by R. Rupp
SMARTER has held the third annual meeting from 11th to 22nd of October 2021, once again by video conference because of the COVID crisis. The agenda for the remote SMARTER included 3-hours meetings per WPs with 17 to 56 participants each. The meeting gave an overview of the great work achieved during the third year of the project. Despite the sanitary crisis, many new research results were delivered recently, with 7 papers submitted in 2021. New results were presented on proxies and genetic parameters for feed efficiency, feed intake and methane emission (WP1) and for resilience traits (health such as parasite resistance, immune response and mastitis, behavior, well-being, longevity and lethal mutations) (WP2) in sheep and goat. First results from trade-off experiments created in SMARTER (milk production dairy sheep line, goat longevity lines, residual feed efficiency sheep lines) were delivered (WP3). The experiments feed two allocation models in sheep and goat (WP3 and WP7). Additionally, a method for characterising resilience based on short time responses to infection was proposed (WP3). New methods for maintaining genetic diversity in genetic conservation programs were evaluated (WP5). Also, the general use of method LR (“Linear Regression”) for evaluating bias and accuracy in small ruminant genetics was endorsed (WP5). International Evaluation in sheep and goats (WP6) has progressed. Indeed, first analyses of across-country merged data were achieved in western Pyrenean Dairy Sheep (Spain and France) and in Saanen and Alpine goats (Canada, France, Italy, Switzerland). Moreover, harmonization and wider international cooperation is being promoted by multi-lingual questionnaire that were widely shared among partners. WP4 (genetic diversity) and WP7 (balancing breeding goal) consolidate their data collection and methods before analyses can progress. Several of the new results were presented during the EAAP meeting in Davos. Five theatre presentations and two posters were undertaken by four SMARTER partners (INRAE, INIA-UY, AUTH and FiBL/QUALITAS…) All the presentations will be available on SMARTER website.
The majority of SMARTER Consortium agreed to ask for an 8-month extension (end June 2023) to allow partners to better consolidate and integrate results that were delayed because of the COVID-19 crisis. We hope that the roundtables with stakeholders (WP9) can take place in 2022 (within each country) as initially planned, as well as a face-to-face meeting in Leon before summer.
Kjersti Selstad Utaaker, Suman Chaudhary, Tsegabirhan Kifleyohannes, and Lucy Jane Robertson
Goats are a primary or additional income source for many families in resource-poor areas. Although often considered inferior to other livestock, the resilience of goats and their ability to thrive in a range of environments means that that they are of particular value. Furthermore, goats emit less methane than other livestock species. In these same areas, it is well-documented that cryptosporidiosis has a substantial impact on infant morbidity and mortality, as well as reducing child growth and development. As Cryptosporidium also causes diarrheal disease in goats, the question arises whether goats may represent a reservoir of infection to humans. Epidemiological studies regarding the potential for transmission of Cryptosporidium between goats and humans have largely concluded that Cryptosporidium species infecting goats are not zoonotic. However, these studies are mostly from developed countries, where goat husbandry is smaller, management routines differ greatly from those of developing countries, contact between goats and their owners is more limited, and cryptosporidiosis has less impact on human health. In this article, background information on goat husbandry in different countries is provided, along with information on Cryptosporidium prevalence among goats, at both the species and sub-species levels, and the potential for zoonotic transmission. The intention is to indicate data gaps that should be filled and to increase awareness of the role of goats as providers for low-income families, often living in areas where cryptosporidiosis is endemic and where appropriate baseline interventions could have a positive impact, regardless of species of goat or parasite.
Goats are one of the species of livestock that were domesticated earliest, and are used worldwide for milk, meat, and hair/skin. Nowadays, goats are among the most popular and beneficial livestock for those with limited resources (1). Small-scale goat production is of considerable benefit to families and communities globally, in a variety of climates and conditions.
Responsiveness of domesticated goats towards various stressors following long-term cognitive test exposure
Katrina Rosenberger, Michael Simmler, Jan Langbein, Christian Nawroth, and Nina Keil
Current evidence suggests that frequent exposure to situations in which captive animals can solve cognitive tasks may have positive effects on stress responsiveness and thus on welfare. However, confounding factors often hamper the interpretation of study results. In this study, we used human-presented object-choice tests (in form of visual discrimination and reversal learning tests and a cognitive test battery), to assess the effect of long-term cognitive stimulation (44 sessions over 4–5 months) on behavioural and cardiac responses of female domestic goats in subsequent stress tests. To disentangle whether cognitive stimulation per se or the reward associated with the human–animal interaction required for testing was affecting the stress responsiveness, we conditioned three treatment groups: goats that were isolated for participation in human-presented cognitive tests and rewarded with food (‘Cognitive’, COG treatment), goats that were isolated as for the test exposure and rewarded with food by the experimenter without being administered the object-choice tests (‘Positive’, POS treatment), and goats that were isolated in the same test room but neither received a reward nor were administered the tests (‘Isolation’, ISO treatment). All treatment groups were subsequently tested in four stress tests: a novel arena test, a novel object test, a novel human test, and a weighing test in which goats had to enter and exit a scale cage. All treatment groups were tested at the same two research sites, each using two selection lines, namely dwarf goats, not selected for production traits, and dairy goats, selected for high productivity. Analysing the data with principal component analysis and linear mixed-effects models, we did not find evidence that cognitive testing per se (COG–POS contrast) reduces stress responsiveness of goats in subsequent stress tests. However, for dwarf goats but not for dairy goats, we found support for an effect of reward-associated human–animal interactions (POS–ISO contrast) at least for some stress test measures. Our results highlight the need to consider ontogenetic and genetic variation when assessing stress responsiveness and when interacting with goats.
The International Goat Association promotes goat research and development for the benefit of humankind, to alleviate poverty, to promote prosperity and to improve the quality of life.