulin, and IGF-1 was defined as good metabolic status; and the intermediate cluster was defined as average metabolic status. Most dairy cows were classified as having average or good metabolic status, and a limited number of cows had poor metabolic status (10-50 cows per lactation week). On-farm cow data, including dry period length, parity, milk production traits, and body weight, were used to predict good or average metabolic status with 8 machine learning algorithms. Random Forest (error rate ranging from 12.4 to 22.6%) and Support Vector Machine (SVM; error rate ranging from 12.4 to 20.9%) were the top 2 best-performing algorithms to predict metabolic status using on-farm cow data. Random Forest had a higher sensitivity (range: 67.8-82.9% during wk 1 to 7) and negative predictive value (range: 89.5-93.8%) but lower specificity (range: 76.7-88.5%) and positive predictive value (range: 58.1-78.4%) than SVM. In Random Forest, milk yield, fat yield, protein percentage, and lactose yield had important roles in prediction, but their rank of importance differed across lactation weeks. In conclusion, dairy cows could be clustered for metabolic status based on plasma metabolites and metabolic hormones. Moreover, on-farm cow data can predict cows in good or average metabolic status, with Random Forest and SVM performing best of all algorithms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3168/jds.2018-15791DOI Listing
November 2019

Effects of lighting schedule during incubation of broiler chicken embryos on leg bone development at hatch and related physiological characteristics.

PLoS One 2019 15;14(8):e0221083. Epub 2019 Aug 15.

Adaptation Physiology Group, Wageningen University and Research, Wageningen, the Netherlands.

Providing a broiler chicken embryo with a lighting schedule during incubation may stimulate leg bone development. Bone development may be stimulated through melatonin, a hormone released in darkness that stimulates bone development, or increased activity in embryos exposed to a light-dark rhythm. Aim was to investigate lighting conditions during incubation and leg bone development in broiler embryos, and to reveal the involved mechanisms. Embryos were incubated under continuous cool white 500 lux LED light (24L), continuous darkness (24D), or 16h of light, followed by 8h of darkness (16L:8D) from the start of incubation until hatching. Embryonic bone development largely takes place through cartilage formation (of which collagen is an important component) and ossification. Expression of genes involved in cartilage formation (col1α2, col2α1, and col10α1) and ossification (spp1, sparc, bglap, and alpl) in the tibia on embryonic day (ED)13, ED17, and at hatching were measured through qPCR. Femur and tibia dimensions were determined at hatch. Plasma growth hormone and corticosterone and pineal melatonin concentrations were determined every 4h between ED18.75 and ED19.5. Embryonic heart rate was measured twice daily from ED12 till ED19 as a reflection of activity. No difference between lighting treatments on gene expression was found. 24D resulted in higher femur length and higher femur and tibia weight, width, and depth at hatch than 16L:8D. 24D furthermore resulted in higher femur length and width and tibia depth than 24L. Embryonic heart rate was higher for 24D and 16L:8D in both its light and dark period than for 24L, suggesting that 24L embryos may have been less active. Melatonin and growth hormone showed different release patterns between treatments, but the biological significance was hard to interpret. To conclude, 24D resulted in larger leg bones at hatch than light during incubation, but the underlying pathways were not clear from present data.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0221083PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6695123PMC
March 2020

Effects of early and later life environmental enrichment and personality on attention bias in pigs (Sus scrofa domesticus).

Anim Cogn 2019 Nov 27;22(6):959-972. Epub 2019 Jun 27.

Adaptation Physiology Group, Department of Animal Sciences, Wageningen University and Research, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

We investigated effects of early and later life housing on attention bias, as an indicator of affective state, in pigs differing in coping style [reactive (LR) vs. proactive (HR)]. Pigs (n = 128) in barren or enriched housing from birth (B1 vs. E1) that experienced either a switch in housing at 7 weeks of age or not (creating B1B2, B1E2, E1E2, and E1B2 treatments), were studied in a 180-s attention bias test at 11 weeks. Pigs exposed to a 10-s-auditory-and-sudden-motion threat in the test arena paid more attention to the location of the threat, were more vigilant, showed less eating, more walking and were more likely to utter high-pitched vocalisations than non-threat pigs. During threat presence, HR pigs from post-switch enriched housing (E2-HR, i.e., B1E2 + E1E2) showed more vigilance but less exploration than others. After threat removal, no effects were found on time spent paying attention to the threat, vigilance, and eating, but E2-HR pigs paid attention to the threat more frequently, were more likely to utter high-pitched vocalisations and walked more compared to (part of) other groups, suggesting the most negative affective state in these animals. E2 pigs grunted more than B2 pigs. Thus, current housing, but not early life housing, affected behaviour in a personality-dependent manner in this attention bias test. Housing effects were opposite to expectation, possibly due to the short-term effect of the relative contrast between the home pens of the pigs and the test room. This potentially overruled putative long-term effects of environmental conditions on attention bias.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10071-019-01287-wDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6834757PMC
November 2019

Differences in gut microbiota composition of laying hen lines divergently selected on feather pecking.

Poult Sci 2019 Dec;98(12):7009-7021

Adaptation Physiology Group, Department of Animal Sciences, Wageningen University & Research, 6708 WD Wageningen, the Netherlands.

Feather pecking (FP), a damaging behavior where laying hens peck and pull at feathers of conspecifics, is multifactorial and has been linked to numerous behavioral and physiological characteristics. The gut microbiota has been shown to influence host behavior and physiology in many species, and could therefore affect the development of damaging behaviors, such as FP. Yet, it is unknown whether FP genotypes (high FP [HFP] and low FP [LFP] lines) or FP phenotypes (i.e., individuals differing in FP, feather peckers and neutrals) differ in their gut microbiota composition. Therefore, we identified mucosa-associated microbiota composition of the ileum and cecum at 10 and 30 wk of age. At 30 wk of age, we further identified luminal microbiota composition from combined content of the ileum, ceca, and colon. FP phenotypes could not be distinguished from each other in mucosa-associated or luminal microbiota composition. However, HFP neutrals were characterized by a higher relative abundance of genera of Clostridiales, but lower relative abundance of Lactobacillus for the luminal microbiota composition compared to LFP phenotypes. Furthermore, HFP neutrals had a higher diversity and evenness for the luminal microbiota compared to LFP phenotypes. FP genotypes could not be distinguished from each other in mucosa-associated microbiota composition. Yet, FP genotypes could be distinguished from each other in luminal microbiota composition. HFP birds were characterized by a higher relative abundance of genera of Clostridiales, but lower relative abundance of Staphylococcus and Lactobacillus compared to LFP birds. Furthermore, HFP birds had a higher diversity and evenness for both cecal mucosa-associated and luminal microbiota compared to LFP birds at adult age. In conclusion, we here show that divergent selection on FP can (in)directly affect luminal microbiota composition. Whether differences in microbiota composition are causal to FP or a consequence of FP remains to be elucidated.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3382/ps/pez336DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6869756PMC
December 2019
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