PhD Student, Universidade Estadual Paulista - UNESP


Human-cattle relationships in relation to animal welfare, behaviour and performance

Up to now, there has been a lack of studies in Latin American farms on the relationships between stockperson training and good cattle handling practices including their behaviour and attitudes, and also with the cattle welfare. Based on international studies, it is evident that training programs are needed to improve farm animal handling practices, especially in Brazil. Brazil has the largest commercial cattle herd in the world, with 215.20 million of heads (IBGE, 2016), and is projected to be the top global beef exporter in 2017, overtaking India and Australia (USDA, 2016). Training for stockpeople is already being carried out in Brazil, however, there has been no research which evaluates the effect of the knowledge acquired in these training programs on stockpeoples´ attitudes to cattle handling and welfare. In our work we found that training stockpeople is a very good way of improving cattle welfare and behaviour, as well as the stockpeoples´ performance during the day.


Evaluation of infrared thermography as a diagnostic tool to predict heat stress events in feedlot cattle.

Abstract: OBJECTIVE To determine whether infrared thermographic images obtained the morning after overnight heat abatement could be used as the basis for diagnostic algorithms to predict subsequent heat stress events in feedlot cattle exposed to high ambient temperatures. ANIMALS 60 crossbred beef heifers (mean ± SD body weight, 385.8 ± 20.3 kg). PROCEDURES Calves were housed in groups of 20 in 3 pens without any shade. During the 6 am and 3 pm hours on each of 10 days during a 14-day period when the daily ambient temperature was forecasted to be > 29.4°C, an investigator walked outside each pen and obtained profile digital thermal images of and assigned panting scores to calves near the periphery of the pen. Relationships between infrared thermographic data and panting scores were evaluated with artificial learning models. RESULTS Afternoon panting score was positively associated with morning but not afternoon thermographic data (body surface temperature). Evaluation of multiple artificial learning models indicated that morning body surface temperature was not an accurate predictor of an afternoon heat stress event, and thermographic data were of little predictive benefit, compared with morning and forecasted weather conditions. CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Results indicated infrared thermography was an objective method to monitor beef calves for heat stress in research settings. However, thermographic data obtained in the morning did not accurately predict which calves would develop heat stress later in the day. The use of infrared thermography as a diagnostic tool for monitoring heat stress in feedlot cattle requires further investigation.

Pub.: 27 Jun '17, Pinned: 30 Jun '17

Genome-Wide Association Study between Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms and Flight Speed in Nellore Cattle.

Abstract: Cattle temperament is an important factor that affects the profitability of beef cattle enterprises, due to its relationship with productivity traits, animal welfare and labor safety. Temperament is a complex phenotype often assessed by measuring a series of behavioral traits, which result from the effects of multiple environmental and genetic factors, and their interactions. The aims of this study were to perform a genome-wide association study and detect genomic regions, potential candidate genes and their biological mechanisms underlying temperament, measured by flight speed (FS) test in Nellore cattle.The genome-wide association study (GWAS) was performed using a single-step procedure (ssGBLUP) which combined simultaneously all 16,600 phenotypes from genotyped and non-genotyped animals, full pedigree information of 162,645 animals and 1,384 genotyped animals in one step. The animals were genotyped with High Density Bovine SNP BeadChip which contains 777,962 SNP markers. After quality control (QC) a total of 455,374 SNPs remained.Heritability estimated for FS was 0.21 ± 0.02. Consecutive SNPs explaining 1% or more of the total additive genetic variance were considered as windows associated with FS. Nine candidate regions located on eight different Bos taurus chromosomes (BTA) (1 at 73 Mb, 2 at 65 Mb, 5 at 22 Mb and 119 Mb, 9 at 98 Mb, 11 at 67 Mb, 15 at 16 Mb, 17 at 63 Kb, and 26 at 47 Mb) were identified. The candidate genes identified in these regions were NCKAP5 (BTA2), PARK2 (BTA9), ANTXR1 (BTA11), GUCY1A2 (BTA15), CPE (BTA17) and DOCK1 (BTA26). Among these genes PARK2, GUCY1A2, CPE and DOCK1 are related to dopaminergic system, memory formation, biosynthesis of peptide hormone and neurotransmitter and brain development, respectively.Our findings allowed us to identify nine genomic regions (SNP windows) associated with beef cattle temperament, measured by FS test. Within these windows, six promising candidate genes and their biological functions were identified. These results may contribute to a better comprehension into the genetic control of temperament expression in Nellore cattle.

Pub.: 15 Jun '16, Pinned: 30 Jun '17

Genetic association between temperament and sexual precocity indicator traits in Nellore cattle.

Abstract: The aim of this study was to estimate the genetic associations between temperament and sexual precocity indicators in Nellore cattle. Temperament was evaluated at approximately 550 days of age, using three traits: i) movement score (MOV), recording the animals' movement inside the crush; ii) temperament score (TS) for assessing the reactions of animals in a corral pen; and iii) flight speed test (FS), recording the speed (in m/s) at which the animals exit the crush after being weighed. Three sexual precocity indicators were used: i) age at first calving (AFC, in days); ii) occurrence of precocious pregnancy (OPP, as a binary trait); and iii) yearling scrotal circumference (SC, in cm). The (co)variance and genetic parameters were estimated by Bayesian Inference via Gibbs sampling, assuming a linear animal model for FS, AFC and SC and a threshold animal model for MOV, TS and OPP in multitrait analyses. The mean posterior heritability estimates for MOV, FS, TS, AFC, OPP and SC were 0.11 ± 0.03, 0.27 ± 0.07, 0.16 ± 0.09, 0.09 ± 0.01, 0.44 ± 0.06 and 0.43 ± 0.02, respectively. The mean posterior correlation estimates were: 0.13 ± 0.14 (MOV-AFC), -0.03 ± 0.16 (MOV-OPP), 0.08 ± 0.10 (MOV-SC), 0.14 ± 0.11 (FS-AFC), -0.19 ± 0.15 (FS-OPP), -0.07 ± 0.08 (FS-SC), 0.09 ± 0.09 (TS-AFC), -0.03 ± 0.09 (TS-OPP) and -0.28 ± 0.08 (TS-SC). These results indicate that all the traits had sufficient genetic variability to respond to selection. The low magnitude of the genetic correlations indicated that selection for improvements in sexual precocity would not change the temperament of Nellore cattle. In order to obtain genetic progress in cattle temperament, direct selection for these traits is recommended.

Pub.: 05 Dec '14, Pinned: 30 Jun '17