INTRODUCING NEW FEEDING PROGRAMS AND FACILITIES FOR IRISH FINISHING PIGS
Efficiency in Irish pig farms has improved in the last years but there is still room for improvement in coming years. Dietary unbalances induce extra cost to the farmer and environmental issues. This project will test different approaches modifying digestible lysine and net energy of diets and feeding programs to create awareness on farmers of the potential benefits that they are not making. Moreover, the research on feeding programs will be also combined with new facility designs for finisher pigs and fast methods to optimize on farm feed efficiency to provide a fast, simple and cheap analysis of the diet to the farmer. This project will be developed in association of Teagasc and University Autònoma of Barcelona.
TECHNICAL AND ECONOMIC ANALYSIS OF MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES IN DAIRY FARMS OPERATIONS
The PhD research related to the development and integration of mathematical models into decision support systems, with the aim of evaluating different strategies of management to improve the dairy farms decision process and increase profitability. In particular, main topics include the study of the impact of heat stress and mitigation strategies on productivity and profitability; and the evaluation of different reproductive strategies (long lactations) on the profitability of dairy farms.
EFFECTS OF DIFFERENT SOURCES AND DOSES OF COPPER AND ZINC ON GROWTH PERFORMANCE AND GUT HEALTH IN BROILERS
Copper and Zinc are essential trace minerals in the poultry diet. They play a crucial role in immunity and health and allow optimal growth performance by maintaining body functions in broilers. After the ban of antibiotics as a growth promoter, therapeutic doses of these trace minerals are widely used as an antibacterial feed additive to promote growth. However, their response may depend on the source (e.g., solubility and bioavailability of the source). Therefore, my study focuses on the effects of different sources and doses of Zn and Cu on the productivity, and intestinal health of broilers. This study is part of the SUMINAPP project (E! 11780), which aims to provide new insights on copper and zinc supplementation in diets of food-producing animals for more sustainable practices.
A NEW FEEDING STRATEGY FOR CHICKS SINCE THE FIRST DAY OF LIFE
In practice, chicks hatch over a period of 24-48 hours keeping them confined in the hatcher until a large percentage of chicks have hatched. Hatchery treatments and transport to the farm involve a further holding period of up to 72 hours. During this period, chicks normally do not usually have access to either feed or water. This implies a late development of the intestinal mucosa, impairing the nutrient absorption and favouring a lower resistance to bacterial infections. To alleviate this effect, the use of pre-starter diets is the best solution in the short term and can be implemented without substantial changes in the current production system. In these diets, it is important to take into account that, nutritional requirements change rapidly during the first week of life due to continuous development of organs such as those of the gastrointestinal tract or immune system. Throughout this project, the effect of combining functional proteins such as spray dried porcine plasma and low calcium levels for the first 10 days of life will be evaluated. In order to better understand their way of action in starter diets, new available technologies such as gene expression or metagenomics will be applied.
WELFARE INTEGRAL MONITORING OF DAIRY COW AND PIG IN THE ENTIRE PRODUCTION CHAIN, BY MEANS OF A PLF TECNOLOGIES COMBINATION
Combining sensor-based technologies (PLF: Precision Livestock Farming), allows real-time evaluation of several animal and environmental-based welfare indicators. Thus, a new welfare assessment paradigm arises, integrating every dairy and pigs’ productive phase, and all production chain stages, considering producers and consumers’ interests. The main objective is integrating animal-based and environmental-based welfare indicators from PLF technologies, to help producers and consumers in decision-making throughout pig and dairy value chain.
Producers support refers to farm processes optimization, based on improvement of animal welfare by means of early warning alerts of animals’ sub-optimal welfare conditions at individual level. For consumers, attending their interests and providing affordable and understandable information regarding welfare background of animal origin products.
- To identify consumers’ and producers’ needs and requirements and contrasting them with relevant animal welfare indicators in the whole production chain.
- Develop an innovative model of welfare assessment for dairy and pig production, based on the integration of indicators measurement by means of PLF.
- Adapting the model of animal welfare assessment to the identification of profitable alternatives for improving the production system sustainability, production efficiency, and environmental impact.
This thesis is linked to ClearFarm Project.
NUTRIENT RELEVANCE IN THE PERINATAL PERIOD OF THE PIGLET: AN OPPORTUNITY FOR CONDITIONING ITS PRODUCTIVE PERFORMANCE
My thesis is part of a project financed by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness of Spain called Priming pigs, which pretends to delve into those factors of the early life of the piglet that may determine its response in later stages. The two objectives of the thesis are:
1. To determine the effect of sow diet supplementation with animal plasma during gestation and lactation in the productive performance of the piglets before and after the weaning. Also, to investigate its mechanism of action (microbiome and immune system).
2. To identify relevant nutrients of the artificial milk that can promote a differential response in the growth and digestive maturation of the piglets in their first weeks of life. Afterwards, to evaluate the effects of supplementing the litter with enriched artificial milk during the lactation.
USE OF ACID OILS IN BROILER CHICKEN NUTRITION
My work is based on the use of acid oils in broiler chicken diets, which is part of a project (ref. AGL2015-64431-C2-1-R) titled “Use of acid oils in feeding monogastric animals. Characterization, comparative nutrition, and lipid meat quality repercussions”.
The purpose of my thesis is to investigate the potential use of acid oils in combination with conventional oils. For this, I have carried out in vitro and in vivo trials to evaluate the digestion and absorption process of these oils along the gastrointestinal tract in starter and grower-finisher broiler chickens. The study also tests the effect of feeding acid oils on intestinal morphology and mucin composition.
This work is conducting in collaboration with different research groups from the universities: UB, UAM and CEU-UCH.
ALTERNATIVE HOUSING CONDITIONS TO IMPROVE PERFORMANCE AND WELFARE IN LACTATING SOWS AND PIGLETS
Intensive pig production is one of the solutions to meet an increasing demand for animal-derived food around the globe. However, the current housing conditions in intensive farms are often barren and do not fulfill the behavioral needs of the pigs, which leads to poor welfare and performance of the pigs. In addition, the growing public awareness of farm animal welfare in the EU society has also urged the producers to improve the farming practices. It is therefore necessary to investigate alternative housing conditions to not only enhance the performance but also the welfare of the pigs. My PhD thesis work is based on two research projects:
- Effects of pre-weaning socialization and environmental enrichment on life-long performance and welfare in commercially reared pigs.
- Effect of farrowing housing (permanent crating vs. temporary crating) on performance and welfare in sows and piglets during lactation and after weaning.
EFFECT OF FACTORS RELATED TO HOUSING AND FEEDING SYSTEMS ON BOVINE WELFARE
My thesis is part of an animal welfare project animal financed by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness of Spain called Retowel, in which I’m studying farm management strategies on bovine specie. The main objectives are:
1 – Assess viability of forest biomass as bedding material in compost bedded pack barns of dairy cows on the interplay between pack performance, pack microbial counts and animal welfare, in comparison with sawdust which is the traditional bedding material in this housing system.
2 – Establish the dietary optimal content of physically effective fiber in feedlot cattle fed high-concentrate diets by assessing feed intake, animal behavior and ruminal pH, parameters related with incidence of subclinical acidosis, a typical digestive disorder in beef cattle.
DAIRY FARM DATA MANAGEMENT TO SUPPORT TECHNICAL AND ECONOMIC DECISIONS
My PhD thesis deals with the collection, integration, analysis and interpretation of on farm available data to provide technical and economic suggestions of action for optimizing dairy farm’s productivity and competitiveness. The thesis project consists of two different sections: 1) Analysis of a large database of individual records of dairy cows, using data mining techniques, to explore relationships between variables and identify patterns that can be used to predict a cow’s lifetime performance; and 2) Simulation of the implementation of different action strategies in commercial dairy farms, using a stochastic simulation model, to assess the productive and economic consequences of the changes and, thus, identify opportunities for improvement for dairy farms.
INFLUENCE OF XYLANASE SUPPLEMENTATION IN CORN-BASED POULTRY DIETS: PERFORMANCE, DIGESTIBILITY AND MICROBIOTA MODULATION
Xylanase are commonly added when viscous cereals such as wheat are used in poultry diets in order to reduce intestinal viscosity of birds by degradation of soluble arabinoxylans. However, xylanase also showed benefits when was used in corn diets, this could be due to the disruption of the cell wall, which releases encapsulated nutrients (“cage effect”) and/or through the prebiotic effect of xylo-oligosaccharides (XOS) produced from corn arabinoxylans. In this way, we are focus on improve the knowledge about the variability produced by different characteristics of corn, such as the particle size and nutrient composition in the birds performance, and how the xylanase supplementation could homogenize this variation. Thus, we are performing different studies in order to understand the effect of this additive on the improvement of intestinal health and productivity through the evaluation of intestinal morphology, microbiota, short chain fatty acids and digestibility of the nutrients in poultry feed with corn-based diets.
USE OF VARIOUS NUTRITIONAL STRATEGIES IN DOGS TO IMPROVE GUT HEALTH
The role of the gut microbiome in health is becoming increasingly important as we improve our knowledge regarding the complex interactions between the microorganisms that inhabit the digestive tract and the host. The current thesis project aims to evaluate different nutritional strategies to improve the intestinal health of dogs. Specifically, it is intended to evaluate changes in microbiota composition, fermentation products, digestibility, and fecal quality. On the other hand, the thesis also considers analysing the impact of treatments on the host’s health and biological response. The project includes two animal studies, each one evaluates a different strategy but both are seeking to modify microbiota in a beneficial manner. The treatments will be selected after a deep literature review, taking into account their effectiveness and viability reported in both: in vitro and in vivo studies. The effect of the different treatments on the fecal microbiota will be determined by molecular analysis, in addition to the determination of fermentation products, fecal quality, and digestibility parameters, as previously mentioned. In general, it is expected that treatments will exert a beneficial effect on the fecal microbiota activity and composition, along with improvements in digestive function and animal welfare.
STUDY OF THE MECHANISMS OF ACTION TO DIFFERENT BIOACTIVE BOTANICAL COMPOUNDS ON THE FEEDING BEHAVIOR, PERFORMANCE AND HEALTH OF SWINE
Present PhD thesis is associated to a research project between the SNiBA and DELACON® company. It is conformed of a serial of experiment trials focused on the study of several plant-derived bioactive compounds supplemented as feed additives (phytogenics) to pig diets during the different commercial swine phases.
In the post-weaning phase is study the effect of the supplementation of phytogenic actives in starter pig diets using a doble-choice test on the feed preference and their correlation between the growth performance. Whereas in sows, is study the effects of the maternal transfer of different phytogenic actives supplemented to gestion and lactation diets on the performance and antioxidant status of hyperprolific sows and their offspring, as well as, colostrum and milk features, and piglets intestinal integrity (transcriptome and morphology).
EFFECT OF SHORT- AND MEDIUM-CHAIN FATTY ACIDS ON GUT HEALTH IN MONOGASTRIC ANIMALS
The research interest on antibiotic alternatives has been increased due to the development of antimicrobial resistance and the intensified concern about public health safety and sustainability. The main objective of this thesis is to evaluate the potential of short- (SCFA) and medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA) on gut health and performance of broilers and weaned piglets. In particular, the tested product is protected sodium butyrate with medium chain fatty acids from distillates of coconut oil.
To accomplish the objective, in vitro and in vivo trials are being performed to evaluate the mode of action of the SCFA and MCFA on gut health parameters specially microbiota and gut histomorphometry. At the same time, the performance are being evaluated to study the profitability and sustainability of the productive system of monogastric animals.
EARLY-LIFE DETERMINISM IN PIGLETS: AN OPPORTUNITY TO CONDITION THEIR RESPONSE AFTER WEANING
The are many challenges the piglet face after birth, being weaning the most critical period in which clinical episodes and the use of antibiotics are frequent. Providing the animal with an adequate interaction with its environment during the perinatal period (nutrients, microorganisms, management) will generate positive scenarios for correct microbial colonization and epigenomic programming, particularly in modulating its immune system. Using new tools to simultaneously characterize the microbiome (Illumina MiSeq 16S rRNA), metabolic spectra (NMR, HPLC-MS) and intestinal gene expression (OpenArray) will provide relevant data on the mechanisms that influence this early-life determinism and, in particular, the communication between the microbiota and the host.
The present project aims to, therefore, explore factors of practical application in commercial conditions, and to incorporate into the study the use of -omic techniques that in addition to the complete composition of the microbiome, will allow to learn specific aspects of bacterial and animal metabolism (metabonomics) and the mechanisms involved in nutritional and microbial regulation of digestive and immune integrity and function.
This thesis is included in a project financed by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (ref. AGL2016-75463-R) that aims to study in depth those early factors in the life of the piglet that may determine its response in later stages.
STRATEGIES FOR THE USE OF ACID OILS IN THE FEEDING OF MONOGASTRIC ANIMALS
The inclusion of fat is a wide extended practice in the formulation of feed for chickens and pigs due to its high-energy content (9.4 kcal / g) and its contribution of essential fatty acids (FA). Since food represents around 65-75% of production costs, the decision of which fats we incorporate in animal feed has important consequences for the company’s productive and economic efficiency.
Previous studies have confirmed the existence of some fatty by-products derived from the human food chain that have interesting characteristics for animal nutrition. Specifically, acid oils and oleins are by-products from the refining of edible oils, which are obtained by chemical neutralization or distillation, characterized by a high content of free fatty acids (FFA).
Our hypothesis is that acid oils that meet established composition and quality parameters can be incorporated into the feeding of monogastric animals allowing an improvement in the profitability of the production process and a high quality and safety of food. For this reason, we propose to generate applied information on the strategies of incorporation of acid oils, of established quality, that allow a better nutritional use for chickens and pigs, determining the impact in terms of nutritional value and productive profitability, and also considering the impact on the quality of the final product in terms of composition and safety of the lipid fraction of animal meat.
EVALUATION OF DIFFERENT MINERAL SOURCES IN THE PRODUCTIVE PERFORMANCE AND INTESTINAL HEALTH OF PIGLETS, GROWING PIGS AND GESTATING-LACTATING SOWS
Trace minerals play an essential physiological role for the normal growth and health of animals. For instance, Cu and Zn are involved in the synthesis of more than 300 enzymes and proteins. The swine industry usually supplements diets with Cu and Zn at higher levels than those recommended as nutritional requirements, due to their positive effects in promoting growth, modulating the intestinal microbiota, and improving the intestinal health. However, at high dietary levels, trace minerals are barely absorbed and affect the availability of other nutrients. Large quantities of trace minerals excreted in manure are of great environmental concern due to their effect on ecotoxicity, as well as the risk to public health due to increasing rates of microbial resistance to antibiotics. To prevent these environmental and public health concerns, dietary trace mineral levels can be reduced without affecting the productive performance of pigs. The aim of the present doctoral thesis is to evaluate the productive performance and intestinal health of weaned and grower-finisher pigs and sows fed with different trace mineral sources in doses similar or lower than those established by the European Union regulations.