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    Coming from the Veterinary Medicine Faculty of the Università degli Studi di Milano (Italy), the Animal Nutrition Research Group (ANRG) carries out high level research in several aspects of animal feeding and production.
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Resource Centre

Our current research activity focuses on different issues, according also to the needs of our partners and sponsors. Particularly remarkable results are briefly described here and within the linked pages:


BIOACTIVE MOLECULES IN RUMINANT NUTRITION
Interest on goat milk and its impact in human nutrition largely depends on the unique qualities of goat milk fat, which could be further improved by increasing the content of n-3 PUFAs and of the isomer cis-9, trans-11 CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) in the fat. The administration of n-3 PUFAs can positively affect also animal health. With respect to milk production, choline plays a primary role too among dietary additives in dairy ruminants. Administration of choline can improve metabolic health in dairy goats during transition period when liver functionality is impaired.


BIOAVALABILITY AND ACTIVITY OF NUTRIENTS AND DIETARY COMPOUNDS

Bioavailability and bioactivity of specific nutrients and/or supplements are key factors in determining their dietary efficacy. We have developed in vivo and in vitro methods to screen bioavailability and activity of dietary compounds and to evaluate factors affecting their utilization by the animal. Also the antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects of bioactive components of milk have been investigated, in relation to their role in the immune response in newborns.


CONJUGATED LINOLEIC ACIDS IN SWINE AND RABBIT NUTRITION
Conjugated linoleic acids (CLA) are positional and geometric isomers of conjugated dienoic derivatives of linoleic acid, naturally present in foods from ruminant species. CLA are claimed to have protective effects against cancer, atherosclerosis, and diabetes, as well as beneficial effects on immune functions. Dietary CLA positively affect animal health, modulating immune functions mainly during stressful phase such as lactation and weaning. Moreover, modifying lipid metabolism, dietary CLA enhance technological and nutritional quality of meat.


DIRECT FED MICROBIALS  (DFM) OR PROBIOTICS IN ANIMAL FEEDING
Direct Fed Microbials (DFM) or probiotics are microbial-based feed additives that contain live microorganisms (yeast and bacteria). Their inclusion in  monogastrics,  ruminants and horses  diets,  mainly during stressful periods, can produce a variety of beneficial production responses. The addition of live yeast and lactobacilli to  piglets diet was able to improve growth performance and to promote a “healthy” intestine in the weaning period.  Results of  researches on the yeast culture supplementation to transition dairy goats and beef cattle suggest that the inclusion of Saccharomyces cerevisae in their diet can be recommended under field conditions.


EFFECTS OF FEED MANAGEMENT AND SLAUGHTERING CARCASS TREATMENT ON MEAT QUALITY
Excellent quality meat come from an accurate management of all the step of the productive chain, even if it’s undoubted that the primary role is played by the breeding. At slaughterhouse meat intrinsic properties can be further exalted for example by applying an adequate meat ageing, or can be drastically compromised with small but harmful mistakes, like a wrong management of post mortem cooling. Thus nutritional strategies during fattening and finishing period in farm and the application of new technologies at slaughterhouse could determine positive effects on meat quality and better consumers satisfaction.


ENHANCE NUTRITIONAL AND SENSORY QUALITY OF PORK AND PORK PRODUCTS
Negative concerns regarding meat consumption and its impact on human health have prompted our research into development of novel functional and nutraceutical pork products which provides health benefits through the manipulation of the fatty acid profiles of meat by feeding diets rich in n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid. Negative effects on meat quality can be controlled using antioxidants; otherwise some problems occur on consumer sensory perception, especially in long term pork products as dry-cured hams.


FEED MANAGEMENT AND DISEASE PREVENTION DURING BEEF CATTLE ADAPTATION PHASE.
Adaptation is the most critical and important phase along the breeding system of beef cattle. Young animals that arrive to feedlot are usually subjected to stressors like transport, interaction with animals and men, new nutrition system and new farm structures and management. Main health problems are revealed during the early days in the feedlot, reducing growth performance and increasing health treatments need. Suitable nutritional and prophylaxis and metaphylaxis strategies can help in improving animal welfare during such a stressful period.


TESTING FEED QUALITY AND SAFETY WITH ARTIFICIAL SENSES
Artificial senses can represent a simple, rapid and cost-effective alternative to traditional analytical approaches for determining quality and safety of animal feed. Innovative methods, based on sensorial analysis for detecting, identifying and quantifying feed contaminants, have been developed by our researchers using both computer vision techniques and electronic noses for testing volatile compounds. Other quality characteristics of feed have been tested as well. Many types of data analysis techniques have also been used, from standard chemometrics to artificial intelligence models such as neural networks and fuzzy logic algorithms.

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