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Study sheds light on foetal development in humans and pigs
It is thought the differences observed after birth could arise early in development
Non-invasive method monitors blood flow during pregnancy 

Light sedation of pigs in early pregnancy could be linked with decreased foetal weight, according to a new study, which has important implications for human and veterinary medicine.

Scientists from the Roslin Institute have developed the first non-invasive method to monitor blood flow at multiple stages of pregnancy, offering fresh insights into pre-natal piglet growth.

There is often a great deal of variation in the birth weight of piglets, with many litters having a ‘runt’. It is thought the differences observed after birth could arise early in development, raising questions about the role of blood supply to foetuses during pregnancy.

The research team found that changes in foetal heart rate and umbilical blood flow were linked with the stage of pregnancy, in a similar way to humans.

Lead author Dr Claire Stenhouse said: “It is hoped, with further optimisation, it may be feasible to measure blood flow in the umbilical cord of growth-restricted piglets throughout pregnancy.

“This is also of great interest in humans, particularly in the context of use of sedatives during pregnancy and improving the understanding of intrauterine growth restriction.”

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Huge spike in ‘designer’ dogs going into rescue

News Story 1
 The RSPCA has reported a huge spike in the number of ‘designer’ dogs arriving into its care.

Figures published by the charity show there has been a 517 per cent increase in the number of French bulldogs arriving into its kennels. During that time, the charity has also seen an increase in dachshunds, chihuahuas, and crossbreeds.

RSPCA dog welfare expert Lisa Hens said: “We know that the breeds of dog coming into our care often reflect the trends in dog ownership in the wider world and, at the moment, it doesn’t get more trendy than ‘designer’ dogs like French bulldogs and Dachshunds."

 

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New shearing guidance for farmers and contractors

Industry bodies have produced guidance for farmers and contractors on how to handle sheep during shearing to avoid stress and injury.

The guidance includes every step - from the presentation of sheep and facilities for shearing, through to using a contractor and shearers - and aims to ensure shearing is carried out safely, efficiently and with high standards of animal welfare.

Guide co-author Jill Hewitt from the NAAC said: “Shearing is a professional job that takes significant skill. Shearers take their responsibility to protect animal welfare very seriously and it will be a positive step to remind everyone of the importance of working together.’