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T-Stór is Teagasc’s Open Access Repository, maintained by the Teagasc Library Service. Stór is the Gaelic word for Repository or Store or Warehouse, and T-Stór is an online “store” of Teagasc Research outputs and related documents. T-Stór collects preserves and makes freely available scholarly communication, including peer-reviewed articles, working papers and conference papers created by Teagasc researchers. Where material has already been published it is made available subject to the open-access policies of the original publishers. About Teagasc
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The gut microbiota and the liver. Pathophysiological and clinical implicationsThe term microbiota is used to describe the complete population of microorganisms that populate a certain location, such as the gut, and is preferred to the term flora as the former incorporates not just bacteria but also archaea, viruses, and other microorganisms, such as protozoa. Though the potential role of the microbiota (through such concepts as ‘‘the putrefactive principle associated with faeces’’ and ‘‘intestinal toxins’’) in the pathogenesis of systemic disorders has been recognized since antiquity, a firm scientific basis for a role for the gut microbiome in liver disease did not emerge until the middle of the last century with the recognition of the relationship between hepatic coma and the absorption of nitrogenous substances from the intestine . This was followed by the description of abundant coliforms in the small intestine of cirrhotics  and the role of bacteria was clinched by trials demonstrating that antibiotics led to clinical improvement in hepatic encephalopathy (HE) . Subsequently, these same gut-derived bacteria were implicated in another complication of chronic liver disease and portal hypertension, spontaneous bacterial peritonitis. Most recently, more credence has been given to a suggestion that has lingered in the background for decades, namely, that the gut microbiota might play a role in the pathogenesis or progression of certain liver diseases, including alcoholic liver disease , non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and non-alcoholic steato-hepatitis (NASH) , total parenteral nutrition (TPN)/intestinal failure-related liver disease (IFALD) , and primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) , either through the direct effects of bacteria or their products, via inflammatory mediators such as tumor necrosis factor a (TNF), whose release had been triggered by constituents of the microbiota, or, as in the case of primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), through cross-reactivity between microbial antigens and human tissue components (e.g., atypical anti-nuclear cytoplasmic antibodies (p-ANCA), in PSC, recognize both tubulin beta isoform 5 in human neutrophils, and the bacterial cell division protein FtsZ) . Indeed, inflammatory mediators have also been implicated in the development and maintenance of the hyperdynamic circulation that is a feature of portal hypertension , in impairing liver function and contributing to haemostatic failure . It is in these contexts that modulation of the microbiota has emerged as a potential therapeutic strategy in the management of liver disease
The effect of target postgrazing height on sward clover content, herbage yield, and dairy production from grass-white clover pastureWhite clover (Trifolium repens) is an important legume for grazed grassland that can increase the profitability and environmental sustainability of milk production. Previous experiments on mown grass-clover plots suggest that low postgrazing heights (PGH) can increase sward clover content and herbage production. However, this has not been tested in actual strip or rotational grazing systems with dairy cows. Furthermore, lowering PGH in grass-only swards (typically perennial ryegrass without white clover) has previously been associated with reduced milk yields per cow. The objective of this experiment was to investigate the effect of PGH by dairy cows on clover content, herbage production, and milk production from strip-grazed grass-white clover swards in Ireland. Three target PGH treatments of 4, 5, and 6 cm were in place for entire grazing seasons (February to November) for 3 consecutive years (2007 to 2009). Each treatment had a mean of 21 Holstein-Friesian dairy cows that strip-grazed a mean annual area of 10.2 ha. Postgrazing height was measured twice a day with a rising plate meter, and cows were moved to the next strip once the target PGH was reached. Annual fertilizer nitrogen input was 90 kg of N/ha for each treatment. The PGH treatment did not significantly affect annual milk yield (6,202 kg/cow), solids-corrected milk yield (6,148 kg/cow), fat, protein, or lactose yields (265, 222, and 289 kg/cow, respectively), cow liveweight (592 kg) or body condition score (3.01). The PGH treatment also had no significant effect on sward white clover content (196 g/kg). However, herbage production of both grass and clover were significantly higher with the 4-cm PGH treatment compared with the 6-cm treatment. Mean annual herbage yields were 11.1, 10.2, and 9.1 t of organic matter (OM)/ha for the 4-, 5-, and 6-cm PGH treatments, respectively. The lower herbage production in the 6-cm PGH treatment resulted in lower annual silage production, greater housing requirements, and a substantially higher net silage deficit (−1,917 kg of OM/cow) compared with the 5- or 4-cm treatments (−868 and −192 kg of OM/cow, respectively). Grazing to a PGH of 4 cm is therefore recommended for grass-white clover swards.
PastureBase Ireland: A grassland decision support system and national databasePastureBase Ireland (PBI) is a web-based grassland management application incorporating a dual function of grassland decision support and a centralized national database to collate commercial farm grassland data. This database facilitates the collection and storage of vast quantities of grassland data from grassland farmers. The database spans across ruminant grassland enterprises – dairy, beef and sheep. To help farmers determine appropriate actions around grassland management, we have developed this data informed decision support tool to function at the paddock level. Individual farmers enter data through the completion of regular pasture cover estimations across the farm, allowing the performance of individual paddocks to be evaluated within and across years. To evaluate the PBI system, we compared actual pasture cut experimental data (Etesia cuts) to PBI calculated outputs. We examined three comparisons, comparing PBI outputs to actual pasture cut data, for individual DM yields at defoliation (Comparison 1), for cumulative annual DM yields including silage data (Comparison 2) and, for cumulative annual DM yields excluding silage data (Comparison 3). We found an acceptable accuracy between PBI outputs and pasture cut data when statistically analyzed using relative prediction error and concordance correlation coefficients for the measurement of total annual DM yield (Comparison 2), with a relative prediction error of 15.4% and a concordance correlation coefficient of 0.85. We demonstrated an application of the PBI system through analysis of commercial farm data across two years (2014–2015) for 75 commercial farms who actively use the system. The analysis showed there was a significant increase in DM yield from 2014 to 2015. The results indicated a greater variation in pasture growth across paddocks within farms than across farms.
The effect of paratuberculosis on milk yield—A systematic review and meta-analysisBovine paratuberculosis is a disease characterized by chronic granulomatous enteritis causing protein-losing enteropathy. Adverse effects on animal productivity are key drivers in the attempt to control paratuberculosis at the farm level. Economic models require an accurate estimation of the production effects associated with paratuberculosis. The aim of this study was to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis to investigate the effect of paratuberculosis on milk production. A total of 20 effect estimates from 15 studies were included in the final meta-analysis. Substantial between-study heterogeneity was observed. Subgroup analysis by case definition and study design was carried out to investigate heterogeneity. The majority of between-study variation was attributed to studies that defined cases on serology. Calculation of a pooled effect estimate was only appropriate for studies that defined cases by organism detection. A reduction in milk yield, corrected for lactation number and herd of origin of 1.87 kg/d, equivalent to 5.9% of yield, was associated with fecal culture or PCR positivity in individual cows.
Gain in Nitrogen Yield from Grass-Legume Mixtures is Robust Over a Wide Range of Legume Proportions and Environmental ConditionsGlobal food security is currently challenged and requires sustainable intensification of agriculture through initiatives that include more efficient use of nitrogen (N) and increased protein self-sufficiency through home-grown crops. Such challenges were addressed in a continental-scale field experiment conducted over three years, in which the amount of total nitrogen yield (Ntot) and the gain in N yield in mixtures as compared to grass monocultures (Ngainmix) was quantified from four-species grass-legume stands with greatly varying legume proportions. Stands consisted of monocultures and mixtures of two N2 fixing legumes and two non-fixing grasses. The amount of Ntot of mixtures was significantly greater (P ≤ 0.05) than that of grass monocultures at the majority of evaluated sites in all three years. Ntot and thus Ngainmix increased with increasing legume proportion up to one third of legumes. With higher percentages of legumes, Ntot and Ngainmix did not further increase. Thus, across sites and years, mixtures with one third proportion of legumes had 57% higher Ntot than grass monocultures and attained ∼95% of the maximum Ntot acquired by any stand. The relative N gain in mixture (Ngainmix/Ntotmix) was most severely impaired by minimum site temperature (R = 0.64, P = 0.010). Nevertheless, Ngainmix/Ntotmix was not correlated to site productivity (P = 0.500), suggesting that, within climatic restrictions, balanced grass-legume mixtures can benefit from comparable relative gains in N yield across largely differing productivity levels. We conclude that higher N output (Ntot or forage protein per unit area) can be achieved with grass-legume mixtures than with pure grass alone for a given amount of N fertilizer applied; conversely, the same N output can be achieved by mixed swards with less input of N. Therefore, the use of grass-legume mixtures can substantially contribute to resource-efficient agricultural grassland systems over a wide range of productivity levels, implying important savings in N fertilizers and greenhouse gas emissions.