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Concept: Livestock


We investigated the evolution and epidemiology of a novel livestock-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus strain, which colonizes and infects urban-dwelling Danes even without a Danish animal reservoir. Genetic evidence suggests both poultry and human adaptation, with poultry meat implicated as a probable source.

Concepts: Bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Meat, Livestock, Adaptation, Charles Darwin, Poultry


Allosuckling is a situation when a female nurses a non-filial offspring. It was described in various ungulate species; however for camels this is the first description of this behaviour. The aim of the study was to assess the occurrence of allosuckling in captive camels (Camelus bactrianus) and to test whether it can be explained as a ‘milk-theft’ (opportunistic behaviour of calves) or alternatively as an altruistic behaviour of females. During 2005 and 2007, nine camel females and ten calves in four zoological gardens in the Czech Republic were observed. In total, 373 sucking bouts were recorded, from which 32 were non-filial (the calf sucked from the non-maternal female). Allosuckling regularly appeared in captive camel herds. As predicted for the milk-theft explanation, the non-filial calves sucked more often in the lateral position and even did not suck in the antiparallel position at all. The non-filial calves preferably joined the filial calf when sucking but in five cases (15.6% of non-filial sucking bouts) the calves sucked from non-maternal dam without the presence of filial calf. We then expected the differences in terminations of sucking bouts by females but did not find any difference in sucking terminations for filial and non-filial calves. As the calves were getting older, the incidence of allosucking increased. This was probably because skills of the calf to outwit the non-maternal dam increased and/or the older calves might be more motivated for allosucking due to the weaning process. Finally, duration of a sucking bout was shorter with non-filial than filial calves. The results of the study support the hypothesis of ‘milk theft’, being mostly performed by calves behaving as opportunistic parasites, but we cannot reject certain level of altruism from the allonursing females or their increased degree of tolerance to non-filial calves.

Concepts: Milk, Livestock, Camel, Dromedary, Even-toed ungulate, Camelid, Camelids, Bactrian Camel


Cathelicidins are small, cationic, antimicrobial peptides found in humans and other species, including farm animals (cattle, horses, pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, rabbits and in some species of fish). These proteolytically activated peptides are part of the innate immune system of many vertebrates. These peptides show a broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity against bacteria, enveloped viruses and fungi. Apart from exerting direct antimicrobial effects, cathelicidins can also trigger specific defense responses in the host. Their roles in various pathophysiological conditions have been studied in mice and humans, but there are limited information about their expression sites and activities in livestock. The aim of the present review is to summarize current information about these antimicrobial peptides in farm animals, highlighting peptide expression sites, activities, and future applications for human and veterinary medicine.

Concepts: Immune system, Evolution, Organism, Microbiology, Innate immune system, Mammal, Meat, Livestock


BACKGROUND: Traditional habitat knowledge is an understudied part of traditional knowledge. Though the number of studies increased world-wide in the last decade, this knowledge is still rarely studied in Europe. We document the habitat vocabulary used by Csango people, and determine features they used to name and describe these categories.Study area and methods: Csango people live in Gyimes (Carpathians, Romania). The area is dominated by coniferous forests, hay meadows and pastures. Animal husbandry is the main source of living. Data on the knowledge of habitat preference of 135 salient wild plant species were collected (2908 records, 44 interviewees). Data collected indoors were counterchecked during outdoor interviews and participatory field work. RESULTS: Csangos used a rich and sophisticated vocabulary to name and describe habitat categories. They distinguished altogether at least 142–148 habitat types, and named them by 242 habitat terms. We argue that the method applied and the questions asked (‘what kind of place does species X like?’) helped the often implicit knowledge of habitats to be verbalized more efficiently than usual in an interview. Habitat names were highly lexicalized and most of them were widely shared. The main features were biotic or abiotic, like land-use, dominant plant species, vegetation structure, successional stage, disturbance, soil characteristics, hydrological, and geomorphological features. Csangos often used indicator species (28, mainly herbaceous taxa) in describing habitats of species. To prevent reduction in the quantity and/or quality of hay, unnecessary disturbance of grasslands was avoided by the Csangos. This could explain the high number of habitats (35) distinguished dominantly by the type and severity of disturbance. Based on the spatial scale and topological inclusiveness of habitat categories we distinguished macro-, meso-, and microhabitats. CONCLUSIONS: Csango habitat categories were not organized into a single hierarchy, and the partitioning was multidimensional. Multidimensional description of habitats, made the nuanced characterization of plant species' habitats possible by providing innumerable possibilities to combine the most salient habitat features. We conclude that multidimensionality of landscape partitioning and the number of dimensions applied in a landscape seem to depend on the number of key habitat gradients in the given landscape.

Concepts: Dimension, Space, Domination, Vegetation, Livestock, Cartesian coordinate system, Ecological succession, Habitat fragmentation


Myostatin (MSTN) has been shown to be a negative regulator of skeletal muscle development and growth. MSTN dysfunction therefore offers a strategy for promoting animal growth performance in livestock production. In this study, we investigated the possibility of using RNAi-based technology to generate transgenic sheep with a double-muscle phenotype. A shRNA expression cassette targeting sheep MSTN was used to generate stable shRNA-expressing fibroblast clones. Transgenic sheep were further produced by somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) technology. Five lambs developed to term and three live lambs were obtained. Integration of shRNA expression cassette in three live lambs was confirmed by PCR. RNase protection assay showed that the shRNAs targeting MSTN were expressed in muscle tissues of three transgenic sheep. MSTN expression was significantly inhibited in muscle tissues of transgenic sheep when compared with control sheep. Moreover, transgenic sheep showed a tendency to faster increase in body weight than control sheep. Histological analysis showed that myofiber diameter of transgenic sheep M17 were bigger than that of control sheep. Our findings demonstrate a promising approach to promoting muscle growth in livestock production.

Concepts: Genetics, Gene expression, Muscular dystrophy, Cloning, Livestock, Muscle hypertrophy, Somatic cell nuclear transfer, Myostatin


Listeria monocytogenes infection is most commonly recognized in ruminants, including cattle, sheep, and goats; but it is rarely diagnosed in poultry. This report describes an outbreak of L. monocytogenes in a backyard poultry flock. Also, it points out the importance of collaboration between veterinarians and public health departments and the possible implications of zoonotic diseases.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Listeria monocytogenes, Listeria, Listeriosis, Livestock, Goat, Joseph Lister, 1st Baron Lister, Herbivorous animals


The slaughter of pregnant cattle and the fate of the foetuses are relatively new subjects in the field of animal welfare. The Scientific Committee on Veterinary Measures relating to Public Health (SCVPH), however, does not believe this topic to be a critical issue because of the hitherto supposed rare occurrence of this practice. Some previous studies though, contradict this assessment, emphasising its relevance to animal welfare. With regard to the heterogeneous study design of previous investigations, the objective of this study is to evaluate the current situation concerning the slaughter of pregnant cattle in different German abattoirs. Additionally, the prevalence was assessed semi-quantitatively on the basis of a cross-sectional, voluntary and anonymous survey that was conducted amongst senior veterinary students of the University of Leipzig from 2010 until 2013.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Embryo, Germany, Livestock, Animal rights, Leipzig, University of Leipzig, Cattle in religion


Dromedaries have been fundamental to the development of human societies in arid landscapes and for long-distance trade across hostile hot terrains for 3,000 y. Today they continue to be an important livestock resource in marginal agro-ecological zones. However, the history of dromedary domestication and the influence of ancient trading networks on their genetic structure have remained elusive. We combined ancient DNA sequences of wild and early-domesticated dromedary samples from arid regions with nuclear microsatellite and mitochondrial genotype information from 1,083 extant animals collected across the species' range. We observe little phylogeographic signal in the modern population, indicative of extensive gene flow and virtually affecting all regions except East Africa, where dromedary populations have remained relatively isolated. In agreement with archaeological findings, we identify wild dromedaries from the southeast Arabian Peninsula among the founders of the domestic dromedary gene pool. Approximate Bayesian computations further support the “restocking from the wild” hypothesis, with an initial domestication followed by introgression from individuals from wild, now-extinct populations. Compared with other livestock, which show a long history of gene flow with their wild ancestors, we find a high initial diversity relative to the native distribution of the wild ancestor on the Arabian Peninsula and to the brief coexistence of early-domesticated and wild individuals. This study also demonstrates the potential to retrieve ancient DNA sequences from osseous remains excavated in hot and dry desert environments.

Concepts: DNA, Genetics, Biology, Arabian Peninsula, Domestication, Livestock, Camel, Dromedary


People believe they experience the world objectively, but research continually demonstrates that beliefs influence perception. Emerging research indicates that beliefs influence the experience of eating. In three studies, we test whether beliefs about how animals are raised can influence the experience of eating meat. Samples of meat were paired with descriptions of animals raised on factory farms or raised on humane farms. Importantly, the meat samples in both conditions were identical. However, participants experienced the samples differently: meat paired with factory farm descriptions looked, smelled, and tasted less pleasant. Even basic properties of flavor were influenced: factory farmed samples tasted more salty and greasy. Finally, actual behavior was influenced: participants consumed less when samples were paired with factory farm descriptions. These findings demonstrate that the experience of eating is not determined solely by physical properties of stimuli-beliefs also shape experience.

Concepts: Farm, Livestock, Wind farm, Industrial agriculture


Human appropriation of land for agriculture has greatly altered the terrestrial carbon balance, creating a large but uncertain carbon debt in soils. Estimating the size and spatial distribution of soil organic carbon (SOC) loss due to land use and land cover change has been difficult but is a critical step in understanding whether SOC sequestration can be an effective climate mitigation strategy. In this study, a machine learning-based model was fitted using a global compilation of SOC data and the History Database of the Global Environment (HYDE) land use data in combination with climatic, landform and lithology covariates. Model results compared favorably with a global compilation of paired plot studies. Projection of this model onto a world without agriculture indicated a global carbon debt due to agriculture of 133 Pg C for the top 2 m of soil, with the rate of loss increasing dramatically in the past 200 years. The HYDE classes “grazing” and “cropland” contributed nearly equally to the loss of SOC. There were higher percent SOC losses on cropland but since more than twice as much land is grazed, slightly higher total losses were found from grazing land. Important spatial patterns of SOC loss were found: Hotspots of SOC loss coincided with some major cropping regions as well as semiarid grazing regions, while other major agricultural zones showed small losses and even net gains in SOC. This analysis has demonstrated that there are identifiable regions which can be targeted for SOC restoration efforts.

Concepts: Soil, Climate change, Pasture, Steppe, Livestock, Grazing, Land use, Land management