Publications by authors named "Gareth Arnott"

47 Publications

A Review of Beef Production Systems for the Sustainable Use of Surplus Male Dairy-Origin Calves Within the UK.

Front Vet Sci 2021 27;8:635497. Epub 2021 Apr 27.

Institute for Global Food Security, School of Biological Sciences, Queens University Belfast, Belfast, United Kingdom.

The UK dairy herd is predominantly of the Holstein-Friesian (HF) breed, with a major emphasis placed on milk yield. Subsequently, following years of continued single-trait selection, the beef production potential of dairy bred calves has declined. Thus, male HF calves are commonly seen as a by-product of the dairy industry. Limited markets, perceived low economic value and high rearing costs mean that these surplus calves are often euthanised shortly after birth or exported to the EU for further production. Welfare concerns have been raised regarding both euthanasia and long distance transportation of these calves. Furthermore, total UK beef consumption increased by 8.5% from 2009 to 2019. Thus, in light of this growing demand, beef from the dairy herd could be better utilized within the UK. Therefore, the potential for these calves to be used in a sustainable, cost-effective beef production system with high welfare standards within the UK requires investigation. Thus, the aim of this review was to evaluate both steer and bull beef production systems, examining the impact on performance, health, welfare, and economic potential to enable a sustainable farming practice, while meeting UK market requirements. The principal conclusions from this review indicate that there is the potential for these calves to be used in UK based production systems and meet market requirements. Of the steer production systems, a 24 month system appears to achieve a balance between input costs, growth from pasture and carcass output, albeit the literature is undecided on the optimum system. The situation is similar for bull beef production systems, high input systems do achieve the greatest gain in the shortest period of time, however, these systems are not sustainable in volatile markets with fluctuating concentrate prices. Thus, again the inclusion of a grazing period, may increase the resilience of these systems. Furthermore, production systems incorporating a period at pasture are seen to have animal welfare benefits. The main welfare concern for surplus dairy bred calves is often poor colostrum management at birth. While in steer systems, consideration needs to be given to welfare regarding castration, with the negative impacts being minimized by completing this procedure soon after birth.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2021.635497DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8110715PMC
April 2021

Extrinsic stressors modulate resource evaluations: insights from territoriality under artificial noise.

Front Zool 2021 Mar 20;18(1):12. Epub 2021 Mar 20.

School of Biological Sciences, Queen's University Belfast, 19 Chlorine Gardens, Belfast, BT9 5DL, Northern Ireland, UK.

Background: Competition is considered to rely on the value attributed to resources by animals, but the influence of extrinsic stressors on this value remains unexplored. Although natural or anthropogenic environmental stress often drives decreased competition, assumptions that this relies on resource devaluation are without formal evidence. According to theory, physiological or perceptual effects may influence contest behaviour directly, but motivational changes due to resource value are expected to manifest as behavioural adjustments only in interaction with attainment costs and resource benefits. Thus, we hypothesise that stressor-induced resource devaluations will impose greater effects when attainment costs are high, but not when resource benefits are higher. Noise may elicit such effects because it impacts the acoustic environment and imposes physiological and behavioural costs to animals. Therefore, we manipulated the acoustic environment using playbacks of artificial noise to test our hypotheses in the territorial male Siamese fighting fish, Betta splendens.

Results: Compared to a no-playback control, noise reduced defense motivation only when territory owners faced comparatively bigger opponents that impose greater injury costs, but not when territories also contained bubble nests that offer reproductive benefits. In turn, nest-size decreases were noted only after contests under noise treatment, but temporal nest-size changes relied on cross-contest variation in noise and comparative opponent size. Thus, the combined effects of noise are conditional on added attainment costs and offset by exceeding resource benefits.

Conclusion: Our findings provide support for the hypothesised modulation of resource value under extrinsic stress and suggest implications for competition under increasing anthropogenic activity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12983-021-00397-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7980355PMC
March 2021

Optimism and pasture access in dairy cows.

Sci Rep 2021 Mar 1;11(1):4882. Epub 2021 Mar 1.

Institute for Global Food Security, School of Biological Sciences, Queen's University, Belfast, UK.

Allowing dairy cattle to access pasture can promote natural behaviour and improve their health. However, the psychological benefits are poorly understood. We compared a cognitive indicator of emotion in cattle either with or without pasture access. In a crossover experiment, 29 Holstein-Friesian dairy cows had 18 days of overnight pasture access and 18 days of full-time indoor housing. To assess emotional wellbeing, we tested cows on a spatial judgement bias task. Subjects learnt to approach a rewarded bucket location, but not approach another, unrewarded bucket location. We then presented cows with three "probe" buckets intermediate between the trained locations. Approaching the probes reflected an expectation of reward under ambiguity-an "optimistic" judgement bias, suggesting positive emotional states. We analysed the data using linear mixed-effects models. There were no treatment differences in latency to approach the probe buckets, but cows approached the known rewarded bucket slower when they had pasture access than when they were indoors full-time. Our results indicate that, compared to cattle housed indoors, cattle with pasture access display less anticipatory behaviour towards a known reward. This reduced reward anticipation suggests that pasture is a more rewarding environment, which may induce more positive emotional states than full-time housing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-84371-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7921385PMC
March 2021

Emotion in animal contests.

Proc Biol Sci 2020 11 18;287(1939):20201715. Epub 2020 Nov 18.

Institute for Global Food Security, School of Biological Sciences, Queen's University Belfast, UK.

Emotions encompass cognitive and behavioural responses to reward and punishment. Using contests as a case-study, we propose that short-term emotions underpin animals' assessments, decision-making and behaviour. Equating contest assessments to emotional 'appraisals', we describe how contestants appraise more than resource value and outcome probability. These appraisals elicit the cognition, drive and neurophysiology that governs aggressive behaviour. We discuss how recent contest outcomes induce long-term moods, which impact subsequent contest behaviour. Finally, we distinguish between integral (objectively relevant) and incidental (objectively irrelevant) emotions and moods (affective states). Unlike existing ecological models, our approach predicts that incidental events influence contest dynamics, and that contests become incidental influences themselves, potentially causing maladaptive decision-making. As affective states cross contexts, a more holistic ethology (incorporating emotions and moods) would illuminate animal cognition and behaviour.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2020.1715DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7116454PMC
November 2020

The influence of early life socialisation on cognition in the domestic pig (Sus scrofa domestica).

Sci Rep 2020 11 5;10(1):19077. Epub 2020 Nov 5.

Institute for Global Food Security, School of Biological Sciences, Queens University Belfast, Belfast, UK.

Previously, the benefits of early-life socialisation on later-life social development have been reported in pigs. Here we investigated the effect of pre-weaning socialisation on the later-life cognitive ability of pigs using a range of techniques. Pre-weaning, 101 piglets had access to a neighbouring pen from ~ 15 days of age and interacted with non-littermates (socialised). An additional 89 piglets remained isolated within their home pen (controls). After weaning, 100 individuals were selected for a range of cognitive tests including a food reward T-maze test, reversal learning T-maze test, a social preference T-maze test, and a puzzle box test. Performance during the food reward test was not influenced by treatment. Treatment effected improvement over the course of the reversal learning test, with controls showing a significant decrease in trial duration after the first two trials. During the social preference test, socialised pigs spent significantly more time in the presence of larger stimulus pigs than controls and were quicker to leave the middle of the maze, suggesting improved social skills. Neither sex nor treatment was observed to influence pig's ability to solve the puzzle box. Thus, overall, evidence from the social preference test suggests an effect of pre-weaning socialisation on aspects of social cognitive development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-76110-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7644636PMC
November 2020

The Effect of Beef Production System on the Health, Performance, Carcass Characteristics, and Meat Quality of Holstein Bulls.

Animals (Basel) 2020 Oct 19;10(10). Epub 2020 Oct 19.

Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, Large Park, Hillsborough, Co Down BT 26 6DR, Northern Ireland, UK.

The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of production system on the health, performance, carcass characteristics, and meat quality of autumn born (AB) and spring born (SB) Holstein bulls. The study involved a total of 224 Holstein bulls and was conducted over two years (2017/18, 2018/19). The four production system treatments differed during the grower period and consisted of: (i) grazed with no concentrate supplementation (G), (ii) grazed with 2 kg concentrate supplementation per day (G2), (iii) grazed with ad libitum access to concentrates (GA) and (iv) housed with ad libitum access to concentrates and grass silage (HA). All bulls were finished on ad libitum concentrates and grass silage and were slaughtered at a mean age of 15.5 months. Total grower dry matter intake (DMI) ( < 0.001) and total finishing DMI ( < 0.001) differed between production systems for both AB and SB bulls, with that of GA bulls being the greatest in both cases. Average daily gain (ADG) during the grower period was greatest ( < 0.001) for the HA production system in the AB bulls and the GA and HA production systems for the SB bulls. However, during the finishing period, G bulls had the greatest ( < 0.001) ADG of the AB bulls, while that of the SB bulls was from the G2 production system ( < 0.001). For both AB and SB, bulls on the GA and HA production systems produced heavier cold carcass weights than the G and G2 bulls ( < 0.001). There was no significant difference ( > 0.05) in health, carcass conformation, fat classification, or meat quality between production systems.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani10101922DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7589087PMC
October 2020

Play fighting social networks do not predict injuries from later aggression.

Sci Rep 2020 09 23;10(1):15486. Epub 2020 Sep 23.

Animal and Veterinary Sciences, SRUC, Roslin Institute Building, Easter Bush, Midlothian, UK.

Early play fighting mimics later aggression in many species, and may, therefore, be expected to reduce costs from later aggressive interactions. Using social network analysis (SNA) the effect of a central play fighting network position on later skin lesions from aggression was assessed in domestic pigs. Piglets (n = 263) were kept in litter groups or socialised pre-weaning with another litter to enhance play fighting experience. Play fighting was recorded for 1.5 h per day over 6 days pre-weaning. Play fighting network centrality was quantified using measures of individual network position and entire network structure (degree, eigenvector, betweenness, clustering coefficient). Skin lesions from aggression were counted after a dyadic contest and at 24 h and 3 weeks following group mixing. Pigs with play fighting interactions with many partners experienced fewer lesions from the dyadic contest (in-degree, p = 0.01) and tended to received fewer lesions 3 weeks after group mixing (degree, p = 0.088) but no other play fighting centrality measures affected the number of lesions at any point. The benefits of play fighting were therefore limited to specific aggressive social contexts. The tendency of socialised piglets to play fight with non-littermates did not affect subsequent lesions. We advocate the use of SNA over approaches that only consider dyadic interactions to further our understanding of the influence of early social group interactions on later life experience.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-72477-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7511329PMC
September 2020

Winner-loser effects overrule aggressiveness during the early stages of contests between pigs.

Sci Rep 2020 08 7;10(1):13338. Epub 2020 Aug 7.

Animal Behaviour and Welfare, Animal and Veterinary Sciences Department, Scotland's Rural College (SRUC), West Mains Rd, Edinburgh, EH9 3JG, UK.

Contest behaviour, and in particular the propensity to attack an unfamiliar conspecific, is influenced by an individual's aggressiveness, as well as by experience of winning and losing (so called 'winner-loser effects'). Individuals vary in aggressiveness and susceptibility to winner-loser effects but the relationship between these drivers of contest behaviour has been poorly investigated. Here we hypothesise that the winner-loser effect on initiation of agonistic behaviour (display, non-damaging aggression, biting and mutual fighting) is influenced by aggressiveness. Pigs (n = 255) were assayed for aggressiveness (tendency to attack in resident-intruder tests) and then experienced two dyadic contests (age 10 and 13 weeks). Agonistic behaviour, up to reciprocal fighting, in contest 2 was compared between individuals of different aggressiveness in the RI test and experiences of victory or defeat in contest 1. Winner-loser effects were more influential than aggressiveness in determining initiation of agonistic behaviour. After accruing more skin lesions in contest 1, individuals were less likely to engage in escalated aggression in contest 2. The interaction between aggressiveness and winner-loser experience did not influence contest behaviour. The results suggest that aggressiveness does not compromise learning from recent contest experience and that reducing aggressiveness is unlikely to affect how animals experience winning and losing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-69664-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7414859PMC
August 2020

The effect of calf jackets on the health, performance, and skin temperature of dairy origin beef calves.

Transl Anim Sci 2020 Jan 7;4(1):316-323. Epub 2019 Nov 7.

Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, Hillsborough, United Kingdom.

Variations and extremities in climatic conditions can result in cold stress for dairy calves during the preweaning period. The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of calf jackets on the health, performance, and skin temperature of dairy-origin beef calves. This study took place in a designated calf rearing unit, spanned for a duration of 1 yr, and consisted of five batches of calves. Calves (30.9 ± 1.68 d of age; 55.9 ± 0.20 kg live weight) were assigned to one of four treatment groups on arrival at the rearing unit. Treatments consisted of control (no jacket), arrival (jacket for 2 wk postarrival), weight (jacket for a minimum of 2 wk and until 65 kg live weight), and wean (jacket until 5 d postweaning). Ambient conditions differed significantly ( < 0.001) during each of the five batches; batch 4 was the coldest with a mean ambient temperature of 6.16 °C. Significant differences were observed between the five batches for day 50 weight ( < 0.01) and disease incidence ( < 0.05). However, treatment had no significant effect on calf health or performance ( > 0.05) during any of the five batches. Skin temperature was significantly greater ( < 0.001) for calves wearing a jacket. Furthermore, there was a significant ( < 0.001) relationship between ambient temperature-humidity index and skin temperature for calves with and without a calf jacket. Therefore, although calf jackets had no benefit in terms of health or performance, they did act as a barrier to environmental conditions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/tas/txz172DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7200583PMC
January 2020

Microplastics disrupt hermit crab shell selection.

Biol Lett 2020 04 29;16(4):20200030. Epub 2020 Apr 29.

Institute for Global Food Security, School of Biological Sciences, Queen's University Belfast, UK.

Microplastics (plastics < 5 mm) are a potential threat to marine biodiversity. However, the effects of microplastic pollution on animal behaviour and cognition are poorly understood. We used shell selection in common European hermit crabs () as a model to test whether microplastic exposure impacts the essential survival behaviours of contacting, investigating and entering an optimal shell. We kept 64 female hermit crabs in tanks containing either polyethylene spheres ( = 35) or no plastic ( = 29) for 5 days. We then transferred subjects into suboptimal shells and placed them in an observation tank with an optimal alternative shell. Plastic-exposed hermit crabs showed impaired shell selection: they were less likely than controls to contact optimal shells or enter them. They also took longer to contact and enter the optimal shell. Plastic exposure did not affect time spent investigating the optimal shell. These results indicate that microplastics impair cognition (information-gathering and processing), disrupting an essential survival behaviour in hermit crabs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2020.0030DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7211466PMC
April 2020

The Association Between Play Fighting and Information Gathering during Subsequent Contests.

Sci Rep 2020 01 24;10(1):1133. Epub 2020 Jan 24.

Institute for Global Food Security, School of Biological Sciences, Queens University Belfast, Belfast, UK.

Many hypotheses regarding the evolution of social play have been suggested, including the development of later-life assessment skills. However, the link between play fighting experience and information gathering during contests has yet to be examined. This paper explores the association between play fighting and contest assessment strategy in the domestic pig (Sus scrofa). Using an established framework, we provide evidence suggesting play fighting frequency may affect the extent to which individuals incorporate information regarding their own and their competitors' resource holding potential (RHP) in escalation decisions. Pigs were allocated as 'high play' or 'low play' based upon their relative play fighting frequency. To maximise variation in play, 12 litters underwent a socialisation treatment while the remaining 12 litters were kept isolated within their home pen (i.e. control treatment). At eight weeks of age contests were staged between pairs of unfamiliar pigs, using 19 'high play' dyads and 19 'low play' dyads. While 'high play' dyads were observed to rely on a pure self-assessment strategy, 'low play dyads' did not meet the predictions of either self- or mutual assessment, suggesting their contest behaviour may have been motivated by alternative factors. We suggest that early life play fighting may therefore allow individuals to develop an accurate estimate of their RHP.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-58063-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6981131PMC
January 2020

Using Principles from Applied Behaviour Analysis to Address an Undesired Behaviour: Functional Analysis and Treatment of Jumping Up in Companion Dogs.

Animals (Basel) 2019 Dec 6;9(12). Epub 2019 Dec 6.

Department of Psychology, Troy University, Troy, AL 36082, USA.

The aim of this study was to investigate the feasibility and effectiveness of procedures successfully used in human related applied behaviour analysis practices to the field of clinical animal behaviour. Experiment 1 involved functional analyses to identify the reinforcement contingencies maintaining jumping up behaviour in five dogs. Experiment 2 comprised teaching dog owners a noncontingent reinforcement intervention (i.e., time-based reinforcement) via behavioural skills training. Single-case experimental methods were implemented in both experiments. The results of Experiment 1 showed that access to a tangible (dogs D01, D02, D03, and D04) and owner attention (dog D05) were reliably maintaining the jumping up behaviour. Experiment 2 demonstrated that noncontingent reinforcement effectively reduced jumping in three out of four dogs (Tau -0.59, CI 90% [-1-0.15], = 0.026, Tau -1, CI 90% [-1--0.55], = 0.0003, and Tau -0.32, CI 90% [-0.76-0.11], = 0.22 for dyads D01, D02, and D05, respectively), and that behavioural skills training was successful in teaching owners to perform a dog training intervention with high fidelity. Although the results are promising, more canine-related research into functional analysis and noncontingent reinforcement, as well as implementation of behavioural skills training with animal caregivers, is needed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani9121091DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6940775PMC
December 2019

The Effect of Behaviour and Diet on the Rumen Temperature of Holstein Bulls.

Animals (Basel) 2019 Nov 19;9(11). Epub 2019 Nov 19.

School of Biological Sciences, Queens University Belfast, Belfast BT9 7BL, UK.

Rumen temperature boluses are becoming increasingly used as a means of monitoring core body temperature for the detection of ill health. However, the effect of behavior on rumen temperature is largely unknown. This research investigates the impact of behaviour and diet on the rumen temperature of Holstein bulls, both at grass, and in a housed environment. Rumen temperature was recorded at five-minute intervals using a bolus. Direct observations were conducted on young bulls in two studies (i) at grass ( = 30) and (ii) while housed ( = 32). In addition, activity monitors were attached to bulls at grass ( = 24). Within each study, diet differed by the level of concentrate supplementation. There was no effect of diet on rumen temperature. Significant differences in rumen temperature were observed between behaviour groups for bulls at grass < 0.001) and housed ( < 0.001). Furthermore, drinking resulted in the lowest rumen temperature (grass 35.97 °C; housed 36.70 °C). Therefore, rumen temperature is affected by behavior; however, the temperatures recorded were not outside the normal temperature range for healthy cattle.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani9111000DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6912663PMC
November 2019

Pasture Access Affects Behavioral Indicators of Wellbeing in Dairy Cows.

Animals (Basel) 2019 Nov 1;9(11). Epub 2019 Nov 1.

Institute for Global Food Security, School of Biological Sciences, Queen's University Belfast, 1-33 Chlorine Gardens, Belfast BT9 5AJ, UK.

Dairy cows are increasingly housed indoors, either year-round or for long stretches over the winter and around parturition. This may create health and welfare issues. In cattle, lying and walking are highly motivated, and herds synchronize lying behavior when they have comfortable surfaces and little competition for space. Lying and walking activity can, therefore, indicate good welfare. Using a repeated measures crossover design, we gave 29 Holstein-Friesian dairy cows 18 days of overnight pasture access (PAS treatment) and 18 days of indoor housing (PEN treatment). Accelerometers recorded their lying and locomotory behavior. We measured behavioral synchrony with Fleiss' Kappa and analyzed the accelerometry data using linear mixed models. Compared to the PEN treatment, the PAS treatment had longer overnight lying durations ( = 27.51, < 0.001), fewer lying bouts ( = 22.53, < 0.001), longer lying bouts ( = 25.53, < 0.001), and fewer transitions up or down ( = 16.83, < 0.001). Herd lying behavior was also more synchronous at pasture ( = 230.25, < 0.001). In addition, nightly step counts were higher in the PAS treatment than the PEN treatment ( = 2946.31, < 0.001). These results suggest pasture access improves dairy cow welfare by increasing comfort, reducing competition and boredom, and facilitating motivated behavior.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani9110902DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6912433PMC
November 2019

Revisiting a Previously Validated Temperament Test in Shelter Dogs, Including an Examination of the Use of Fake Model Dogs to Assess Conspecific Sociability.

Animals (Basel) 2019 Oct 20;9(10). Epub 2019 Oct 20.

School of Biological Sciences, 19 Chlorine Gardens, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast BT9 5DL, UK.

This study assessed the feasibility and reproducibility of a previously validated temperament test (TT) for shelter dogs. The test was developed to measure dog behaviour in the kennel, and traits of sociability towards people and other dogs, docility to leash, playfulness, cognitive skills, and reactivity. We introduced the use of differently sized fake dogs to check their appropriateness in correctly assessing sociability to dogs to broaden its applicability (as the original study used real stimulus dogs). We hypothesised that dogs' responses may be modulated by the body size of the stimulus dog presented. The reduction analysis of the TT scores extracted five main dimensions (explaining 70.8% of variance), with high internal consistency (alpha > 0.65) and being broadly consistent with existing research. Behavioural components that were extracted from the fake dog experiment showed that dogs are likely to show signs of anxiety and fear toward both the real and fake dog. Dogs' responses towards a real vs. fake stimulus were significantly correlated ( < 0.05) and they were not affected by the size of the stimulus ( > 0.05). We discuss the importance of interpreting these data with caution and use behavioural tests as a partial screening tool to be used in conjunction with more extensive behavioural and welfare monitoring.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani9100835DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6826718PMC
October 2019

Attempted synthesis of a -metalated calix[4]arene.

Beilstein J Org Chem 2019 22;15:1996-2002. Epub 2019 Aug 22.

Department of Chemistry and Polymer Science, Stellenbosch University, Private Bag X1, Matieland, 7602, South Africa.

An evidence for the formation of a rare -metalated inherently chiral calix[4]arene is described. Our strategy involved using a mesoionic carbene to direct C-H activation, but proved to form an unexpectedly unstable intermediate that was identified through high-resolution mass spectrometry. On route to our target, a new optimized method to mononitrocalix[4]arenes was developed, including optimized and high yielding transformations to azide and 1,2,3-triazole derivatives which may have application in other areas of research.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3762/bjoc.15.195DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6719732PMC
August 2019

Advantages of social skills for contest resolution.

R Soc Open Sci 2019 May 29;6(5):181456. Epub 2019 May 29.

Institute for Global Food Security, School of Biological Sciences, Queen's University, Belfast BT9 7BL, UK.

Animal contests are natural interactions that occur to obtain or defend resources such as food and territory. Selection should favour individuals that can win contests with minimal costs in terms of energy expenditure or injuries. We hypothesized that social skills contribute to animals' assessment abilities in a contest situation and thereby will shorten contest duration. Animals were either raised in early life conditions stimulating the development of social skills, termed socialization or not (control). Contests between 342 pigs at eight weeks old (171 dyads) were studied for opponent assessment ability (using a game theoretical approach), examining duration and escalation, social behaviours performed, injuries and outcome. Contesting dyads were from the same treatment group and varied in body weight, a validated measure of resource holding potential (RHP). Socialized animals had shorter contests that were resolved with fewer injuries and they showed more ritualized display behaviour, consistent with mutual assessment. Furthermore, there was evidence of a novel form of opponent assessment in the socialized group revealed by a positive relationship between winner RHP and fight duration. In conclusion, social skills enabled more rapid establishment of dominance relationships at lower cost. Besides its evolutionary relevance, these findings may also contribute towards improving animal welfare.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsos.181456DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6549948PMC
May 2019

Signal complexity communicates aggressive intent during contests, but the process is disrupted by noise.

Biol Lett 2019 04;15(4):20180841

School of Biological Sciences, Queen's University Belfast , 97 Lisburn Road, Belfast BT9 7BL , UK.

Contestants use displays to signal their aggressive intent and settle disputes before they escalate. For birds, this is often in the form of song, which can vary in structural complexity. The role of song complexity in signalling aggressive intent has not been fully established, and its efficacy could be influenced by background noise levels. Using playback experiments, we found that in European robins, Erithacus rubecula, song complexity signalled sender aggression and affected receiver response. However, increased noise impacted the ability of contestants to adjust response based on opponent song complexity. These findings provide new evidence regarding the use of acoustic signal complexity for assessing opponent aggression and that noise can influence contest behaviour by interrupting this process, which could impose fitness consequences.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2018.0841DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6501366PMC
April 2019

Socialisation and its effect on play behaviour and aggression in the domestic pig (Sus scrofa).

Sci Rep 2019 03 12;9(1):4180. Epub 2019 Mar 12.

Institute for Global Food Security, School of Biological Sciences, Queens University Belfast, Belfast, UK.

There is considerable interest in how early life experiences shape behavioural development. For example, the socialisation of unfamiliar pigs pre-weaning has been suggested to decrease aggression during later life. However, the behavioural mechanisms behind this socialisation effect remain unexplored. We allowed 12 litters of domestic pigs (Sus scrofa) to move freely between their home pen and a neighbouring pen (socialisation) during the lactation period, while keeping 12 litters isolated in their home pen (control). Contrary to predictions, socialisation did not result in higher levels of social play. However, control individuals engaged in more sow directed play than those that underwent socialisation. Consistent with predictions, males performed more piglet directed play than females. Social play behaviour pre-weaning was found to be highly concordant within individuals from both treatments. Post-weaning, 148 pigs were selected to perform two resident-intruder tests to assay aggressiveness. As predicted, socialised individuals were quicker to attack than controls, although females were more aggressive than males. Additionally, play fighting experience was found to negatively correlate with attack latency in females, supporting the hypothesis that early-life play experience is likely to be sexually dimorphic when males and females show pronounced differences in their later-life social behaviour.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-40980-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6414639PMC
March 2019

Erratum: Effects of concentrate input on nutrient utilization and methane emissions of two breeds of ewe lambs fed fresh ryegrass.

Transl Anim Sci 2019 Jan 30;3(1):238. Epub 2018 Nov 30.

Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, Hillsborough, UK.

[This corrects the article DOI: 10.1093/tas/txy106.][This corrects the article DOI: 10.1093/tas/txy106.].
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/tas/txy128DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7200535PMC
January 2019

Long Term Benefits on Social Behaviour after Early Life Socialization of Piglets.

Animals (Basel) 2018 Oct 29;8(11). Epub 2018 Oct 29.

Animal Behaviour & Welfare, Animal and Veterinary Sciences Research Group, Scotland's Rural College (SRUC), West Mains Rd., Edinburgh EH9 3JG, UK.

Early life socialization of piglets has been shown to reduce piglet aggression at weaning, but information on sow health and long-term benefits is lacking. We aimed to assess how socialization impacts sow udder quality and long-term pig behaviour and growth. At two weeks of age, 65 litters either experienced socialization with one other litter (SOC) or did not (control; CON). Sows (housed in farrowing crates) were scored for teat damage and piglets were observed for aggressive behaviour (resident-intruder test) and growth and skin lesions up to 11 weeks under conventional farm conditions (including weaning and regrouping). At weaning, SOC sows had more teat damage than CON sows ( = 0.04). SOC piglets had double the number of lesions 24 h post-socialization compared to the control (19 versus 8; < 0.001). In the resident-intruder test, more SOC pigs attacked the intruder (SOC 78%; CON 66%; < 0.01), and attacked more quickly ( = 0.01). During regrouping (week 8), SOC pigs had 19% fewer lesions (SOC 68; CON 84; < 0.05), but three weeks later, groups did not differ. Growth was unaffected by treatment. Overall, socialized piglets seem to be equipped with greater confidence or agonistic skills, leading to fewer injuries from fighting up to at least six weeks after socialization.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani8110192DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6262459PMC
October 2018

Effects of concentrate input on nutrient utilization and methane emissions of two breeds of ewe lambs fed fresh ryegrass.

Transl Anim Sci 2019 Jan 11;3(1):485-492. Epub 2018 Oct 11.

Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, Hillsborough, Co Down, UK.

The objective of this study was to evaluate if high-quality grass could sustain a similar feeding efficiency to concentrate meals for two breeds of lowland ewe lambs. Sixteen lowland ewe lambs of approximately 13 mo age and 61.5 ± 5.28 kg live weight were used in a 2 × 2 factorial study, with 2 diets (fresh perennial ryegrass [] vs. fresh perennial ryegrass plus 0.5 kg/d fresh concentrate) × 2 breeds (Highlander vs. Texel). Grass was cut daily in the morning from a single zero-grazing sward and offered ad libitum. The animals were individually housed in pens and fed experimental diets for an adaptation phase of 19 d, and then transferred to respiration calorimeter chambers, remaining there for 5 d, with feed intake, feces and urine outputs, and methane (CH) emissions measured during the final 4 d. There were no significant interaction effects between diets and breeds on any variables. Ewe lambs offered 0.5 kg/d concentrate supplementation had slightly greater DM intake and energy (GE, DE, and ME) intake, but had significantly higher N intake and N excretion in feces and urine than those fed the grass-only diet. However, diets had no significant effects on nutrient digestibility, energy or N utilization, or CH emission. Texel breed had a significantly lower DM intake and CH emissions per kg live weight, whereas the breed had no significant effect on nutrient digestibility or energy or N utilization. These results implicate that good quality grass could sustain high nutrient utilization efficiency as effectively as diets supplemented with concentrates for ewe lamb production. The two breeds of lowland ewe lambs can utilize good quality grass at a similar level of efficiency.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/tas/txy106DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7200432PMC
January 2019

Social network properties predict chronic aggression in commercial pig systems.

PLoS One 2018 4;13(10):e0205122. Epub 2018 Oct 4.

Animal & Veterinary Sciences, SRUC, Roslin Institute Building, Easter Bush, Midlothian, United Kingdom.

Post-mixing aggression in pigs is a harmful and costly behaviour which negatively impacts both animal welfare and farm efficiency. There is vast unexplained variation in the amount of acute and chronic aggression that dyadic behaviours do not fully explain. This study hypothesised that certain pen-level network properties may improve prediction of lesion outcomes due to the incorporation of indirect social interactions that are not captured by dyadic traits. Utilising current SNA theory, we investigate whether pen-level network properties affect the number of aggression-related injuries at 24 hours and 3 weeks post-mixing (24hr-PM and 3wk-PM). Furthermore we compare the predictive value of network properties to conventional dyadic traits. A total of 78 pens were video recorded for 24hr post-mixing. Each aggressive interaction that occurred during this time period was used to construct the pen-level networks. The relationships between network properties at 24hr and the pen level injuries at 24hr-PM and 3wk-PM were analysed using mixed models and verified using permutation tests. The results revealed that network properties at 24hr could predict long term aggression (3wk-PM) better than dyadic traits. Specifically, large clique formation in the first 24hr-PM predicted fewer injuries at 3wk-PM and high betweenness centralisation at 24hr-PM predicted increased rates of injury at 3wk-PM. This study demonstrates that network properties present during the first 24hr-PM have predictive value for chronic aggression, and have potential to allow identification and intervention for at risk groups.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0205122PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6171926PMC
April 2019

Comparison of total-mixed-ration and feed-to-yield strategies on blood profiles and dairy cow health.

Vet Rec 2018 Dec 18;183(21):655. Epub 2018 Sep 18.

Sustainable Agri-Food Sciences Division, Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute Hillsborough, Hillsborough, UK.

Seventy-two Holstein-Friesian dairy cows were offered the same amount of concentrates over the first 140 days of lactation, by either a 'total-mixed-ration' or a 'feed-to-yield' strategy. The effects on blood profiles and cow health were examined. Cows on total-mixed-ration were offered a mixed ration comprising grass silage and concentrates (50:50 dry matter basis). Cows on feed-to-yield were offered a basal mixed ration (grass silage plus 6 kg concentrates/cow/day) plus additional concentrates via an out-of-parlour feeding system, calculated according to each individual cow's milk yield during the previous week. Cows on total-mixed-ration had a higher mean haemoglobin, packed cell volume and lymphocyte percentage. Concentrate allocation strategy had no effect on serum haptoglobin concentrations, interferon-gamma production of pokeweed mitogen-stimulated whole blood culture, the incidence of clinical or subclinical mastitis, lameness, respiratory or digestive problems and no strong relationships were identified between production parameters with serum metabolites, inflammatory and immune measures. This study demonstrates small physiological differences in metabolic parameters, and no differences in inflammatory or immune parameters, when allocating concentrates by total-mixed-ration or feed-to-yield.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/vr.104781DOI Listing
December 2018

Lateralization influences contest behaviour in domestic pigs.

Sci Rep 2018 08 14;8(1):12116. Epub 2018 Aug 14.

Institute for Global Food Security, School of Biological Sciences, Queen's University, Belfast, BT9 7BL, UK.

Cerebral lateralization, i.e. hemispheric asymmetries in structure and function, relates in many species to a preference to attack from their left. Lateralization increases cognitive capacity, enabling the simultaneous processing of multiple sources of information. Therefore, lateralization may constitute a component of fighting ability (Resource Holding Potential), and/or influence the efficiency of information-gathering during a contest. We hypothesized that lateralization will affect contest outcome and duration, with an advantage for more strongly lateralized individuals. In 52 dyadic contests between weight-matched pigs (Sus scrofa; n = 104; 10 wk age), the direction of orientation towards the opponent was scan sampled every 10 s. Laterality indexes (LI) were calculated for the direction and strength of lateralization. Up to 12.5% of the individuals showed significant lateralization towards either the right or left but lateralization was absent at the population level. In line with our hypothesis, animals showing strong lateralization (irrespective of direction) had a shorter contest duration than animals showing weak lateralization. Winners did not differ from losers in their strength or direction of lateralization. Overall the results suggest that cerebral lateralization may aid in conflict resolution, but does not directly contribute to fighting ability, and will be of value in the study of animal contests.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-30634-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6092404PMC
August 2018

Affect-Driven Attention Biases as Animal Welfare Indicators: Review and Methods.

Animals (Basel) 2018 Aug 7;8(8). Epub 2018 Aug 7.

Research Centre in Brain and Behaviour, School of Natural Sciences and Psychology, Liverpool John Moores University, James Parsons Building, Byrom Street, Liverpool L3 3AF, UK.

Attention bias describes the differential allocation of attention towards one stimulus compared to others. In humans, this bias can be mediated by the observer's affective state and is implicated in the onset and maintenance of affective disorders such as anxiety. Affect-driven attention biases (ADABs) have also been identified in a few other species. Here, we review the literature on ADABs in animals and discuss their utility as welfare indicators. Despite a limited research effort, several studies have found that negative affective states modulate attention to negative (i.e., threatening) cues. ADABs influenced by positive-valence states have also been documented in animals. We discuss methods for measuring ADAB and conclude that looking time, dot-probe, and emotional spatial cueing paradigms are particularly promising. Research is needed to test them with a wider range of species, investigate attentional scope as an indicator of affect, and explore the possible causative role of attention biases in determining animal wellbeing. Finally, we argue that ADABs might not be best-utilized as indicators of general valence, but instead to reveal specific emotions, motivations, aversions, and preferences. Paying attention to the human literature could facilitate these advances.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani8080136DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6115853PMC
August 2018

Personality traits affecting judgement bias task performance in dogs (Canis familiaris).

Sci Rep 2018 04 27;8(1):6660. Epub 2018 Apr 27.

Animal Behaviour Centre, School of Psychology, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast, Ireland.

Certain personality traits (e.g. anxiousness, fearfulness), are known to affect the cognitive processing of environmental stimuli, such as the judgement of ambiguous stimuli (judgement bias). Our aim was to assess if personality traits are predictive of a more or less 'pessimistic' or 'optimistic' judgement bias in the domestic dog. We assessed dog personality (N = 31) using two validated protocols: the Dog Mentality Assessment (standardised battery test) and the CBARQ (owner-based survey). We used a common task based on the animals' latency to approach a bowl placed in one of three ambiguous positions (Near Positive, Middle, Near Negative) between a baited (Positive) and a non-baited food bowl (Negative) to assess judgement bias. Linear Mixed Model analyses revealed that dogs scoring higher on sociability, excitability and non-social-fear had shorter response latencies to bowls in an ambiguous location, indicating a more 'optimistic' bias. In contrast, dogs scoring higher on separation-related-behaviour and dog-directed-fear/aggression traits were more likely to judge an ambiguous stimulus as leading to a negative outcome, indicating a more 'pessimistic' bias. Results, partially consistent with previous findings in humans, indicate that personality plays a role in the cognitive processing of environmental stimuli in the domestic dog.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-25224-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5924375PMC
April 2018

The influence of experience on contest assessment strategies.

Sci Rep 2017 11 3;7(1):14492. Epub 2017 Nov 3.

Institute for Global Food Security, School of Biological Sciences, Queen's University, Belfast, BT9 7BL, UK.

Animal contest behaviour has been widely studied, yet major knowledge gaps remain concerning the information-gathering and decision-making processes used during encounters. The mutual assessment strategy, where the individual assesses its own fighting ability (Resource Holding Potential, RHP) and compares it to that of its opponent, is least understood. We hypothesise that individuals need experience of agonistic encounters to become proficient at mutual assessment. Pigs (Sus scrofa, n = 316) were contested twice. In between contests, animals did or did not (control) receive intense fighting experience. A substantial proportion of the contests reached an outcome with a clear winner without fighting. Non-escalation was highest in RHP asymmetric dyads of the second contest, irrespective of experience. In contest 1 (no experience) and in contest 2 for the experienced animals, costs increased with loser RHP and where unaffected by winner RHP, suggesting a self-assessment strategy. In contest 2 control dyads, which only had experience of one prior contest, a negative relation between winner RHP and costs suggested mutual assessment during the pre-escalation phase but not during escalated aggression. This reveals that a brief and relatively mild experience can be beneficial in the development of mutual assessment whereas profound experience may result in adoption of a self-assessment strategy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-15144-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5670170PMC
November 2017

Inherently Chiral Calixarenes: Synthesis and Applications.

Authors:
Gareth E Arnott

Chemistry 2018 Feb 11;24(8):1744-1754. Epub 2017 Dec 11.

Department of Chemistry and Polymer Science, Stellenbosch University, Private Bag X1, Matieland, South Africa.

This article looks at the chemistry surrounding the concept of inherently chiral calixarenes (ICCs), whose synthesis and application have only recently being realised. One challenge in the area of ICC chemistry is the sheer breadth and scope for installing different aspects of inherent chirality. The aim of this article is not to cover every known method, but rather to give the reader an overview of the main themes that have emerged in this area, including more recent additions to the literature. This overview will also touch on the very limited reports on the applications of ICCs which give a glimpse into the potential these compounds may have in future studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/chem.201703367DOI Listing
February 2018

Noise affects resource assessment in an invertebrate.

Biol Lett 2017 Apr;13(4)

School of Biological Sciences, Medical Biology Centre, Queen's University Belfast, 97 Lisburn Road, Belfast BT9 7BL, UK

Anthropogenic noise is a global pollutant, affecting animals across taxa. However, how noise pollution affects resource acquisition is unknown. Hermit crabs () engage in detailed assessment and decision-making when selecting a critical resource, their shell; this is crucial as individuals in poor shells suffer lower reproductive success and higher mortality. We experimentally exposed hermit crabs to anthropogenic noise during shell selection. When exposed to noise, crabs approached the shell faster, spent less time investigating it, and entered it faster. Our results demonstrate that changes in the acoustic environment affect the behaviour of hermit crabs by modifying the selection process of a vital resource. This is all the more remarkable given that the known cues used in shell selection involve chemical, visual and tactile sensory channels. Thus, our study provides rare evidence for a cross-modal impact of noise pollution.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2017.0098DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5414699PMC
April 2017
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