Scielo RSS <![CDATA[South African Journal of Animal Science]]> vol. 42 num. 1 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Comparison of the milk composition of free-ranging indigenous African cattle breeds</b>]]> The milk composition of free-ranging indigenous African cattle breeds was analysed. These breeds were chosen because they have not been bred specifically for milk production and might be considered the closest to a "natural" or "wild type" of the Bos species. It was found that the nutrient composition of the milk of these cattle, in particular the dry matter, is as low as that of European beef breeds. The content of whey proteins and NPN is also lower than that of dairy breeds. Statistically significant differences in milk fatty acid composition between the Sanga-type cattle and the Afrikaner and its derivatives were observed for the content of lactose, whey protein and non-protein nitrogen, as well as fatty acid composition regarding medium long chain and long chain fatty acids. A genetic relationship is evident and suggests the preference of certain fatty acid synthesis pathways. <![CDATA[<b>The effect of plant extracts fed before farrowing and during lactation on sow and piglet performance</b>]]> The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of a mixture of plant extracts (XTRACT 6930), consisting of 5.4% (wt/wt) carvacrol (oregano), 3.2% cinnamaldehyde (cinnamon) and 2.2% capsicum oleoresin (Mexican pepper), on piglet and sow performance when used as dietary supplements to the sows. The experiment was performed on 40 sows, divided into two groups (control and experimental) of 20 sows per group. The study was conducted from day 90 of pregnancy until weaning at day 28. The sows in the control group received the basal diet, and the sows in the experimental group (XT group) received the basal diet, supplemented with 100 mg of XTRACT/kg feed. Backfat thickness of the sows at points P2 and P4 was measured on day 90 of pregnancy and at weaning. Milk samples were collected from each sow on day 15 ± 2 of lactation. The backfat thickness of the sows that received the plant extracts was significantly thicker at weaning than that of the controls, showing less loss of backfat during lactation. The lactose content in the milk of the XTRACT group was higher than that of the control. Piglets of the sows supplemented with the plant extract had a significantly higher average daily gain during the suckling period and a higher body weight at weaning. The mortality of piglets during the suckling period was significantly lower in the XTRACT group than in the control group. The results showed that the plant extract supplementation of sows during late pregnancy and lactation had a beneficial effect on the performance of the sows and piglets. <![CDATA[<b>Effects of non-antibiotic feed additives on performance, immunity and intestinal morphology of broilers fed different levels of protein</b>]]> In order to investigate the effects of the dietary supplementation of organic acids, prebiotics and probiotics on broiler chickens, a total of 288 day-old male Cobb chicks were allocated in a completely randomized design according to a 2 x 4 factorial, consisting of two levels of crude protein (recommended or low (85% of recommended)) and a four feed-additive programme. The basal diet without any feed additive served as control and one of the following additives, organic acids, a prebiotic and a probiotic, were added to the basal diet to form the other treatments. Starter and finisher diets were offered from 1 to 21 d and 22 to 42 d of age, respectively. The birds were reared in an open-sided house system under natural tropical conditions with the same housing and general management practices. Lowering the dietary protein level significantly decreased bird performance throughout the experiment. Additives had no significant effects on body weight, body weight gain and feed intake. Dietary supplementation with the prebiotic resulted in significant improvements in feed efficiency during 22 - 42 d and 1 - 42 d of age. At 21 and 42 d of age birds fed the diets containing the prebiotic had the longest duodenal villi compared to the other treatments. Jejunum villi, and duodenum and jejunum crypt depth were not influenced by additives. At 21 d of age the dietary addition of the prebiotic and organic acids significantly increased the antibody titres against Newcastle disease compared to the control group. It could be concluded that under the condition of the current study, the prebiotic affected performance, small intestinal morphology and immunity of broiler chickens significantly. <![CDATA[<b>Slow-release amylase increases <i>in vitro</i> ruminal digestion of maize and sorghum grain</b>]]> The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of slow-release a-amylase in ruminal in vitro digestion of maize and sorghum grains. Digestibility was measured using an in vitro procedure with 40 mL of buffer and 10 mL of ruminal fluid, flushed with CO2 and incubated at 39 °C. The digestibility of sorghum and maize grain was measured after 6 and 12 hours of fermentation with or without exogenous a-amylase in powder form or dispersed in a matrix system for slow release by a diffusional mechanism. Tablets were used as the drug release matrix system, and were formulated with barium sulphate and ethylcellulose as the core of the final tablet. Treatments consisted of incubation of sorghum or maize grains with four doses of enzyme, using a-amylase in powder or in the press-coated tablet (16 treatments). The results showed that with a higher dose of exogenous enzyme, the digestibility of the grains was improved. Sorghum and maize digestion with tablets were improved compared with a-amylase in powder form. Releasing a-amylase from matrix tablets represents a potential technology to improve grain digestion in ruminants. <![CDATA[<b>Correlated response in longevity from direct selection for production in the South African Jersey breed</b>]]> The length of productive life is of major economic importance in dairy cattle production. Simple breeding objectives such as selection for increased production in dairy cattle have led to a significant decline in fitness traits. The objective of the current study was to investigate whether direct selection for production resulted in an undesirable genetic response in longevity in the South African Jersey breed. Longevity was defined as survival in the first three lactations from first calving to culling or death, adjusted for the effect of milk yield. An observation for survival per lactation was denoted by 1 (survived) or 0 (culled) otherwise. Performance and pedigree records on purebred South African Jersey cows that participated in the National Milk Recording and Improvement Scheme were considered. A multiple-trait linear animal model was used to estimate breeding values. A complete (co)variance structure for the additive genetic and residual effects for the three traits were used. Heritabilities used in the current study were 0.034, 0.022 and 0.026 for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd lactations, respectively. Reliabilities were approximated using the effective number of daughters. The estimated breeding values for sires ranged from 79 to 114. The rate of genetic progress per year for the period 1985 to 2002 was statistically non-significant (b = 0.02 ± 0.05 per year). Results from the current study indicate that direct selection for production did not result in an undesirable correlated genetic response in longevity. <![CDATA[<b>Relationships between functional herd life and conformation traits in the South African Jersey breed</b>]]> The genetic relationship between conformation traits and functional herd life of the South African Jersey population was investigated. Data on conformation traits (n = 46 238) and functional herd life (n = 90 530) on registered South African Jersey cows calving between 1989 and 2008 were obtained from the Integrated Registration and Genetic Information System. Conformation traits were scored using a subjective linear scoring system ranging from 1 to 9, except for foot angle, with a maximum score of 8. Conformation traits included stature, chest width, body depth, dairy strength, rump angle, thurl width, rear leg side view, foot angle, fore udder attachment, rear udder height, rear udder width, udder support, udder depth, front teat placement, rear teat placement and front teat length. Genetic correlations between conformation traits and functional herd life were estimated by a series of bivariate analyses. Significant moderate to strong positive genetic correlations between most udder traits and functional herd life (0.23 to 0.63) were estimated. The most important udder traits related to functional herd life were fore udder attachment, rear udder height and udder depth. Most of the body structure traits had a low to moderate negative correlation with functional herd life (-0.04 to -0.27). However, rump angle and foot angle were estimated to have a moderate positive genetic correlation with functional herd life. The genetic relationships between functional herd life and conformation traits in the South African Jersey breed indicate that conformation traits could be used to enhance the accuracy of genetic evaluation for functional herd life. It is therefore recommended that current national genetic evaluation for functional herd life in the South African Jersey breed should include conformation traits. <![CDATA[<b>Assessment of inbreeding depression for functional herd life in the South African Jersey breed based on level and rate of inbreeding</b>]]> The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of inbreeding depression on functional herd life in the South African Jersey population based on individual level and rate of inbreeding. A pedigree file of the South African Jersey breed (n = 912 638) was obtained from the Integrated Registration and Genetic Information System (INTERGIS). The data included registered, grade and imported animals. The percentages of animals in the pedigree file with two, one and zero parents unknown were 22%, 18% and 60%, respectively. The inbreeding coefficient for each animal (Fi) and the rate of individual inbreeding (DFi) as an alternative measure of inbreeding that is adjusted for the depth of known pedigree were calculated. The effect of inbreeding on functional herd life in each of the first three lactations was estimated, using a single-trait sire model on data collected from 1985 to 2003. Three analyses for survival in each of the first three lactations were conducted. In the first analysis, in addition to fixed and random effects, an individual inbreeding coefficient (Fi) was fitted as a linear covariate. In the second analysis, the inbreeding coefficient was included as a discrete variable with the following classes of inbreeding: 0 < F ≤ 3.125, 3.125 < F ≤ 6.25, 6.25 < F ≤ 12.5 and F > 12.5. In the third analysis, the individual rate of inbreeding (DFi) was included in the model as a linear covariate. The level of inbreeding in the SA Jersey population showed a gradual increase for the period 1985 to 1994, while the period 1995 to 2003 showed a rapid increase. The current mean level of inbreeding (for the year 2010) is 4.85% with a minimum and maximum of 0 and 31.34%, respectively. The rate of inbreeding showed a gradual increase from 0.36% to 0.43% between 1985 and 2003. The average rate of inbreeding is currently (for the year 2010) at 0.55%. There was a significant unfavourable relationship between inbreeding and functional herd life in the first and second lactations. The effect of inbreeding was more pronounced in the second lactation for both measures of inbreeding. Based on the current level of inbreeding, the reduction in functional herd life in the first lactation can be estimated as 0.68%. The corresponding estimate for the second lactation is 1.70%. The results from the current study indicate that the current level or rate of inbreeding has reached levels that are detrimental to functional herd life. Therefore, individual inbreeding coefficients should be considered in addition to genetic merit when breeding decisions are made by Jersey breeders. <![CDATA[<b>The performance of broilers on a feed depends on the feed protein content given previously</b>]]> It has been proposed that all animals have an inherent relationship between body protein and lipid that can be described allometrically, and the hypothesis tested in the research reported here is that the animal will at all times attempt to retain this relationship. The test was accomplished by feeding broilers, of three genotypes and in two experiments, in such a way as to produce lean and fat birds that were then subjected to a range of dietary protein levels in a second feeding period, during which their performance was measured. Birds were initially offered one of two feeds with widely different protein to energy ratios until they reached a pre-defined liveweight, after which they were given one of two feed protein contents in Experiment 1 and four in Experiment 2. Their performance was monitored until a second pre-defined liveweight was reached, at which time they were killed for carcass analysis. The genotype selected to be lean, in Experiment 1, showed no response to protein level in the second period, whether they were fat or lean at the start. Conversely, the genetically fat birds showed some additional growth in males and additional efficiency in the females. Averaged across genotypes and sexes, birds initially in the fat state gained only 6.9 g lipid/d versus 13.5 g lipid/d for the nutritionally lean broilers. In Experiment 2, growth rate and feed conversion efficiency (FCE) were related directly to dietary protein content and were higher for those birds made nutritionally fat. Carcass lipid gain was lower for the initially fat birds on the three highest dietary protein treatments. All birds made fat at 880 g and 1000 g, by giving them a low protein feed, had a much reduced fat content in their subsequent gain, provided that the protein content of the feed used was sufficiently high, indicating that they were making use of the excessive lipid reserves as an energy source. The hypothesis tested cannot be rejected by the evidence presented. <![CDATA[<b>Performance and egg quality of aged laying hens fed diets supplemented with meat and bone meal or oyster shell meal</b>]]> Meat and bone meal (MBM) and oyster shell meal (OSM) were supplemented to a basal diet (LMS), either alone or in combination, in order to assess the dietary influences of those complementary Ca sources on performance and egg quality of laying hens. Four hundred and thirty-two Brown-Nick hens, at the beginning of their second production period, were divided into four treatment groups with six replicates each. The final body weight of OSM-fed hens was highest, whereas others did not differ significantly. Hens receiving OSM produced more eggs and egg mass along with considerably greater feed intake than those on all the other treatments. Egg weight was not affected by the treatments except for the lower egg weight of the MBM+OSM treatment. Hens fed a diet supplemented with MBM laid at a rate of 1.14%, 3.66% points lower than those on the control and OSM treatments, respectively. Feed efficiency was not influenced by origin of calcium source. Egg shape index and eggshell weight did not differ among treatments. Eggshell thickness and eggshell breaking strength were higher in hens fed with MBM as compared to control and OSM fed birds. Similar to the tendency in shell quality, MBM inclusion in the diet tended to enhance albumen height and Haugh unit. Dietary treatment with OSM resulted in the highest serum Ca and P concentrations. These results indicate that partially replacing limestone with OSM in the laying hen diet provided significant improvements in egg production performance, whereas most of the egg quality traits were enhanced by dietary supplementation with MBM at 4%.