Completed research projects

Last changed: 10 July 2019
Lantbrukets djur på Lövsta. Livestock at Lövsta. Photo: Jan Petersson

Completed projects at the Swedish Livestock Research Center

For more projects, please see the Swedish version of this page. 

Cattle: Completed projects at the Swedish Livestock Research Centre

Cattle: Using body language to assess emotional states in dairy cows

Currently it is widely accepted that animals can feel pain and suffer, and methodologies assessing the negative welfare have been developed and extensively studied. One cannot say the same in relation to studies on the positive emotions of animals and their related indicators, which is still a challenge. However, body language (e.g. subtle changes in body posture) has been shown to be a potential indicator of their emotional states. We aim to identify indicators of their emotional states using their body language, firstly mapping their body expressions, behaviour and physiological responses (heart rate) under negative and positive controlled conditions in the tie-stall and secondly using these indicators to study their emotional states when experiencing their routine situations in the loose stall (milking, feeding, social interactions and use of mechanical brushes).

As grooming behaviour seems to be linked with positive reward and wellbeing and mechanical brushes becomes more common in loose housing (and cows use them a lot), we aim to evaluate how this form of self-stimulation correlates with other types of grooming behaviour (self-grooming or social grooming) and how the social ranking of the cows in the group and different types of stressful situations correlates with the brush use (e.g. brushes may serve as a "social buffer" in a stressful environment).

We also aim to assess how the production and health parameters relate to the brush use and dairy cows emotional states. To do this we will use the automatically collected (base) data from each cow as well as regular standardised scoring of cleanliness, lameness, injuries etc. We will also take milk samples for later analysis as the treatments may have short term effect milk composition.

Contact

Linda Keeling

Daiana Oliveira

Cattle: Effect of incomplete milking on udder health and milk yield on udder quarter level and milk yield on udder quarter level

With automatic milking systems it can happen that one udder quarter will be incompletely milked. This can be caused by the cow kicking off the milking unit or the robotic arm failing to attach the milking unit at the teats. Since the milking process is fully automated no personal is present to reattach the milking unit/teat cup. The udder quarter where the teat cup has fallen off, or where the attachment of the teat-cups have failed will be incompletely milked until the next milking, unless the cow get milking permission within a short time after completed milking. How frequent incomplete milking is and how it will affect the production capacity and udder health is not fully evaluated. Science based results are required for recommendations whether the omitted milked udder quarter should be milked directly after completed milking or if that udder quarter can wait until the next planned milking event.

Contact

Kerstin Svennersten Sjaunja

Ida Ljunggren

Cattle: The role of mast cells in bovine mastitis

Mast cells are tissue-resident pro-inflammatory leukocytes recognized as a part of the innate immune system. Mast cells have been shown to influence the course of bacterial infections yielding different outcomes depending on the severity of infection. In severe infections the mast cell has been shown to have a detrimental effect. In other cases it has a protective function.

Mastitis – inflammation of the mammary tissue – is globally the most common disease amongst dairy cows. All forms of the disease incur economic losses in terms of reduced milk yields and treatment costs. The clinical form of the disease in particular impinges the health and welfare of the cow. Mastitis is often the result of a bacterial infection, commonly involving species such as Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus. Our current knowledge of the immunological aspect of mastitis is limited and the putative role of mast cells in this type of disease has not previously been investigated. The goal of this experiment is to determine whether or not the mast cell is involved in the immune reaction to bacterial bovine mastitis. We expect that a deeper understanding of the mast cells role in bacterial mastitis could lead to improvements in diagnostics and treatment. For example, the presence of mast cell inflammatory mediators in the blood of a mastitis afflicted cow could be used as a diagnostic criterion. Similarly, drugs used to counteract the effect of harmful mast cell associated mediators could be brought into use as a mastitis treatment. Alternatively, mast cell components shown to have a protective effect could be used in treatment of mastitis.

Contact

Emma Ternman, emma.ternman@slu.se, +46 (0)18-67 16 18

 

Cattle: Physiological effects of dairy cow´s usage of mechanical brushes: The effect on plasma oxytocin and plasma cortisol levels, behaviour, immunology, heart rate and heart rate variability

Good welfare can be seen as the possibility to experience positive affective states and not only the lack of poor welfare. Interest in investigating positive emotions in animals has grown lately. There is a need to identify reliable and feasible indicators of positive emotions in animals and grooming behaviour has been indicated as a potential candidate. As the supply of mechanical brushes for dairy cows in loose housing systems is increasing combined with the fact that they are highly used by the majority of the cows, mechanical brush usage become a key component of grooming behaviour to be addressed on farm level.

In this project we will investigate how the use of mechanical brushes interacts with stress at an individual level. More specifically, we plan to assess if the use of mechanical brushes has a buffering effect toward stress and also if its usage can have a calming effect after being exposed to a stressor. These emotional manipulations will be assessed by behavioural, physiological and immunological parameters. Blood samples and heart rate measurements will be taken before, during and after the brush use, in an experimental design testing the exposure to a stressor before and after the brush use.

Contact

Emma Ternman, emma.ternman@slu.se, +46 (0)18-67 16 18

 

Cattle: Dark vision in dairy calves

According to the Swedish animal welfare legislation lighting during darkness hours is required, but the legislation does not specify minimum or maximum light intensity. Calves and growing cattle, just as lactating animals, benefit from long days with relatively high light intensity, the recommendation is 16 hours light with a minimum of 180 lux. This will enhance growth rate and milk production but in our previous studies we have seen that cows’ activity is changed when exposed to 24 hours of light and that they seem to rest less. For this reason in addition to the environmental aspect of reduced energy consumption, we believe it is important to lower the light intensity during part of the 24-hour period.

Our previous studies have provided us with understanding of the effect of different light intensities and light colours on cow behaviour, we know that they can move around without problem in low light intensities and low light intensities do not reduce their activity at night. However, it has still not been studied how calves react on darkness and this project therefore aims to study whether the calves’ movement pattern change with different light intensities.

Contact

Emma Ternman, emma.ternman@slu.se, +46 (0)18-67 16 18

 

Cattle: Total mixed ration - competitive feeding system on organic farms with automatic milking?

Farms with automatic milking (AM) have steadily increased in Sweden over the last years and the organic farmers are no exception in this development. One of the most important factors that contribute to maintaining a high production level in AM is well-functioning cow traffic and frequent visits to the milking unit. Low milking frequencies may affect udder health negatively and a common opinion is that it also results in lower milk yield. However, there are studies showing that the relationships are unclear and the causes multifactorial.

In order to achieve a high production level, farmers are often advised not to feed silage or a mixed ration of high nutritional value at the feed bunk, because it is said to lower the cows’ motivation to visit the milking unit. It is not unusual that straw is mixed into the feed in order to reduce the energy content of the mix. Nevertheless, it must be considered a limitation for the production to not use high nutritional feeds when most farmers’ strive to harvest the crop at the optimum stage of development. Scientific literature is scarce on how the feed concentration in a total mixed ration affects milking frequencies and milk yield in AM systems. Hence, the aim of this project is to evaluate these variables when the cows are fed mixed ration versus fed silage and concentrate separately in three different cow traffic systems.

 

Cattle: Do milk fat have an inhibiting effect on milk synthesis? If so - how could this be used in practice?

2015-11-09 – 2015-12-22

The prerequisite for sustainable dairy production is persistent lactation and high yield. The trend in dairy production is fewer but bigger herds with increasing level of automation, like automatic milking (AM). To increase the efficiency in AM, automatic cluster take off can be done at high milk flow levels and with reduced pre-stimulation, which might have negative impact on udder emptying. In AM each udder quarter is milked separately. However, the knowledge about optimal use of AM, for instance with quarter milking and how the routines influence udder emptying and production, is insufficient. The aim with the project is to evaluate how pre-stimulation and take off level, in combination, shall be practiced for efficient milking in sustainable production. With this new knowledge routines can be developed for better use of AM, optimal milk extraction and better economy.

 

Contact

Emma Ternman, Emma.Ternman@slu.se, +46 (0)18-67 1618

Sigrid Agenäs, Sigrid.Agenas@slu.se, +46 (0)18-67 1633

Christine Hultén, cehn0001@stud.slu.se, +46 (0)76 868 49 99

Maria Tegevall, mall0002@stud.slu.se, +46 (0)73504 41 20

Cattle: Fortune part 2: Change-over trial with large roughage allowances and byproduct based concentrates

Dairy cows can as all ruminants transform fibrous feed non-edible for humans (e.g. forage and different by-products) into high valuable protein as milk and meat. Today cows are fed substantial amounts of cereal grain and pulse, which instead could be eaten by humans directly. The increasing global demand for human food is contributing to the growing competition of grain cereals and protein-rich products as e.g. soy between humans and production animals and it is assumed to increase. When cereals and other crop are processed into human food or bio fule, then also by-products suitable for dairy cow feed are produced.

 

The aim with the study is to investigate the effects of a diet completely based on large amount of forage and by-products have on dairy cows production. We expect that these systems will be contribute to a more sustainable milk production, both economically and environmentally.

Contact

Johanna Karlsson

johanna.karlsson@slu.se

Telefon: 018-671256, 072-3410634

 

Kjell Holtenius

kjell.holtenius@slu.se

018-671629

 

Rolf Spörndly

rolf.sporndly@slu.se

018-671992, 070-5672189

 

Mikaela Patel

mikaela.patel@slu.se

018-671013

 

Filippa Larsson

fila0001@stud.slu.se

070-0927499

Cattle: Pair keeping of calves in calf huts outdoors – impact on growth and suckling behaviour

The use of calf huts outdoors for keeping calves has expanded in recent years and so has the interest in how to increace weight gain and maintain a good health in this environmeant. Today most calves are held separately in the huts even though it is allowed with pair holding. Some of the reasons for this is to maintain a low disease flow between the calves, a good feed intake and also to reduce the risk of the calves suckling on each other. Feeding of milk is usually done with teat buckets two times per day but the common feeding routines do not always satisfy calves need for suckling, with calves showing redirected suckling behaviours as a consequence.

In this study we will look at how weight gain, health and redirected suckling behaviours are affected by keeping calves in pairs versus keeping single calves in calf huts. We are interested in if a good feeding routine for milk in combination with keeping calves in pairs will increase growth and decrease the occurrence of redirected suckling behaviours. Factors will be assessed with behavioural and physiological parameters. Weight measurements will be done when the calves are moved to the calf huts, during the trial and at weaning. Behavioural observations will be done continuously during the trial.

Contact

Lena Lidfors

Phone: +46 (0)51167215; 0703468032

Therese Alvegard

Phone: +46 (0)767741614

Cattle: Forage based diet to 100 dairy cows in early lactation

Cows are forage eaters, but are today fed with substantial amounts of concentrate based on cereals and pulse (beans etc). Cereals and pulse could instead feed humans directly. The ability to consume forage varies a lot between individual cows. Some of that variation in forage consumption can be explained by genetics.

The purpose of this study is to identify the cows that are best and worse regarding forage consumption, so that we can follow these extremes more closely during next full lactation. This so that we in the future can breed on dairy cows that have a high ability to consume forage which would lead to a lower need of using human-edibles as feed for ruminants at the same time as maintaining high milk yields. This would both increase profitability and decrease the environmental impact of dairy production.

Contact

Johanna Karlsson

johanna.karlsson@slu.se

0723410634

Mikaela Patel

mikaela.patel@slu.se

018-671013

Kjell Holteinus

kjell.holtenius@slu.se

018-671629

Cattle: Prolific – multidisciplinary study for robust and sustainable improvement of dairy cow fertility

Metabolism and reproductive disorders are gaining importance in parallel with intensifying milk production, in high-producing dairy cows. Genetic progress in conjunction with diet and good herd management helped to increase milk production. It is noteworthy that during the last five decades the number of farms and cows in Sweden has decreased while milk production has actually increased. Looking at the exact numbers and figures we can see that the average yearly milk yield for Swedish red in 1965 was 4833kg while the average milk yield in 2011 was more than 9000kg.

Comparing milk production during the last 50 years with the calving interval you notice that while milk production is getting higher calving intervals are getting longer. It is crucial in order to have a stable and high herd fertility to have an optimal calving interval resulting in fewer inseminations and lower risk for the animal to be culled. During early lactation high producing milk cows are exposed to negative energy balance as the intake food cannot provide the necessary amount of the needed energy which is required for milk production and body needs. The aim of our study is to identify and improve breeding strategies and sustainable management practices in order to optimize cow fertility and robustness.

Contact

Theodoros Ntallaris

Patrice Humblot

Renée Båge

Britt Berglund

Cattle: Estimation of energy balance in dairy cows using an automatic body condition scoring camera

The energy balance (EB) of dairy cows has impact on animal health, fertility and feed economy. Cows mobilise body reserves in early lactation to support the energy demand from the increasing milk production. Cows that come into critically low EB are at higher risk for health problems and poor fertility. This leads to increasing costs for the farmer in terms of higher culling rates, lower production etc. Efficient routines for early detection of cows with critically low EB are lacking today. Traditionally, manual body condition scoring (BCS) is used for finding cows at high risk but this method is subjective and labor-intensive. With the use of new camera based technique it is now possible to automatically monitor BCS in an objective way which create new possibilities to detect changes in BCS related to energy balance.

The aim of this study is to develop mathematical models to estimate the EB of dairy cows with data from an automatic BCS system. In the study we will gather information from the cows feed consumption, milk production etc. to calculate the EB. Models to estimate the EB with data from the BCS system will be developed by different calculation methods.

Contact

Bengt-Ove Rustas, bengt-ove.rustas@slu.se, +46 (0)18-67 16 63, +46 (0)72-244 69 55

Majbritt Felleki, majbritt.felleki@slu.se, +46 (0)18-67 26 53, +46 (0)72-549 58 26

Other participants in the project

Britta Skottheim, bask0001@stud.slu.se, +46 (0)70-344 53 33

Cattle: Total mixed ration – competitive feeding system on organic farms with automatic milking?

Part 3 – "Milk first" cow traffic

Farms with automatic milking (AM) have steadily increased in Sweden over the last years and the organic farmers are no exception in this development. One of the most important factors that contribute to maintaining a high production level in AM is well-functioning cow traffic and frequent visits to the milking unit. Low milking frequencies may affect udder health negatively and a common opinion is that it also results in lower milk yield. However, there are studies showing that the relationships are unclear and the causes multifactorial. In order to achieve a high production level, farmers are often advised not to feed silage or a mixed ration of high nutritional value at the feed bunk, because it is said to lower the cows' motivation to visit the milking unit. It is not unusual that straw is mixed into the feed in order to reduce the energy content of the mix. Nevertheless, it must be considered a limitation for the production to not use high nutritional feeds when most farmers' strive to harvest the crop at the optimum stage of development. Scientific literature is scarce on how the feed concentration in a total mixed ration affects milking frequencies and milk yield in AM systems. Hence, the aim of this project is to evaluate these variables when the cows are fed mixed ration versus fed silage and concentrate separately in three different cow traffic systems.

Contact

Mikaela Patel

mikaela.patel@slu.se

018-671013

Eva Spörndly

eva.sporndly@slu.se

018-671632

Cattle: Oesophageal Tube (OT), suckling and bottle colostrum feeding

New born calves have insufficient immunity to fight disease and rely on the transfer of passive immunity, via ingestion of maternal immunoglobulins (IG) present in the colostrum soon after birth, to fight infections. The time of first colostrum feeding, amount of IGs in colostrum and the volume of colostrum consumed all influence the transfer of passive immunity. For these reasons, it is becoming a common practice in dairy farms (especially in North America) to feed colostrum via oesophageal tube (OT) as a way to ensure a good transfer of passive immunity in dairy calves, and now this practice is being promoted in Sweden.

However, the effects of OT feeding on transfer of passive immunity and the long term consequences for health and welfare of the calves have not been studied in detail and in an holistic way that assess not only immunity of the calves but also their welfare. For this reason, the aim of this study is to investigate the effects of OT vs suckling vs bottle feeding  at birth on the transfer of passive immunity, physiological, endocrine and behavioural response to the three feeding methods, growth, health and sleep patterns (as a welfare measure) in dairy calves. Another aim is to study the development of gut microbiota, over the first 14 days of calf life, in relation to the feeding treatments.

Contact

Carlos E. Hernandez

Bengt-Ove Rustas

Cattle: Osmolality study; Evaluation of animal welfare indicators for dairy cows, with regards to thermic comfort and dehydration

This study aims to develop and produce methods to assess thermal comfort and the degree of dehydration in individual cows, ie, the degree to which a cow ingests enough water for their milk and other bodily functions. The studied methods will be evaluated to see if they can be used in the official control.

Dairy cows need to drink a lot of water for their milk, moreover, they have a great need to get enough water to compensate the second fluid losses (urine, faeces and evaporation). The official animal welfare control controls that feeding and water systems are designed, dimensioned and positioned so as to allow a peaceful and natural intake of food and water and that the requirements for access to water and water quality are met. Today there is no reliable method to determine if the animals get enough water.

The following questions will be answered:

1) Can measurements of skin temperature, fur moisture, respiratory frequency, or shivering be used as animal-based indicators of deviations from animal welfare?

2) Could individual cow milk osmolality be used as an animal-based indicator of dehydration as a complement to the resource-based measurement to assess the degree of dehydration?

3) Can osmolality and/or urea in the urine detect if the cow is dehydrated?

Contact

Birgitta Staaf Larsson

Birgitta.Staaf.Larsson@slu.se

+46 (0) 18-67 21 57

Cattle: Buffering salts for dairy cows

Dairy cows produce large amounts of organic acids during fermentation of feed in the rumen. As a result rumen pH varies over time with a decreasing trend from the morning feeding and throughout the day and an increase during the night, when intake declines and rumination dominates. A low rumen pH might lead to depressed digestion and a condition called sub-acute rumen acidosis (SARA). SARA is associated with diseases, e.g. lameness, and depressed feed intake causing farmers considerable economic losses. A way to prevent low rumen pH is to add buffering salts to the cow diet. Sodium bicarbonate and calcium carbonate have traditionally been used as buffers but the effect on rumen pH has been variable in controlled studies. Calcified seaweed consists of the skeletal remains of dead algea that produce calcium carbonate. There are indications that calcified seaweed has a greater potential then traditional buffer salts in preventing low rumen pH. However, there are few evaluations on producing dairy cows and no one has looked at the effect on digestibility, the key determinant for feed utilization. The aim of this study is to evaluate the effect of dietary buffering agents fed to dairy cows on rumen pH, digestion and milk production.

Contact

Bengt-Ove Rustas, Bengt-Ove.Rustas@slu.se, +46 18-67 16 63

Cattle: The role of mast cells in bovine mastitis

Mast cells are tissue-resident pro-inflammatory leukocytes recognized as a part of the innate immune system. Mast cells have been shown to influence the course of bacterial infections yielding different outcomes depending on the severity of infection. In severe infections the mast cell has been shown to have a detrimental effect. In other cases it has a protective function. Mastitis – inflammation of the mammary tissue – is globally the most common disease amongst dairy cows. All forms of the disease incur economic losses in terms of reduced milk yields and treatment costs. The clinical form of the disease in particular impinges the health and welfare of the cow. Mastitis is often the result of a bacterial infection, commonly involving species such as Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus. Our current knowledge of the immunological aspect of mastitis is limited and the putative role of mast cells in this type of disease has not previously been investigated. The goal of this experiment is to determine whether or not the mast cell is involved in the immune reaction to bacterial bovine mastitis. We expect that a deeper understanding of the mast cells role in bacterial mastitis could lead to improvements in diagnostics and treatment.

Contact

Gunnar Pejler (supervisor), gunnar.pejler@slu.se, +46 (0)18 - 471 45 71                      

Carl-Fredrik Johnzon (PhD student), carl.fredrik.johnzon@slu.se, +46 (0)18 – 67 21 50

Other participants in the project

Josef Dahlberg (sampling),  josef.dahlberg@slu.se, +46 (0)18 – 67 16 86

Cattle: Evaluation of the marker method for measuring feed passage rate

Project starts: 18th of december, 2017

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the marker method for measuring feed passage rate. The evaluation will be based on a comparison of two methods; marker in feed and emptying rumen on four fistulated cows. The overall purpose of this study is to reduce the use of human edible food such as wheat, oats and soya as feed for cows. Today, cows in Sweden are often fed with 50% concentrates (cereals, beans, peas, etc.). We want to reduce the grain based feed by feeding a lot of rough fodder such as silage of grass and clover and small amounts of feed based by-products, focusing on maintaining a high milk production. We also aim to breed for cows that are better adapted to eat a lot of coarse fodder and which at the same time both milk well and feel good. Before we can breed cows with better feed utilization, we want to find out what different parameters affect and influence to reduce the risk of losing efficiency in milk production.

Contact

Rebecca Danielsson, rebecca.danielsson@slu.se phone: +46 (0)18 67 16 28

Other participants in the project

Cecilia Kronqvist, cecilia.kronqvist@slu.se

Maria Åkerlind, maria.akerlind@slu.se

Maria Eklund, student, mand006@stud.slu.se

Cattle: Free cow traffic in an automatic milking rotary parlour (DeLaval AMR)

Project starts 16th of January, 2018 - 5th of June, 2018

Free cow traffic and automatic milking have been applied in conventional milk production with automatic milking stations (AMS) in Sweden for almost 20 years. By automating a milking rotary (AMR), DeLaval has scaled up the automatic milking to fit herds of 500-700 cows. There are a dozen of AMR in the world, but only Lövsta is built to study how this system works with free traffic in in-door environment. From facilities in eg Tasmania, we know that free cow traffic works under grazing conditions. The aim of the project is to study the behavior of animals, production aspects, technical solutions, the operation of traffic systems and the work load of the staff in a series of intensive studies, simulating free traffic in a larger herd, using 120 cows and three available milking periods (windows) per day.

Contact

Jan Olofsson, jan.olofsson@slu.se, Phone: +46 (0)18-67 16 36, +46 70-371 4406

Other participants in the project

Gunilla Helmersson, trial engineer, phone: +46 70-666 4379

Elin Rarcovich, student

Ulrica Robertsson, student

Cattel: Bovine RS virus

2016-01-01 – 2018-02-28

Bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV) is a common cause of respiratory disease in cattle. This virus spreads rapidly between herds and circulates commonly in fattening units in which calves are commingled from several herds. The clinical signs of BRSV are characterized by fever, rapid or abnormal breathing, serous nasal secretions, cough and sometimes subcutaneous emphysema (air

under skin) and anoxia (lack of oxygen) leading to death. The infection is commonly transient but bacteria often grow in damaged lung tissue and these secondary infections are treated with antibiotics.

Our hypothesis is that subclinically infected cows and/or young stock play an important role in the spread of BRSV (besides calves), as is the case for human RSV. Partially immune children and adults spread virus to infants, sometimes without showing clinical signs.

The aim of the study, which constitutes a part of an EU-project (H2020 633184-2, SAPHIR), is to generate knowledge about the immunity against BRSV. Through better understanding we might in the future be able to identify age categories of animals that should be vaccinated in order to stop virus spread within and between herds. This will concern herds in which safe biosecurity measures cannot be applied, until the risk for virus introduction has been reduced. Immune parameters in nasal secretions, tears, salivia and blood will be studied repeatedly from the same individual animals in several herds during two years. Immune cells from the same individuals of different age will be used for studies of immune stimulating agens (adjuvants), in vitro, to contribute to fundamental knowledge about the development of immunity, as well as for the development of age-adopted vaccines. To isolate live virus, a bronchoalveolar lavage will be performed on a few individuals upon diagnosed BRSV infection. Costs and production losses and the kinetics of virus shedding as well as genetic factors will be studied during outbreaks.

Contact

Jean-Francois Valarcher, Sara Hägglund E-post: jean-francois.valarcher@slu.se, sara.hagglund@slu.se

Cattle: Roughage intake ability during a full lactation

Climate change, disturbed nitrogen cycles and loss of biodiversity are among the greatest threats for humanity (Rockström et al., 2009). Another severe challenge is to be able to provide food for everyone in the future when the world population is rapidly increasing while we should not increase the area of arable land (FAO, 2009).  We aim at lowering the negative environmental effects of milk production and at the same time increase its positive effects. By feeding more forage and excluding human edible products as cereal grain and beans from the cows diet the net food production can increase (Ertl et al., 2016) at the same time as ecosystem services as carbon sequensation and increased biodiversity is promoted (Knudsen & Hermansen, 2015). The cows forage intake capacity and production of the greenhouse gas methane varies a lot between individuals. The variation depends on a number of factors, as the cows genes, rumen microbiota and passage rate. The aim is to better understand the mechanisms regulating forage intake capacity and methane production, and investigate if it is possible to breed for cows with high forage intake capacity and low methane production. We will also study if it is possible to decrease the nutrient leakage from milk production by decreasing total crude protein (nitrogen) content in the cow diet and instead add rumen protected amino acids in the small by-product based concentrate ration.

Contact

Johanna Karlsson,Johanna.Karlsson@slu.se, +46 (0)723410634

Cattle: Field experiments 2017

Grazing systems for dairy cattle has the potential to be resource efficient for the farmer. However, increased herd sizes can cause major problems with trampling damages on soil leading to clawproblems and dirty udders, which costs working time for cleaning and risk of deteriorated animal health. Farmers ask for durable pasture swards and cost efficient investments. The aim of the project is to develop technical and agronomic solutions for long-term pasture management with a large dairy herd. The objectives are: 1) evaluate four seed mixtures with regard to production and resilience to trampling by measuring vegetation cover, botanical composition, production potential and feed value. 2) evaluate two materials used to protect areas exposed to a high degree of trampling in relation to investment costs. This is a continuation of the field experiments that started 2012.

Contact

Eva Salomon (JTI), eva.salomon@jti.se, Telephone: +46 (0)10-516 69 61, +46 (0)70-595 00 23

Other participants in the project

Martin Sundberg (Part 2), martin.sundberg@jti.se, Telepone: +46 (0)10-516 69 24, Mobile +46 (0)70-370 86 31

Nilla Nilsdotter-Linde (Part 1), nilla.nilsdotter-linde@slu.se, Telephone: +46 (0)18 67 14 31, Mobile: +46 (0)70 662 74 05

Marianne Tersmeden (Part 1 and Part 2), marianne.tersmeden@JTI.se, Mobile: +46 (0)70-952 82 73

Eva Spörndly (Part 1), eva.sporndly@slu.se,Telephone: +46 (0)18 67 16 32, Mobile +46 (0)70-560 979

Cattle: Total mixed ration (TMR) - does it improve animal welfare?

Total mixed ration (TMR) feeding is used to a large extent in the dairy production. It is beneficial for the cow as the forage and the concentrate is mixed together, resulting in a more stable rumen environment compared to when concentrate is fed separately. However, the cows might sort the diet, resulting in some cows consuming high levels of starch-rich concentrate and other cows experiencing difficulties with fulfilling their energy requirements with the feed that is left. The aim of this project is to decrease sorting of the diet by prolonged mixing and addition of water, and to study how this will affect the behavior, intake, production, and rumen health of the cows.

Contact

Mikaela Patel, mikaela.patel@slu.se, phone: +46 (0)18 - 67 10 13

Researcher at the Department of Animal Nutrition and Management

Cecilia Kronqvist, cecilia.kronqvist@slu.se, phone: +46 (0)18 - 67 16 54

Researcher at the Department of Animal Nutrition and Management

 

Cattle: Pair keeping of calves in calf huts outdoors – impact on growth and play behaviour (degree project)

Calves are commonly kept individually in outdoor hutches during the first period in their life. It is beneficial both from a financial and animal welfare point of view to optimise this type of housing. Studies have shown that pair-housing calves may affect the calves' behaviour, i.a. social behaviour and play behaviour. It has also been shown that calves have better stress coping abilities if they have been pair-housed. Other studies, focusing on feed consumption and growth have found that pair-housed calves consume more feed and had a less impaired growth rate at weaning than individually housed calves. However, no differences in health parameters have been found between pair-housed and individually housed calves. The objective of this study is to compare play and social behaviour on an arena, as well as growth and milk and concentrate consumption between pair-housed and individually housed dairy calves outdoors. Health will also be considered. This is to test the hypothesis that pair-housed calves have unchanged or improved growth rate, better social skills and unchanged health compared to individually housed calves. Because play is considered to function as an animal welfare indicator I will also examine whether pair-housing affects welfare by observing play behaviour on an arena.

Contact

Lena Lidfors, lena.lidfors@slu.se

Other participants in the project

Namn: Ellika Waldau (student), elau0001@stud.slu.se

Pig: Completed projects at the Swedish Livestock Research Centre

Pig: Reproduction issues in organic pig production

Principal investigator: Professor Ulf Magnusson, institution of clinical research, department of reproduction. Research group; phD student Ola Thomsson; vet med dr Ann-Sofi Bergqvist; vet med dr Ylva Brandt; vet med dr Lena Eliasson-Selling, Swedish Animal Health Service.

In this study the effect of length of time spent by lactating sows in individual pens before group housed will be investigated. In order to see if the time spent will have an impact on litter weights, piglet mortality and the synchronisation of the sows to show heat around the same time after weaning.

The main purposes of the investigation are to examine the reasons for the two main issues of organic pig production.

1) High piglet mortality from birth to weaning, low litter weights with large variation within litters.

2) The batch-wise management system with intact sow groups is difficult to apply as ovulations, and subsequent breeding, of the sows is spread out in time since some sows come into oestrus during the late lactation period.

In our studies, the maternal-piglet bonding, lactational anoestrus and natural oestrus-induction will therefore be explored to resolve the abovementioned issues. The overall aim of the project is to provide biologically based principles for improved health and performance in Swedish organic piglet production

The project receives financial support from the research council Formas.

Contact

ulf.magnusson@slu.se

Pig: Faba beans for pigs in conventional and organic production - properties and possibilities of different cultivars

The goal with this project is to increase our knowledge about the feeding value of faba beans, and to find out if/how colour-flowered can be used in pig feed.

Our dependence on imported soy has recently become an issue. Faba beans may at least partly replace the soy. This is important for conventional as well as for organic production. The white-flowered cultivars are recommended for pig diets. The colour-flowered cultivars have better yields and disease-resistance, but the contents of antinutritional factors (ANF), particularly tannins, has limited their use in pig feed. The tannin level varies between cultivars within the colour-flowered group.

In this project we will study the contents of nutrients and ANF in cultivars grown in Sweden, choose 2 colour-flowered with high and low ANF content and compare these and a white-flowered in a feeding experiment with weaners. The experiment will be performed in 2 parts, one conventional, and one organic ie no amino acids added in the feed.

Contact

Emma Ivarsson, Maria Neil

Emma.Ivarsson@slu.se, Maria.Neil@slu.se

+46 (0)18-672044, +46 (0)737-033348 (Emma), +46 (0)18-674538, +46 (0)73 631 11 80 (Maria)

Pig: Inclusion of intensively processed silage in diets to growing/finishing pigs

Lay crops for pigs are usually given in the form of silage and it is of great importance to investigate their potential as a source of nutrition and to find suitable feeding methods for good nutrient utilization and ability to perform natural behaviors. Pigs fed with total mixed ration feed where silage has been chopped and mixed with the other feed ingredients sort however out parts of the silage, which has a negative impact on growth. It is still interesting because silage will occupy the pigs in contrast to pelleted feed. The major challenge of feeding pigs with silage is, in addition to maintaining high nutritional quality, also finding feeding techniques that reduce the amount of sorted out feed, without losing its function as enrichment. We intend to investigate how an even shorter length, than those about 1-3 cm for chopped silage, influence the feeding behavior of the pigs. Silage that have been chopped and then intensively manipulated in a bioextruder, will result in a finer structure. We believe that by this, the different feed ingredients can be tied together further and reduce the pigs' ability to sort out different parts of the feed. This will increase the consumption and nutrient utilization of the silage. The feed will probably also be able to serve as an enrichment for the pigs and occupy the pigs to a great extent.

Contact

Magdalena Åkerfeldt, magdalena.akerfeldt@slu.se, +46 (0) 18 671716

Other participants in the project

Sara Holmström, sahm0004@stud.slu.se

Poultry: Completed projects at the Swedish Livestock Research Centre

Poultry: On-farm hatching

The broiler chickens of Sweden are delivered by a few large hatcheries. For an egg to develop into a chick, it takes approximately 21 days. The biological variation however, results in a hatching window stretching from day 19 to 21. In traditional hatchers there is not possible to provide the chicks with feed and water during incubation, early hatched chicks are therefore feed deprived for quite sometime. Although the chicks are supplied with nutrients from their yolk sac, they might risk dehydration and a poorer developed immune system. Lately, an on-farm hatching concept has been introduced in the Netherlands. Fertilized eggs are transported to the grower facilities at embryonic day 18, enabling free access to feed and water immediately post-hatch regardless of when during the hatching window a chick hatches. The hypothesis is that chicks hatched on farm with immediate access to feed and water and that are not subjected to transportation and handling directly post-hatch have a better developed immune system, an earlier organ development and a slaughter weight equivalent to that of hatchery chicks. Because the concept of on-farm hatching has not yet been investigated in Sweden, this is a very much needed study.

Contact

Malin Boyner, Malin.Boyner@slu.se, +46 18-67 12 57

Poultry: The influence of lactic acid bacteria on Campylobacter in the bowel of the chicken

Project starts 19 January, 2018

Campylobacteriosis is the most commonly reported zoonosis in the EU and large parts of the world and poultry is the major source of human infection. According to EFSA 50-80% of human Campylobacter infections are attributed to poultry. With a strict monitoring programme, Sweden has managed to reduce the incidence of Campylobacter in slaughtered conventional broiler flocks. However, the prevalence is higher when chickens are provided access to outdoor areas due to increased contacts with wild animals such as birds, flies and rodents that are all known to carry Campylobacter.

The aim of this trial is to study possible changes in intestinal microbial profile in fast and slow growing chicken genotypes at a daily intake of Lactobacillus spp. supplied via silage or water and observe if this treatments can reduce the prevalence of C.jejuni in chickens.

Contact

Eliška Valečková (HUV, SLU), eliska.valeckova@slu.se, Phone: +42-073-450 31 12

Helena Wall (HUV, SLU), Helena.Wall@slu.se, Phone: +46 (0)18-67 16 70

Emma Ivarsson (HUV, SLU), Emma.Ivarsson@slu.se, Phone: (0)18-67 20 44

Other participants in the project

Patrik Ellström (Uppsala Universitet), patrik.ellstrom@medsci.uu.se, Phone: +46 (0)18-471 66 51

Poultry: Optimized nutrition and management for hatching for a more robust chicken – part 2

The content of the first feed a newly hatched chicken receives has a large impact on the development of the chicken. Except for raw ingredients that fulfil the nutritional needs of the chicken so called bioactive substances be included in the feed in order to stimulate a healthy gut flora and an improved immune defence.

Gothenburg University cultivates brown macro algae on rope along the Swedish west coast, the algae contain substances not found in terrestrial plants that are ascribed bioactive properties in the literature. In lab trials last autumn the fiber laminarin proved promising, therefore the trial feed will be supplemented with laminarin extracted from the brown algae Laminaria digitata. Birds are poor at breaking down fibers in their digestive tract. Some fibre break down does, however, occur in the chicken's ceca, forming bioactive molecules that in small amounts may stimulate a healthy gut flora and improve the immune defence.

The aim of this project is to evaluate the possibility to via the first feed of the chicken stimulate both its gut function as well as immune defence. The hypothesis is that feed with prebiotic components from algae will give a more robust chicken and that the positive effect is strengthened when feed and water are given already at hatch.

Contact

Jolin Währn, jolin.wahrn@slu.se, +46 (0)18 67 20 30

Helena Wall, helena.wall@slu.se, +46 (0)18 67 16 70

Emma Ivarsson, emma.ivarsson@slu.se, +46 (0)18 67 20 44

Other projects: Completed projects at the Swedish Livestock Research Centre

The role of temperature in structuring insect communities

With a changing climate (IPCC 2014), the lifecycle of a living resource might shift in time as a response to new abiotic conditions. This is especially apparent in terms of phenological events, as for example a pollinator needs to match the flowering of its host plant and an herbivore needs to match the bud burst of its host plant. It has been suggested that climate change has already altered the phenology in a lot of plants and insects. Among plants, it has resulted in a temporal shift towards earlier bud burst and/or flowering, and among herbivorous insects in earlier emergences. Furthermore, various experimental and observational studies have shown that the shift in relative synchrony may vary between interacting species. Hence, with a warming climate, some herbivores may become active before plants, other herbivores will become more synchronized with their host plant whereas in a third case, plants may become active before the herbivore (Liu et al. 2011). However, Thackeray et al. (2016) recently suggested that under likely climatic scenarios, insects in general are likely to advance their phenology more than a lot of other taxa.

In this project, we will examine the synchrony among three trophic levels in a model system: oaks, their herbivores and the parasitoids of these herbivores. By heating up these communities we intend to find out i) whether temporally synchronized organisms will slide out of phase and become temporally decoupled, and ii) if so, how this will affect the structure of the food web and the insect community.

Contact

Adam Ekholm (PhD student), adam.ekholm@slu.se, +46 (0)730 662 955


Contact

Lotta Jönsson, Research and Education Coordinator the Swedish Livestock Research Centre, SLU lotta.jonsson@slu.se, +46 (0)18-67 32 17

Julia Österberg, Research and Education Coordinator, the Swedish Livestock Research Centre, SLU julia.osterberg@slu.se, +46 (0)18-67 14 57

Page editor: yvonne.hallen@slu.se