Zoocolture: rearing of animals

Rearing animals is a field of research (associated to SSD AGR/20) that analyses avian, rabbit and aquatic species because of their zootechnical interest. It also involves the study of laboratory animals and avifauna. In most cases, research centres on livestock animals through the study of different breeding systems (intensive, free-range, biological, etc.). In addition, it investigates relaying animals, feed, genetics, environment, management strategies and the potential impact of these on production, animal health, farm profitability and environmental sustainability. Other research interests include quality and shelf-life of animal products (e.g. eggs and meat). The aim is to produce and improve healthy and high-quality products for the consumer.

Use of insects in human and animal nutrition
Insects and their derivatives are a sustainable alternative to conventional protein for the diets of avian and rabbit species. The purpose of the study is to identify potential commercial interest for different insect species and ways of provisions and different nutritional inclusion levels. The insects as food debate is significant because these species could become a new category of food in the coming years. The prospect is improving sustainability in human nutrition, and the introduction of these foods would be a good starting point for this. To pursue new ways of eating insects and their derivatives, it is important to evaluate qualitative characteristics and health benefits.

Genetic and agronomic improvement for sustainable production of Camelina sativa for animal feed and food products
Camelina cultivation is known to have a low environmental impact, and its oil can be used in biofuel production and for the development of bio-based materials. Its seeds could potentially be used in avian nutrition. This multidisciplinary project evaluates the effects of agronomic management on the end-quality of seeds. In particular, the aim is to optimise quality to guarantee a better product for avian nutrition. Researchers are also testing the inclusion of camelina and derivatives in the diets of broiler and layer hens to identify the benefits and obtain more nutritious meat and eggs, in particular in terms of lipidic quality.

Management and feeding strategies to contain heat stress and its negative effects on rabbits
The aim of this research area is to verify both the presence and effect of heat stress on the production performance of rabbit meat, including the slaughter and qualitative characteristics of the meat. The adoption of new strategies could be decisive to relieve the negative effects of heat stress and also increase welfare and production.

Divergent selection for total body fat content in rabbit for meat: Evolution of production performance, carcass and meat quality
The aim of this is to create genetic lines of rabbit that are distinguished by different body fat content and acid profiles. At the end of the multi-year investigation, different genetic lines could be used for different purposes as the allocation in specific production plans (this is the divergent selection). The goals of this research include optimisation of rabbit reproduction management, creating a rabbit meat supply chain for infant age and senile age feeding.