Aims and Scope The Irish Journal of Agricultural and Food Research is a peer reviewed open access scientific journal published by Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority, Ireland). Manuscripts on any aspect of research of direct relevance to Irish agriculture and food production, including plant and animal sciences, food science, agri environmental science, soils, engineering, buildings, economics and sociology, will be considered for publication. The work must demonstrate novelty and relevance to the field of research. Papers published or offered for publication elsewhere will not be considered, but the publication of an abstract does not preclude the publication of the full paper in this journal. Current issues are also available on the publisher site https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/ijafr Back issues of the journal are available at the following links: Current title: Irish Journal of Agricultural and Food Research (1992-2014) http://www.jstor.org/journal/irisjagrifoodres Previous Titles Irish journal of agricultural research (1961-1991) http://www.jstor.org/journal/irisjagrirese Irish journal of agricultural economics and rural sociology (1977-1991) http://www.jstor.org/journal/irisjagrieconrur Irish journal of food science and technology (1967-1991) http://www.jstor.org/journal/irisjfoodscitech Contact ijafr@teagasc.ie

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  • A critical review of integrated grass weed management in Ireland

    Byrne, R.; Spink, John; Freckleton, R.; Neve, P.; Barth, Susanne; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2018-04-10)
    Grass weeds affect arable crops throughout the world, inflicting yield penalties, reducing crop quality and taking available nutrients away from the growing crop. Recently in Ireland, the presence of herbicide resistance in grass weeds has been noted. In order to preserve the sustainability of crop production in Ireland, an integrated pest management approach must be implemented. How this applies to control grass weeds was the focus of this review. Here we examined the state of current research into grass weed biology and the nature of herbicide resistance, identifying gaps in research in the Irish context. We identified a number of cultural grass weed control techniques, as being relevant to the Irish mode of crop production. Crop rotation, cultivation techniques, manipulation of sowing dates and increased crop competition were recognised as useful strategies. Combining these strategies to provide effective grass weed control may be key to reduce dependence on herbicides.
  • A comparison of husked and naked oats under Irish conditions

    Hackett, Richie (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2018-02-22)
    During the harvesting of husked oats (Avena sativa L.), the kernel remains tightly enclosed by a lignified lemma and palea, collectively termed the husk or hull. In naked oats, which are the same species as husked oats, the lemma is much less lignified and the kernel threshes free during harvesting. The absence of the largely indigestible husk increases the nutritive value of naked oats compared to that of husked oats, particularly for non-ruminants and poultry. There is little information regarding the potential of naked oats as an arable crop in Ireland. The objective of this study was to determine the productivity of naked oats under Irish conditions. Field experiments were carried out in the south east of Ireland to compare the grain yield and grain quality of both autumn-sown and spring-sown naked and husked oat cultivars. Grain yield of naked oat cultivars was significantly lower than that of husked oat cultivars, irrespective of whether they were autumn sown or spring sown. However, when the kernel yield of husked oat cultivars was estimated, differences in yield between the two types were much smaller, and in some cases, kernel yield of naked oat cultivars exceeded that of husked oat cultivars. Grain quality, as indicated by hectolitre weight and grain N concentration, was generally greater for naked oat cultivars than for husked oat cultivars. It is concluded that under Irish conditions, naked oats have the potential to produce kernel yields equivalent to husked oats. The grain produced is of high quality and may be particularly suited for the nutrition of non-ruminants.
  • Ethical, moral and social dimensions in farm production practices: a segmentation study to assess Irish consumers’ perceptions of meat quality

    Regan, Aine; Henchion, Maeve; McIntyre, Bridin (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2018-03-09)
    Growing consumer concerns with modern farming and food production systems indicate a significant market opportunity for meat production practices that consider ethical, moral and social value traits. In the current study, we aimed to identify and characterise distinct segments of Irish consumers based on their perceptions of the quality of meat from different farm-level production practices (organic farming, high animal welfare standards, free range farming, and “natural”, treatment-free feeding regimes). An online survey was carried out with 251 Irish meat consumers. Using cluster analysis, we identified three distinct segments: “Target consumers”, “Purist consumers” and “Disinterested consumers”. Chi-square analyses revealed differences between the segments based on gender, age and meat-purchasing motivations. The results provide insight into the opportunities that exist for exploring new viable market segments as well as for engaging Irish consumers and empowering them with information around the ethical, social and moral aspects of farm-level practices related to meat production.
  • Insect assemblages and their preference for Lupinus albus and L. luteus

    Nikolova, I.; Georgieva, N. (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2018-05-23)
    While lupin has undergone extensive research to ascertain its suitability for growth as forage or grain legume crop, the present trend is for research to be centered on its applicability in the seed protein and oil industry. Study of the literature showed that no intensive study of the lupin insect fauna had been carried out in Bulgaria. The purpose of this study was to identify the insect assemblages associated with Lupinus albus and L. luteus, as well as the insect preference for them. Thrips sampling was made by the tapping-method, aphids were directly counted on the plants and the composition and population density of other species were recorded by sweepings. Insect fauna was studied for the first time in Bulgaria. The fauna was represented on L. albus by 64 species, belonging to eight orders, 28 families and 57 genera, including 23 beetles, 25 hemipteras, five thrips, three butterflies, three bees, one leaf aphid, two grasshoppers, one leafminer and one green lacewing. L. luteus had similar species composition but was less preferred by insects. The use of lupin cultivars with shorter and intense reproductive periods, with a lower content of crude protein and phosphorus, would give an environmentally friendly protection against insect pests, which would be suitable for an organic production system.
  • Application of Dexter’s soil physical quality index: an Irish case study

    Fenton, Owen; Vero, Sara; Schulte, Rogier P. O.; O'Sullivan, Lilian; Bondi, G.; Creamer, Rachel E.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; 6582 (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 26/08/2017)
    Historically, due to a lack of measured soil physical data, the quality of Irish soils was relatively unknown. Herein, we investigate the physical quality of the national representative profiles of Co. Waterford. To do this, the soil physical quality (SPQ) S-Index, as described by Dexter (2004a,b,c) using the S-theory (which seeks the inflection point of a soil water retention curve [SWRC]), is used. This can be determined using simple (S-Indirect) or complex (S-Direct) soil physical data streams. Both are achievable using existing data for the County Waterford profiles, but until now, the suitability of this S-Index for Irish soils has never been tested. Indirect-S provides a generic characterisation of SPQ for a particular soil horizon, using simplified and modelled information (e.g. texture and SWRC derived from pedo-transfer functions), whereas Direct-S provides more complex site-specific information (e.g. texture and SWRC measured in the laboratory), which relates to properties measured for that exact soil horizon. Results showed a significant correlation between S-Indirect (Si) and S-Direct (Sd). Therefore, the S-Index can be used in Irish soils and presents opportunities for the use of Si at the national scale. Outlier horizons contained >6% organic carbon (OC) and bulk density (Bd) values <1 g/cm3 and were not suitable for Si estimation. In addition, the S-Index did not perform well on excessively drained soils. Overall correlations of Si. with Bd and of Si. with OC% for the dataset were detected. Future work should extend this approach to the national scale dataset in the Irish Soil Information System.
  • The eating quality of beef from young dairy bulls derived from two breed types at three ages from two different production systems

    Nian, Yingqun; Kerry, J. P.; Prendiville, Robert; Allen, Paul; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 08/07/2017)
    Expansion of the Irish dairy herd has led to more dairy breed male calves being available for beef production. This study investigated the physico-chemical and sensory characteristics of beef from Holstein-Friesian (HF) and Jersey × HF (JEX) young bulls fed pasture grass only or pasture grass plus 2 kg concentrate during their first grazing season and slaughtered at 15, 19 or 22 mo of age. Longissimus thoracis (LT) muscles were collected from 67 carcasses. Postmortem pH, ultimate pH (pHu), meat colour, chemical composition, collagen content and solubility were evaluated. After ageing for 21 d, Warner-Bratzler shear force and cooking loss were determined, and assessments by a trained sensory panel were conducted. Meat from older animals was darker. The pHu, moisture and ash contents decreased, while residual roast beef flavour length increased with age. However, increasing age to slaughter did not negatively influence tenderness. JEX beef had lower cooking loss, was darker and redder, in addition to having higher sensory scores for initial tenderness and fattiness than HF beef. Warner-Bratzler variables were positively correlated with cooking loss and chewiness and were negatively correlated with intramuscular fat (IMF) content, soluble collagen and initial tenderness. In summary, most young dairy bull beef samples were acceptably tender after 21 d of ageing and half of them had acceptable IMF content. Slaughter age affected beef colour, pHu, chemical composition and flavour length. The eating quality of meat from the JEX breed type was considered to be superior to that of the HF breed type. Diet during the first season had no effect on meat quality traits.
  • Determination of Listeria monocytogenes numbers at less than 10 cfu/g

    Hunt, K.; Vacelet, M.; Jordan, Kieran; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; Dairy Processing Technology Centre; 11/F/008; TC 2014 0016. (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 09/06/2017)
    Listeria monocytogenes is a foodborne pathogen that causes a relatively rare foodborne disease called listeriosis, with a high mortality rate of 20%-30% and an undefined dose response. Current European Union regulations permit up to 100 colony-forming units (cfu)/g in food at the end of its shelf life, where the food has been shown not to support the growth of this pathogenic bacterium. Therefore, enumeration of L. monocytogenes at low numbers in food is important. The objective of this study was to reduce the detection limit of L. monocytogenes in food by a factor of 10. The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) 11290-2 method for enumeration of L. monocytogenes in food recommends spreading 0.1 mL of a 1:10 dilution of the food on the surface of an agar plate (detection limit 100 cfu/g), or 1.0 mL spread in equal parts on the surface of three agar plates (detection limit: 10 cfu/g). The pour-plate method (using 1 or 10 mL of an appropriate dilution) was compared to the spread-plate method using the ISO-approved chromogenic medium Agar Listeria according to Ottaviani and Agosti (ALOA). Using the pour-plate method, the colony morphology and halo formation were similar to the spread-plate method from pure cultures and inoculated foods. Using the pour-plate method in a 140 mm Petri dish, 10 mL of a 1:10 dilution of food allowed determination of numbers as low as 1 cfu/g. Applying this method, L. monocytogenes in naturally contaminated food samples were enumerated at numbers as low as 1-9 cfu/g.
  • Scientific appraisal of the Irish grass-based milk production system as a sustainable source of premium quality milk and dairy products

    O'Brien, Bernadette; Hennessy, Deirdre (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2017-12-29)
    The Irish dairy industry is critically important to the economy and general well-being of a large section of the Irish population. Its quality, sustainability and maintenance are the key for a vibrant rural society in the future. Two important elements for the future of this industry include (a) the quality, marketing and sale of dairy products on the export market and (b) sustainability from the perspectives of people, planet and profit. This paper provides a short review of current scientific evidence in relation to a number of topics, each of which is important in maintaining and developing dairy product quality and the sustainability of the Irish dairy industry. The topics addressed in the paper are as follows: the parameters of milk composition; milk processing; hygiene quality and safety; farm management practices and the regulations that govern such practices; animal health and welfare; environmental impacts; economic implications for farm families and rural communities; and the overall future sustainability of the family-based dairy farm structure.
  • Animal performance and economic implications of alternative production systems for dairy bulls slaughtered at 15 months of age

    Murphy, B.; Crosson, Paul; Kelly, A. K.; Prendiville, Robert; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; 11/SF/322 (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2017-10-26)
    The objectives of this experiment were to investigate (i) the influence of varying levels of concentrate supplementation during the grazing season, (ii) alternative finishing strategies for dairy bulls slaughtered at 15 mo of age and (iii) economic implications of these management strategies. Bulls were assigned to a 2 (level of concentrate supplementation during the grazing season: 1 kg [LA] and 2 kg [HA] dry matter [DM]/head daily) × 2 (finishing strategies: concentrates ad libitum group [AL] or grass silage ad libitum plus 5 kg DM of concentrates/head daily group [SC]) factorial arrangement of treatments. Average daily gain (ADG) during the grazing season was greater (P < 0.01) for HA than for LA. Consequently, HA bulls were 16 kg heavier at housing: 214 and 230 kg, respectively (P < 0.05). During the finishing period, ADG tended (P = 0.09) to be greater for LA than for HA. Carcass weight tended (P = 0.08) to be greater for HA than for LA. Fat score was greater for HA. Live weight at slaughter (P < 0.001) and carcass weight (P < 0.001) were 41 and 23 kg greater for AL than for SC, respectively. Conformation (P < 0.05) and fat score (P < 0.05) were greater for AL than for SC. The Grange Dairy Beef Systems Model simulated whole-farm system effects of the production systems. Net margin/head was greater for LA than for HA and greater for SC than for AL. Sensitivity analysis of finishing concentrate price, calf purchase price and beef price showed no re-ranking of the systems on a net margin basis. Although greater animal performance was observed from the higher plane of nutrition, overall profitability was lower.
  • Sinapinic and protocatechuic acids found in rapeseed: isolation, characterisation and potential benefits for human health as functional food ingredients

    Quinn, Leah; Gray, Stephen G.; Meaney, Steven; Finn, Stephen; Kenny, Owen; Hayes, Maria (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 13/12/2017)
    Rapeseed is one of the world’s major oilseeds, and rapeseed oil is produced by pressing of the seeds. This process results in the production of a low-economic-value by-product, rapeseed meal, which is commonly used as animal feed. Rapeseed meal is rich in bioactive phenolic compounds, including sinapinic acid (SA) and protocatechuic acid (PCA). Isolation of these bioactive compounds from a by-product of rapeseed oil production is largely in agreement with the current concept of the circular economy and total utilisation of crop harvest using a biorefinery approach. In this review, current information concerning traditional and novel methods to isolate phenolic compounds – including SA and PCA – from rapeseed meal, along with in vitro and in vivo studies concerning the bioactivity of SA and PCA and their associated health effects, is collated. These health effects include anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-diabetes activities, along with histone deacetylase inhibition and protective cardiovascular, neurological and hepatic effects. The traditional extraction methods include use of solvents and/or enzymes. However, a need for simpler, more efficient methodologies has led to the development of novel extraction processes, including microwave-assisted, ultrasound-assisted, pulsed electric field and high-voltage electrical discharge extraction processes.
  • The effect of antimicrobials on verocytotoxin bacteriophage transduction under bovine rumen fluid and broth conditions

    Nyambe, Sepa; Burgess, Catherine; Whyte, P.; Bolton, Declan; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; 11/F/051 (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 15/11/2017)
    The verocytotoxin genes in verocytotoxigenic Escherichia coli (VTEC) are carried by bacteriophages, incorporated into the bacterial genome (prophage). Antibiotics may promote phage replication and release to infect other cells (transduction), thus leading to the emergence of new VTEC strains. This study investigated transduction of a verocytotoxin2-encoding bacteriophage (3538(vtx2::cat)) under laboratory conditions, including the effect of antibiotic treatments. Luria-Bertani Miller broth and rumen fluid (raw and sterilised by irradiation) were inoculated with the donor (C600φ3538(Δvtx2::cat)) and recipient (E. coli C600::kanamycinR) strains (4 log10 cfu/mL) and incubated at 38°C. Antibiotic treatments (minimal inhibitory and sub-inhibitory concentrations of ampicillin, cefquinome, oxytetracycline and sodium sulfamethazine) were applied after 3 h. Samples were tested for donor, recipient, cell-free phage and transductants at times t = 0, 3, 4, 6, 27 (24 h post-antibiotic treatment) and 51 h. Free phage was detected in the untreated broth and rumen samples, as were the transductants confirmed by polymerase chain reaction. The antibiotic treatments did not significantly (P > 0.01) increase the concentrations of free phage or transductants detected. It was therefore concluded that, under laboratory conditions, the antibiotics tested did not induce bacteriophage lysis, release and infection of new bacterial cells beyond that constitutively found in the phage population.
  • Effects of water activity on the performance of potassium sorbate and natamycin as preservatives against cheese spoilage moulds

    Marin, P.; Gines, C.; Kochaki, C.; Jurado, M. (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2017-10-26)
    This work investigated the effects of the food preservatives potassium sorbate and natamycin, combined with different levels of ionic (sodium chloride) and non-ioinic (glycerol) water activity (aw), on growth of fungi involved in cheese spoilage. In general, the combined effect of water stress and presence of preservatives enhanced fungal inhibition. However, some doses of potassium sorbate (0.02%) and natamycin (1, 5 and 10 ppm) were able to stimulate growth of Aspergillus varians, Mucor racemosus, Penicillium chrysogenum and P. roqueforti at aw values in the range of 0.93–0.97. P. solitum was the only species whose growth was consistently reduced by any doses of preservative. The results also showed that sodium chloride and glycerol differentially affected the efficacy of preservatives. This study indicates that aw of cheese is a critical parameter to be considered in the formulation of preservative coatings used against fungal spoilage.
  • The interactive effects of various nitrogen fertiliser formulations applied to urine patches on nitrous oxide emissions in grassland

    Krol, Dominika J.; Minet, E.; Forrestal, Patrick J.; Lanigan, Gary; Mathieu, O.; Richards, Karl J.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; RSF10/RD/SC/716; 11S138 (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 19/09/2017)
    Pasture-based livestock agriculture is a major source of greenhouse gas (GHG) nitrous oxide (N2O). Although a body of research is available on the effect of urine patch N or fertiliser N on N2O emissions, limited data is available on the effect of fertiliser N applied to patches of urinary N, which can cover up to a fifth of the yearly grazed area. This study investigated whether the sum of N2O emissions from urine and a range of N fertilisers, calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN) or urea ± urease inhibitor ± nitrification inhibitor, applied alone (disaggregated and re-aggregated) approximated the N2O emission of urine and fertiliser N applied together (aggregated). Application of fertiliser to urine patches did not significantly increase either the cumulative yearly N2O emissions or the N2O emission factor in comparison to urine and fertiliser applied separately with the emissions re-aggregated. However, there was a consistent trend for approximately 20% underestimation of N2O loss generated from fertiliser and urine applied separately when compared to figures generated when urine and fertiliser were applied together. N2O emission factors from fertilisers were 0.02%, 0.06%, 0.17% and 0.25% from urea ± dicyandiamide (DCD), urea + N-(n-butyl) thiophosphoric triamide (NBPT) + DCD, urea + NBPT and urea, respectively, while the emission factor for urine alone was 0.33%. Calcium ammonium nitrate and urea did not interact differently with urine even when the urea included DCD. N2O losses could be reduced by switching from CAN to urea-based fertilisers.
  • Assessment of water-limited winter wheat yield potential at spatially contrasting sites in Ireland using a simple growth and development model

    Lynch, J. P.; Fealy, Reamonn; Doyle, D.; Black, L.; Spink, John; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 19/09/2017)
    Although Irish winter wheat yields are among the highest globally, increases in the profitability of this crop are required to maintain its economic viability. However, in order to determine if efforts to further increase Irish wheat yields are likely to be successful, an accurate estimation of the yield potential is required for different regions within Ireland. A winter wheat yield potential model (WWYPM) was developed, which estimates the maximum water-limited yield achievable, within the confines of current genetic resources and technologies, using parameters for winter wheat growth and development observed recently in Ireland and a minor amount of daily meteorological input (maximum and minimum daily temperature, total daily rainfall and total daily incident radiation). The WWYPM is composed of three processes: (i) an estimation of potential green area index, (ii) an estimation of light interception and biomass accumulation and (iii) an estimation of biomass partitioning to grain yield. Model validation indicated that WWYPM estimations of water-limited yield potential (YPw) were significantly related to maximum yields recorded in variety evaluation trials as well as regional average and maximum farm yields, reflecting the model’s sensitivity to alterations in the climatic environment with spatial and seasonal variations. Simulations of YPw for long-term average weather data at 12 sites located at spatially contrasting regions of Ireland indicated that the typical YPw varied between 15.6 and 17.9 t/ha, with a mean of 16.7 t/ha at 15% moisture content. These results indicate that the majority of sites in Ireland have the potential to grow high-yielding crops of winter wheat when the effects of very high rainfall and other stresses such as disease incidence and nutrient deficits are not considered.
  • A rapid and multi-element method for the analysis of major nutrients in grass (Lolium perenne) using energy-dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy

    Daly, Karen; Fenelon, A. (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 21/04/2017)
    Elemental analysis of grass (Lolium perenne) is essential in agriculture to ensure grass quality and animal health. Energy-dispersive X-ray fluorescence (EDXRF) spectroscopy is a rapid, multi-element alternative to current methods using acid digestion and inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES). Percentage phosphorus (P), potassium (K), magnesium (Mg) and calcium (Ca), determined from grass samples using EDXRF, were within 0.035, 0.319, 0.025 and 0.061, respectively, of ICP-OES values. Concordance correlation coefficients computed using agreement statistics ranged from 0.4379 to 0.9669 (values close to one indicate excellent agreement); however, the level of agreement for each element depended on the calibrations used in EDXRF. Empirical calibrations gave excellent agreement for percentage P, K and Ca, but moderate agreement for percentage Mg due to a weaker correlation between standards and intensities. Standardless calibration using the fundamental parameters (FP) approach exhibited bias, with consistently lower values reported for percentage P and Mg, when compared with ICP-OES methods. The relationship between the methods was plotted as scatter plots with the line of equality included, and although correlation coefficients indicated strong relationships, these statistics masked the effects of consistent bias in the data for percentage P and Mg. These results highlight the importance of distinguishing agreement from correlation when using statistical methods to compare methods of analysis. Agreement estimates improved when a matching library of grass samples was added to the FP method. EDXRF is a comparable alternative to conventional methods for grass analysis when samples of similar matrix type are used as empirical standards or as a matching library.
  • Effect of pre-treatment on the generation of dipeptidyl peptidase-IV- and prolyl endopeptidase-inhibitory hydrolysates from bovine lung

    Lafarga, T.; Hayes, Maria; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; 11/F/043 (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 25/05/2017)
    The aim of this work was to study the effect of two different pre-treatments, high temperature (100 °C, 5 min) and high pressure (600 MPa, 3 min), on the potential of the enzymes papain, collagenase and Alcalase® to generate bioactive hydrolysates containing dipeptidyl peptidase-IV- (DPP-IV; EC 3.4.14.5) and prolyl endopeptidase- (PEP; EC 3.4.21.26) inhibitory peptides from bovine lung. Both pre-treatments resulted in an increase in the degree of hydrolysis over a 24 h period (P < 0.001) and significantly increased the DPP-IV- and PEP-inhibitory activities of the generated hydrolysates (P < 0.001). Generated hydrolysates included an Alcalase hydrolysate of pressure-treated bovine lung, which was the most active, and showed DPP-IV and PEP half-maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) values of 1.43 ± 0.06 and 3.62 ± 0.07 mg/ mL, respectively. The major peptides contained in this hydrolysate were determined by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry, and results demonstrated that bovine lung is a good substrate for the release of bioactive peptides when proper pre-treatment and enzymatic treatment are applied.
  • Behaviour of tail-docked lambs tested in isolation

    Marchewka, Joanna; Beltran de Heredia, Ina; Averos, Xavier; Ruiz, Roberto; Zanella, Adroaldo J.; Calderón Díaz, Julia A.; Estevez, Inma; European Commission; Ministry for Economic Development and Competitiveness of the Basque Government; FP7-KBBE-2010-4 (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2016-12)
    The aims of the current study were to detect behavioural indicators of pain of tail-docked sheep tested in isolation and to determine the relationship between behaviour and the pain levels to which they were exposed. Twenty-four female lambs, randomly assigned to four pens, had their tail docked with a rubber ring (TD; n = 6) without pain control procedures, TD with anaesthesia (TDA; n = 6) or TD with anaesthesia and analgesia (TDAA; n = 6). Additionally, six lambs handled but without tail docking or application of pain relief measures were used as the control (C). On the day prior (Day –1) to the TD and on days 1, 3 and 5 post-procedure, each lamb was individually removed from its group and underwent a 2.5 min open field test in a separate pen. Frequencies of behaviours such as rest, running, standing, walking and exploring were directly observed. Frequencies of exploratory climbs (ECs) and abrupt climbs (ACs) over the testing pen’s walls were video-recorded. Data were analysed using generalised linear mixed models with repeated measurements, including treatment and day as fixed effects and behaviour on Day –1 as a linear covariate. Control and TDAA lambs stood more frequently than TD lambs. TD lambs performed significantly more ACs compared to all other treatment groups. No other treatment effects were detected. A day effect was detected for all behaviours, while the EC frequency was highest for all tail-docked lambs on Day 5. Findings suggest that standing, ACs and ECs could be used as potential indicators of pain in isolated tail-docked lambs. However, differences in ECs between treatments only appeared 3 d after tail docking.
  • A comparison of grassland vegetation from three agri-environment conservation measures

    O hUallachain, Daire; Finn, John A.; keogh, B.; Fritch, R.; Sheridan, H.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2016-12)
    Semi-natural grassland habitats have declined significantly throughout Europe. To halt the decline, grassland conservation measures have been included in most European agri-environment schemes. This is the first study to compare the botanical composition of grassland habitats managed under the Irish Agri-Environment Options Scheme (AEOS). Sixty fields on drystock pastoral farms in receipt of agri-environment payments for grassland conservation were surveyed, with 20 fields being enrolled in each of the following AEOS options: Traditional Hay Meadow (THM), Species-Rich Grassland (SRG) and Natura 2000 species-rich grassland (Natura). The vegetation quality of sites enrolled in the Natura measure was higher than the quality of those enrolled in the THM and SRG measures. Natura sites had the greatest species richness, with a mean >40 species per site, which included approximately 17 species indicative of high botanical quality. Traditional Hay Meadows sites had the lowest species richness (mean: 29 species per site) and were dominated by species associated with improved grassland. Some THM sites had good levels of botanical richness and were similar in composition to Natura sites, with some Natura sites having lower vegetation quality, more similar to that of THM sites. Species-Rich Grassland had botanical richness that was intermediate between THM and Natura sites. A thorough assessment of the effectiveness of these measures was confounded by a lack of quantitative objectives for the target community composition to be attained. We discuss limitations and potential opportunities regarding the design, targeting, implementation and cost-effectiveness of these agri-environment measures.
  • Effect of omitting teat preparation on bacterial levels in bulk tank milk

    Gleeson, David; Edwards, Paul; O'Brien, Bernadette; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2016-12)
    The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of omitting teat preparation prior to milking on the bacterial levels in milk directly after milking and after a period of milk storage. Eighty Holstein–Friesian dairy cows were assigned to two pre-milking teat preparation treatments: (i) washing of teats and drawing of foremilk, followed by drying with paper towels and (ii) no teat preparation. Individual cow measurements included individual quarter somatic cell count (SCC) and teat swabs for the presence of Bacillus cereus sensu lato. On seven monthly occasions, all milk produced over a 24 h period from each treatment group was segregated into a separate tank and sampled. Sub-samples of this milk were stored at 4 °C for 0, 24, 48 and 72 h, and the milk was analysed for total bacterial count (TBC), thermoduric bacterial count and the presence of B. cereus s. I. Individual quarter SCCs were numerically higher for unprepared teats (159,000 cells/mL) compared with those for prepared teats (133,000 cells/mL; P < 0.09). A similar trend was observed for bulk tank SCC, with the unprepared teat treatment tending to have a higher SCC (155,857 cells/mL) compared to the prepared teat treatment (102,286 cells/mL; P< 0.09). The TBC was not significantly higher from unprepared teats (3,152 cfu/ mL) compared with milk from prepared teats (1,678 cfu/mL) (P< 0.10). Milk TBC was significantly higher after storage for 72 h compared with that after 0, 24 and 48 h (P< 0.01). The results of this study indicate that under good hygienic conditions in an outdoor grazing situation, the omission of pre-milking teat preparation has a minimal effect on TBC and SCC.
  • Electronic feeding behavioural data as indicators of health status in dairy calves

    Johnston, D.; Kenny, David A.; McGee, Mark; Waters, Sinead M.; Kelly, A.K.; Earley, Bernadette (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2016-12-30)
    The objectives of this study were (i) to characterise clinical health in dairy calves on an Irish research farm during the artificial calf-rearing period and (ii) to determine whether calves’ pre-weaning intakes and feeding behaviour, recorded by electronic calf feeders, changes in response to incidents of bovine respiratory disease (BRD). Holstein-Friesian (H-F) and Jersey (J) calves were fed by automatic milk replacer (MR) and concentrate feeders. Feeding behaviour, including MR consumption, drinking speed, number of rewarded and unrewarded visits to the feeder as well as concentrate consumption, was recorded by the feeders. A modified version of the Wisconsin calf health scoring criteria chart was used to score calves’ clinical measurements and identify incidences of BRD. Thus, 40% of calves were found to have at least one incident of BRD. Feeding behaviour was altered during incidents of BRD. The number of unrewarded visits to the feeder was reduced, by approximately four visits, for calves with BRD during the 3 d prior to the identification of BRD (P < 0.05) and tended to be reduced during the 7 d following the identification of BRD (P = 0.05), compared with healthy calves. Additionally, calves with BRD had a tendency for reduced net energy intake (approximately 8%) during the 3 d prior to the identification of BRD, compared with healthy calves. Therefore, calf feeding behavioural data, recorded by electronic feeders during the pre-weaning period, can indicate cases of BRD.

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