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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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Exploring adolescents’ perceptions of dairy farming careers in Ireland: views of students studying agricultural science in secondary schoolA global challenge for dairy farmers is the attraction and retention of people to careers in primary agriculture. This study aimed to explore the perceptions of Irish secondary-level students studying agricultural science towards careers in dairy farming. Quantitative data were collected via a national survey (n = 976) prior to collection of qualitative data via two focus groups. Descriptive statistics including frequencies, percentages and means were used to analyse the quantitative data. Data analysis of the survey results identified general themes, which contributed to a deductive assessment of the overarching hypothesis, supplemented by inductive reasoning based on the analysis of the data from the focus groups. From the survey, adolescents perceived dairy farming as a physically demanding job with a poor work–life balance without any extra financial reward compared to other careers. In the focus groups, participants expressed concerns about environmental sustainability and economic viability. They also identified the ageing farming population as making it a less attractive career for young people. The paper supports arguments for greater integration of actual labour market opportunities into the secondary school curriculum to raise aspirations for 21st century careers in dairy farming, among other careers. There is an opportunity within the agricultural science curriculum to encourage students to explore the wide spectrum of emerging careers in food systems including dairy farming through classroom discussion, ideally with a variety of role models employed in the agricultural sector.
The distribution, type, popularity, size and availability of river-run gravel and crushed stone for use in land drainage systems and their suitability for mineral soils in IrelandThe performance of land drainage systems installed in mineral soils in Ireland is highly variable, and is dependent on, amongst other factors, the quality and suitability of the aggregate used. In Ireland, aggregate for land drainage systems is usually river-run gravel and crushed stone. This study classified the distribution, type, popularity, size and availability of aggregates for land drainage systems throughout Ireland and quantified their suitability for use in mineral soils. Eighty-six quarries were surveyed. Limestone and river-run gravel (80% of lithologies) are widespread throughout the country. The quarry aggregate sizes (“Q sizes”), reported by the quarries as either a single size, that is, “50 mm”, or a graded size, that is, 20–40 mm, were variable, changed across lithology and region and were, in most cases, larger than what is currently recommended. A particle size distribution analysis of 74 samples from 62 quarries showed that individual Q sizes increased in variability with increasing aggregate size. In some regions, the aggregate sold does not meet current national regulations, which specify an aggregate size ranging from 10 to 40 mm. The suitability of these aggregates for drainage in five soils of different textures was compared using three established design criteria. It was found that the aggregate in use is too large for heavy soil textures and is therefore unsuitable as drainage envelope material. Guidance for contractors, farmers and quarry owners will be required, and investment may be needed by quarries to produce aggregate that satisfies design criteria. An aggregate size, based on one or a combination of established aggregate design criteria, where an analysis of the soil texture is conducted and an appropriate aggregate is chosen based off its 15% passing size, is required.
Lameness prevalence and management practices on Irish pasture-based dairy farmsBackground Lameness is a painful disease, which negatively impacts dairy cow production and welfare. The aim of this observational study was to determine herd lameness prevalence, describe current lameness management practices and identify the presence of established risk factors for lameness on Irish pasture-based dairy farms. Farms were visited once during grazing (99 farms) and again during housing (85 farms). Lameness scoring was carried out at each visit (AHDB 0–3 scale); cows were classified as lame if they scored two or three. Farm management practices and infrastructure characteristics were evaluated via farmer questionnaires and direct measurements of farm infrastructure. Results Median herd-level lameness prevalence was 7.9% (interquartile range = 5.6 – 13.0) during grazing and 9.1% (interquartile range = 4.9 – 12.0) during housing; 10.9% of cows were lame at a single visit and 3.5% were lame at both visits (chronically lame or had a repeat episode of lameness). Fifty-seven percent of farmers were not familiar with lameness scoring and only one farm carried out lameness scoring. Only 22% of farmers kept records of lame cows detected, and 15% had a lameness herd health plan. Twenty-eight percent of farmers waited more than 48 h to treat a lame cow, and 21% waited for more than one cow to be identified as lame before treating. Six percent of farmers carried out routine trimming and 31% regularly footbathed (> 12 times per year). Twelve percent put severely lame cows in a closer paddock and 8% stated that they used pain relief to treat severely lame cows. Over 50% of farms had at least one cow track measurement that was classified as rough or very rough, and cow tracks were commonly narrow for the herd size. On 6% of farms, all cubicle beds were bare concrete (no matting or bedding) and on a further 6% of farms, there was a combination of cubicles with and without matting or bedding. On 56% of farms, all pens contained less than 1.1 cubicles per cow and on 28% of farms, a proportion of pens contained less than 1.1 cubicles per cow. Conclusions Overall, this study identified infrastructure and management practices which could be improved upon. The comparatively low lameness prevalence demonstrated, compared to fully housed systems, also highlights the benefits of a pasture-based system for animal welfare; however, there remains scope for improvement.
Factors affecting retention of veterinary practitioners in Ireland: a cross-sectional study with a focus on clinical practiceBackground Retention of veterinary practitioners has arisen as a significant problem in recent years in Ireland. No prior Irish peer-reviewed publications have addressed this problem. An online questionnaire was available through social media and via email to Irish vets from January to November 2019. The aim of this survey was to ascertain the factors contributing to the problem of vet retention in Ireland. Results A total of 370 eligible responses were received. The median age of respondents was 31 and the gender balance was 250 females (68%) to 118 males (32%). The majority of respondents worked in clinical practice 322 (89%), with 138 (42.8%) in mixed practice, 115 (35.7%) in small animal practice, 49 (15.2%) solely with farm animals and 20 (6.2%) in equine practice. Fifty-four percent of respondents described themselves as likely to be leaving their current job within two years and 32.8% as being likely to leave the profession. In total, 44 variables were assessed by univariate analysis and 27 variables were significantly (P < 0.05) associated with the likelihood of a respondent leaving their current job within 2 years (LCJ2), as a proxy measure of the problem of retention. All variables significant on univariate analysis at P < 0.2 were included in a multivariable logistic regression model. Factors associated with LCJ2 included satisfaction with work-life balance (Odds Ratio (OR) 0.33); satisfaction with working hours (OR 0.2); number of years qualified (OR 0.91); position as a practice owner/partner/director (OR 0.15); and log10salary (OR 0.03). Four variables were retained in a separate multivariable linear regression model as significant (P < 0.05) predictors of log10salary. Log10salary increased with years qualified. Males had an increased salary compared to females irrespective of years qualified. Part-time employees, vets on maternity leave or postgraduate vets had a lower log10salary. Compared to veterinary employees, self-employed or locum vets had a higher log10salary. Conclusions Veterinary employers should consider salary, working hours and the facilitation of a good work-life balance in order to successfully retain veterinary employees. The significant difference in salaries currently offered to male and female vets, and the high percentage of respondents considering leaving the profession, are important findings and warrant further investigation.
Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis infection in cattle – a review in the context of seasonal pasture-based dairy herdsJohne’s disease is an infectious disease affecting cattle, other ruminants and non-ruminant wildlife worldwide, caused by Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP). This review provides an up-to-date concise overview of the pathogenesis of MAP, the significance of Johne’s disease in cattle and the use of diagnostic testing at both animal and herd level in the context of seasonal pasture-based herds. While MAP can only replicate intracellularly, the bacterium is sufficiently robust to survive for months in the environment. Transmission of MAP is mostly via the faecal-oral route, however in-utero transmission in also possible. The bacteria evade the immune system by persisting in macrophages in the small intestine submucosa, with this latent stage of infection lasting, in most cases, for at least two years before bacterial shedding and clinical signs begin. The slowly progressive nature of MAP infection, poor performance of diagnostic tests and management systems that expose susceptible calves to infection make control of Johne’s disease challenging, particularly in seasonal calving herds. Testing of individual animals provides little assurance for farmers and vets due to the poor sensitivity and, in the case of ELISA, imperfect specificity of the available tests. Repeated herd-level testing is utilised by the IJCP to detect infected herds, identify high risk animals, and provide increasing confidence that test-negative herds are free of infection. The IJCP aims to control the spread of Johne’s disease in cattle in Ireland, in order to protect non-infected herds, limit the economic and animal health impact of the disease, improve calf health and reassure markets of Johne’s disease control in Ireland.