séminaire au centre du goût

'Clean, green and ethical' management of livestock : we need more research on pheromonal communication - Professor Graeme Martin, University of Western Australia - lundi 20 janvier 2014, 14h, Salle des conférences, Centre du Goût, CSGA, Dijon



Livestock industries are coming under increasing public scrutiny and this has led use to develop the concept of ‘clean, green and ethical’ animal management. This seminar will focus primarily on two issues, one ‘clean’ and the other ‘ethical’. Clean – concerns over hormone residues in meat and milk are restricting the use of exogenous hormones in the management of farm animals. One serious option for controlling the timing of births is the ‘male effect’, a phenomenon in which the ram induces ovulation in the ewe. It also seems to involve a reciprocal ‘female effect’ on the male reproductive system. We know that olfactory signals are primarily responsible for this effect by evoking a profound change in the activity of the reproductive centres of the brain, but the chemical nature of the signal is yet to be identified. On the other hand, our understanding of the physiological process has been greatly improved through a combination of histological, electrophysiological and endocrinological techniques. For example, we know that olfactory stimuli from males are primarily transmitted through the main olfactory system, and that auditory and visual stimuli play relatively minor roles. At the other end of the reproductive process, birth, we have an equally important olfactory phenomenon that is essential for neonatal survival – the recognition of new-born lambs by their mother. Neonatal survival is also critical for industry – in Australia, for example, about 10 million lambs die each year within about 3 days of birth and poor mother-young bonding is a major explanatory factor. Lamb mortality has obvious economic concequences but, equally important, as a problem in animal welfare and ethics, it threatens the whole industry. The biology behind mother-young recognition in sheep, an area of international excellence in France, is therefore central to future plans for livestock management. We have had decades of research in these fields, but we need even more if we are to improve our understanding of these remarkable phenomena and use them to guarantee a robust future for animal industries.

Professor Graeme Martin
University of Western Australia
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