Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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    We will mail you new results for this query: keywords==Birth weight
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Discrimination learning and judgment bias in low birth weight pigs
Roelofs, Sanne ; Alferink, Floor A.C. ; Ipema, Allyson F. ; Pas, Tessa van de; Staay, Franz Josef van der; Nordquist, Rebecca E. - \ 2019
Animal Cognition 22 (2019)5. - ISSN 1435-9448 - p. 657 - 671.
Ambiguity - Birth weight - Cognition - Cognitive bias - Emotion - Pigs

Low birth weight (LBW) is a risk factor for cognitive and emotional impairments in humans. In pigs, LBW is a common occurrence, but its effects on cognition and emotion have received only limited scientific attention. To assess whether LBW pigs suffer from impaired cognitive and emotional development, we trained and tested 21 LBW and 21 normal birth weight (NBW) pigs in a judgment bias task. Judgment bias is a measure of emotional state which reflects the influence of emotion on an animal’s interpretation of ambiguous stimuli. Pigs were trained to perform a specific behavioral response to two auditory stimuli, predicting either a positive or negative outcome. Once pigs successfully discriminated between these stimuli, they were presented with intermediate, ambiguous stimuli. The pigs’ responses to ambiguous stimuli were scored as optimistic (performance of ‘positive’ response) or pessimistic (performance of ‘negative’ response). Optimistic or pessimistic interpretation of an ambiguous stimulus is indicative of a positive or negative emotional state, respectively. We found LBW pigs to require more discrimination training sessions than NBW pigs to reach criterion performance, suggesting that LBW causes a mild cognitive impairment in pigs. No effects of LBW on judgment bias were found, suggesting a similar emotional state for LBW and NBW pigs. This was supported by comparable salivary and hair cortisol concentrations for both groups. It is possible the enriched housing conditions and social grouping applied during our study influenced these results.

Effects of parity and litter size on cortisol measures in commercially housed sows and their offspring
Roelofs, Sanne ; Godding, Lisa ; Haan, Jeanne R. de; Staay, Franz Josef van der; Nordquist, Rebecca E. - \ 2019
Physiology and Behavior 201 (2019). - ISSN 0031-9384 - p. 83 - 90.
Birth weight - Hair cortisol - Pigs - Salivary cortisol - Stress

Breeding sows are regularly exposed to on-farm stressors throughout the duration of their production period. The impact of such stressors may differ for primi- and multiparous sows, as sows could learn to cope with stressors as they gain experience with them. If parity affects stress in sows, it may also impact their prenatal offspring through differential maternal stress. In addition to parity, litter size is another potential factor involved in stress of sows and piglets. Larger litters may be a source of discomfort for gestating sows, while it can result in intra-uterine growth restriction of piglets. In the current study, we aimed to assess whether parity and litter size affect cortisol measures in breeding sows and their offspring. To do this, we measured salivary cortisol concentrations of 16 primiparous and 16 multiparous sows at three time points: 1) while sows were group housed, 2) after sows were separated from the group prior to moving to the farrowing unit and 3) after handling procedures. In addition, hair cortisol concentration was determined for the sows during late gestation and for their low birth weight (n = 63) and normal birth weight (n = 43) offspring on day 3 after birth, to reflect in-utero cortisol exposure. It was expected that if sows adapt to on-farm stressors, the more experienced, multiparous sows would show decreased stress responses in comparison to primiparous sows. However, we found a comparable acute stress response of primi- and multiparous sows to separation from the group. Handling procedures did not influence sows’ salivary cortisol concentrations. Sows’ hair cortisol concentration was positively correlated with litter size. Future research is needed to assess whether this finding reflects increased stress in sows carrying larger litters. Parity or litter size did not have a direct effect on their offspring's hair cortisol concentration. Larger litters did have a higher occurrence of low birth weight piglets. For these piglets, females had higher neonatal hair cortisol concentrations than males. Overall, our results indicate that breeding sows do not adapt to all on-farm stressors. In addition, litter size may influence HPA axis activity in both sows and piglets.

Uniformity in birth weight is heritable in Norwegian White Sheep
Sae-Lim, Panya ; Jakobsen, Jette H. ; Mulder, H.A. - \ 2018
In: Proceedings of the 11th World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production. - WCGALP - 6 p.
Sheep - Birth weight - Uniformity - Maternal genetic effect - DHGLM
Birth weight is an optimum trait where very high and very low birth weights are undesirable as they may cause issues, such as dystocia, stillbirths and diminished lamb vigor. Due to economic and welfare concerns, selection for more uniform birth weight is therefore desirable at all litter sizes. If uniformity in birth weight is heritable, selection against very high and very low birth weights can be conducted. The aim of the current study was to investigate if direct and maternal genetic variances in uniformity in birth weight exist in Norwegian White Sheep (NWS). Data composed birth weights of 136,992 NWS lambs born between 2000 and 2017 and corresponding sire-maternal grand sire pedigree. The double hierarchical generalized linear mixed model (DHGLM) was fitted. The direct and maternal heritability for uniformity of birth weight were 0.08 and 0.11, respectively, and larger than for many other uniformity traits in livestock. Furthermore, the direct (57.8%) and maternal (69.4%) genetic coefficients of variation for uniformity were substantial, revealing large potential for selection for more uniform birth weight in NWS lambs. Genetic correlations between direct and maternal genetic effects on birth weight and uniformity were 0.39 and 0.12, respectively, indicating that that selection for more uniform birth weight may reduce the average birth weight genetically.
Testing post-weaning food motivation in low and normal birth weight pigs in a runway and operant conditioning task
Eck, L.M. van; Antonides, A. ; Nordquist, R.E. ; Staay, F.J. van der - \ 2016
Applied Animal Behaviour Science 181 (2016). - ISSN 0168-1591 - p. 83 - 90.
Birth weight - Motivation - Operant conditioning - Pigs - Runway

Low birth weight (LBW) pigs face more welfare challenges than their normal birth weight (NBW) siblings. Understanding the underlying mechanisms of cognitive and learning abilities in these pigs may help to improve their welfare. Early competition in life over resources, combined with the higher need for nutrient intake, make it likely that LBW pigs have a higher motivation for food than NBW pigs. This study aimed to compare the motivation to obtain food rewards between LBW and NBW pigs, using variable numbers of rewards in two separate tasks; a runway and an operant conditioning task (the nose wheel task). Ten pairs of littermates were used. From each litter, one low birth weight piglet (mean birth weight. ±. SEM: 854. ±. 33. g) and one normal birth weight piglet (1332. ±. 53. g) was selected. Pigs were tested in the runway task at 12 weeks of age and the operant nose wheel task at 19 weeks of age. Both tasks consisted of a baseline phase (two rewards), a high reward phase (eight rewards) and an extinction phase (no rewards). Statistical analyses using mixed models showed that NBW animals left the start box faster than LBW animals in the high reward phase in the runway task. However, their run time in this phase was not shorter and no other birth weight effects were found in any other phase or measure in this task nor in the nose wheel task. All animals decreased their run time in the runway task between the baseline phase and high reward phase, and increased their run time in the extinction phase (p.

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