Submit a preprint

Latest recommendationsrsstwitter

IdTitleAuthorsAbstract▲PictureThematic fieldsRecommenderReviewersSubmission date
31 Jan 2020
article picture

OneARK: Strengthening the links between animal production science and animal ecology

When scientific communities intertwine

Recommended by based on reviews by Rowland Raymond Kao, Arata Hidano and 1 anonymous reviewer

Scientific research can be seen by some as a competitive territory: competition of opinions, concepts, publications, competition for funding. Fortunately, it is above all a territory of sharing and cross-fertilization of ideas. It is gradually becoming a territory of productive interdisciplinary collaborations, despite persistent resistance to making borders more permeable [1]. At the crossroads of worlds, many challenges must be met for communities to understand each other, to be able to communicate with one another, and to benefit mutually from scientific interactions [2].

Delphine Destoumieux-Garzon and co-authors [3] propose to stimulate a single Animal Research Kinship (OneARK) to promote the crossing of the scientific communities in animal production and animal ecology. These two communities share many concepts and methods, which, while they are based on marked specificities (natural versus artificial systems), also and above all have common points that need to be explored more closely. Seven concepts of shared interest to improve the resilience and sustainability of animal population systems were explored by the authors: selection, system viability, system management, animal adaptability, inter-individual diversity in systems, agroecology, and animal monitoring.

This foundation stone paves the way for a finer integration between these two communities, which are close and yet distant, and which are slowly getting to know, understand, and recognize each other.


[1] Ledford, H. (2015). How to solve the world’s biggest problems. Nature, 525, 308–311. doi: 10.1038/525308a
[2] Knapp, B., Bardenet, R., Bernabeu, M. O., Bordas, R., Bruna, M., Calderhead, B., … Deane, C. M. (2015). Ten simple rules for a successful cross-disciplinary collaboration. PLoS Computational Biology, 11(4), e1004214. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004214
[3] Destoumieux-Garzón, D., Bonnet, P., Teplitsky, C., Criscuolo, F., Henry, P.-Y., Mazurais, D., … Friggens, N. (2020). OneARK: Strengthening the links between animal production science and animal ecology. Ver 6 Peer-Reviewed and Recommended by PCI Animal Science. doi: 10.5281/zenodo.3632731

OneARK: Strengthening the links between animal production science and animal ecologyDelphine Destoumieux-Garzón, Pascal Bonnet, Céline Teplitsky, François Criscuolo, Pierre-Yves Henry, David Mazurais, Patrick Prunet, Gilles Salvat, Philippe Usseglio-Polatera, Etienne Verrier and Nicolas Friggens<p>1. Wild and farmed animals are key elements of natural and managed ecosystems that deliver functions such as pollination, pest control and nutrient cycling within the broader roles they play in contributing to biodiversity and to every category...Agricultural sustainability, Animal genetics, Animal welfare, Ecology, Precision livestock farming, Veterinary epidemiology Pauline Ezanno2019-07-05 15:33:21 View
14 Oct 2020
article picture

Determining insulin sensitivity from glucose tolerance tests in Iberian and Landrace pigs

Iberian pigs: more than excellent ham!

Recommended by based on reviews by 2 anonymous reviewers

Iberian pigs represent a treasured resource that allows the maintenance of their “montanera” traditional breeding system and, thus, contributes to the socioeconomic sustainability of the rural areas in the south-western regions of Iberian Peninsula. While the excellence of Iberian meat products is widely recognized, the idea of using Iberian pigs as biomedical models is currently emerging. Interestingly, due to the particular fatty acid metabolism of this porcine breed, Iberian pigs have been proposed as models for type 2 diabetes (Torres-Rovira et al. 2012) or obesity-related renal disease (Rodríguez et a. 2020).

In the present manuscript, Rodríguez-López et al. provide further insights on the particularities of “obese” Iberian pigs by comparing their insulin sensitivity in a glucose tolerance test with that of commercial “lean” Landrace pigs. The authors compared four Iberian pigs with five Landrace pigs in an intense time-series following an intra-arterial glucose tolerance test and measuring insulin, glucose, lactate, triglycerides, cholesterol, creatinine, albumin and urea plasma levels. Several of these parameters showed significant differences between both breeds, with some of them being compatible with an early stage of insulin resistance in Iberian pigs. These results are relevant from an animal production perspective, but provide also further evidence for considering the Iberian pigs as a suitable biomedical model for obesity-related disorders.


[1] Torres-Rovira, L., Astiz, S., Caro, A., Lopez-Bote, C., Ovilo, C., Pallares, P., Perez-Solana, M. L., Sanchez-Sanchez, R., & Gonzalez-Bulnes, A. (2012). Diet-induced swine model with obesity/leptin resistance for the study of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. The Scientific World Journal, 510149.
[2] Rodríguez, R. R., González-Bulnes, A., Garcia-Contreras, C., Elena Rodriguez-Rodriguez, A., Astiz, S., Vazquez-Gomez, M., Luis Pesantez, J., Isabel, B., Salido-Ruiz, E., González, J., Donate Correa, J., Luis-Lima, S., & Porrini, E. (2020). The Iberian pig fed with high-fat diet: a model of renal disease in obesity and metabolic syndrome. International journal of obesity, 44(2), 457–465. "

Determining insulin sensitivity from glucose tolerance tests in Iberian and Landrace pigsJ. M. Rodríguez-López, M. Lachica, L. González-Valero, I. Fernández-Fígares<p>As insulin sensitivity may help to explain divergences in growth and body composition between native and modern breeds, metabolic responses to glucose infusion were measured using an intra-arterial glucose tolerance test (IAGTT). Iberian (n = 4...Monogastrics, Physiology, Pig nutritionJordi Estellé2019-12-28 10:51:03 View
23 Aug 2023
article picture

Ensuring ethical animal welfare research: Are more ethics review committees the solution?

Can a consensus be reached on the ethical review of animal experimentation for livestock species?

Recommended by 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 [1] 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.


[1] 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.

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 scienceHervé Acloque2023-05-05 13:27:22 View
20 Dec 2021
article picture

Quantifying growth perturbations over the fattening period in swine via mathematical modelling

An innovative modelling approach to enhance the quality of the quantification of pig resilience during the entire fattening period: Towards an individual pig resilience index

Recommended by ORCID_LOGO based on reviews by Arata Hidano, Ludovic Brossard and 2 anonymous reviewers

The identification of reliable estimates of growth potential and resilience over the fattening period in large populations is a challenge in actual swine breeding conditions. To overcome this drawback, the study by Revilla et al. 2021 in the frame of precision livestock farming aimed to propose an innovative modelling approach, in addition to previous studies from the same group (Revilla et al. 2019), to enhance the quality of the quantification of pig resilience during the entire fattening period. 

The authors developed a model that quantifies an “individual pig resilience indicator” based on longitudinal data, for instance body weight, recorded routinely by a commercially available automatic feeding system. Revilla and co-workers considered in their study two mainly commercialised pure pig breeds these being Piétrain including Piétrain Français NN Axiom line (Pie NN) free from halothane-sensitivity (ryanodine receptor gene, RYR1) and Piétrain Français Axiom line positive to this gene and Duroc. Therefore, the authors investigated the potential of improving resilience of swine livestock through inclusion for the first time of an “individual pig resilience indicator” in breeding objectives. A database of 13 093 boars (approximately 11.1 million of weightings) belonging to Pie (n= 5 841), Pie NN (n = 5 032) and Duroc (n= 2 220) finished under ad libitum feeding, high sanitary level and controlled temperature was used to develop robust models.

The authors checked the three datasets (for each pig breed)​ independently to explore the variation and gaps (a data pre-treatment procedure) to ensure high quality data for the modelling approach. Then, they applied the Gompertz model and linear interpolation on body weight data to quantify individual deviations from the expected production, allowing the creation of the ABC index. For the modelling, the authors applied a two-step mathematical model approach by first establishing a theoretical growth curve of each animal, while the second step aimed to build the actual perturbed growth curve. The heritability of the index ranged from 0.03 to 0.04, with similar heritability between Piétrain and Duroc breeds. Moreover, moderate genetic relationships were computed between the proposed index and important phenotypic traits in swine production likely BF100: backfat thickness at 100kg; LD100: longissimus dorsi thickness at 100kg; ADG: average daily gain during control and FCR: feed conversion ratio.

Developing models able to capture perturbations during the fattening period is a challenge in swine breeding industry. The model and methodology proposed by the authors in this innovative work (although preliminary and with low heritabilities) would help overcome such limit and facilitate a real implementation at large scale in pig breeding system. The modelling approach further offers an opportunity to develop a selection criterion to improve resilience in swine breeding conditions. 

To explore the full potential of this modelling approach, a larger database and other factors such as breed, behaviour and feeding behaviour of the animals, rearing practices, management and environment conditions, age… etc. are worthy to consider. In the future, more in depth measurements of behaviour that can be computed for example using computer vision should be desirable to increase the robustness of the proposed model.


Revilla, M., Friggens, N.C., Broudiscou, L.P., Lemonnier, G., Blanc, F., Ravon, L., Mercat, M.J., Billon, Y., Rogel-Gaillard, C., Le Floch, N. and Estellé, J. (2019). Towards the quantitative characterisation of piglets’ robustness to weaning: a modelling approach. Animal, 13(11), 2536-2546. 

Revilla M, Lenoir G, Flatres-Grall L, Muñoz-Tamayo R, Friggens NC (2021). Quantifying growth perturbations over the fattening period in swine via mathematical modelling. bioRxiv, 2020.10.22.349985, ver. 5 peer-reviewed and recommended by Peer Community in Animal Science. 

Quantifying growth perturbations over the fattening period in swine via mathematical modellingManuel Revilla, Guillaume Lenoir, Loïc Flatres-Grall, Rafael Muñoz-Tamayo, Nicolas C Friggens<p>Background: Resilience can be defined as the capacity of animals to cope with short-term perturbations in their environment and return rapidly to their pre-challenge status. In a perspective of precision livestock farming, it is key to create i...Animal genetics, Animal health, Farming systems, Mathematical modelling, Precision livestock farmingMohammed Gagaoua 2020-10-26 11:47:08 View
16 Apr 2021
article picture

Modelling the impact of the macroalgae Asparagopsis taxiformis on rumen microbial fermentation and methane production

Understanding the mechanisms behind natural bioactive compounds that can potentially reduce methane production in anaerobic conditions. A case study of Asparagopsis taxiformis

Recommended by based on reviews by Alberto Atzori, Henk van Lingen and 2 anonymous reviewers

Naturally occurring compounds that can reduce methane production in anaerobic conditions have been studied for quite some time as feasible approaches to mitigate methane production in ruminant animals, especially those of commercial importance. Asparagopsis taxiformis (red algae) and Dictyota bartayresii (brown algae) are effective inhibitors of methane synthesis under in vitro anaerobic fermentation systems (Machado et al., 2014) likely because of their high concentration of secondary metabolites that are toxic to the typical rumen microbiota, including protozoa. In addition to phytoplankton (Palmer and Reason, 2009), Asparagopsis contains a high concentration of haloform compounds (e.g., bromoform, chloroform) while Dictyota has a high concentration of isoprenoid terpenes. Despite the economic and biological impact of diverse phytochemicals on reducing methane production in ruminant animals (Tedeschi et al., 2021), haloform compounds’ environmental impact and safety, in particular, are still unclear. In the present study, Munõz-Tamayo and collaborators (2021) listed relevant literature about the impact of A. taxiformis on ruminal methane production.

Concurrent to the understanding of mechanisms and biology behind the reduction of ruminal methane, mathematical models can lead the way to enhance the effectiveness of feeding A. taxiformis under commercial applications. Thus, in the present study, Munõz-Tamayo and collaborators (2021) sought to develop a mathematical model to understand the rumen fermentation changes in vitro experimentation containing extract of A. taxiformis by adapting a previously documented model by Muñoz-Tamayo et al. (2016).

Modeling development, calibration, and evaluation steps should be independent of each other, requiring complete, distinct, and separate databases (Tedeschi, 2006). However, in rare circumstances where such requirements cannot be met because data availability is scarce, the cross-validation technique, when possible, should be considered to assess data dispersion’s effects on model adequacy. In other situations, clear reasoning for failing to do so must be addressed in the paper. In the present paper, Munõz-Tamayo and collaborators (2021) explained the limitations in their modeling efforts were primarily due to the lack of ideal data: “experiments with simultaneous dynamic data of bromoform, volatile fatty acids, hydrogen, and methane.” Regardless of the availability of ideal data, improvements in the conceptual model are warranted to include amino acids and branched-chain fatty acids fermentation dynamics in the rumen and the fluctuations in ruminal pH.


Machado L, Magnusson M, Paul NA, Nys R de, Tomkins N (2014) Effects of Marine and Freshwater Macroalgae on In Vitro Total Gas and Methane Production. PLOS ONE, 9, e85289.

Muñoz-Tamayo R, Chagas JC, Ramin M, Krizsan SJ (2021) Modelling the impact of the macroalgae Asparagopsis taxiformis on rumen microbial fermentation and methane production. bioRxiv, 2020.11.09.374330, ver. 4 peer-reviewed and recommended by PCI Animal Science.

Muñoz-Tamayo R, Giger-Reverdin S, Sauvant D (2016) Mechanistic modelling of in vitro fermentation and methane production by rumen microbiota. Animal Feed Science and Technology, 220, 1–21.

Palmer CJ, Reason CJ (2009) Relationships of surface bromoform concentrations with mixed layer depth and salinity in the tropical oceans. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 23.

Tedeschi LO (2006) Assessment of the adequacy of mathematical models. Agricultural Systems, 89, 225–247.

Tedeschi LO, Muir JP, Naumann HD, Norris AB, Ramírez-Restrepo CA, Mertens-Talcott SU (2021) Nutritional Aspects of Ecologically Relevant Phytochemicals in Ruminant Production. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 8.

Modelling the impact of the macroalgae Asparagopsis taxiformis on rumen microbial fermentation and methane productionRafael Muñoz-Tamayo , Juana C. Chagas, Mohammad Ramin, Sophie J. Krizsan<p>Background: The red macroalgae Asparagopsis taxiformis is a potent natural supplement for reducing methane production from cattle. A. taxiformis contains several anti-methanogenic compounds including bromoform that inhibits directly methanogene...Agricultural sustainability, Animal nutrition modelling, Emissions , Mathematical modelling, Microbial fermentation, Rumen microbiology, Rumen microbiome Luis Tedeschi2020-11-17 06:28:29 View
06 Sep 2019
article picture

Lactation curve model with explicit representation of perturbations as a phenotyping tool for dairy livestock precision farming.

Developing smart fitting algorithms to identify random perturbations in time-series data

Recommended by based on reviews by Alberto Atzori, Jennifer Spencer and 1 anonymous reviewer

The ability to adequately characterize the lactation curve of livestock is important not only to ensure proper nutrition of the lactating animal but, among many other benefits, it can assist in diagnosing the incidence of diseases, predicting the quantity of milk production, and comparing animals within the herd for managerial strategies such as culling. Eventually, such smart fitting algorithms can lead to improved genetic selection of more productive animals after genetic-unrelated noises are removed from the data, systematically.
The manuscript by Ben Abdelkrim et al. developed and explained an algorithm to detect perturbations in lactation curves of dairy goats. Researchers have been interested in accurately describing lactation curves since the early-1960s. Johansson [1] proposed a nonlinear decay function, Nelder [2] described an inverse polynomial, and Wood [3] proposed the incomplete gamma function to describe milk production of dairy cows. Unfortunately, many of the lactating animals that yielded lactation curves that did not comply with the typical, expected pattern of milk production were usually discarded and, until then, efforts to address this lack of adherence were not conducted. The recommended manuscript provides a different perspective in which rather than discarding the lactation profile, one can model the perturbations of the lactation curve as an attempt to identify possible problems (e.g., mastitis) and minimize their occurrence. Such an algorithm is important to separate females that show resilient attributes from those females that show sustainable attributes, as per existing definitions proposed by Tedeschi et al. [4].
The recommended manuscript proposes the Perturbed Lactation Model to explicitly account for multiple perturbations in the time-series milk production in dairy goats. When perturbations occur in biological processes, a typical negative impact is observed in the animal’s response, but on rare occasions, positive impacts can occur. In this case, the animal responds positively to the perturbation (i.e., responsive), and as a result, there is an increase in their output when compared to unperturbed animals. The recommended manuscript only considered negative impacts due to perturbations in the lactation curve of dairy goats. Future modifications should include positive responses due to perturbations. In this case, animals would be “positively responsive” to perturbations, and examples of such behavior include feed intake and growth curves.


[1] Johansson, I. (1961). Genetic Aspects of Dairy Cattle Breeding. University of Illinois Press, Urbana, IL.

[2] Nelder, J. A. (1966). Inverse polynomials, a useful group of multi-factor response functions. Biometrics. 22 (1):128-141. doi: 10.2307/2528220
[3] Wood, P. D. P. (1967). Algebraic model of the lactation curve in cattle. Nature. 216 (5111):164-165. doi: 10.1038/216164a0
[4] Tedeschi, L. O., J. P. Muir, D. G. Riley, and D. G. Fox. (2015). The role of ruminant animals in sustainable livestock intensification programs. Int. J. Sustainable Dev. World Ecol. 22 (5):452-465. doi: 10.1080/13504509.2015.1075441

Lactation curve model with explicit representation of perturbations as a phenotyping tool for dairy livestock precision farming.Ben Abdelkrim Ahmed, Puillet Laurence, Gomes Pierre, Martin Olivier<p>Background Understanding the effects of environment on livestock provides valuable information on how farm animals express their production potential, and on their welfare. Ruminants are often confronted with perturbations that affect their per...Lactation biology , Mathematical modelling, Precision livestock farmingLuis Tedeschi2019-06-07 09:38:26 View
06 Sep 2023
article picture

Validation of a Radio frequency identification system for tracking location of laying hens in a quasi-commercial aviary system

Tracking large numbers of hens in aviary housing: validation of a Radio Frequency Identification system

Recommended by 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.


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<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 welfareAnna Olsson2023-02-17 08:54:51 View
28 Jan 2022
article picture

Microbial colonization of tannin-rich tropical plants: interplay between degradability, methane production and tannin disappearance in the rumen

Ruminal microbial degradation of tannin-rich tropical plants and methane production

Recommended by based on reviews by Todd Callaway and Srinivasan Mahalingam

Rira et al. (2022) evaluated ruminal degradation of tropical tannins-rich plants and the relationship between condensed tannins disappearance and microbial communities. I found this study relevant because a major limitation for tropical plants utilization by ruminants is their potential reduced nutrient digestion. In this study, authors used leaves from Calliandra calothyrsus, Gliricidia sepium, and Leucaena leucocephala, pods from Acacia nilotica and the leaves of Manihot esculenta and Musa spp., which were incubated in situ in the rumen of dairy cows. An in vitro approach was also used to assess the effects of these plants on ruminal fermentation. They observed that hydrolysable and free condensed tannins from all plants completely disappeared after 24 h incubation in the rumen. Disappearance of protein-bound condensed tannins was variable with values ranging from 93% for Gliricidia sepium to 21% for Acacia nilolitica. This demonstrated some potential for selection and improvements in protein digestion. In contrast, fibre-bound condensed tannins disappearance averaged ~82% and did not vary between plants, which was remarkable. The authors noted that disappearance of bound fractions of condensed tannins was not associated with degradability of plant fractions and that the presence of tannins interfered with the microbial colonisation of plants. Each plant had distinct bacterial and archaeal communities after 3 and 12 h of incubation in the rumen and distinct protozoal communities at 3 h. This suggests a great deal of specificity for microbial-plant interactions, which warrants further evaluation to consider also animal contributions to such specificity. Adherent communities in tannin-rich plants had a lower relative abundance of fibrolytic microbes, notably Fibrobacter spp. Whereas, archaea diversity was reduced in high tannin-containing Calliandra calothyrsus and Acacia nilotica at 12 h of incubation. Concurrently, in vitro methane production was lower for Calliandra calothyrsus, Acacia nilotica and Leucaena leucocephala although for the latter total volatile fatty acids production was not affected and was similar to control. Finally, the study demonstrated that the total amount of hydrolysable and condensed tannins contained in a plant play a role governing the interaction with rumen microbes affecting degradability and fermentation. The effect of protein- and fibre-bound condensed tannins on degradability is less important. The major limitation of the study is the lack of animal validation at this stage; therefore, further studies are warranted, especially studies evaluating these plants in vivo. Furthermore, mechanisms associated with plant-microbial specificity, the role played by the host, and more data on nutrient utilization and gas production should be investigated. Nonetheless, this work show interesting microbial colonization and specific plant-microbial relationships that are novel in the ruminal environment.


Rira M, Morgavi DP, Popova M, Maxin G, Doreau M (2022). Microbial colonization of tannin-rich tropical plants: interplay between degradability, methane production and tannin disappearance in the rumen. bioRxiv, 2021.08.12.456105, ver. 3 peer-reviewed and recommended by Peer Community in Animal Science.


Microbial colonization of tannin-rich tropical plants: interplay between degradability, methane production and tannin disappearance in the rumenMoufida Rira, Diego P Morgavi, Milka Popova, Gaelle Maxin, Michel Doreau<p>Condensed tannins in plants are found free and attached to protein and fibre but it is not<br>known whether these fractions influence rumen degradation and microbial colonization.<br>This study explored the rumen degradation of tropical tannins...Animal nutrition modelling, Cattle production, Emissions , Farming systems, Gut microbiology, Microbial ecology, Microbial fermentation, Rumen microbiology, Rumen microbiome , Ruminant nutritionAntonio Faciola2021-08-16 08:56:45 View
10 Aug 2022
article picture

Decreasing the level of hemicelluloses in sow's lactation diet affects the milk composition and post-weaning performance of low birthweight piglets.

Varying the hemicellulose content in the diet of lactating sows highlights the importance of early-life interventions for improving health and performance of small piglets during the post-weaning period

Recommended by based on reviews by Hélène Quesnel and Myriam Grundy

One of the key questions in pig industry nowadays is how health and performance of piglets can be improved by sow nutrition and milk composition. The levels of dietary fibers in sow’s gestation diet have positive effects observed on the litters. However, the composition of dietary fibers and the organization of polysaccharides within the cell wall in the different plants determine their physicochemical properties and, thereby, their behaviour in the gut of the sows and the subsequent physiological response of the animals. Hemicelluloses are polysaccharides constituents of the cell walls of plants, which are fermented in the gut to produce volatile fatty acids (VFA). These VFA can serve as energy source for milk synthesis and can thereby influence the development of suckling piglets. Palumbo and colleagues (1) proposed an original experimental design to compare diets with similar fiber contents but different hemicellulose levels, thanks to varying the sources of fibers used in the dietary formulations. Effects were studied on performance and health of lactating sows and their piglets during suckling period and until post-weaning. The dietary treatments had no effect on the total number of piglets weaned and, consequently, on litter weight at weaning. Milk yield was not influenced by the dietary treatments, but milk composition (lactose content, copper and threonine proportions) was affected by the level of hemicellulose in the maternal diets. With a decreasing hemicellulose level in sow diet, milk lactose content linearly decreased, whereas the copper and threonine contents linearly increased. There was no effect on piglet performance during the lactation period. During the second week of post-weaning, a quadratic increase in the incidence of diarrhoea and the number of days with diarrhoea for suckling piglets was observed with decreasing hemicellulose level in diet. Interestingly, the observed effects were partly different for piglets born with a low body weight. Indeed, there was a linear decrease in the incidence of diarrhoea and days with diarrhoea with decreased hemicellulose level in the maternal diet for those piglets, together with increased growth performance from birth to two weeks post-weaning. The authors postulated that the improved growth performance and the lower incidence of diarrhoea observed in small piglets during post-weaning period may be related to the increased abundance of threonine and copper and increased concentration of total VFA in milk of sows fed a diet with reduced hemicellulose levels. This study confirms the importance of early-life interventions to improve the post-weaning development and health of this sub-population of piglets.


(1) Palumbo F, Bee G, Trevisi P, and Girard M. (2022). Decreasing the level of hemicelluloses in sow's lactation diet affects the milk composition and post-weaning performance of low birthweight piglets. agriRxiv 2022.00116, ver 4 (R3), peer-reviewed and recommended by PCI Animal Science. 

Decreasing the level of hemicelluloses in sow's lactation diet affects the milk composition and post-weaning performance of low birthweight piglets.Francesco Palumbo, Giuseppe Bee, Paolo Trevisi, Marion Girard<p>Hemicelluloses (HC) are polysaccharides constituents of the cell walls of plants. They are fermented in the gut to produce volatile fatty acids (VFA). The present study investigated the effects of decreasing HC level in sow's lactation diet on ...Pig nutritionFlorence Gondret2022-01-21 12:00:22 View
01 Sep 2022
article picture

Detecting dairy cows' lying behaviour using noisy 3D ultrawide band positioning data

A novel method to monitor lying behaviour of dairy cows by combining noisy spatial positioning data, time-series segmentation based on statistical changepoints and machine learning classification algorithm

Recommended by based on reviews by Kareemah Chopra and John Fredy Ramirez Agudelo

Using on-farm sensors in dairy farming is known to help decision makings and farmer objectives in the monitoring and potential improvement of animal behaviour, health and production performance. However, in indoor positioning systems, data interpretation is complicated by the inaccuracy and noise in the time series, missing data caused not only by sensor failure or the harsh and changing farm environments in which they operate, but also by the animals' specific physiology itself. Thus, working with spatial data has proven challenging mainly due to their enormous heteroscedasticity, which depends on multiple factors such as the cow, the time of the day, the behaviour, factors interfering with the sensor system, etc., for which we cannot account mathematically. Applying purely black-box approaches generally results in insufficient robustness, interpretability and generalisability. 

With this work, Adriaens et al. (2022) developed a relatively simple and new methodology to monitor the lying behaviour of dairy cows by using noisy spatial positioning data, while combining time-series segmentation based on statistical changepoints and a machine learning classification algorithm. The two-step methodology identifies lying behaviour using an ultra-wide band indoor positioning system. Getting-up or lying-down events were indicated by the accelerometers. Overall classification and lying behaviour prediction performance was above 91% in independent test sets, with a very high consistency across cow-days. The robustness of the algorithm was demonstrated by the fact that both the cow identity-based split and the time-based split performed equally well. 

The article represents an original contribution for advancing the state of the art in the automated quantification of lying behaviour in dairy cows, aiming to monitor health or animal welfare issues. Future research must be considered however to validate the performance of the model when using different position-measuring technologies, in other farm settings and over a longer period of time.



Adriaens I, Ouweltjes W, Pastell M, Ellen E, Kamphuis C. 2022. Detecting dairy cows' lying behaviour using noisy 3D ultra-wide band positioning data. Zenodo, 6627251, ver. 3 peer-reviewed and recommended by Peer Community in Animal Science. 



Detecting dairy cows' lying behaviour using noisy 3D ultrawide band positioning dataI. Adriaens, W. Ouweltjes, M. Pastell, E. Ellen, C. Kamphuis<p>In precision livestock farming, technology-based solutions are used to monitor and manage<br>livestock and support decisions based on on-farm available data. In this study, we developed<br>a methodology to monitor the lying behaviour of dairy c...Animal behaviour , Mathematical modelling, Precision livestock farmingEliel Gonzalez-Garcia2022-02-28 18:19:37 View