Animal Feeding and Nutrition

Nutritional evaluation of forages (green, hay, silage, dried), raw materials, sub-products and compound feeds. Applications of near-infrared spectroscopy technology in food, feed and feces.

Researchers:
Elena Albanell Trullàs
Jordi Bartolomé Filella
Josepa Plaixats Boixadera


Projects:

Barley for New Uses

This project aims at the study of new types of barley of interest for their functional properties for human and animal consumption. In particular (I) hulled barley types with very high content of betaglucan for direct extraction for industrial uses and hulless or naked, waxy and non-waxy genotypes with medium levels of betaglucan for direct human consumption and (II) hooded barley doubled haploids adapted to Spanish conditions (these genotypes carry the kap gene resulting in the development of an extra sterile spikelet flower instead of the regular awns). The hooded materials are beneficial for animal nutrition as they prevent livestock damage in the digestive system when consumed compared to regular types, allowing multiple alternative uses as hay, silage or grain. In this project we test these varieties for feeding ruminants, through its nutritional assessment, the study of ruminal degradability of starch and betaglucans from barley grain, and the evaluation of the lactogenic, metabolic and immunostimulant effects of barley betaglucans in sheep.
Contact Person: Elena Albanell (Elena.albanell@uab.cat) and Ramon Casals (Ramon.Casals@uab.cat)
 
Multiscale study on the role of herbivores in insular Mediterranean vegetation and their interaction with fire (HERBINSU).

This project provides valuable information for sustainable vegetation management in the Mediterranean islands. By this proposal we aim to assess not only the functional response of Mediterranean maquis to herbivory, but also the role of small ruminants in the prevention of wildfires and restoration of burnt areas of the Balearic Islands. At an individual scale, we will study the impact of feral goats on endemic, broadly distributed or palatable plants on the island. At population scale, however, we will explore the role of landscape structure on the abundance and distribution of flocks. Finally, we will assess the impact of grazing on the secondary post-fire succession of vegetation. Along this line, we will perform field manipulations of browsing pressure aiming at evaluating the use of goats for wildfire prevention. To achieve our goals, we will combine laboratory analysis (diet quality, microhistology for diet composition, secondary compounds assessment), vegetation monitoring in open and fenced areas, and the use of unmanned spacecrafts to asses goat density or vegetation activity (multispectral images). Furthermore, the public perception of the role of herbivores in this singular ecosystem will also be taken into account. The expected outcomes of this project will serve to develop environmental plans aimed at vegetation control and fire prevention in the Mediterranean basin.
Contact person: Jordi Bartolome (jordi.bartolome@uab.cat)






Evaluating extensive livestock farming in terms of sustainability, in order to improve its management. This includes characterizing and classifying production systems, analyzing animals' diets and the availability and quality of forage produced from natural resources, and studying livestock carrying capacity.

Researchers:
Elena Albanell Trullàs
Jordi Bartolomé Filella
María José Milán Sendra
Josepa Plaixats Boixadera


Projects:

Multiscale study on the role of herbivores in insular Mediterranean vegetation and their interaction with fire (HERBINSU).
This project provides valuable information for sustainable vegetation management in the Mediterranean islands. By this proposal we aim to assess not only the functional response of Mediterranean maquis to herbivory, but also the role of small ruminants in the prevention of wildfires and restoration of burnt areas of the Balearic Islands. At an individual scale, we will study the impact of feral goats on endemic, broadly distributed or palatable plants on the island. At population scale, however, we will explore the role of landscape structure on the abundance and distribution of flocks. Finally, we will assess the impact of grazing on the secondary post-fire succession of vegetation. Along this line, we will perform field manipulations of browsing pressure aiming at evaluating the use of goats for wildfire prevention. To achieve our goals, we will combine laboratory analysis (diet quality, microhistology for diet composition, secondary compounds assessment), vegetation monitoring in open and fenced areas, and the use of unmanned spacecrafts to asses goat density or vegetation activity (multispectral images). Furthermore, the public perception of the role of herbivores in this singular ecosystem will also be taken into account. The expected outcomes of this project will serve to develop environmental plans aimed at vegetation control and fire prevention in the Mediterranean basin.
Contact: Jordi Bartolome (jordi.bartolome@uab.cat)
 
Conditioned taste aversion: application to small ruminants grazing in vineyard
Conditioned taste aversion (CTA) is a learning behavior process where animals are trained to reject certain feed after gastrointestinal discomfort has been produced. Lthium chloride (LiCl) is the preferred agent used in livestock to induce CTA because it specifically stimulates the vomit center. In addition, LiCl is commercially available, and easy to prepare and administer using a drenching gun. Due to their native neophobic feeding behavior, small ruminants can easily associate the negative feedback effects with the new feed, resulting in a strong and persistent CTA. Nevertheless, some factors have to be considered to obtain an effective long-lasting CTA, which allows small ruminants to graze during the cropping season.
Contact Person: Elena Albanell (Elena.albanell@uab.cat )

Digestion processes and use of nutrients, and strategies on the use of additives in monogastric animals: effects on the production efficiency, animal health, and quality and safety of the final products. Feeding management of monogastric animals: pregnant and lactating sows.

Researchers:
Ana Cristina Barroeta Lajusticia
Josep Gasa Gasó
Susana María Martín Orúe
José Francisco Pérez Hernández
Roser Sala Pallarés


Projects:

Priming the nursery pig: An opportunity to improve its post-weaning performance. Study of modes of action (PRIMINGPIGS)
The pig has to cope with multitude of challenges after birth, with weaning being the most critical period with frequent clinical episodes and the therapeutic use of antibiotics. Improving the adaptation of the animals during this period would reduce mortality rates and variability of batches. The window of late gestation and/or lactation could be seen as an opportunity to provide the animal with adequate epigenomic programming and particularly an appropriate modulation of the immune system. This project aims at more in-depth study of those early events that occur in the first days of life of the piglets that could help to improve the health and productivity of pigs and to reduce the use of antibiotics..
The proposal has three specific objectives: i) to demonstrate the relevance of some critical nutrients in the perinatal pig ; ii) to demonstrate the importance of early microbial colonization in the development of digestive and immune function and in the modulation of stress, and iii) to demonstrate the relevance of the management of litters during lactation on the microbial colonization and adaptation of piglets to weaning.
The project uses a holistic approach assisted by newly developed methodologies for the study of the intestinal microbiota (High-Throughput sequencing of the 16S RNA gene), host gene-expression (OpenArray® technology) and a metabolomic approach (NMR, HPLC-MS).
Contact person: J.Francisco Pérez (josefrancisco.perez@uab.cat  )and Susana M. Martín-Orúe (susana.martin@uab.cat  )
 
Use of acid oils in feeding monogastric animals. Characterization, comparative nutrition and lipid meat quality repercussions (FEEDACIDOIL)
The acid oils (AO) are by-products coming from refining processes applied to edible oils and their major components are the free fatty acids. The use of these by-products in feed formulation constitutes a reintroduction into the food chain, avoiding environmental problems that would appear from their disposal as a residue. Their use in animal feeding has some limitations, mainly due to the high variability of the values of composition and degradation parameters, indicating a low level of standardization for these fat by-products. As a consequence, they lead to contradictory/unexpected productive results in some cases. So, the global objective of the project is to characterize the AO coming from industrial refining and to generate practical information about their use in feeding monogastric animals and the repercussions on the lipid quality of meat produced. The concrete objectives are: a) to characterize the composition and degradation levels of the AO available at the market, and establish their variability; b) to identify the main components present in AO that could affect positively or negatively their nutritional value, and to establish control recommendations; c) to determine how the different values of components and degradation products present in AO can affect feed quality and stability, and the utilization by the animals; d) to generate practical information regarding the strategies of inclusion of AO, leading to an optimization of their nutritional value and economical profitability, paying attention to the repercussion on the quality and safety of the final product.
Contact person: Ana Cristina Barroeta (ana.barroeta@uab.cat), Roser Sala (roser.sala@uab.cat)

Factors intervening in digestion processes and use of nutrients in ruminants. Impact of food on the environment. Thermal stress. Food strategies for improving product quality (dairy and meat).

Researchers:
Elena Albanell Trullàs
Gerardo Caja López
Ramon Casals Costa
Francesc Xavier Such Martí
Sergio Calsamiglia Blancafort
Alfred ferret Quesada


Projects:

Barley for New Uses
This project aims at the study of new types of barley of interest for their functional properties for human and animal consumption. In particular (I) hulled barley types with very high content of betaglucan for direct extraction for industrial uses and hulless or naked, waxy and non-waxy genotypes with medium levels of betaglucan for direct human consumption and (II) hooded barley doubled haploids adapted to Spanish conditions (these genotypes carry the kap gene resulting in the development of an extra sterile spikelet flower instead of the regular awns). The hooded materials are of great interest for animal nutrition as they prevent livestock damage in the digestive system when consumed compared to regular types, allowing multiple alternative uses as hay, silage or grain. In this project we test these varieties for feeding ruminants, through nutritional assessment, the study of ruminal degradability of starch and betaglucans from barley grain, and the evaluation of the lactogenic, metabolic and immunostimulant effects of barley betaglucans in sheep. 
Contact Person: Elena Albanell (Elena.albanell@uab.cat) and Ramon Casals (Ramon.Casals@uab.cat)
 
Nutritive value of camelina by-products in ruminants
Camelina sativais a summer annual oilseed of the genus Cruciferae which grows in temperate climates and has lower costs of production than other oilseed plants such as rapeseed. This oilseed crop is used for the production of biofuels. In this process, different by-products can be obtained: camelina expeller, camelina meal and camelina hulls. Until now, few studies have focused on the use of camelina by-products in ruminants. So, the aim of this project is to analyze and compare their chemical composition and nutritive value with other ingredients commonly used in beef cattle production. To do that, several in vitro and in vivo experiments will be conducted.
Contact Person: Alfred Ferret (Alfred.Ferret@uab.cat)
 
Use of Unifeed diets based on hay and concentrate for beef production
With the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, the European Union intends to make life more difficult for beef cattle farms which do not have land on which to produce forage. This has significant implications for beef production in this country, as it is largely based on a model which does not rely on forage. In this situation, the search for alternatives that can enable, on the one hand, farmers who currently fatten calves to adapt comfortably to the new regulations and, on the other, those who are involved in forage-based production to enter into the process, is of great interest for the sector. Furthermore, finding pathways to cost-saving in production to counteract sharp swings in the price of raw materials that make up cattle feed is another of the sector's major objectives. In this sense, we believe that the proposed use of complete diets, based on alfalfa hay and combined with other ingredients in the concentrate to provide the energy and protein density,needed for successful production, is entirely feasible. However, this would require technical adjustments in our feedlots, through the use of “unifeed mixed wagons” or the purchase of dry mixtures, as well as their distribution in the troughs, which would also need adapting. All this would help reduce the incidence of subclinical acidosis in calves, thanks to greater fiber intake and ruminating activity, and thus improve the welfare of our animals. Finally, this could also put an end to the poor image of beef production in the eyes of consumers, who often mistakenly take the intensive production system to be an unnatural process.
Contact Person: Alfred Ferret (Alfred.Ferret@uab.cat)
 
Conditioned taste aversion: application to small ruminants grazing in vineyard
Conditioned taste aversion (CTA) is a learning behavior process where animals are trained to reject certain feed after gastrointestinal discomfort has been produced. Lthium chloride (LiCl) is the preferred agent used in livestock to induce CTA because it specifically stimulates the vomit center. In addition, LiCl is commercially available, and easy to prepare and administer using a drenching gun. Due to their native neophobic feeding behavior, small ruminants can easily associate the negative feedback effects with the new feed, resulting in a strong and persistent CTA. Nevertheless, some factors have to be considered to obtain an effective long-lasting CTA, which allows small ruminants to graze during the cropping season.
Contact Person: Elena Albanell (Elena.albanell@uab.cat )

Effects of different dietary components on behaviour in dogs.

Researchers:
Susana María Martín Orúe

Projects: