Agriculture and Food Systems - Theses

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    An analysis of the problems of estimating the thyroid hormone level in the blood of domestic animals, and the effects of varying that level on the marketable products of such animals
    Edmonds, Brenda Morris ( 1957)
    In the field of animal husbandry it is becoming increasingly apparent that maximum efficiency of production cannot be attained without careful attention to the health of the animal, and to the balance between the animal and both the internal and external environments. For example, if artificial methods are used to increase production of milk without at the same time increasing, the feed intake the result is generally a decline in the health of the cow which may eventually lead to serious illness. Much recent research in this field has been concerned with the function and activities of specific organs rather than with the body as a whole, showing; that the factors involved in production are much more numerous and varied than was originally thought. Examples of this type of research are the intensive investigations at present being conducted into rumen activity and microflora, wool fibre growth, mammary gland function, reproductive activity and the role of various endocrine glands in production. Of the endocrine glands, apart from those directly concerned in reproduction, the one most studied has been the thyroid which has been shown to play an important part in practically all spheres of animal production so far investigated. It was the aim of this experiment to establish a method for determining thyroid activity which would then allow us to investigate the relationship between this activity and various body processes in the normal animal. In the normally functioning animal the thyroid serves chiefly as a homeostatic mechanism maintaining the body functions at a steady level of activity and, to a certain extent, controlling the response of the body to changes in the external environment. Its effects are more apparent when the thyroid activity is altered in any of the many ways to be considered later. The lowering of the thyroid hormone output produces an animal with typical symptoms - low Basal Metabolic Rate, low body temperature, low reproductive capacity, decreased growth and development in young animals, increased fat deposition, sluggishness, drying and thickening of the skin and falling hair. On the other hand the hyperthyroid animal shows an. increased Basal Metabolic Rate, high body temperature, leanness, restlessness and, in some cases, protruding eyes. These facts have recently been put to practical agricultural use. Raising the thyroid output leads to a significant increase in growth rate, milk yield and egg production. Lowering; the level has proved a successful method of fattening pigs and fowls for meat production. These aspects are dealt with in the review of literature.