SusTradeOff - Understanding trade-offs between health and efficiency to improve competitiveness and sustainability of animal production by breeding and management

Aim of the project:

To develop cutting edge technologies to study the allocation of different dietary proteins between production and immune function in sheep and poultry, and how this allocation is affected by stage of production, disease, vaccination or genetics.

Introduction

It is hypothesised that intense selection for traits such as live weight gain and egg/milk yield in production animals has resulted in resources being allocated within the animal to production, at the expense of other physiological processes such as immune function. The SusTradeOff project aims to develop cutting edge technologies to study these trade-offs in two production systems (sheep and poultry). SusTradeOff aims to understand how different dietary protein sources are allocated by animals of different genetic backgrounds between production and immune function and how this allocation is affected by stage of production, disease or vaccination.

What: Data integration and modelling will provide prediction models for trade-offs and decision making tools that will then be validated at the production level with breeding industry partners under commercial conditions using industry standard operational scenarios. Integrated animal health and production management strategies will improve the competitiveness and sustainability of animal production.

Why: It is hypothesised that intense selection for traits such as live weight gain and egg/milk yield in production animals has resulted in resources being allocated within the animals to production, at the expense of other physiological processes such as immune function.

Where: The research is been done in eleven academic centres located in France, UK, the Netherlands and Denmark. 

Main project activities:

Biological materials and proteomics technologies will first be developed to study these trade-offs at the individual animal level. This will facilitate the identification of protein sources and/or targeted protein supplementation to enhance or maintain immune functions in the face of high production programmes demands. Population studies on experimental and commercial lines will investigate trade-offs between resilience, immunocompetence and production, providing additional genotypes and phenotypes to select in balanced breeding programmes.

Interim research findings:

To achieve these aims, biological materials and proteomics technologies will first be developed to study these trade-offs at the individual animal level, which will facilitate the identification of protein sources and/or targeted protein supplementation to enhance or maintain immune function in the face of high production demands. Population studies in experimental and commercial lines will investigate trade-offs between resilience, immunocompetence and production, providing additional genotypes and phenotypes to select in balanced breeding programs. Data integration and modelling will provide prediction models for trade-offs and decision making tools.
  • Assessment of D2O protocols for sheep & chicken: Deuterium excretion kinetics were as expected in housed sheep and poultry. Interestingly, deuterium turnover was higher in the grazed sheep, compared to housed sheep. The most likely explanation for this is the reduced dry matter content of autumn grazed grass, resulting in increased excretion of deuterium. Fractional synthesis rates have now been calculated for CD4 T-cells, PBMC, albumin, IgG and myofibrillar protein in ewes. Rates were not significantly different between grazed and housed sheep, however curiously, the turnover of IgG was much higher than expected compared to human data and was comparable to albumin at 8-11% per day.
  • LC-MS proteomics methods established, and demonstrate successful calculation of protein specific synthesis rate from D2O labelled muscle and plasma from sheep.  SWATH-MS platforms established for sheep samples, supporting quantification of selected protein marker panels, including parallel marker detection for muscle growth and immune response.
  •  Sheep resource allocation model experiment : During growth, strong resistance to parasite infestation was associated with slower fat deposition in the resistant line compared to susceptible line. Around lambing, neither the line nor the diet protein content had an effect on parasite resistance but lines differences reappeared afterwards. Results will be integrated through the modelling of nutrient allocation.
  •  Resilience indicators based on body weight variation and its relation with natural antibody levels in layers: Less resilient chickens show more fluctuations in production than more resilient chickens. A relation between resilience and immunity was found, suggesting that the resilience indicators are partly indicative for disease resistance. In addition, the relatively high heritabilities of resilience indicators based on body weight offer opportunities for genetic improvement of resilience.

Project consortium:

Coordinated by: Dr. Marie-Hélène Pinard-van der Laan - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique – Génétique Animale et Biologie Intégrative (FRANCE)

  • DENMARK: Aarhus University and Okologisk landsforening
  • FRANCE: Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique – Génétique Physiologie et Systèmes d’Elevage, Institut de l’Elevage and Institut Technique Aviculture
  • THE NETHERLANDS: Wageningen University and Research, Hendrix Genetics and Cobb-vantress
  • UNITED KINGDOM: University of Edinburgh and Moredun Research Institute

Funded by: ANR, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - génétique Physiologie et Systèmes d'Elevage, Institut Technique Aviculture, DAFA, Okologisk Landsforening, NWO, Hendrix Genetics, Cobb-vantress, Moredun Research institute and DEFRA as part of the ERA-NET Cofund SusAn through a virtual common pot model including EU Top-Up funding from the European Union´s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement no 696231).

More information: 

  • The SusTradeOff project started on 1 April 2017 and runs until 31 December 2020. 

Presentations and posters:

Research articles: