• Adding value to milk by increasing its protein and CLA contents.

      Murphy, J.J.; Stanton, Catherine; O'Donovan, Michael; Kavanagh, S.; Maher, J.; Patton, J.; Mohammed, R. (Teagasc, 2008-08-01)
      Five experiments were undertaken in this project; one on mid-summer milk protein and four on milk CLA content. Thus the two main objectives of this project were to determine the factors associated with milk protein concentration in mid-summer and to investigate potential further strategies to increase the CLA content of pasture produced milk.
    • The effects of altering milking frequency and/or diet in early lactation on the energy balance, production and reproduction of dairy cows.

      Murphy, J.J.; Mee, John F; McNamara, S.; Patton, J.; Kenny, David; Diskin, Michael; O'Mara, Frank P. (Teagasc, 2005-01-01)
      It has been suggested that negative energy balance (NEB) in the immediate post-partum period is potentially an important factor in the association between increasing milk output and declining reproductive performance. The objective of this project was to design an experimental model that could be used to impose different degrees of NEB immediately after calving and to examine the effect of this model on dry matter intake (DMI), milk production, energy balance (EB), metabolic and reproductive hormonal profiles, the onset and pattern of post-partum ovarian cyclicity and reproductive physiology around AI. Two experiments were carried out to evaluate the effects of milking frequency and diet on DMI, production, energy balance and blood metabolites and hormones in the first 4 weeks after calving and subsequent reproduction. Reducing milking frequency from either thrice or twice daily to once daily reduced DMI but also reduced milk production. This resulted in a better EB in once daily milked cows in both experiments, the reduction being significant in the first. Milk production during the 4-week treatment period was reduced by 23 and 20 percent by reducing milking frequency from thrice to once daily in experiments 1 and 2, respectively. There was a reduction of approximately 10 percent in the cumulative yield up to week 20 of lactation in experiment 1 and of approximately 9 percent in total lactation yield in experiment 2. Reducing milking frequency resulted in increased plasma glucose, insulin and IGF-1 concentrations and reduced non-esterified fatty acid (NEFA) and beta hydroxybutyrate (BHB) concentrations. Conception rates to first service or overall pregnancy rates were not different between milking frequency treatments but once daily milking resulted in a shorter interval to first ovulation than thrice daily milking, due to a higher proportion of cows on this treatment ovulating the first post-partum dominant follicle. Increasing the energy density 2 of the diet increased DMI and milk production with no consequent effect on energy balance. Logistic regression on the combined data from the two experiments showed that lower energy intake, greater NEB and lower milk protein content and were significantly associated with poorer conception to first service. Lower plasma IGF-1 concentrations in experiment 2 were also associated with a lower conception rate to first service. A third experiment which investigated protein concentration in the concentrate combined with concentrate feeding level post calving (for two groups of cows in different body condition score at calving) showed no effect of post calving diet on BCS change. Overall the results suggest that reducing milking frequency to once per day during the first 4 weeks of lactation reduces NEB and appears to be a suitable strategy for altering energy balance at this time. However, the short-term reduction in milking frequency immediately post partum reduces total lactation yields. Blood metabolite and hormonal concentrations indicate better energy balance for cows milked once daily. Increasing dietary energy density or reducing the protein content of the diet does not appear to be effective in changing energy balance in early lactation. Decreased NEB in the first 4 weeks post-partum is associated with an improved conception rate to first service.