and Animal Breeding
Study of the genetic determination of characters, and identification of
suitable methods for the selection of numerous productive traits of the
studied species (cattle, sheep, rabbit and chicken), with the subsequent
estimate of the response to selection. In the case of beef cattle a major
effort has been put into the study of the Chianina, Marchigiana, Maremmana,
Podolica and Romagnola breeds, with estimate of the genetic indices and
the definition of practical protocols for the correct application of the
linear morphological evaluation procedure.
As far as the sheep studies are concerned a number of projects on the
Appenninica breed have been carried out in the past in order to define
the morphological and productive characteristics and the genetic parameters
related to a good productive performance. A number of alternative selection
protocols have also been experimented together with an accurate check
of the cross practice in order to obtain a morphology more in line with
the requests of the market. On the Comisana, Massese and Sarda breeds,
a study on the genotype-environment interactions has been carried out,
with particular attention to the estimate of the genetic value of the
subject selected for reproductive purposes. A special interest has been
developed on the problem of the endangered breeds. To this purpose, a
number of demographic studies have been done on the ethnological situation
of the Merino-derived breeds that are present in Central and Southern
Italy, with the
subsequent proposal of conservation strategies for the remaining nuclei.
Another active programm is the one aimed at the conservation of six endangered
egg-producing chicken breeds: Ancona, Livorno, New Hampshire, Plymouth
Rock Bianca e Barrata, Rhode Island Red. The collection is held in dedicated
areas of the Department breeding section.
Some of the ethnological and demographic surveys have been carried out
over entire regions such as Abruzzo and Umbria for the above mentioned
Appenninica, Sopravissana, Gentile di Puglia, Merinizzata italiana, Comisana,
Sarda, etc. sheep breeds.
Nutrition and Feeding
Study of the ingestion capacity and estimate of the nutritional requirements
of a number of domestie species. Chemical and nutritional evaluation of
the forages in relation to the botanical origin and the storage systems.
Energy and protein yield of foodstuff in milk and meat. Assessment of
different rationing techniques.
techniques and production
The work carried out in the Department has concentrated on the breeding
techniques for the domestic species and their consequences on animal welfare,
environment and quantitative and qualitative aspects of the production.
In order to assess the productive potential in marginal areas, a detailed
analysis has been carried out on the factors that influence the pasture
yield, with subsequent proposal of pasturing systems for an optimal use
of the grass species by cattle, sheep, horses, and wild fauna. For the
latter in particular a calculation of the optimal deer load for a marginal
area taking into account the productivity of the grass and brush pasture
and its use by the animals throughout the year. A behavioural study has
also been carried out and the quality and quantity of the meat produced
have been evaluated.
A long term analysis has been carried out in the field of the intensive
breeding of beef cattle in order to highlight the structural and managerial
characteristics of the farms and propose targeted actions for the improvement
of the productions.
A study aimed at the individuation of the best breeding and farming techniques
for a number of breeds in order to implement conservation programmes for
endangered types and improve the carcass and meat quality for the creation
of brand labels of certified origin.
In the field of swine breeding the problems of the quality of the production
and the respect of the environment have been studied, with an effort to
develop suitable strategies for feeding and farming techniques.
A monitoring experiment has been carried out in a number of dairy farms
with highly productive animals in order to highlight genetic and nutritional
factors that contribute to milk production in dairy cows. The Body Condition
Score and metabolic profiles have also been determined in order to correlate
them to the productive performances.
For sheep and goat milk production some nutritional, metabolic and pathological
aspects have been analysed in order to assess the suitability of the normally
used diets and to diagnose subclinical metabolic pathologies. The physical
and chemical parameters of the produced milk together with the quantity
and some technological and microbiological characteristics that are important
for the transformation have been taken into account in these studies.
science and rabbit production
The most interesting research project carried out by this unit have been
the ones regarding rabbit reproduction and meat quality. For the first
one the hormonal and technical actions required for the optimisation of
the reproductive efficiency of the female rabbit have been studied. For
the male the semen quality has been assessed with accurate and innovative
methods (computer analysis, magnetic resonance, etc.) and a number of
nutritional strategies have been deviced in order to improve the quality
and storage resistance of the semen.
The research on the quality of the meat concentrated on the feeding strategies
to apply in order to obtain a good quality product in terms of polyunsaturated
fatty acid (n-3) and vitamin E content that would maintain these characteristics
even after normal processing procedures like cooking.