Location: Livestock Behavior Research
Project Number: 5020-32000-014-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated
Start Date: Jul 22, 2022
End Date: Jul 21, 2027
The long-term objective is tightly focused on optimizing animal welfare and productivity under modern farming conditions. The approach is to 1) focus on animal behavior and the cumulative effects of internal biological changes, 2) assess where challenges may exist, 3) develop alternative management strategies, and 4) determine how changes in behavior relate to physiology and productivity. We will focus on the following objectives: Objective 1: To develop objective measures (physiology, behavior, production) of animal welfare and determine the impact of various production, housing, and environmental conditions; and develop management practices and methods to minimize any deleterious effect on welfare. 1.A. Clarify utility of hair and salivary cortisol as a measure of stress-load and determine its relationship to health and behavior in dairy calves. 1.B. Determine relationships between stress-load and feeding behavior in precision livestock farming. 1.C. Determining the thermal preferences of boars and growing-finishing pigs. 1.D. Evaluating the impact of in utero heat stress on maternal to fetal cortisol transfer. 1.E. To determine if feeding resistant starch to sows prior to farrowing and through lactation affects parturition duration and piglet welfare. Objective 2: To optimize animal husbandry through the development of best practices to improve animal welfare and productivity. 2.A. Colostrum management practice and early-life morbidity and mortality demographic differences between purebred dairy and dairy-beef crossbred calves. 2.B. Improving Holstein dairy calf post-weaning growth performance and stress resilience through the provision of supplemental L-glutamine in milk replacer. 2.C. Improving environmental enrichment for pigs: learning, age specificity and worth. 2.D. Determine the impact of photoperiod on development of diurnal rhythmicity and welfare in pigs. 2.E. Improving piglet survivability and sow welfare through microenvironment management using precision technology. 2.F. To determine if a nesting environment can be simulated in a farrowing stall to increase sow and piglet welfare. 2.G. Cecal microbiota transplantation to reduce aggression in laying hens. 2.H. Determine if thermal perches reduce cold stress in caged laying hens. 2.I. Dietary synbiotic supplements to increase skeletal health and prevent lameness in broilers.
Our approach is novel and challenging, but our long-term strategy is to systematically address our goals of developing tools that can objectively assess animal welfare while concurrently developing welfare friendly production practices. The long-term objective is tightly focused on contemporary issues and thus is designed to optimize animal welfare and productivity under modern farming conditions. The approach is to 1) focus on animal behavior and the cumulative effects of internal biological changes, 2) assess where challenges may exist, 3) develop alternative management strategies, and 4) determine how changes in behavior relate to physiology and productivity.