15 Feb 2024
On-farm hatching and contact with adult hen post hatch induce sex-dependent effects on performance, health and robustness in broiler chickensL. A. Guilloteau, A. Bertin, S. Crochet, C. Bagnard, A. Hondelatte, L. Ravon, C. Schouler, K. Germain, A. Collin https://doi.org/10.1101/2023.05.17.541117
The hen, the egg and the chick in conventional and on-farm hatching systemsRecommended by Florence Gondret based on reviews by Nicolas Bedere and Anna Olsson
To limit the use of antibiotics in the few days after hatching, it is necessary to improve the robustness of chicks during the early post-hatch period. This can be achieved by ensuring immediate access to feeds, optimizing the implantation and maturation of the microbiota and immune system of each chick, and minimizing exposure of stressors such as transportation. The study conducted by Guilloteau and colleagues (2024) compared the performance and health of chicks raised in conventional hatching systems with those raised in on-farm hatching systems. The authors showed that both systems yielded similar hatching percentage of eggs. Chicks from on-farm hatching systems exhibited higher body weights during the post-hatch period compared to those from conventional hatching, whereas health parameters were not affected by the system. An originality of the study was the examination of the benefits of the presence of an adult hen in hatching systems. The effects on chick traits were interpreted in relation to the hen behavior at hatching and a classification according to maternal or agonistic activities towards the chicks. However, the experimental design did not allow to make statistical correlations between hen behavior pattern and chick traits. Importantly, the presence of a hen decreased the hatching percentage, and this was likely associated with hen aggressiveness in the pen. The presence of the hen deteriorated the quality scores of the chicks in the on-farm hatching system, and increased mortality of chicks at hatching, negatively impacting chick weight gain and feed efficiency during the few days after hatching in both conventional and on-farm hatching systems. Thereafter, the effect of the presence of a hen on chick body weight was different according to the sex of the chicks and the type of hatching system. The presence of a hen did not reduce the parasitic load of the chicks nor improved clinical signs. No specific characterization of the fecal microbiota of the chicks was conducted, preventing the testing whether or not the presence of the hen affected the early implantation and maturation of the chick microbiome. Altogether, the data indicate that on-farm hatching systems are at least equivalent (in terms of health traits, feed efficiency) or even favorable (for faster growth in the early period after hatching) for chicks. Training the hens (considered as foster adults) to the presence of eggs and chicks or selecting hens according to specific activity behavioral patterns could be ways to establish better interactions between hens and chicks. Although the number and type of environmental stressors tested in the experiment differ from those in commercial farms, the article opens new perspectives for alternative hatching and farming practices.
Guilloteau LA, Bertin A, Crochet S, Bagnard C, Hondelatte A, Ravon L, Schouler C, Germain K, Collin A (2024) On-farm hatching and contact with adult hen post hatch induce sex-dependent effects on performance, health and robustness in broiler chickens. bioRxiv, 2023.05.17.541117. ver. 3 peer-reviewed and recommended by Peer Community in Animal Science. https://doi.org/10.1101/2023.05.17.541117.
|On-farm hatching and contact with adult hen post hatch induce sex-dependent effects on performance, health and robustness in broiler chickens
|L. A. Guilloteau, A. Bertin, S. Crochet, C. Bagnard, A. Hondelatte, L. Ravon, C. Schouler, K. Germain, A. Collin
|<p>To improve the early perinatal conditions of broiler chicks, alternative hatching systems have been developed. On-farm hatching (OFH) with an enriched microbial and stimulating environment by the presence of an adult hen is a promising solution...
|Animal welfare, Farming systems, Poultry, Veterinary science
09 Feb 2024
Pig herd management and infection transmission dynamics: a challenge for modellers.Vianney Sicard, Sébastien Picault, Mathieu Andraud https://doi.org/10.1101/2023.05.17.541128
Towards models of infection transmission dynamicsRecommended by Marie-Pierre Letourneau Montminy based on reviews by Gustavo Machado and 1 anonymous reviewer
Epidemics such as PRRSv-like virus in pig farms has tremendous impact on the competitiveness of swine production. However, its control requires an understanding of the complex interaction between pathogen transmission, disease impact, population dynamics and management. By using mechanistic epidemiological modelling, Sicard et al. (2023) open up a very interesting field of possibilities. This article describes work aimed at assessing the consequences of infections, taking into account the interaction between clinical outcomes and population dynamics. This study shows how this interaction can influence transmission dynamics at the herd level. It highlights the need to further explore this direction, integrating both disease impacts in breeding practices and structural changes in population dynamics, such as pig crossbreeding and grouping methodologies.
Sicard V, Picault S, Andraud M (2023) Pig herd management and infection transmission dynamics: a challenge for modellers. bioRxiv, 2023.05.17.541128. ver. 2 peer-reviewed and recommended by Peer Community in Animal Science. https://doi.org/10.1101/2023.05.17.541128
|Pig herd management and infection transmission dynamics: a challenge for modellers.
|Vianney Sicard, Sébastien Picault, Mathieu Andraud
|<p>The control of epidemics requires a thorough understanding of the complex interactions between pathogen transmission, disease impact, and population dynamics and management. Mechanistic epidemiological modelling is an effective way to address t...
|Animal epidemiology modelling, Animal health, Bioinformatics, Farming systems, Infectious diseases, Mathematical modelling, Open science, Population dynamics, Veterinary epidemiology
|Marie-Pierre Letourneau Montminy
29 Jan 2024
Assessing the potential of germplasm collections for the management of genetic diversity: the case of the French National CryobankAlicia Jacques, Delphine Duclos, Coralie Danchin-Burge, Marie-Jose Mercat, Michele Tixier-Boichard, Gwendal Restoux https://doi.org/10.1101/2023.07.19.549644
Exploring Genetic Diversity Management: Unveiling the Potential of Germplasm Collections in the French National CryobankRecommended by Yuliaxis Ramayo-Caldas based on reviews by Roy Costilla and 1 anonymous reviewer
The study by Jacques et al. (2024) addresses a critical concern in the context of genetic diversity erosion in domesticated animal populations. The research uses data from the cryopreserved resources from the French National Cryobank to manage genetic diversity in livestock species. The authors employ a comprehensive methodology to propose novel biodiversity metrics to characterize the status of genetic diversity of cryopreserved collections including cattle, sheep, goat, horse, donkey, and pig livestock species. The findings reveal significant variations of genetic diversity at species and breed levels. Breeds with a large commercial distribution had more donors in the collection than local breeds. The authors propose a practical framework for assessing germplasm collections, providing a valuable tool for planning and managing collections at both national and international levels. The study also highlights the usefulness of the Gini-Simpson and effective donor numbers indices to plan a more efficient sampling, whereas the index of diversity impact can be employed in the selection of the most suitable donors for immediate use, based on pedigree but also using genetic markers.
In resume, this study makes a significant contribution to the field by offering a framework for the assessment of germplasm collections. Its innovative metrics provide insights that could guide strategic decision-making in planning, managing, and utilizing cryopreserved resources. This research is relevant and can benefit conservationists, and population genetics working towards the preservation and sustainable use of genetic resources in livestock species.
Jacques, A., Duclos, D., Danchin-Burge, C., Mercat, M. J., Tixier-Boichard M., Restoux, G. (2024). Assessing the potential of germplasm collections for the management of genetic diversity: the case of the French National Cryobank. bioRxiv 2023.07.19.549644. ver. 3 peer-reviewed and recommended by Peer Community in Animal Science. https://doi.org/10.1101/2023.07.19.549644
|Assessing the potential of germplasm collections for the management of genetic diversity: the case of the French National Cryobank
|Alicia Jacques, Delphine Duclos, Coralie Danchin-Burge, Marie-Jose Mercat, Michele Tixier-Boichard, Gwendal Restoux
|<p>Through a combination of selective pressure and genetic drift, there has been a notable erosion of genetic diversity in domesticated animal populations. In response, many countries, including France, have developed gene banks in order to conser...
11 Dec 2023
Genetic background of body reserves in laying hens through backfat thickness phenotypingNicolas Bédère, Joëlle Dupont, Yannick Baumard, Christophe Staub, David Gourichon, Frédéric Elleboudt, Pascale Le Roy, Tatiana Zerjal https://hal.inrae.fr/hal-04172576
Towards a better optimization of the genetic improvement of chicken breeds: Introduction of simple phenotypic traits related to body composition for easy measurement in the selection programs of laying hens.Recommended by Seyed Abbas Rafat based on reviews by 2 anonymous reviewers
In genetic selection, simplistic model of single-trait selection is usually considered, and the response to such approach is estimated using simple models. In practice, however, plant and animal breeders always deal with the selection of several traits, hence making the selection process very complex. Therefore, the simultaneous genetic improvement of several traits has always been one of the goals of livestock, including poultry breeding (Falconer, 1972). Studies that examine the indirect effects of selection on economic traits are eagerly awaited. In this context, the results of the study by Bédère et al., (2023) gives new insights about phenotypic and genotypic relationships between body reserves traits in laying hens. The authors aimed to propose novel data about the genetic architecture of traits related to body fat by measuring a series of phenotypic traits with relatively an easy approach. The authors further aimed to test and validate the phenotyping of backfat thickness as an indicator of the overall fatness of laying hens. Thus, the study allowed providing new evidence regarding the genetic determination of the backfat trait in chicken breeds.
The authors first estimated the effect of selection on the residual feed intake (trait x) on the trait of body reserves (trait y). In fact, divergent selection experiments are a fundamental research tool that allow revealing significant amount of data related to the possible span of genetic improvement for traits of interest. Consequently, by analyzing data from a divergent selection experiment, associations have been estimated between a number of feed-dependent traits that have practical use for chicken breeders. Estimation of the correlations between traits is under question in terms of the theory of genetics and their application in multi-trait selection. As a major finding of the study, the observation of a bimodal distribution of backfat in both lines and the heterogeneity of the variances between families allowed suggesting a possible major gene, which could be investigated in future studies using for instance quantitative genetics. Body composition is continually studied in broilers chicken, but this aspect of chicken genetic is more detailed in laying hens.
The current findings are worthy to validate using several approaches. In fact, one of the limitations of the study can be related to other statistical models that can be built. For example, the study revealed high correlations between egg production and body weight, thus body weight could be considered as a covariate in regression models. Moreover, the principal trait of selection (based on the residual feed intake) could be considered.
Falconer, D. S. (1972). Introduction to Quantitative Genetics. Publisher: Ronald Press Company. pp 365.
Bédère, N., Dupont, J., Baumard, Y., Staub, C., Gourichon, D., Elleboudt, F., Le Roy, P., Zerjal, T. (2023). Genetic background of body reserves in laying hens through backfat thickness phenotyping. HAL ver. 3 peer-reviewed and recommended by Peer Community in Animal Science. https://hal.inrae.fr/hal-04172576
|Genetic background of body reserves in laying hens through backfat thickness phenotyping
|Nicolas Bédère, Joëlle Dupont, Yannick Baumard, Christophe Staub, David Gourichon, Frédéric Elleboudt, Pascale Le Roy, Tatiana Zerjal
|<p>In this study, we pursued three primary objectives: firstly to test and validate the phenotyping of backfat thickness as an indicator of the overall fatness of laying hens; secondly, to estimate genetic parameters for this trait; thirdly, to st...
|Animal genetics, Poultry, Statistical genetics
|Seyed Abbas Rafat
06 Sep 2023
Validation of a Radio frequency identification system for tracking location of laying hens in a quasi-commercial aviary systemSabine G. Gebhardt-Henrich, Alexander Kashev, Matthew B. Petelle, Michael J. Toscano https://doi.org/10.1101/2023.02.16.528820
Tracking large numbers of hens in aviary housing: validation of a Radio Frequency Identification systemRecommended by Anna Olsson based on reviews by Arjen van Putten and Mona Giersberg
With the increasing use of cage-free housing systems for laying hens comes the challenge of monitoring the behaviour of individual hens in large enclosures where they can be not only on the floors but on different levels. The aim of the present study by Gebhardt-Henrich et al., (2023) was to validate a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) system with the capacity to track a large number of hens for different research and applied purposes where behaviour monitoring is relevant, such as heritability estimates for breeding programs.
In a housing system with 225 birds per pens, 26 antennae were placed at different locations. All birds in 5 pens were equipped with a glass tag in a custom-developed leg band. For validation purposes, the behaviour of three hens who could move between two pens was also monitored on video. Equipping these hens with colour-coded backpacks made them identifiable on video.
Matching the antennae detection of the focal birds with the behaviour observation showed that the antennae were able to detect a hen on the right tier in > 90% of cases, but that match on antenna level was lower.
The limitations of the system are also discussed in this concise methods paper that will be helpful to many researchers interested in tracking laying hens in loose housing systems.
Gebhardt-Henrich, S.G., Kashev, A., Petelle, M.B., Toscano, M.J., 2023. Validation of a Radio frequency identification system for tracking location of laying hens in a quasi-commercial aviary system. bioRxiv 2023.02.16.528820. ver. 3 peer-reviewed and recommended by Peer Community in Animal Science. https://doi.org/10.1101/2023.02.16.528820
|Validation of a Radio frequency identification system for tracking location of laying hens in a quasi-commercial aviary system
|Sabine G. Gebhardt-Henrich, Alexander Kashev, Matthew B. Petelle, Michael J. Toscano
|<p>Cage-free housing is increasingly chosen in Europe, North America, and Australia as an animal-welfare friendly farm system for laying hens. However, hens are kept in large numbers in those systems which makes checking for health and welfare dif...
|Animal genetics, Animal welfare
23 Aug 2023
Ensuring ethical animal welfare research: Are more ethics review committees the solution?Birte L. Nielsen, Huw D.R. Golledge, Jen-Yun Chou, Irene Camerlink, Péter Pongrácz, Maria Camila Ceballos, Alexandra L. Whittaker and I. Anna S. Olsson https://www.doi.org/10.31219/osf.io/s6459
Can a consensus be reached on the ethical review of animal experimentation for livestock species?Recommended by Hervé Acloque based on reviews by Christian Nawroth, Patrick Gonin and Leon borgdorf
"Ensuring ethical animal welfare research: Are more ethics review committees the solution?" by Birte Nielsen and colleagues  provides food for thought on the ethical assessment of experiments involving farm animals. While regulations can provide a precise framework, they differ from country to country and do not consider several cases, mainly when the experimentation involves non- or minimally invasive manipulations. It is also the case when research projects use farmed animals that do not fall within the scope of the regulations on animal experimentation but have undergone practices that can be authorised on farms but may raise ethical questions (tail docking, live castration, tooth filing, beak trimming, dehorning). On the other hand, the heterogeneity of the criteria taken into account by the ethics committees, when they exist (and this can differ greatly from one country to another), do not necessarily correspond to the criteria of the journals, the reviewers and the bodies brought in to evaluate the research project, or to the regulations specific to each country.
All these paradoxes lead the authors to propose solutions, the most straightforward and spontaneous of which is to ask ourselves questions about this issue upstream of the experimental design required to answer a given scientific question. While increasing the number of ethical review committees may be an insufficient option, the authors insist on the importance of improving committee members' training, taking into consideration jurisdictions' differences between countries and spending more time on ethics evaluation during manuscripts' reviewing. In addition, the upstream assessment of research projects by ethics committees, specific to an institution (research institute, universities, companies), a scientific publisher or even a dedicated international ethical review board may also be a good option.
The ethical evaluation of research projects is a question at the heart of our research activities, for which we do not have all the answers. As with scientific reviewing, we must take on the role of evaluator or be evaluated ourselves, using criteria and feelings that are not always consensual. The heterogeneity of evaluation systems within the scientific community, the lack of training for scientists in the fundamentals of ethical evaluation, and the different perceptions of the animal condition between countries and cultures can lead to a reciprocal lack of understanding between evaluator and evaluated, and sometimes a feeling of injustice, as some research may be easy to conduct in one country but difficult in another. Indeed, it is exciting to read the exchanges between the authors and the three reviewers who assessed this opinion paper to appreciate the diversity of points of view and see specific points of divergence.
In addition to animal experimentation, the judgment handed down on 30 June 2023 by the French court penalising a pig farmer for the abusive use of an authorised breeding practice (tail docking) is a perfect illustration of the fact that the ethical assessment of practices and handling of farm animals now extends far beyond the scientific world and is becoming an increasingly important factor in the relationship between society and animal breeding. Failure to consider this evolution, whether in experimentation or animal husbandry, may have legal consequences and increase the lack of understanding between our practices and how society perceives them. The questions raised and the solutions proposed in the article by Nielsen et al. are central to our concerns, not only for the scientific community but also to meet the expectations of all stakeholders.
Finally, although the authors do not directly address the question of genome editing and research using edited farm animals, this is and will be at the heart of future issues concerning the ethical evaluation of research projects. As with practices and manipulations, the intentionality of the modifications induced leads us to question and evaluate, in farmed species, their consequences on animal welfare and their relevance to society and the development of more sustainable and socially accepted animal husbandry.
 Nielsen, B. L., Golledge, H. D. R., Chou, J., Camerlink, I., Pongrácz, P., Ceballos, M., Whittaker, A. L., Olsson, I. S. (2023) Ensuring ethical animal welfare research: Are more ethics review committees the solution? OSF Preprints. Ver. 3 peer-reviewed and recommended by Peer Community in Animal Science. https://doi.org/10.31219/osf.io/s6459
|Ensuring ethical animal welfare research: Are more ethics review committees the solution?
|Birte L. Nielsen, Huw D.R. Golledge, Jen-Yun Chou, Irene Camerlink, Péter Pongrácz, Maria Camila Ceballos, Alexandra L. Whittaker and I. Anna S. Olsson
|<p>As the article is a short Opinion Paper, it has no abstract, but it aims to highlight the inherent challenges to ethics review of animal (welfare) science research, especially the differences between different countries and jurisdictions which ...
|Animal behaviour , Animal welfare, Open science, Veterinary science
31 Jul 2023
The big challenge for livestock genomics is to make sequence data payMartin Johnsson https://doi.org/10.48550/arXiv.2302.01140
The price of sequencing the livestock genomicsRecommended by Marcin Pszczoła based on reviews by Mario Calus and 1 anonymous reviewer
Using sequence data in livestock genomics has often been regarded as a solution to revolutionize livestock breeding (Meuwissen & Goddard, 2010). The main expected benefits were to enhance the accuracy of breeding values, achieve better persistence of the accuracy over generations, and enable across populations or breed predictions (Hickey, 2013). Despite the promised benefits, whole-genome sequencing has not yet been implemented in livestock breeding programs, replacing SNP arrays for routine evaluation.
In this work, Johnsson (2023) thoroughly reviewed the literature regarding the implications of whole-genome sequencing and functional genomics for livestock breeding practice. The author discusses the potential applications and reasons for difficulties in their implementation. The author speculates that the main challenge for making using the sequence data profitable is to overcome the problem of the small dimensionality of the genetic data and proposes three potential ways to achieve this goal. The first approach is better modeling of genomic segments, the second inclusion of undetected genetic variation, and the third use of functional genomic information.
The paper presents an original and interesting perspective on the current status of the use of sequence data in livestock breeding programs and perspectives for the future.
Hickey,J.M.,2013.Sequencing millions of animals for genomic selection 2.0. Journal of Animal Breeding and Genetics 130:331–332. https://doi.org/10.1111/jbg.12054
Johnsson, M., 2023. The big challenge for livestock genomics is to make sequence data pay. arXiv, 2302.01140, ver. 4 peer-reviewed and recommended by Peer Community in Animal Science. https://doi.org/10.48550/arXiv.2302.01140
Meuwissen, T., Goddard, M.,2010. Accurate prediction of genetic values for complex traits by whole-genome resequencing. Genetics 185:623–631. https://doi.org/10.1534/genetics.110.116590
|The big challenge for livestock genomics is to make sequence data pay
|<p>This paper will argue that one of the biggest challenges for livestock genomics is to make whole-genome sequencing and functional genomics applicable to breeding practice. It discusses potential explanations for why it is so difficult to consis...
|Genomics, Genomic selection
27 Jul 2023
Combining several indicators to assess the effectiveness of tailor-made health plans in pig farmsLevallois Pierre, Leblanc-Maridor Mily, Scollo Annalisa, Ferrari Paolo, Belloc Catherine, Fourichon Christine https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.7789634
Evaluating tailor-made health plans in pig farms: a multiple complementary indicators approachRecommended by Matteo Chincarini based on reviews by Carla Gomes and 1 anonymous reviewer
Tailor-made health plans for farming animals, including pigs, are highly beneficial due to their customized nature, addressing the unique needs of each farm and promoting efficient husbandry practices. However, assessing the effectiveness of individualized approaches can be challenging. Levallois et al. (1) tackled this challenge by evaluating the effectiveness of tailor-made health plans of pig farms based on a systematic biosecurity and herd health audit. The study involved twenty farrow-to-finish pig farms, each receiving specific plans tailored to their specific needs. Compliance with the recommendations was monitored over an eight-month period. In the literature, various studies have delved into specific issues in detail, such as disease incidence (e.g., (2)). However, the authors of this research applied a comprehensive approach through an integrative analysis of multiple complementary indicators to provide an effective evaluation of the changes and health disorders.
The authors' holistic approach to measuring the effectiveness of tailor-made health plans is noteworthy. They employed up to seven methods to identify advantages and limitations, providing valuable insights for applied research and practitioners in the field of farm animals. Additionally, the study's inclusion of diverse farms, ranging from conventional to antibiotic-free and varying in sow breeding numbers (from 70 to 800), demonstrates the flexibility of the proposed approach, accommodating different farming systems.
The study revealed three crucial considerations for future evaluations of tailor-made health plans. Firstly, placing compliance as the primary assessment indicator is a priority. Secondly, it is essential to tailor outcome indicators and monitoring periods according to each farm's specific health disorder. Lastly, a comprehensive understanding of the health disorder's evolution can be achieved through the amalgamation of multiple indicators.
While the study does have limitations, such as the relatively short time window for assessment, the methodological framework and results are promising. Further, the discussion of the results raises several areas worthy of future investigation to improve compliance and address farmers' hesitations towards action (i.e., lack of willingness). More research in this context will be beneficial for veterinarians and practitioners, enhancing their understanding and positively impacting both farmers and animals.
In conclusion, the study underscores the significant impact of tailor-made health plans on promoting positive changes in farm management. Assessing the effectiveness of these plans enables the refinement of new strategies and enhances the overall quality of work in animal production. The study by Levallois et al (1) sheds valuable light on the challenges and potentials of such plans, providing essential insights for pig farming practices. While further research and improvements are necessary, the study strongly emphasizes the pivotal role of individualized approaches in attaining improved farm management and enhancing animal welfare.
1. Levallois P, Leblanc-Maridor M, Scollo A, Ferrari P, Belloc C, Fourichon C. (2023). Combining several indicators to assess the effectiveness of tailor-made health plans in pig farms. Zenodo, 7789634. ver. 3 peer-reviewed and recommended by Peer Community in Animal Science. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.7789634
2. Collineau L, Rojo-Gimeno C, Léger A, Backhans A, Loesken S, Nielsen EO, Postma M, Emanuelson U, grosse Beilage E, Sjölund M, Wauters E, Stärk KDC, Dewulf J, Belloc C, Krebs S. (2017). Herd-specific interventions to reduce antimicrobial usage in pig production without jeopardising technical and economic performance. Preventive veterinary medicine, 144:167-78. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.prevetmed.2017.05.023
|Combining several indicators to assess the effectiveness of tailor-made health plans in pig farms
|Levallois Pierre, Leblanc-Maridor Mily, Scollo Annalisa, Ferrari Paolo, Belloc Catherine, Fourichon Christine
|<p style="text-align: justify;">A tailor-made health plan is a set of recommendations for a farmer to achieve and maintain a high health and welfare status. Tailored to each farm, it is intended to be an effective way of triggering change. This st...
|Animal health, Veterinary science
24 Mar 2023
The use of pigs vocalisation structure to assess the quality of human-pig relationshipAvelyne S Villain, Carole Guérin, Céline Tallet https://doi.org/10.1101/2022.03.15.484457
Qualitative aspects of grunts vary with pigs' mental statesRecommended by Isabelle Veissier based on reviews by Matteo Chincarini and 1 anonymous reviewer
Villain et al., (2023) investigated the structure of vocalisations in piglets in relation to human-animal-relationship. They first established a positive relationship by habituating piglets to be positively handled at weaning or later on after weaning. They then compared the reactions of piglets previously positively handled at weaning to that of non-handled piglets during tests in presence of a human (interacting or not), and also before and after the conditioning period when all piglets received positive contacts. They showed that the duration and frequency of grunts emitted in the presence of the human depends on previous contacts. More specifically, grunts are shorter and higher pitched in pigs that have been positively handled, in line with a positive human-animal relationship which is also observed through proximity of the piglets with the human. The authors concluded that the structure of pig vocalisation can reflect the quality of their relationship with humans.
The authors also showed that not only the response to humans is modified by positive contacts but also the general mood of piglets, with piglets positively handled at weaning emitting shorter grunts than non-handled piglets, whatever the context.
Another interesting finding is the temporality of behaviour of pigs habituated to positive contacts: during the first tests, they stay close to the human, probably being reassured by the proximity of the human. Then, when tests are repeated, they explore more the test room, using the human as an exploratory basis as already reported in the literature.
The hypotheses of the study are clear. The methods are reported in details so that the work is reproducible. The interpretation of results is sound. The manuscript is clearly written.
This paper brings new and original knowledge in the field of animals’ emotional responses and human-animal relationship: on the structure of grunts in relation to positive affects (positive emotion, positive mood) and on the temporality of the responses to human presence.
I recommend this manuscript for its originality and quality.
Villain, A.S., Guérin, C., Tallet, C., 2023. The use of pigs vocalisation structure to assess the quality of human-pig relationship. bioRxiv 2022.03.15.484457, ver. 5 peer-reviewed and recommended by Peer Community in Animal Science. https://doi.org/10.1101/2022.03.15.484457
|The use of pigs vocalisation structure to assess the quality of human-pig relationship
|Avelyne S Villain, Carole Guérin, Céline Tallet
|<p>Studying human-animal interactions in domestic species and how they affect the establishment of a positive Human-Animal Relationship (HAR) may help us improve animal welfare and better understand the evolution of interspecific interactions asso...
|Animal behaviour , Animal cognition, Animal welfare
14 Dec 2022
Feed efficiency of lactating Holstein cows was not as repeatable across diets as within diet over subsequent lactation stagesAmelie Fischer, Philippe Gasnier, philippe faverdin https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.02.10.430560
A focus on feed efficiency reproducibility and repeatability of dairy cows fed different diets over the lactation stage.Recommended by Alberto Atzori based on reviews by Ioannis Kaimakamis, Angela Schwarm and 2 anonymous reviewers
The topic of feed efficiency is under discussion in the scientific community and several studies pointed out that lactation stage has to be accounted for when estimates of feed efficiency are carried out, especially for genetic ranking of animals and their performances, as highlighted by Li et al. (2017). Other researchers applied a latin square design to test dietary effects across lactation (Ipharraguerre et al. 2002) but this approach cannot be followed out of experimental conditions and particularly does not allow, nowadays, to valorize precision livestock farm data to get phenotypic information from individual animals at farm level.
The current manuscript by Fischer, et al. (2022a) describes an experimental trial in which cows were first fed a high starch diet-low fibre then switched over to a low starch diet-high fibre and individually monitored over time. Data were analyzed with the objective to investigate effects within diets and across diets. Since all cows went through the same sequence at the same time it was not possible to completely separate the confounding effect of lactation stage and diet as stated by the authors. However, this manuscript adds methodological discussions and opens research questions especially to the matter of repeatability and reproducibility of feed efficiency of individual animals over the lactation stage. These variables are fundamental to evaluate nutritional traits and phenotypic performances of dairy cows at farm level, as highlighted by a paper of the same first author (Fischer, et al. 2022b) dealing to reproducibility and repeatability with a similar approach. My opinion is that this manuscript gives the opportunity to enlarge the scientific discussions on the calculation of repeatability and reproducibility of feed efficiency of individual animals over time. In particular, as in this study, specific mathematical approaches need to be carried out with the final goal to analyze and valorize precision livestock farm data for cow phenotyping and to propose new methods of feed efficiency evaluations. It also needs complete databases carried out under experimental conditions. In fact it has to be considered that this manuscript makes available to the scientific community all the data and the R code developed for data analysis giving the opportunity to replicate the calculations and propose new advancements in the feed efficiency evaluations of dairy cows.
Fischer A, Gasnier P, Faverdin P (2022a) Feed efficiency of lactating Holstein cows was not as repeatable across diets as within diet over subsequent lactation stages. bioRxiv, 2021.02.10.430560, ver. 3 peer-reviewed and recommended by Peer Community in Animal Science. https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.02.10.430560
Fischer A, Dai X, Kalscheur KF (2022b) Feed efficiency of lactating Holstein cows is repeatable within diet but less reproducible when changing dietary starch and forage concentrations. animal, 16, 100599. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.ANIMAL.2022.100599
Ipharraguerre IR, Ipharraguerre RR, Clark JH (2002) Performance of Lactating Dairy Cows Fed Varying Amounts of Soyhulls as a Replacement for Corn Grain. Journal of Dairy Science, 85, 2905–2912. https://doi.org/10.3168/JDS.S0022-0302(02)74378-6
Li B, Berglund B, Fikse WF, Lassen J, Lidauer MH, Mäntysaari P, Løvendahl P (2017) Neglect of lactation stage leads to naive assessment of residual feed intake in dairy cattle. Journal of Dairy Science, 100, 9076–9084. https://doi.org/10.3168/JDS.2017-12775
|Feed efficiency of lactating Holstein cows was not as repeatable across diets as within diet over subsequent lactation stages
|Amelie Fischer, Philippe Gasnier, philippe faverdin
|<p> Background: Improving feed efficiency has become a common target for dairy farmers to<br>meet the requirement of producing more milk with fewer resources. To improve feed<br>efficiency, a prerequisite is to ensure that the cows identified...
|Cattle production, Ruminant nutrition
|Anonymous, Ioannis Kaimakamis, Giuseppe Conte, Angela Schwarm