• Early Gut Microbiota Perturbations Following Intrapartum Antibiotic Prophylaxis to Prevent Group B Streptococcal Disease

      Mazzola, Giuseppe; Murphy, Kiera; Ross, R. Paul; Di Gioia, Diana; Biavati, Bruno; Corvaglia, Luigi T.; Faldella, Giacomo; Stanton, Catherine (PLOS, 2016-06-22)
      The faecal microbiota composition of infants born to mothers receiving intrapartum antibiotic prophylaxis with ampicillin against group B Streptococcus was compared with that of control infants, at day 7 and 30 of life. Recruited newborns were both exclusive breastfed and mixed fed, in order to also study the effect of dietary factors on the microbiota composition. Massive parallel sequencing of the V3-V4 region of the 16S rRNA gene and qPCR analysis were performed. Antibiotic prophylaxis caused the most marked changes on the microbiota in breastfed infants, mainly resulting in a higher relative abundance of Enterobacteriaceae, compared with control infants (52% vs. 14%, p = 0.044) and mixed-fed infants (52% vs. 16%, p = 0.13 NS) at day 7 and in a lower bacterial diversity compared to mixed-fed infants and controls. Bifidobacteria were also particularly vulnerable and abundances were reduced in breastfed (p = 0.001) and mixed-fed antibiotic treated groups compared to non-treated groups. Reductions in bifidobacteria in antibiotic treated infants were also confirmed by qPCR. By day 30, the bifidobacterial population recovered and abundances significantly increased in both breastfed (p = 0.025) and mixed-fed (p = 0.013) antibiotic treated groups, whereas Enterobacteriaceae abundances remained highest in the breastfed antibiotic treated group (44%), compared with control infants (16%) and mixed-fed antibiotic treated group (28%). This study has therefore demonstrated the short term consequences of maternal intrapartum antibiotic prophylaxis on the infant faecal microbial population, particularly in that of breastfed infants.
    • Early Lamb Production Systems

      Flanagan, S. (Teagasc, 1999-03-01)
      A number of feeding and management options for early lambing flocks were evaluated at the Knockbeg Sheep Unit, Carlow. Results and recommendations for on-farm adoption are summarised in this report. The ultimate objective was to develop cost-effective early lamb production systems in synchrony with the high price season from late March to early May. Studies were focused on the two main phases of lamb growth. Firstly, the period from birth to 6 weeks of age which coincides with the critical period of lamb survival and peak lactation in the ewe and, secondly, the finishing stage from 6 weeks until slaughter. Flock size was 230 to 250 ewes sponged in July/August for lambing in January and managed on 12.6 ha of grass and forage. The results provide options in feeding and management for programmed lamb production in synchrony with early season prices. The production technologies are effective, e.g. out-of-season breeding, grass utilisation, planned schedules for achieving high levels of feed intake and lamb performance, drafting procedures for selecting high quality lambs (Fat class 3, Conformation classes U and R). On-farm planning for feeding, housing and labour is essential.
    • Easy Feeding of Housed Sheep.

      Flanagan, S. (Teagasc, 2002-06-01)
      In recent years sheep producers have emphasised the amount of labour required for managing sheep enterprises. In particular, the winter management of the flock during the past 25 years has been concentrated on silage, housing and associated labour inputs. One approach to reducing dependence on silage is the practice of extended grazing. On intensively stocked farms, however, the scope for this practice is limited. An alternative approach is the use of complete concentrate diets as substitutes for silage. A trial was conducted at the Knockbeg Sheep unit, Carlow for the purpose of examining the feasibility of feeding complete concentrate diets to ewes housed during late pregnancy and early lactation. A flock of ewes managed for lambing in January was divided into three groups at time of housing in November, each allocated to one of three diets: silage ad libitum plus concentrate supplements, a cereal-based loose mix concentrate or a pelleted concentrate diet. Levels of feeding offered in late pregnancy and early lactation were calculated to satisfy the energy requirements of 70 kg twin-bearing ewes. In addition to the dietary comparisons for ewes the resulting lamb crop provided the opportunity to compare two feeding systems for finishing, namely, early weaning onto grazed grass plus creep feed and early weaning onto a complete concentrate diet. Results on the components of ewe productivity, i.e. litter size, lamb survival rate and number of lambs reared, were similar on all three diets. Lamb birth weight was significantly heavier (0.4 to 0.6 kg) in the progeny of ewes offered the complete concentrate diets compared with the progeny of ewes offered silage. Nevertheless, the birth weight resulting from the ewes fed the silage diet was similar to results in previous years and, as a consequence, was considered satisfactory. Growth rate to 5 weeks of age in the progeny of the ewes offered the concentrate diets was relatively low due to an outbreak of pasteurellosis. Following recovery, compensatory growth was evident from 5 weeks to sale with the effect that the progeny of the three ewe diets were finished for slaughter at similar weights and ages. Ewes offered the complete concentrate diets increased significantly in liveweight and most of the increase was observed in ewes rearing singles. It is recommended that when feeding complete concentrate diets to ewes during late pregnancy and early lactation, single and twin bearing ewes should be accommodated separately and offered concentrate allowances appropriate to their requirements. Labour demand for feeding was highest on the silage diet and lowest for the pelleted formulation. Labour demand for feeding silage and concentrate supplements can be halved by using a pelleted concentrate diet. At 2001 prices the difference in costs between the silage and loose mix concentrate diets was small. When this factor is combined with reduced labour demand, it is considered that loose concentrate mixes offer an attractive alternative to silage feeding. There was no evidence in favour of early weaning of lambs onto grazed grass plus creep feed compared with the conventional system of early weaning indoor onto complete concentrate diets.
    • The ecology of the European badger (Meles meles) in Ireland: a review

      Byrne, Andrew W.; Sleeman, D. Paddy; O'Keeffe, James; Davenport, John (Royal Irish Academy, 2012-04-30)
      The badger is an ecologically and economically important species. Detailed knowledge of aspects of the ecology of this animal in Ireland has only emerged through research over recent decades. Here, we review what is known about the species' Irish populations and compare these findings with populations in Britain and Europe. Like populations elsewhere, setts are preferentially constructed on south or southeast facing sloping ground in well-drained soil types. Unlike in Britain, Irish badger main setts are less complex and most commonly found in hedgerows. Badgers utilise many habitat types, but greater badger densities have been associated with landscapes with high proportions of pasture and broadleaf woodlands. Badgers in Ireland tend to have seasonally varied diets, with less dependence on earthworms than some other populations in northwest Europe. Recent research suggests that females exhibit later onset and timing of reproductive events, smaller litter sizes and lower loss of blastocysts than populations studied in Britain. Adult social groups in Ireland tend to be smaller than in Britain, though significantly larger than social groups from continental Europe. Although progress has been made in estimating the distribution and density of badger populations, national population estimates have varied widely in the Republic of Ireland. Future research should concentrate on filling gaps in our knowledge, including population models and predictive spatial modelling that will contribute to vaccine delivery, management and conservation strategies.
    • An Econometric Model of Irish Beef Exports

      Hanrahan, Kevin (Teagasc, 2001-01-01)
      This report summarizes research that the author undertook as part of his doctoral studies in the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Missouri- Columbia.† The policy environment within which the Irish beef sector operates is changing such that the demand for Irish beef will increasingly be of a market rather than a policy determined nature. This changing environment makes knowledge concerning the demand for Irish beef important to understanding the economic prospects of the sector. The objectives of this research were thus two fold. The first objective was to investigate the demand for Irish beef in the UK. The second objective relates to how such consumer demand models are econometrically estimated. The empirical results show that the demand for beef in general in the UK is not price elastic and that the demand for Irish beef in the UK is price inelastic. The expenditure elasticity of demand for beef in the UK is also inelastic. The implications of this result for the Irish beef industry are as follows Decreases in the price of beef in the UK will not lead to large increases in British demand for beef. Increases in expenditure on meats will see expenditure on beef increase but to a lesser extent than other meats. Increases in the price of Irish beef relative to the prices of other beef products on the UK market will not lead to a large decrease in the market share of Irish beef. The relative insensitivity of demand for Irish beef in the UK to changes in its relative price also implies that attempts to increase the Irish share of the UK beef market will require very large reductions in the price of Irish beef. Given the current dependence of the Irish beef industry on subsidized exports to non-EU markets, the results of this research imply that attempts to re-orientate the Irish industry more towards servicing EU beef markets will require either large price decreases, with the consequent impacts on the market based revenue of the Irish beef industry and farmers, or alternatively, a movement towards the production of beef products that appeal to the non-price concerns of EU consumers and away from the production of a commodity product.
    • Econometric modelling of the EU agri-food sector through co-operation with partners in the EU-AG-MEMOD Project

      Donnellan, Trevor; Hanrahan, Kevin; Riordan, Brendan (Teagasc, 2005-04-01)
      This research project set out to build an EU agricultural policy modelling system involving participants from right across the enlarged EU. Policy Analysis is conducted at an aggregate commodity level for the main sectors of EU agriculture. The work summarised here took place over the period 2001 to 2004. The implementation of the Luxembourg Agreement and the Enlargement of the EU will lead to significant changes to the way in which agriculture operates in the EU25. Under the reform, direct payments that have been linked to production are to be decoupled to varying degrees across the Union. Enlargement will mean that agriculture in several New Member States (NMS) will come under the EU system of payments, supply constraints and market price supports for the first time. In light of the above, the most common current approach to agriculture commodity modelling and policy analysis - that which treats the entire EU as a single entity - faces a considerable challenge. Given the heterogeneity of EU agriculture and agricultural policy across the enlarged EU, it is increasingly the case that ‘the devil is in the detail’. From a scientific perspective, country level policy analysis is important in order to capture the consequences of this heterogeneity. Moreover, at a political level, policy makers realise that policy proposals either sink or swim on the basis of the perception of their expected future impact at a national level. Hence, it is important to be able to inform and facilitate a debate on the relative merits of particular reform proposals by having national (or even sub-national) level analysis to hand. The case for national level modelling across the EU is easily made, but few practitioners have taken up the challenge it presents.i Key problems include funding constraints, the absence of reliable national data sources, difficulties in agreeing and co-ordinating a consistent modelling approach and, perhaps most importantly, the absence of an integrated network of economists with knowledge of local level agriculture and agricultural policy across the enlarged EU.
    • Economic Analysis of Policy Changes in the Beef and Sheep Sectors.

      Binfield, Julian; Hanrahan, Kevin; Henchion, Maeve (Teagasc, 2001-06-01)
      The work reported in this document commenced in 1997 under the auspices of the FAPRI-Ireland Partnership. It documents the development of aggregate commodity level models for the beef and sheep sectors, and their subsequent simulation under different policy and macroeconomic environments. Companion reports document the development of similar models for other commodities, and of farm level models.
    • Economic Analysis of Policy Changes in the Dairy Sector

      Donnellan, Trevor; Fingelton, William (Teagasc, 2001-04-01)
      This study examines the effect of changes in agricultural policy and other important economic factors on the outlook for milk production in Ireland in future years. The analysis is conducted at an aggregate milk and dairy commodity level. A companion report provides similar detail on related farm level work. Following an initial period of development, the analysis summarised here took place over a period of three years. The potential effect of the European Commission’s proposed changes to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) under Agenda 2000 are examined, as is the eventual Agenda 2000 Agreement produced in Berlin in March of 1999. The implications for the dairy sector of differing future euro/dollar exchange rate paths are also analysed. A series of interlinked economic models capable of projecting key price and output variables were built for the main Irish agricultural commodities, including the dairy sector, and these in turn were linked with models for the EU and the World. It was thus possible to estimate the implications for the Irish dairy sector of supply, demand and policy changes at a world and EU level. It was found that the reform of the CAP in the dairy sector would lead to a reduction in the Irish milk price of 11 per cent relative to the outcome if the reforms were not introduced. However, increases in quota and the availability of compensation following from the Berlin Agreement should offset much of this decline. The effect of the future exchange rate between the euro and the US dollar was of significant importance. Other things being equal, a weaker euro made EU dairy exports more competitive outside of the EU, resulted in less pressure on the CAP budget and ultimately would produce more favourable milk prices than would be the case under a stronger euro. The analysis shows that a difference of 20 per cent in the euro/dollar exchange rate would result in a 7 per cent difference in milk price.
    • An economic analysis of the Irish milk quota exchange scheme.

      Hennessy, Thia; Lapple, Doris; Shalloo, Laurence; Wallace, Michael (Institute of Agricultural Management, 2012-03)
      In Ireland, the trade of milk quota is subject to regional restrictions and a large variation in quota prices between regions has caused some controversy. This article investigates this issue by analysing the functioning of the Irish milk quota exchange market. For this purpose, the economic value of milk quota is estimated using an optimisation framework. The estimated values are then compared to milk quota prices paid at the exchange market. The analysis reveals that quota is undervalued in the border, midlands and west and south-west regions, while milk quota is overvalued in the east and south regions. This implies that farmers in certain regions overpay for additional quota, while other farmers secure good value for their quota investments. The paper concludes by discussing that the identified regional differences are only partly explained by economic and production factors.
    • Economic aspects of the production and marketing of hardy nursery stock

      Maher, M.J.; Roe, G.; Twohig, D.; Kelly, P.W. (Teagasc, 1999-01-01)
      A census of the Nursery Stock industry, carried out in autumn 1997, valued the sales of plants produced by the industry in 1996 at £18.8m. In the period since a previous census in 1994 field production of nursery stock expanded by 17% while the production of container plants shifted towards the greater use of protected cultivation. Employment in the industry rose by 28% to 912 full time equivalent jobs. Kildare was predominant in the production of containerised plants while Tipperary was the most important county for field production. Together, these two counties produced nearly half the value of the industry. Together with Cork, Dublin, Kilkenny and Wicklow they accounted for three quarters of the value of the industry. The industry was concentrated in that the largest 10% of the nurseries produced 59% of the value of the industry. As nursery size increased, the value of sales output per person rose sharply. Larger nurseries were also more productive per unit area. Exports were valued at £3.45m and imports at £2.22m. The main lines exported were ornamental shrubs followed by liners and deciduous trees. Two thirds of the exports were destined for Great Britain with the remainder going to Northern Ireland. Exporting was even more concentrated than production with the largest 10% of the nurseries providing 83% of the exports. The main imports were deciduous trees and liners. Two thirds of the imports originated from the continent and the remainder were from Great Britain. Small nurseries reported that capital and profitability were the principal factors limiting expansion of their nurseries. Larger nurseries however placed the availability of suitable staff as the main limiting factor. The most common difficulty reported by exporters was the cost of transport and a number of problems relating to the difficulties that individual nurseries or small groups have in supplying a large, discerning and relatively distant market. This underlined the need for increased co-ordination and co-operation in the future.
    • Economic Impact on Irish Dairy Farms of Strategies To Reduce Nitrogen Applications

      Lally, Breda; Riordan, Brendan (Teagasc, 2001-11-01)
      Economic research reported here analysed the likely impact on farm incomes of policies aimed at reducing nitrogen (N) applications on farms. Three types of policy were considered. First was a restriction of the intensity of livestock production to control amounts of organic nitrogenous material going on the land. That in the EU Nitrates Directive of 170 kg N per hectare was used (equivalent to 2 dairy cows per hectare). To this was added a restriction on the total amount of nitrogen applied of 260kg N/ha reflecting rules in the Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS). The third measure considered was a 10 percent tax on sales of manufactured nitrogenous fertilisers. These measures to address nitrate pollution are under discussion in Ireland as the concentration of nitrates in waters in some areas has increased significantly. Particular attention was paid to estimating the impact of the three constraints on specialist dairy farms, as they were most likely to have to restrict applications of N to comply. Many of these farms were in the five Munster counties selected for the study, namely Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford. In these counties 39 percent of specialist dairy farms would have been affected both by Nitrates Directive restrictions on applications of nitrogen as organic material (animal wastes) and REPS rules on the total amount of nitrogenous material spread on farm land. A further 30 percent of these farms would be affected only by the restriction on total applications of N, as in the REPS rules. The remaining 31 percent of the specialist dairy farms would not have been affected by restrictions on N use under either the Nitrates Directive or REPS rules. The potential economic impact of policies to constrain nitrogen use was simulated for a sample of specialist dairy farms in Munster. All of these farms started with levels of N applications in excess of one or both of the restrictions being considered. This policy simulation was carried out using individual farm Positive Mathematical Programming (PMP) models. The results showed that compliance with restrictions on N use would reduce income on all of the selected farms. The results also indicate that these farms could partly or wholly offset the loss by increasing the efficiency of N use, or by increasing milk production per cow. However, the more a farm was above the regulation 2 Livestock Units (dairy cows) per hectare the larger the potential loss of income and the more difficult it would be to make good this loss. Farms starting with fewer than 2 LU/ha but applying in total more than 260 kgN/ha (REPS rule) would find that meeting this target would cause a lesser reduction in income. This loss would also be easier to offset by efficiency increasing measures. With regard to the third scenario of imposing a 10% tax on sales of manufactured N fertilizers, the results showed this to be very ineffective in reducing the amounts used. In some cases the imposition of a tax would have no effect whatsoever on the amount of N used yet would slightly reduce incomes on all of the nation's farms
    • Economic Performance in Irish Sheep Production

      Connolly, L. (Teagasc, 2000-04-01)
      The objectives of this project were to identify and quantify the factors affecting the profitability of the main systems of sheep production; to identify the factors responsible for the wide variation in output between sheep farms and to assess the impact of EU policy measures on Irish sheep production.
    • Economic Projections for the Dairy and Pig Sectors

      Donnellan, Trevor (Teagasc, 2002-12-01)
      This study examines the effect of changes in agricultural policy and other important economic factors on the outlook for milk and pig production in Ireland in future years. The analysis is conducted at an aggregate commodity level for the dairy and pig sectors. Companion reports provides similar detail on other agriculture sectors (including beef, sheep and cereals) and for the outlook at farm level. The analysis summarised here took place in 2001 and 2002. The potential effect of a change in international trade policy under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreement is examined. Specifically, the analysis assumed two different possibilities for the reduction and the elimination of export subsidies. Subsequently, the impact of a change in the EU’s extensification regime is examined. A series of interlinked economic models capable of projecting key price and output variables were built for the main Irish agricultural commodities, including the dairy and pig sectors, and these in turn were linked with models for the EU and the World. It was thus possible to estimate the implications for the Irish dairy sector of supply, demand and policy changes at a world and EU level. The Baseline analysis showed that under a continuation of current policy that by 2010, the Irish milk price is projected to decline to just over 25 euro per 100 kg. It was found that relative to the Baseline outcome for 2010: • a reduction in EU export subsidies in the dairy sector equivalent in scale to those introduced in the Uruguay Round Agreement would lead to a reduction in the Irish milk price of seven per cent by 2010 • an elimination of EU export subsidies in the dairy sector would lead to a reduction in the Irish milk price of 20 per cent by 2010 The Baseline analysis showed that, under a continuation of current policy, by 2010 the Irish pig sector value was projected to decrease by four per cent relative to its 2000 level. It was found that relative to the Baseline outcome for 2010: • a reduction in EU export subsidies in the agriculture sector equivalent in scale to those introduced in the Uruguay Round Agreement would lead to a reduction in Irish pig sector output value of less than two per cent • an elimination of EU export subsidies in the agriculture sector would lead to a reduction in Irish pig sector output value of eight per cent The implications of a reform of the extensification regime were not substantial. It was found that they fell for the most part on the beef and sheep sectors. The effect on milk and pig production was negligible.
    • Economics of Cattle Production Systems Post CAP Reform.

      Dunne, William; O'Neill, Ronan; McEvoy, Oliver (Teagasc, 2001-01-01)
      The radical reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in the early 1990’s impacted directly and indirectly on most of the farm enterprises in Ireland. The direct focus of the reform was largely confined to the cereal and beef enterprises. The reforms consisted of: • A phased reduction in the institutional support prices for cereals and beef of the order of 30 per cent • A phased switch to a direct payment system of farm income support to compensate for the product price reductions. Most farms in Ireland have a cattle enterprise, either alone or in combination with other land using enterprises. Therefore, the reforms of the CAP affected almost all the farms in the country either directly or indirectly. For cattle farmers, the potential consequencee of these changes could be far reaching in terms of their magnitude and their permeation into the details of the husbandry practices of the production system(s) themselves. These changes clearly impact on the economic efficiency of beef systems without necessarily affecting technical efficiency of the systems. The economic optimum cattle production systems would thus be achieved by using the best mix of feed resource costs, carcass values and direct payments. The purpose of the study was to: • determine the economic impact on the cattle enterprise of the switch to: • lower EU prices for beef • lower EU prices for cereals and as a consequence a lower price for concentrate feeds • the direct payment system of income support • identify the economic optimum cattle production system(s) that would arise from these changes • quantify the sensitivity of the economic optimum system to key policy, economic and technical production variables.
    • The economics of reseeding on a dairy farm

      Shalloo, Laurence; Creighton, P.; O'Donovan, Michael (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2011)
      Herbage production and utilization on Irish dairy farms is well below its potential. A number of factors influence herbage production and utilization, not least the level of annual reseeding (introduction of a new grass ley) on the farm. The potential farm performance is reduced by old permanent pasture due to the combined effects of reduced out-of-season herbage production and lower overall herbage yield when compared to perennial ryegrass. Based on the sales of grass seed, it is estimated that approximately 2% of the land area on dairy farms in Ireland is reseeded annually. This has created a situation where the overall percentage of perennial ryegrass in sward is low. The objective of the present study was to investigate the economic benefits of reseeding through simulating the consequences of reseeding different proportions of the farm on an annual basis. Four levels of an annual reseeding programme were evaluated: 1%, 5%, 10% and 15% of the farm reseeded annually; evaluated at three milk prices (20 c/L, 27c/L and 33 c/L). Increasing the level of reseeding resulted in an increase in total and seasonal herbage production and, when accompanied by an increased stocking rate, increased herbage utilization. At a milk price of 27 c/L, farm profitability was €20 764, €24 794, €30 073 and €33 515 on a 40 ha farm when 1%, 5%, 10% and 15%, respectively, of the farm was reseeded annually. Irrespective of milk price, increasing the level of reseeding had a positive effect on profitability and the highest gain was achieved at the highest milk price. Sensitivity analysis showed that sward persistency and, to a lesser extent, herbage utilization had significant effects on the benefit from reseeding.
    • Ecosystem function enhanced by combining four functional types of plant species in intensively-managed grassland mixtures: a three-year continental-scale field experiment

      Finn, John A.; Kirwan, Laura; Connolly, John; Sebastià, Maria Teresa; Helgadottir, Aslaug; Baadshaug, Ole Hans; Bélanger, Gilles; Black, Alistair D; Brophy, Caroline; Collins, Rosemary P.; Čop, Jure; Dalmannsdóttir, Sigridur; Delgado, Ignacio; Elgersma, Anjo; Fothergill, Michael; Frankow-Lindberg, Bodil E.; Ghesquiere, An; Golinska, Barbara; Golinski, Piotr; Grieu, Philippe; Gustavsson, Anne-Maj; Höglind, Mats; Huguenin-Elie, Olivier; Jørgensen, Marit; Kadziuliene, Zydre; Kurki, Paivi; Llurba, Rosa; Lunnan, Tor; Porqueddu, Claudio; Suter, Matthias; Thumm, Ulrich; Lüscher, Andreas (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013-02-22)
      1. A co-ordinated continental-scale field experiment across 31 sites was used to compare the biomass yield of monocultures and four-species mixtures associated with intensively managed agricultural grassland systems. To increase complementarity in resource use, each of the four species in the experimental design represented a distinct functional type derived from two levels of each of two functional traits, nitrogen acquisition (N2-fixing legume or non-fixing grass) crossed with temporal development (fast-establishing or temporally persistent). Relative abundances of the four functional types in mixtures were systematically varied at sowing to vary the evenness of the same four species in mixture communities at each site, and sown at two levels of seed density. 2. Across multiple years, the total yield (including weed biomass) of the mixtures exceeded that of the average monoculture in >97% of comparisons. It also exceeded that of the best monoculture (transgressive overyielding) in about 60% of sites, with a mean yield ratio of mixture to best-performing monoculture of 1.07 across all sites. Analyses based on yield of sown species only (excluding weed biomass) demonstrated considerably greater transgressive overyielding (significant at about 70% of sites, ratio of mixture to best-performing monoculture = 1.18). 3. Mixtures maintained a resistance to weed invasion over at least three years. In mixtures, median values indicate <4% of weed biomass in total yield, whereas the median percentage of weeds in monocultures increased from 15% in year 1 to 32% in year 3. 4. Within each year, there was a highly significant relationship (P<0.0001) between sward evenness and the diversity effect (excess of mixture performance over that predicted from the monoculture performances of component species). At lower evenness values, increases in community evenness resulted in an increased diversity effect, but the diversity effect was not significantly different from the maximum diversity effect across a wide range of higher evenness values. The latter indicates the robustness of the diversity effect to changes in species’ relative abundances. 5. Across sites with three complete years of data (24 of the 31 sites), the effect of interactions between the fast-establishing and temporal persistent trait levels of temporal development was highly significant and comparable in magnitude to effects of interactions between N2-fixing and non-fixing trait levels of nitrogen acquisition. 6. Synthesis and applications. The design of grassland mixtures is relevant to farm-level strategies to achieve sustainable intensification. Experimental evidence indicated significant yield benefits of four-species agronomic mixtures which yielded more than the highest-yielding monoculture at most sites. The results are relevant for agricultural practice, and show how grassland mixtures can be designed to improve resource complementarity, increase yields and reduce weed invasion. The yield benefits were robust to considerable changes in the relative proportions of the four species, which is extremely useful for practical management of grassland swards.
    • Effect of a bacteriophage cocktail in combination with modified atmosphere packaging in controlling Listeria monocytogenes on fresh-cut spinach

      Boyacioglu, O.; Sulakvelidza, A.; Sharma, M.; Goktepe, I. (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2016-12-14)
      A Listeria monocytogenes-specific bacteriophage cocktail was evaluated for its activity against a nalidixic acid-resistant L. monocytogenes (Lm-NalR) isolate on fresh-cut spinach stored under modified atmosphere packaging at various temperatures. Pieces (~2 × 2 cm2) of fresh spinach inoculated with 4.5 log CFU/cm2 Lm-NalR were sprayed with the phage cocktail (6.5 log plaque-forming units [PFU]/cm2) or a control. The samples were stored at 4°C or 10°C for up to 14 d in sealed packages filled with either atmospheric air (AA) or modified atmosphere (MA). At 4°C under AA, the phages significantly (P ≤ 0.05) lowered the Lm-NalR populations on spinach, compared to control-treated inoculated samples, by 1.12 and 1.51 log CFU/cm2 after 1 and 14 d, respectively. At 4°C under MA, Lm-NalR was significantly reduced by 1.95 log CFU/cm2 compared to control leaves after both 1 and 14 d. At 10°C under AA, the phages significantly reduced Lm-NalR by 1.50 and 2.51 log CFU/cm2 after 1 and 14 d compared to the control. Again at 10°C under MA, the phages significantly reduced Lm-NalR by 1.71 and 3.24 log CFU/cm2 compared to control after 1 and 14 d, respectively. The results support the potential of lytic bacteriophages in effectively reducing populations of L. monocytogenes on freshcut leafy produce, under both AA and MA conditions.
    • Effect of abrupt weaning at housing on leukocyte distribution, functional activity of neutrophils, and acute phase protein response of beef calves

      Lynch, Eilish M; Earley, Bernadette; McGee, Mark; Doyle, Sean (Biomed Central, 2010-07-22)
      Background: Sixteen, spring-born, single suckled, castrated male calves of Limousin × Holstein-Friesian and Simmental × Holstein-Friesian dams respectively, were used to investigate the effect of weaning on total leukocyte and differential counts, neutrophil functional activity, lymphocyte immunophenotypes, and acute phase protein response. Calves grazed with their dams until the end of the grazing season when they were housed in a slatted floor shed. On the day of housing, calves were assigned to a treatment, (i) abruptly weaned (W: n = 8) or (ii) non-weaned (controls) (C: n = 8). Weaned calves were housed in pens without their dams, whereas non-weaned (control) calves were housed with their dams. Blood was collected on day -7, 0 (housing), 2, 7, and 14 to determine total leukocyte and differential counts and concentration of fibrinogen and haptoglobin. Lymphocyte immunophenotypes were characterised using selected surface antigens (CD4+, CD8+, WC1+ (γδ T cells), MHC Class II+ lymphocytes), and the functional activities of neutrophils (surface expression of L-selectin (CD62L), phagocytic and oxidative burst activity) were investigated using flow cytometry. Results: Treatment × sampling time interactions (P < 0.05) were detected for total leukocyte and neutrophil counts, all lymphocyte subsets, mean fluorescence intensity of CD62L+ neutrophils, and percentage neutrophils performing phagocytosis. On d 2, total leukocyte and neutrophil count increased (P < 0.001), and percentage CD4+ and CD8+ lymphocytes, percentage phagocytic neutrophils, mean fluorescence intensity of CD62L+ neutrophils decreased (P < 0.05) in W compared with baseline (d 0), whereas they were unchanged (P > 0.05) in C. On d 2, percentage WC1+ lymphocytes decreased (P < 0.05), whereas percentage MHC class II+ lymphocytes increased (P < 0.05) in W and C, however the magnitude of change was greater in W than C. There were no treatment × sampling time interactions (P > 0.05) for monocyte, eosinophil, and basophil counts, percentage G1+ neutrophils, or percentage oxidative burst positive neutrophils. Conclusions: Abrupt weaning resulted in increased neutrophil counts and impaired trafficking and phagocytic function. Together with the changes in lymphocyte subsets, the results suggest that there was a greater transitory reduction in immune function at housing in abruptly weaned than non-weaned beef calves.
    • The effect of abrupt weaning of suckler calves on the plasma concentrations of cortisol, catecholamines, leukocyte, acute-phase proteins and in vitro interferon-gamma production

      Hickey, Mary-Clare; Drennan, Michael J; Earley, Bernadette (Teagasc, 2005-12-01)
      The objective of this study was to examine the effect of abrupt weaning (inclusive of social group disruption and maternal separation) on the physiological mediators of stress and measures of immune function. Thirty-eight male and 38 female continental calves were habituated to handling for two weeks prior to bleeding. Calves were blocked on sex, weight and breed of dam and randomly assigned, within block, to either a control (cows remain with calves) or abruptly weaned group (calves removed from cows). Animals were separated into the respective treatment groups at weaning (0 h). Calves were bled at – 168 h, 6 h (males only), 24 h, 48 h and 168 h post weaning. At each sampling time an observer scored the behavioural reaction of calves to sampling. Blood samples were analysed for cortisol, catecholamine concentrations (not sampled at –168 h) and in vitro interferon-gamma production, neutrophil :lymphocyte ratio and acute phase protein concentrations. All continuous data were analysed using a split-plot ANOVA, except that collected at 6 h, which was analysed using a single factor ANOVA model. The effects of weaning, calf sex and time and respective interactions were described. Disruption of the established social groups at 0 h, increased (p<0.001) the plasma cortisol concentration and neutrophil: lymphocyte ratio and reduced the leukocyte concentration (p<0.001) and the in vitro interferon-gamma response to the mitogen concanavalin-A (p<0.001) and keyhole limpet haemocyanin (p<0.001) for weaned and control animals, when compared with –168h. Plasma adrenaline and noradrenaline concentrations were not affected by group disruption. There was no effect of weaning or sex on calf behavioural reaction to handling during blood sampling. Plasma cortisol and adrenaline concentrations were not affected by weaning or sex. Plasma noradrenaline concentration was influenced by weaning x sex (p<0.05) and time x sex (p<0.05). The response increased for male calves with weaning and increased with each sampling time post weaning. For heifers the response was not affected by weaning and plasma concentrations decreased at 168 h post weaning. There was no effect of weaning or sex on leukocyte concentration. The neutrophils : lymphocyte ration increased post weaning (p<0.01) and was affected by sex (p<0.05). Weaning decreased (p<0.05) the in vitro interferon-gamma response to the antigen KLH. There was a time x weaning x sex (p<0.05) interaction for fibrinogen concentration but no effect of treatment on haptoglobin concentration. Abrupt weaning increased plasma cortisol and nor-adrenaline concentrations, which was accompanied by attenuation of in vitro interferon gamma production to novel mitogen and antigen complexes up to 7 days post weaning.
    • The effect of abrupt weaning of suckler calves on the plasma concentrations of cortisol, catecholamines, leukocyte, acute-phase proteins and in vitro interferon-gamma production.

      Hickey, Mary-Clare; Drennan, Michael J; Earley, Bernadette (Teagasc, 2005-12-01)
      The objective of this study was to examine the effect of abrupt weaning (inclusive of social group disruption and maternal separation) on the physiological mediators of stress and measures of immune function. Thirty-eight male and 38 female continental calves were habituated to handling for two weeks prior to bleeding. Calves were blocked on sex, weight and breed of dam and randomly assigned, within block, to either a control (cows remain with calves) or abruptly weaned group (calves removed from cows). Animals were separated into the respective treatment groups at weaning (0 h). Calves were bled at – 168 h, 6 h (males only), 24 h, 48 h and 168 h post weaning. At each sampling time an observer scored the behavioural reaction of calves to sampling. Blood samples were analysed for cortisol, catecholamine concentrations (not sampled at –168 h) and in vitro interferon-gamma production, neutrophil :lymphocyte ratio and acute phase protein concentrations. All continuous data were analysed using a split-plot ANOVA, except that collected at 6 h, which was analysed using a single factor ANOVA model. The effects of weaning, calf sex and time and respective interactions were described. Disruption of the established social groups at 0 h, increased (p<0.001) the plasma cortisol concentration and neutrophil: lymphocyte ratio and reduced the leukocyte concentration (p<0.001) and the in vitro interferon-gamma response to the mitogen concanavalin-A (p<0.001) and keyhole limpet haemocyanin (p<0.001) for weaned and control animals, when compared with –168h. Plasma adrenaline and noradrenaline concentrations were not affected by group disruption. There was no effect of weaning or sex on calf behavioural reaction to handling during blood sampling. Plasma cortisol and adrenaline concentrations were not affected by weaning or sex. Plasma noradrenaline concentration was influenced by weaning x sex (p<0.05) and time x sex (p<0.05). The response increased for male calves with weaning and increased with each sampling time post weaning. For heifers the response was not affected by weaning and plasma concentrations decreased at 168 h post weaning. There was no effect of weaning or sex on leukocyte concentration. The neutrophils : lymphocyte ration increased post weaning (p<0.01) and was affected by sex (p<0.05). Weaning decreased (p<0.05) the in vitro interferon-gamma response to the antigen KLH. There was a time x weaning x sex (p<0.05) interaction for fibrinogen concentration but no effect of treatment on haptoglobin concentration. Abrupt weaning increased plasma cortisol and nor-adrenaline concentrations, which was accompanied by attenuation of in vitro interferon gamma production to novel mitogen and antigen complexes up to 7 days post weaning.