Special Issue "Innovative Technologies for the Feeding of Dairy Cattle to Ensure Animal Welfare and Production Quality—INNOVALAT"

A special issue of Agriculture (ISSN 2077-0472). This special issue belongs to the section "Farm Animal Production".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 November 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Umberto Bernabucci
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences (DAFNE), University of Tuscia, via S. Camillo De Lellis, s.n.c, 01100 Viterbo, Italy
Interests: ruminant nutrition and physiology; animal welfare; environmental physiology; milk quality
Prof. Nicola Lacetera
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Agriculture and Forest Sciences (DAFNE), University of Tuscia, Viterbo, Italy
Interests: ruminant nutrition and physiology; animal welfare; environmental physiology; milk quality
Prof. Loredana Basirico
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Agricultural and Forest scieNcEs (DAFNE), University of Tuscia, Via S. Camillo de Lellis, SNC, 01100 Viterbo, Italy
Interests: ruminant nutrition and physiology; animal welfare; environmental physiology; milk quality
Prof. Patrizia Morera
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Agricultural and Forest scieNcEs (DAFNE), University of Tuscia, Via S. Camillo de Lellis, SNC, 01100 Viterbo, Italy
Interests: ruminant nutrition and physiology; animal welfare; environmental physiology; milk quality
Prof. Massimo Malacarne
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Veterinary Science, University of Parma, Via del Taglio, 10, 43123 Parma, Italy
Interests: animal science and animal production; milk quality; cheese-making
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Prof. Andrea Summer
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Veterinary Science, University of Parma. Via del Taglio 10, I-43126 Parma, Italy
Interests: milk composition; milk proteins; genetic polymorphism; milk minerals; somatic cells count; rennet coagulation of milk; non-bovine milk
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The growing crisis of identity that European agriculture and its production and breeding systems are going through, together with the contraction of margins in the markets and the persistence of the global financial crisis, are increasingly encouraging companies to diversify their products and processes in order to improve their competitive positions in the markets or, at least, to free themselves from the competition of the costs of “commodities”. Environmental and productive sustainability are in second place, negatively influencing the aspects linked to the optimization of the efficiency of production processes, and to those of quality and not of secondary importance for animal welfare. In order to express their genetic potential in the best possible way, cows with a high productive aptitude must be efficiently fed. In order to manifest itself, the productive aptitude must be adequately supported by correct feeding (quantity and quality) and above all by correct feeding management. Correct nutrition management is of extreme importance not only for the best expression of genetic potential, but also to safeguard animal health and welfare and finally to avoid waste, since feeding contributes on the order of 50–60% of the cost of milk production. Precision feeding (PF) is developing very successfully in the field of precision animal husbandry.

Topics

  • Non-destructive measurements of quality milk and feed total mixed ratio;
  • IoT and machine learning for agro-zootechnical sectors;
  • Welfare of dairy cattle;
  • Qualitative characteristics of the milk in relation to the needs deriving from the technological transformation;
  • Precision feeding systems;
  • Precision farming;
  • Safety and health in agro-zootechnical sectors.

Prof. Andrea Colantoni
Prof. Umberto Bernabucci
Prof. Nicola Lacetera
Prof. Loredana Basirico
Prof. Patrizia Morera
Prof. Massimo Malacarne
Prof. Andrea Summer
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Agriculture is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • innovative technologies
  • feeding
  • animal welfare
  • milk quality
  • agriculture

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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Article
Effect of Different Rearing during the Milk-Feeding Period on Growth of Dairy Calves
Agriculture 2020, 10(8), 346; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriculture10080346 - 10 Aug 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 982
Abstract
The objective was to determine the impact of calves’ rearing, gender, and the sire lineage on the growth and health. One hundred-and-five Holstein calves were assigned to one of three treatments: single suckling (SS), multiple suckling (MS), and artificially rearing in hutches (H). [...] Read more.
The objective was to determine the impact of calves’ rearing, gender, and the sire lineage on the growth and health. One hundred-and-five Holstein calves were assigned to one of three treatments: single suckling (SS), multiple suckling (MS), and artificially rearing in hutches (H). All calves received a comparable amount of milk/milk replacer (MR) across treatments. All calves were weaned at the 84th day. After weaning, all calves were separated by sex in age-balanced groups. At weaning, the highest body weight was in MS and the lowest in H (SS 94.97 kg, MS 109.85 kg, H 80.80 kg, p < 0.001). The average gains from the birth to weaning were 0.67 kg (SS), 0.81 kg (MS), 0.48 kg (H), (p < 0.001). A difference (p < 0.01) was found for the period from birth to 180th day of life (SS 0.75 kg, MS 0.82 kg, H 0.67 kg). We did not notice a gender differences (p > 0.05). The Sire 1 progeny showed a lower body weight at 180 days (p < 0.01) and 360 days (p < 0.05). The results indicate that the method used to rear calves and sire lines had a significant impact on their later performance. Full article
Article
Effects of Using an Alternative Bedding Composition on the Levels of Indicator Microorganisms and Mammary Health in Dairy Farm Conditions
Agriculture 2020, 10(6), 245; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriculture10060245 - 25 Jun 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 848
Abstract
The aim of this study was to compare an improved bedding composition with conventional straw bedding under farm conditions, regarding its effects on the influence of indicator microorganisms on the hygiene levels of cubicle floors and the occurrence of mastitis in dairy cows. [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to compare an improved bedding composition with conventional straw bedding under farm conditions, regarding its effects on the influence of indicator microorganisms on the hygiene levels of cubicle floors and the occurrence of mastitis in dairy cows. Dairy cows were housed in newly built stalls divided into two parts, each with four subsections, and bedded cubicles arranged in three rows. Five stall subsections from each 9-bedded cubicle were selected for study, and 30 dairy cows were monitored according to the time intervals of bedding treatment for cubicles. In the first subsection (control), the cows were housed in bedded cubicles layered with straw up to a height of 20 cm. Sections 2–5 had alternative bedding (AB) as follows: fresh AB, AB 1 month old, AB 2 months old, and AB 3 months old, which were bedded one day before (fresh) and 1–3 months before the actual observation period, respectively. The alternative bedding per one cubicle consisted of ground limestone (100 kg), water (80 L), recycled manure solids (RMS; 15 kg), and straw (25 kg). After laying, the bedding was treated with a concrete selector to provide strength and sufficient resistance. A total of 180 bedding and 600 quarter milk samples were taken simultaneously from all five monitored subsections for microbiological determination. Comparing classical straw bedding with the alternate bedding showed a stabilizing effect by keeping the bedding thickness up to the floor barrier level, which had a beneficial effect by reducing the level of fecal contamination in the rear of the cubicle. Fecal coliforms and fecal streptococci were found to be reduced in one-day-old bedding as well as after the first, second, and third months. By evaluating the health status of the mammary glands, a positive effect was noted in reducing the occurrence of subclinical mastitis, which was reflected in a reduced number of infected quarters in the group of cows housed in cubicles for three months after use of improved bedding. Full article
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Article
Detecting Heat Stress in Dairy Cattle Using Neck-Mounted Activity Collars
Agriculture 2020, 10(6), 210; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriculture10060210 - 08 Jun 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1463
Abstract
Collar-based activity sensors are in common use as a means of detecting oestrus to optimise farm fertility and, hence, productivity. Recently, the same acceleration-derived signals have been processed to detect the time spent ruminating and eating, which, together, give an insight into animal [...] Read more.
Collar-based activity sensors are in common use as a means of detecting oestrus to optimise farm fertility and, hence, productivity. Recently, the same acceleration-derived signals have been processed to detect the time spent ruminating and eating, which, together, give an insight into animal welfare. Here, the use of neck-mounted accelerometers to provide a quantifiable measure of the time period that an individual animal exhibits signs of heat stress is reported. Heat stress has a significant impact on both animal welfare and productivity. Cattle studied during elevated temperatures were found to exhibit signs of exaggerated breathing motions, an indicator of heat stress, for 8 h on average per day, exceeding the time that cattle spend feeding and is similar to daily rumination times. No similar cases were recorded in the cooler conditions of a Scottish winter. The approach offers a cost-effective measure of heat stress and a potential tool to quantify its impact more generally. Full article
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Article
Towards Intensive Co-operated Agribusiness: A Gender-Based Comparative Borich Needs Assessment Model Analysis of Beef Cattle Farmers in Eswatini
Agriculture 2020, 10(4), 96; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriculture10040096 - 01 Apr 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1044
Abstract
Beef cattle farming assumes a pivotal role in economic growth, household food security, and poverty alleviation in Eswatini. However, paucity of information dissemination, and competence are drawbacks that accord a steady annual increase in beef imports and a decline in exports. Therefore, the [...] Read more.
Beef cattle farming assumes a pivotal role in economic growth, household food security, and poverty alleviation in Eswatini. However, paucity of information dissemination, and competence are drawbacks that accord a steady annual increase in beef imports and a decline in exports. Therefore, the study conducted a gender-based comparative assessment of training needs for beef cattle farmers. Primary data were collected through personal interviews, guided by a reliability-tested questionnaire, from a sample of 397 farmers. The Borich Needs Assessment Model was adopted for data analysis and inferential statistics were employed to evaluate statistically significant differences between the gender groups. On a scale of 5, farmers were found to be less proficient (M = 1.891, SD = 0.529) in cattle production and agribusiness management practices. Female farmers were significantly less proficient than males (t = −6.004, p = 0.000). Statistically significant differences in mean weighted discrepancy scores (t = 5.280, p = 0.000) revealed a strong training need for females compared to men. It is recommended that dissemination of training information should be prioritized as follows: (1) agribusiness management concepts, (2) feed and feeding concepts, (3) cattle health concepts, (4) farmer-organizational concepts, (5) farm structures, and (6) breeding and rearing concepts. Full article

Review

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Review
An Overview on the Use of Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) on Farms for the Management of Dairy Cows
Agriculture 2021, 11(4), 296; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/agriculture11040296 - 30 Mar 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1156
Abstract
Dairy farming is increasingly affected by the digital revolution. To respond to current challenges—such as environmental, economic, and social sustainability—new technologies must be adopted, entering the perspective of precision livestock farming. This is made possible by the development of countless sensors to be [...] Read more.
Dairy farming is increasingly affected by the digital revolution. To respond to current challenges—such as environmental, economic, and social sustainability—new technologies must be adopted, entering the perspective of precision livestock farming. This is made possible by the development of countless sensors to be adopted in the barn. The technology that is affecting various aspects of dairy cattle breeding is certainly near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) which is versatile and can be used online/inline to evaluate and control the critical points of the production process by entering the PAT (process analytical technology). In the barn, NIRS currently can obtain information on the chemical-physical composition of raw materials, total mixed ration (TMR), feces and digestibility, chemical and technological analysis of milk. All this in a short time by eliminating the waiting times for analysis response and costs, allowing an improvement of livestock management. Many studies affirm the validity of NIRS as a reliable and predictive technology against multiple relevant parameters in matrices such as raw feed, TMR, feces, and milk. This review highlights the usefulness of NIRS technology in dairy farm with particular attention to portable instrumentation usable directly on the farm. Full article
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