W3173: Impacts of Stress Factors on Performance, Health, and Well-Being of Farm Animals (from W2173)

(Multistate Research Project)

Status: Active

W3173: Impacts of Stress Factors on Performance, Health, and Well-Being of Farm Animals (from W2173)

Duration: 10/01/2016 to 09/30/2021

Administrative Advisor(s):


NIFA Reps:


Statement of Issues and Justification

By 2050, the world population will be 34% higher than today, reaching an estimated 9.1 billion people. Food animal production will need to increase by 1.7-fold to meet the growing world demand for animal protein (FAO, 2012). As a result, animal husbandry systems may become more intensified (concentrated animal feeding operations; CAFO) because fewer natural resources will be available to raise animals. In addition, new biotechnologies (e.g. gene-editing, growth promotants, feed-additives) and better housing systems may be needed to help increase the adaptation rates for domestic animals so that they can remain efficient and healthy, despite a variable climate. However, CAFOs and biotechnologies are often viewed by consumers with animosity over the concern of animal welfare and food safety, therefore, producers have to balance these concerns with productivity despite an increase in climate variability and limited resources. Nonetheless, animals in both intensive and extensive production systems are faced with potential macro- and micro-environmental stressors (Canario et al., 2013). In order to balance these challenges, producers will need to raise and manage farm animals so that they are resilient to environmental stressors. Stress physiology plays a significant role in objectively improving animal welfare, productivity, and ultimately, food security. When animals are not able to cope with macro- and micro-environmental stressors, US livestock producers can lose billions of dollars. For example, St. Pierre et al., et al. (2003) reported that without heat stress abatement measures, total losses in poultry and livestock costs $2.4 billion each year. Dairy cattle were the most affected in this calculation, with a yearly loss of $897 to $1500 million annually (St.-Pierre et al., 2003). In 2003, Mader predicted that the extreme climate variation will cost beef cattle industry members $10-20 million annually.


Climatic conditions affect both animals in both CAFOs and extensive systems (Renaudeau, et al., 2012) In 2013, extreme cold fronts in October eliminated or killed over 10,000 beef cattle in extensive systems across the north and Midwest US regions. In winter 2015, 30,000 dairy cows reared in intensive systems in TX and NM were killed after an unusual winter storm, “Goliath,” hit the region. Severe droughts caused overall cattle numbers in 2013 to reach their lowest since 1952 (Stewart, J. 2013). The extreme weather changes reduced the amount of beef cattle produced in recent years. The loss in cattle numbers tripled the male dairy calf market, and are typically produced and managed in CAFOs (Hulbert and Moisá, 2016). Poultry and pig CAFOs were also affected by climate change, as buildings are difficult to keep efficiently cooled and ventilated during heat waves. In addition, droughts changed in wild-bird migration patterns, and incidence of disease in poultry and swine may increase (Arrus et al., 2006; Tian et al., 2015). Animals will need to be selected for stress-resilience, immunocompetence, and performance, even though these three traits do not always complement each other. Management stressors can exacerbate diseases caused by macro- and micro-environmental stages, especially during early stages of life (Turner et al., 2001).


The research, technologies, and information generated by the previous W1173 and W2173 groups provided both basic and applied knowledge to our stake holders. This group has succeeded in sharing resources and creating novel methods to improve stress-resilience and immunocompetence in animals. For example, this group is responsible for many of the heat stress abatement technologies and basic understanding in improving cattle comfort and health. They (1) produced new technologies to measure and better understand animal stress responses, immunity and behavior; (2) identified genes and gene expression for stress-resilience and immunocompetence and, (3) identified key management and nutritional strategies to help animals acclimate to environmental changes.   These collaborative efforts will need to be accelerated and continue to improve food security from the animal sectors. Multistate efforts allow for the sharing of data, resources, animals, and ideas. These scientists and engineers pull together a diverse range of skillsets and expertise to address the objectives outlined in this proposal. Thus, the outcomes of this multistate project will broadly impact production practices, animal comfort and wellbeing, and improve profitability across diverse livestock commodity sectors.

Related, Current and Previous Work

Objectives

  1. Identify measures of animal stress and well-being and characterize factors affecting the biology of stress and immune responses
  2. Identify and assess genetic components of animal stress and well-being
  3. Development of management strategies and/or tools to enhance farm animal well-being under conditions of climatic change or other stressful environments.

Methods

Objectives will be addressed by working together to 1) develop novel technologies and biomarkers to understand the impact of stress on livestock production 2) plan and coordination research projects between project members; 3) share resources and equipment; 4) pool data and data analyses, and; 5) perform multistate summarizations of findings. Multiple projects will be initiated or continued beginning in 2017.   Many projects will require multiple years to complete the investigations because of the complexity of the designs. Genetics is embedded in climate change and helping animals become resilient to stressors. The following are projected projects, however, we expect our group to expand as new scholars of stress physiology gain positions at the various universities and agencies.

 

Objectives: 1,3            States: WI, KS                        Animal: swine

Climatic changes have resulted in heat stress impacts to swine at all phase of production. Sperm production in males is particularly sensitive to even a few days of temperatures above the thermoneutral zone. In boars, temperatures above 22.7°C result in decrease semen quality beginning 2 – 3 weeks post heat event and can continue up to 8 weeks following a return to below 22.7°C. Two approaches will be used to study the problem and involve either insulation of the scrotum of boars to induce a 1.9 to 2.3°C change to testicular temperatures or to use boars in boar studs under condition of summer heat stress with cooling approaches to the scrotum in place such as scrotal drips or whole facility cooling such as cool-cell technology. We will examine how heat stress impacts the testis and behavior of boars along with how successful heat mitigation methods are in preventing problems with semen quality in boar’s of current genetics. Group members (WI, KS) will work together to identify measures of heat stress and if current mitigation methods are effective or not.

Objectives: 1,2,3         States: NY, AZ, HI, VI         Animal: cattle  

The consequences of thermal stress, especially on high-producing cows, are well documented. Further analysis by multiple members will focus on amelioration of heat stress, particularly for cattle. The NY collaborators will conduct economic analysis of conductive cooling compared to current practices of cooling. During thermal stress, cows will be cooled using fans, misting, and fogging. This study will look at water consumption, energy consumption, and capital costs between the 2 systems (conductive cooling and current practices). With recent progress, AZ, HI, and VI continue to investigate regulation of sweat gland function in cattle. Evaporative cooling (sweating) is the major heat alleviation mechanism in time of heat stress. During heat stress, animals increase diaphoretic response to evoke higher levels of evaporative cooling. However, except by external stimuli calling for more sweat, only a certain number of sweat glands are actively producing sweat at any given time. To increase evaporative cooling it may be possible to: (a) increase the frequency of sweating because cows sweat in a cyclic fashion, (b) stimulate sweating glands to increase sweat output, or (c) make the redundant sweat glands to sweat. To increase sweating, diaphoretic agents that stimulate sweating will be administered to dairy cows housed in the same controlled and stressful environment. Six cows, 3 control and 3 experimental, will be used to measure sweating rates. Diaphoretic agents will be administered to the 3 experimental cows. Sweating rates will be measured for 3 weeks after the cows are adjusted to the new environment for a week. Exposure to heat stress raises internal body temperature and respiration rate. To confirm, core temperature, skin surface temperature and respiration rate will be measured for each cow. The different expertise will work together to modify or enhance the natural process of sweating, and share animal and technology resources to conduct the experiments, and bring about new insight in evaporative cooling.

Objectives:1, 3            States: MT, GA, IN    Animal: cattle  

Not only heat stress, a consequence problem of climate change, but sudden swings in temperatures may result in cold stress particularly in free range cattle. Methods are being developed (MT and GA) to evaluate how different cattle breeds adapt to those temperature changes. GA has developed a chamber to assess those abilities. This aspect of the weaning stressors will be investigated by GA, MN, and IN and will include some genetic investigation related to the social structures.

Objectives: 1,2   States:   AZ, TX, TN           Animal: cattle

Methods to reduce stress in cattle are under investigation by AZ, TX, and TN. We will investigate the effect of probiotics on adrenal function during stress in cattle. Others in the group are working together to define possible antibiotic alternatives for pigs (MN and IN). With the advent of removal of antibiotics in all feeds, it becomes particularly critical to determine the best defenses. Those antibiotic alternatives may include probiotics and associated stress responses, particularly at period of high stress such as weaning.   Social competition is one of the biggest stressors following weaning because of mixing of litters at that time. This aspect of the weaning stressors will be investigated by GA, MN, and IN and will include some genetic investigation related to the social structures.

Objectives: 1   States: CO       Animal: Cattle

Deficiencies and or imbalances in trace minerals can alter enzyme activity thus impairing specific metabolic pathways and ultimately, immune function and stress resilience. However, little is understood about trace mineral absorption in beef cattle. Therefore, the objectives of these experiments are to examine trace mineral transporters in ruminal epithelium and duodenal enterocytes in vivo in the presence or absence of know dietary trace mineral antagonists (Fe, Mo, and S). Eight ruminally and duodenally fistulated steers will be utilized. Steers will then be housed in individual metabolism crates and pair fed. One animal from each pair will receive supplemental Cu, Zn, and Mn at NRC (2000) concentrations. During this time, total feces and urine will be collected to calculate apparent absorption and retention values for Cu,. Zn, and Mn. At the end of the collection period, ruminal epithelial and duodenal enterocytes will be sampled and analyzed for trace mineral transporters. Similar experiments will be conducted over time with the addition of trace mineral antagonists to the diet to examine the influence of dietary antagonist on metal transporter concentrations and function.

Objectives: 1   States: KS       animal: Cattle, sheep, pigs

Immunocompetence and the stress-axis are developed in the perinatal stages of life, and epigenetic changes due to the environment can program the animal’s immune system, stress-axis, and behaviors. We will investigate the effect of perinatal nutrition supplementation (e.g. methionine, prebiotics) on the long term biological rhythms of behavior, immunity and stress response in dairy calves, sheep and pigs. This work will be very complimentary to the AZ, TX, TN, and CO projects, as our multistate communications will help us formulate alternatives for healthcare in livestock.

Objectives:1,3             States:   NY, KS, CA             Animal: cattle

Utilizing the strengths of engineers in the group (NY) and practical application (KS), methods to improve calf hutch design. Over 90% of dairy calves in the US are housed individually to reduce disease transmission. Dairy calf housing and management systems need to be dynamic to help calf resilience to climate variation. The plastic conventional calf hutch and pen systems were designed for colder seasons, but not for summer months and heat-waves. Therefore, we will modify the conventional existing plastic calf hutch to increase ventilation and cooling. Air quality, sanitation, and conductive cooling will be modified by adding a slatted-floor, waste-management system. Calves reared in the modified hutch will be compared to calves reared in conventional hutches during the summer months. Calf immune resilience and behaviors will be evaluated using novel biomarkers for stress and inflammation in the saliva and blood and automated logging devices for activity and non-nutritive oral behaviors. We will work together to engineer and re-design hutches, and share animal and technology resources to conduct the experiments.

Objectives:1,3             States: HI, IN            Animal: Swine

Climate variation impacts available resources to house and manage livestock. For example, animals need bedding to thermoregulate during extreme changes in climate, but traditional bedding (eg. straw) may be a limited resource in areas of severe drought or areas where it cannot be produced. Therefore, researchers from HI and IN will implement studies of the use of compost and other bedding in free stall swine farrowing systems, focusing on measures of immune functions and adaptive behaviors.

 

Objectives:1       States: IN, NE                   Animal: cattle

IN and NE will complete data from maternal heat stress effect on offspring using a new hysteresis analysis with smaller data sets. NE, NE-USDA, and MO will evaluate heat stress using hysteresis, clustering cows based on morning and afternoon function.

Obj: 1, 2          States: VA     Animal: Chicken

Chickens may undergo delayed access to feed at hatch due to processing and transportation from hatcheries. They may also be subjected to short-term cold stress during transportation. The purpose of this project is to understand the effects of delayed access to feed and cold stress on feed intake regulation, adipose tissue physiology, growth performance, and blood glucose regulation in chickens. Chickens from lines divergently selected for body weight for more than 57 generations are the model. The low-weight chickens are hypophagic and lean whereas the high-weight chickens are hyperphagic and obese. Chicks from both lines are either fed or delayed access to feed for 72 hours at hatch, and tissues collected for gene expression analysis and blood glucose measured at various time points during the first two weeks post-hatch. Chicks are also subjected to a 24 h delayed access to feed at hatch combined with a cold stress protocol to mimic transportation stress. Effects of exogenous neuropeptides on feed intake, growth, and gene expression in the hypothalamus and adipose tissue are being measured in stressed and non-stressed chickens.

 

Obj:1,2,3         States: NE      Animal: Cattle, Sheep

β-adrenergic agonists are effective promoters of muscle growth in food animals, but the paucity of information regarding the mechanisms by which they work has caused considerable controversy and criticism. Moreover, this gap in understanding has caused many leading companies in the food industry to make high-impact decisions based solely on anecdotal evidence. Based on our preliminary studies, our overarching hypothesis is that β-agonists can be used to promote muscle growth by increasing the efficiency of muscle metabolism and myoblast function without causing direct harm to the animal. The goals of this project are to 1) provide a scientific explanation of how β-agonists affect animals at the molecular, cellular, and whole-animal levels, 2) compare the impact of supplements containing β1- or β2-specific agonists on animal performance and wellbeing, and 3) identify mechanistic targets of β-agonists that can be used to develop better, more efficient feed additives in the future.

Obj: 1,3           States: TN, TX           Animal: dairy cattle, beef cattle, swine

Food producing animals are exposed daily to environmental and management related stressors that have the capacity to disrupt homeostasis, reduce performance, and affect animal well-being. Activation of the major stress pathway, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, results in a significant release of the steroid, cortisol, from the cortex of the adrenal glands. Cortisol is a potent glucocorticoid with immunosuppressive effects that can lead to disease susceptibility. Corticosteroid-binding globulin (CBG) has a major influence upon the activity and availability of circulating cortisol, and thus is of relative importance in the animals’ biological response to a stressor. A reduction in CBG levels, subsequent to an elevation in cortisol, can result in an increase in the free cortisol index (FCI; a surrogate measure of biologically active cortisol). Understanding physiological parameters that act as indicators of stress, such as CBG, will allow a means by which to measure responses to management practices designed to limit stress in production animals. Studies will be designed to examine circulating levels of total cortisol, CBG, FCI, and measures of behavior and immune status in swine and cattle in response to novel methods for conditioning prior to and following various management related stressors to assess their stress response.

Measurement of Progress and Results

Outputs

  • The W-2173 regional research project has demonstrated a long and productive history (established in 1985). Our project members have continued to expand their collaborations over the past five years since the previous project revision. Multiple new collaborations have evolved as well as expanded accomplishments from existing collaborative teams. The outputs of these efforts are documented through clear commitment to publication of research results. Since the start of the project, our members collaborated to publish 215 peer-reviewed manuscripts and 473 other scientific papers in the form of abstracts, proceedings articles, book chapters, theses, dissertations and technical reports. Individual scientists within the group would not have been able to excel without the shared resources and the comparative, multispecies, and multi-disciplinary approach. Members of W-2173 are regular participants and/or invited speakers in special sessions and symposia on the biology of stress in livestock at national and international meetings and conferences.

Outcomes or Projected Impacts

  • Projects directed toward the three objectives outlined in this proposal will advance the understanding of the biology of the stress response and important components and measures of animal well-being

Milestones

(2017):Evaporative cooling: Researchers hypothesize that sweating rate can be increased to develop greater evaporative cooling by manipulation of the animal (VI, HI) Methods will be used to increase each animal's sweating rate and thus improve the amount and duration of evaporative cooling. Calf hutch design and efficacy:Hhutch prototypes will be designed by KS and NY. Bedding for swine group housing: Find farm collaborators in HI and MN. Microbiome/nutrition/ immune competence and stress axis: Continuation of probiotic commercial product investigation by AZ, TN, and TX.

(2018):Evaporative cooling: Sweating rate manipulation results will be reported in College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. Conductive cooling: Heat stress investigation will relate heat stress mitigation methods (water and electricity use) for conductive cooling. Calf hutch design and efficacy: Trial 1 of the first prototype will be implemented at KS. Bedding for swine group housing: Trials will be conducted in HI and MN with compost, straw and tenderfoot (MN) and current flooring (HI). Microbiome/nutrition/ immune competence and stress axis: Submit manuscripts on the probiotic research as allowed by the cooperator (AZ, TN, and TX).

(2019):Conductive cooling: A financial analysis will provide evidence of the practicality of the new method and will be reported by AZ in extension publications. Calf hutch design and efficacy: Commercial interest will be sought and results of trial 1 reported in K-State Dairy Day report. Bedding for swine group housing: Immune analysis for both sites will be completed at IN. Microbiome/nutrition/ immune competence and stress axis: Begin nutrition supplementation to manipulate the long term biological rhythms of behavior, immunity, and the stress response of dairy calves (KS).

(2020):Calf hutch design and efficacy: Further testing of prototypes or a new product will be initiated at KS. Bedding for swine group housing: A peer reviewed publication will be submitted and reports contributed to Purdue Swine Day. Microbiome/nutrition/ immune competence and stress axis: Report research results in K-State Dairy Day Report and submit a manuscript.

(2021):Calf hutch design and efficacy: A journal manuscript will be submitted. Submit final renewal to NIMSS system. Conduct final touches to the projects. Present findings of year 5. Report published manuscripts from year 4.

Projected Participation

View Appendix E: Participation

Outreach Plan

The collaborative efforts resulting from this project are expected to continue to produce multiple peer-reviewed scientific publications, as well as abstracts of research presented at national and international meetings, non-refereed research reports, extension publications and theses/dissertations. The committee has a long history of organizing and participating in scientific symposia. It is anticipated this activity will continue. However, the primary objective of the outreach plan is to use new information to develop practical on-farm management strategies which then can be disseminated through a variety of routes. Several projects involve collaborative efforts with producers within the states of the projects, commercial products, and prospective users of inventions as stated in the milestones.  Lay and extension publications will also be produced for producer use and local, regional and national meetings such as the Southwest Nutrition Conference, The Large Herd Dairy Conference, K-State Dairy Day, Purdue Swine Day Report, and state production conferences will also be venues for information exchange (specific opportunities and states are identified in the milestones for each project). Additionally, several of the project participants hold extension appointments at land-grant institutions. Data and results generated from the current project that have practical application will be evaluated by extension personnel for appropriate dissemination at producer meetings.


 

Organization/Governance

The recommended Standard Governance for multistate research activities will include an ex-Chair, Chair, and Secretary. Each year a Secretary will be elected and then move to the Chair and then the ex-Chair in subsequent years.  Officers are to be elected for three-year terms to provide continuity. The Secretary will have the responsibility for preparation of the annual report following approval of the entire committee. Administrative guidance will be provided by an assigned Administrative Advisor and a NIFA representative.

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Attachments

Land Grant Participating States/Institutions

AZ, CA, CO, FL, GA, HI, IL, KS, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, NE, NM, NY, PA, PR, RI, TN, VA, VI, WA, WI

Non Land Grant Participating States/Institutions

New Zealand - Ruakura Research Centre, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Queensland, USDA-ARS, USDA/ARS, 216 Poultry Bldg, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907
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