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The Department of Environmental Economics and Management

The Robert H. Smith Faculty
of Agriculture, Food and Environment
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Herzl 229, Rehovot 7610001
Fax: 08-9466267

Department Head:
Prof. Ayal Kimhi, Tel: 08-9489376

Head of the teaching program:
Dr. Ohad Raveh, Tel: 08-9489373

Meital Kappach, Tel: 08-9489230


Muklada, H. ; Davidovich-Rikanati, R. ; Awabdeh, S. ; Weinberg, Z. G. ; Hen, Y. ; Deutch, T. ; Klein, J. D. ; Voet, H. ; Lewinsohn, E. ; Landau, S. Y. Ensiling willow (Salix acmophylla) fodder modifies the contents of plant specialized metabolites, but not nutritional attributes. ANIMAL FEED SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY 2021, 278.Abstract
Willow (Salix spp.) is grown for energy biomass in temperate regions and is also a promising source of feed for ruminants. Willow fodder contains high concentrations of beneficial plant specialized metabolites (PSMs). We investigated the efficacy of ensiling willow fodder in 1.5 L jars without (control-C) or with silage additives (lactobacilli-LAB, molasses-M, or the combination MLAB), and the effects on nutritional attributes of ensiling willow in 60 L drums with LAB. We also assessed the effect of ensiling willow fodder on PSMs by liquid chromatography / time-offlight / mass spectrometry (LC-TOF-MS). Exact or tentative compound identification was established, depending on availability of appropriate standards. In jars, LAB-supplemented silages reached lowest pH (4.2). M-supplemented silages had lower aNDF and aADF contents. IVDMD was higher in M than in C, and the contents of crude protein (CP) were not affected by silage treatments. Ensiling in drums did not affect the major nutritional components of willow fodder. Even though phenylalanine, arginine, tyrosine, histidine, and methionine, but not tryptophan, were increased 3.8-7.9-fold by ensiling, the finding is of low importance, as free amino acids are totally degraded in the rumen. In contrast, the main PSM, i.e., the salicinoid salicin was 74 % deglycosylated, concomitantly with a ten-fold increase in salicylic acid concentration and with the appearance of acetyl-salicylic acid; likewise, the flavonoids hyperin and rutin were 66 % deglycosylated, consequent with a 48-fold increase in quercetin concentration. As the bioavailability of the quercetin aglycone is inferior to that of its glycosylated counterparts, ensiling might affect the nutraceutical value of willow fodder. Likewise, catechin, gallocatechin and epicatechin were totally metabolized by ensiling. Overall, ensiling willow fodder (with LAB) does not affect the nutritional attributes of willow fodder but it greatly alters its PSM concentrations and, possibly impairs its nutraceutical value. However, as anti-oxidative activity is supposed to increase, following de-glycosylation, further research is needed to evaluate a possible trade-off on nutraceutical value between the glycosylated and aglycone forms of phenolics contained in willow fodder.
Arnon, A. ; Landau, S. Y. ; Izhaki, I. ; Malkinson, D. ; Levy-Paz, Y. ; Deutch-Traubman, T. ; Voet, H. ; Segev, O. ; Dovrat, G. A NIRS-Aided Methodology to Elucidate the Nutrition of the Endangered Mountain Gazelle (Gazella gazella) Using Samples of Rumen Contents from Roadkills. REMOTE SENSING 2021, 13.Abstract
The populations of the endangered mountain gazelle (Gazella gazella), which inhabit large parts of Israel, across various ecosystems and climatic conditions, shrunk drastically over the last decades. To date, data on gazelle nutrition, how these relate with individual characteristics and respond to seasonal and environmental changes, have not been available. We analyzed 110 samples from gazelle rumen contents collected throughout the country from occasional fatalities, mainly roadkills, and tested the feasibility of using them for near-infrared spectrometry (NIRS) calibrations. Although NIR calibrations for crude protein, in vitro dry matter digestibility, and ash were reasonable, we found that using calibrations based on local forage and feed plant species performed better, and used these to estimate several nutritional constituents in gazelle rumens, using NIRS. We tested how constituents relate to the sex, age-class, and weight of the individual gazelle, and to season and ecosystem type, and found that season plays a major role in gazelle nutrition. Winter is the most propitious season, when crude protein, ash and digestibility are highest, and acid detergent fiber (ADF), neutral detergent fiber (NDF), and the carbon to nitrogen (C:N) ratio are lowest. Autumn, being the harshest season, mirrors winter conditions, and summer and spring show intermediate levels. Yet the relative changes between seasons were mild: about 30%, for crude protein, digestibility, and ash, and 14-22% for ADF, NDF, and C:N ratio. Ecosystem type affected several constituents, and nutrition was slightly better in Mediterranean than in dry ecosystems. Gazelle sex, weight, and age-class had minor effects on nutrition. Overall, it seems that the adaptation of gazelles to their environment is germane to keeping relatively steady nutrition throughout the year. Our results, which do not show a dramatic decline in the quality of gazelle nutrition during any season or among the climatic regions that were studied, suggest that nutrition is not a major driver of the survival of gazelles in the populations surveyed.
Muklada, H. ; Voet, H. ; Deutch, T. ; Zachut, M. ; Kra, G. ; Blum, S. E. ; Krifuks, O. ; Glasser, T. A. ; Klein, J. D. ; Davidovich-Rikanati, R. ; et al. The effect of willow fodder feeding on immune cell populations in the blood and milk of late-lactating dairy goats. ANIMAL 2020, 14, 2511-2522.Abstract
{{In a previous study, we showed that access to willow fodder decreased somatic cell counts (SCC) in the milk of local Mamber goats grazing in brushland at the end of lactation. To test whether the consumption of willow affects the cells of the immune system, Alpine crossbred dairy goats grazing in the same environment were either offered free access to freshly cut willow fodder (W
Kagansky, N. ; Knobler, H. ; Stein-Babich, M. ; Voet, H. ; Shalit, A. ; Lindert, J. ; Knobler, H. Y. Holocaust survival and the long-term risk of cardiovascular disease in the elderly. Israel Medical Association Journal 2019, 21, 241-245. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Background: Reports of longevity in Holocaust survivors (HS) conflict with excess prevalence of chronic diseases described among them. However, data on their long-term risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are limited. Clinical data on large representative groups of HS who were exposed to severe persecution are also limited. Objectives: To determine the prevalence of CVD and the risk factors in a large cohort of elderly HS compared to elderly individuals who were not exposed to the Holocaust (NHS). Methods: CVD prevalence rates and data on risk factors from the computerized system of the central district of Clalit Health Services, the largest Israeli health maintenance organization in Israel, were evaluated in a retrospective observational study. The study was comprised of 4004 elderly HS who underwent direct severe persecution. They were randomly matched by identification numbers to 4004 elderly NHS. Results: HS were older than NHS and 51% of them were older than 85 years. The prevalence rate of ischemic heart disease (IHD) was significantly higher among HS. HS underwent significantly more cardiac interventions (20% vs. 15.7%, P < 0.05). HS status was an independent risk factor for increased IHD and for more coronary interventions. Conclusions: Despite having a higher prevalence of CVD, a substantial number of HS live long lives. This finding may imply both unique resilience and ability to cope with chronic illness of the survivors as well as adjusted medical services for this population. These findings may help in planning the treatment of other mass trauma survivors. © 2019, Israel Medical Association. All rights reserved.
Schoenbaum, I. ; Henkin, Z. ; Yehuda, Y. ; Voet, H. ; Kigel, J. Cattle foraging in Mediterranean oak woodlands – Effects of management practices on the woody vegetation. Forest Ecology and Management 2018, 419-420, 160-169. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Vegetation structure and composition of woodlands in the Mediterranean Basin have experienced extensive land-use change during recent decades. Decline in traditional foraging by goats is leading to more closed and spatially homogeneous woody vegetation, reduced plant diversity, and increased fire risk because of accumulation of inflammable material. We studied the use of cattle foraging as an alternative to goat foraging in Mediterranean oak woodlands. Our main goal was to provide basic information on the responses of woody vegetation to cattle foraging intensity, and on the factors affecting spatial patterns of woodland utilization. We conducted the study in the Western Galilee, Israel, in oak woodland dominated by Palestine oak (Quercus calliprinos Webb.) interspersed with patches of shrubs and herbaceous vegetation. Effects of two animal population densities, moderate (0.33 cow⋅ha−1) and high (0.55 cow⋅ha−1), on the structure, composition, and regeneration potential of dense and of open woody formations were examined. Four consecutive annual seasons of cattle foraging resulted in relatively large amounts of woody vegetation removal, especially under high animal density, but had no negative effects on woody species richness or regeneration potential from saplings. The type of vegetation formation and initial state of the woody vegetation were important factors affecting the degree of change. Woody biomass removal by cattle, as shown in this study, can reduce fire hazards and increase vegetation heterogeneity and plant diversity. These findings support the use of cattle as an efficient alternative tool for multi-purpose, sustainable management of Mediterranean oak woodlands. © 2018 Elsevier B.V.
Landau, S. Y. ; Dvash, L. ; Yehuda, Y. ; Muklada, H. ; Peleg, G. ; Henkin, Z. ; Voet, H. ; Ungar, E. D. Impact of animal density on cattle nutrition in dry Mediterranean rangelands: A faecal near-IR spectroscopy-aided study. Animal 2018, 12, 265-274. Publisher's VersionAbstract
In the context of determining the sustainable carrying capacity of dry-Mediterranean herbaceous rangelands, we examined the effect of animal density on cattle nutrition, which is fundamental to animal performance and welfare. The effects on dietary components of low (0.56 cows/ha; L) and high (1.11 cows/ha; H) animal densities were monitored for three consecutive years in grazing beef cows. In the dry season (summer and early autumn), cows had free access to N-rich poultry litter (PL) given as a dietary supplement. In each season, near-IR spectroscopy (NIRS) was used to predict the chemical composition of herbage samples (ash, NDF, CP, in vitro dry matter digestibility (IVDMD) and metabolizable energy (ME) content from IVDMD). Near-IR spectroscopy was applied also to faecal samples to determine the chemical composition of the diet selected by the animal, as well as the contents of ash, NDF and CP in the faeces themselves. A faecal-NIRS equation was applied to estimate the dietary proportion of PL. Seasonal categories were green, dry without PL supplementation and dry with it. We found no effects of animal density on nutrition during the green season but effects were apparent when cows consumed dry pasture. Ash content predicted by faecal NIRS was higher in the diet than in plant samples clipped from pasture, which infers that cows ingested soil. Dietary and faecal ash contents were higher (P<0.05) at the H, implying greater soil intake in these animals. During the dry period, dietary contents of ME were higher in L than in H (P<0.05). Poultry litter supplementation was associated with a marked increase (P<0.01) in dietary and faecal CP contents. Poultry litter represented 0.45 and 0.59 of the diet in treatments L and H, respectively (P<0.05). Consequently, treatment H had higher faecal protein (P<0.05). A tendency of higher dietary protein (P=0.08) and lower dietary NDF (P=0.10) in treatment H was probably related to greater PL ingestion. Given that high and sustained rates of poultry litter consumption are detrimental to animal health, the above results cast doubts on the long-term sustainability of the higher of the animal densities tested. Although it may be sustainable vis-à-vis the vegetation, treatment H may have exceeded the boundaries of what is acceptable for cow health. Chemical information revealed with NIRS can be used to evaluate whether animal densities are compatible with animal health and welfare standards and can play a role in determining the carrying capacity of Mediterranean rangelands. © The Animal Consortium 2017.
Ben Abu, N. ; Harries, D. ; Voet, H. ; Niv, M. Y. The taste of KCl – What a difference a sugar makes. Food Chemistry 2018, 255, 165-173. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Dramatic increase in NaCl consumption lead to sodium intake beyond health guidelines. KCl substitution helps reduce sodium intake but results in a bitter-metallic off-taste. Two disaccharides, trehalose and sucrose, were tested in order to untangle the chemical (increase in effective concentration of KCl due to sugar addition) from the sensory effects. The bitter-metallic taste of KCl was reduced by these sugars, while saltiness was enhanced or unaltered. The perceived sweetness of sugar, regardless of its type and concentration, was an important factor in KCl taste modulation. Though KCl was previously shown to increase the chemical activity of trehalose but not of sucrose, we found that it suppressed the perceived sweetness of both sugars. Therefore, sensory integration was the dominant factor in the tested KCl-sugar combinations. © 2018 Elsevier Ltd
Blaychfeld-Magnazi, M. ; Knobler, H. ; Voet, H. ; Reshef, N. ; Weitzman, S. ; Sumner, A. E. ; Zornitzki, T. Ethnic Variation in the Association of Hypertension With Type 2 Diabetes. Journal of Clinical Hypertension 2017, 19, 184-189. Publisher's VersionAbstract
{Lifestyle changes occurring with urbanization increase the prevalence of both type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and hypertension (HTN). Yemenites who have immigrated to Israel have demonstrated a dramatic increase in T2DM but the prevalence of HTN in diabetic Yemenites is unclear. In a cross-sectional study, the authors evaluated the prevalence of HTN and lifestyle patterns in Israelis with T2DM of Yemenite (Y-DM) and non-Yemenite (NY-DM) origin. Y-DM (n=63) and NY-DM (n=120) had similar age (63±7 vs 64±7 years
Myers, E. F. ; Trostler, N. ; Varsha, V. ; Voet, H. Insights from the Diabetes in India Nutrition Guidelines Study: Adopting Innovations Using a Knowledge Transfer Model. Topics in Clinical Nutrition 2017, 32, 69-86. Publisher's VersionAbstract
This 12-month prospective randomized cluster trial of 20 dietitians in India compared usual care (UC) and evidence-based nutrition practice guideline (EBNPG) care for patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Baseline, 6-month, and 12-month data from 238 patients were analyzed. EBNPG implementation was evaluated using the Ottawa Model for Knowledge Transfer. EBNPG and UC groups achieved significant hemoglobin A1C improvements. EBNPG-treated participants were significantly more likely to meet low-density lipoprotein, high-density lipoprotein, and triglyceride goals at 6 or 12 months. Dietitian dropout, implementation barriers, and undetermined EBNPG intervention fidelity are limitations. Future research should assess barriers/supports and degree of EBNPG use. © 2017 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.
Arviv, A. ; Muklada, H. ; Kigel, J. ; Voet, H. ; Glasser, T. ; Dvash, L. ; Ungar, E. D. ; Landau, S. Y. Targeted grazing of milk thistle (Silybum marianum) and Syrian thistle (Notobasis syriaca) by goats: Preference following preconditioning, generational transfer, and toxicity. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 2016, 179, 53-59. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Nitrophilic thistles such as milk thistle (Sylibum marianum) and Syrian thistle (Notobasis syriaca) encroach rangeland areas where animals gather and defecate, in particular around watering and feeding points. High densities of milk and Syrian thistles (MST) diminish forage yields and detract from the amenity value of these areas. The aims of the present study were: (i) to test the safety of feeding MST to adult goats; (ii) to determine if preconditioning adult goats to MST, by feeding it indoors together with concentrate, enhances preference for MST when they graze MST-rich pastures; and (iii) to test for generational transfer by comparing the propensity to consume MST and the preference for MST over clover hay for weaned kids that previously suckled from does that were, or were not, preconditioned to consume MST fed as green fodder. We found that eating MST was not toxic to adult goats. Over six observation sessions of one hour, preconditioned goats devoted 50% more time to consuming MST than non-conditioned counterparts (30.3% versus 20.6%, respectively; P = 0.0005), and kids that experienced the preconditioning period together with their does tended (P = 0.08) to show a greater preference for MST over clover hay than their counterparts born to non-conditioned adults. Although the efficacy in depleting the seed bank has yet to be verified, from the point of view of the animal, goats may be used in targeted grazing of milk and Syrian thistles. © 2016 Elsevier B.V.