• Abstracts of papers presented at the 33rd Foodscience and Technology Research Conference, University College, Cork

      Presenters, Conference; Hanrahan, J. P. (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2004)
    • Adding value to under-utilised Irish fish roe: a physico-chemical and sensory comparison of cured Irish pollock (Pollachius pollachius) roe with commercial mullet (Mugil cephalus) and cod (Gadus morhua) products

      Furey, A.E.; Hoeche, U.; Noci, F.; Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (Compuscript Ltd.Teagasc, 2020-11-30)
      Irish marine fish roe is generally discarded at sea or processed as low value-added fishmeal and not utilised as nutritious seafood ingredients. Locally sourced pollock roes were salted, air-dried (Mediterranean-style) and compared to similar commercial mullet and cod products for: weight; moisture content; pH; instrumental texture and colour; and sensory attributes. Raw pollock roes averaged 105 g (n = 25). Roes lost on average 3.1% moisture (w/w) after a 2-h salting period and 48.8% weight reduction was observed after an average 105 h air-drying time. The moisture content of pollock was not significantly different to commercial products. Average pH for pollock, mullet and cod products was 5.9, 5.4 and 5.7, respectively (P < 0.05). Pollock and mullet had similar hardness, but cod was significantly harder than both, when measured instrumentally. Total colour difference (ΔE*) between the surface of pollock and cod, and that of pollock and mullet was 7.5 and 3.0, respectively. Sensory assessment of sliced and powdered products, using 9-point hedonic and 5-point just-about-right (JAR) scales, was conducted with 38 consumers. Pollock received the highest scores for overall liking and intention to purchase compared to commercial mullet and cod products, averaging 5.6, 5.6 and 4.9, respectively, for sliced roe products, and 6.3, 5.3 and 6.1 for powdered products. Penalty analysis of JAR showed “overall liking” was impacted by the flavour being “too fishy”. In conclusion, pollock had similar characteristics and acceptable sensory attributes compared to commercial products presenting opportunities to expand the range of value-added roe products (e.g., trout, salmon) available, while also contributing to waste reduction.
    • Additive genetic, non-additive genetic and permanent environmental effects for female reproductive performance in seasonal calving dairy females

      Kelleher, Margaret M.; Buckley, Frank; Evans, R. D.; Berry, Donagh; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2016-09-08)
      Excellent reproductive performance (i.e. 365-day calving interval) is paramount to herd profit in seasonal-calving dairy systems. Reproductive targets are currently not being achieved in Irish dairy herds. Furthermore, most research on the genetics of reproductive performance in dairy cattle has focused primarily on lactating cows and relatively few studies have attempted to quantify the genetic contribution to differences in reproductive performance in nulliparae. The objective of the present study was to estimate the contribution of both the additive and non-additive genetic components, as well as the permanent environmental component, to phenotypic variation in the reproductive traits in nulliparous, primiparous and multiparous seasonal-calving dairy females. Reproductive phenotypes were available on up to 202,525 dairy females. Variance components were estimated using (repeatability where appropriate) linear animal mixed models; fixed effects included in the mixed models were contemporary group, parity (where appropriate), breed proportion, inter-breed specific heterosis coefficients and inter-breed specific recombination loss coefficients. Heritability of the reproductive traits ranged from 0.004 (pregnancy rate to first service) to 0.17 (age at first service in nulliparae), while repeatability estimates for the reproductive traits in cows ranged from 0.01 (calving interval) to 0.11 (pregnant in the first 42 days of the breeding season). Breed-specific heterosis regression coefficients suggest that, relative to the parental mean, a first-cross Holstein–Jersey crossbred was almost 7 days younger at first calving, had a 9-day shorter calving interval, a 6 percentage unit greater pregnancy rate in the first 42 days of the breeding season and a 3 percentage unit greater survival rate to next lactation. Heifer calving rate traits were strongly genetically correlated with age at first calving (–0.97 to –0.66) and calving rate in the first 42 days of the calving season for first parity cows (0.77 to 0.56), but genetic correlations with other cow reproductive traits were weak and inconsistent. Calving interval was strongly genetically correlated with the majority of the cow traits; 56%, 40%, and 92% of the genetic variation in calving interval was explained by calving to the first service interval, number of services and pregnant in the first 42 days of the breeding season, respectively. Permanent environmental correlations between the reproductive performance traits were generally moderate to strong. The existence of contributions from non-additive genetic and permanent environmental effects to phenotypic differences among cows suggests the usefulness of such information to rank cows on future expected performance; this was evidenced by a stronger correlation with future reproductive performance for an individual cow index that combined additive genetic, non-additive genetic and permanent environmental effects compared to an index based solely on additive genetic effects (i.e. estimated breeding values).
    • The agricultural impact of the 2015–2016 floods in Ireland as mapped through Sentinel 1 satellite imagery

      O'Hara, Rob; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Teagasc, 2019-10-11)
      Irish Journal of Agricultural and Food Research | Volume 58: Issue 1 The agricultural impact of the 2015–2016 floods in Ireland as mapped through Sentinel 1 satellite imagery R. O’Haraemail , S. Green and T. McCarthy DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/ijafr-2019-0006 | Published online: 11 Oct 2019 PDF       Abstract Article PDF References Recommendations Abstract The capability of Sentinel 1 C-band (5 cm wavelength) synthetic aperture radio detection and ranging (RADAR) (abbreviated as SAR) for flood mapping is demonstrated, and this approach is used to map the extent of the extensive floods that occurred throughout the Republic of Ireland in the winter of 2015–2016. Thirty-three Sentinel 1 images were used to map the area and duration of floods over a 6-mo period from November 2015 to April 2016. Flood maps for 11 separate dates charted the development and persistence of floods nationally. The maximum flood extent during this period was estimated to be ~24,356 ha. The depth of rainfall influenced the magnitude of flood in the preceding 5 d and over more extended periods to a lesser degree. Reduced photosynthetic activity on farms affected by flooding was observed in Landsat 8 vegetation index difference images compared to the previous spring. The accuracy of the flood map was assessed against reports of flooding from affected farms, as well as other satellite-derived maps from Copernicus Emergency Management Service and Sentinel 2. Monte Carlo simulated elevation data (20 m resolution, 2.5 m root mean square error [RMSE]) were used to estimate the flood’s depth and volume. Although the modelled flood height showed a strong correlation with the measured river heights, differences of several metres were observed. Future mapping strategies are discussed, which include high–temporal-resolution soil moisture data, as part of an integrated multisensor approach to flood response over a range of spatial scales.
    • Alternatives to formic acid as a grass silage additive under two contrasting ensilability conditions

      Lorenzo, B. Fernandez; O'Kiely, Padraig (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2008)
      The effects of formic acid and four alternative additives on silage fermentation, in-silo DM losses and aerobic stability were compared in an experiment using both difficultto- ensile (DIFF) and easier-to-ensile (EASI) herbages. Both were ensiled in laboratory silos with either no additive or following the application of formic acid (FA; 850 g/kg) at 3 mL/kg herbage, Add-SaFeR® (ATF1) and GrasAAT® (ATF2), both based on ammonium tetraformate, at 4 mL/kg herbage, an antimicrobial mixture (MIX; potassium formate, sodium disulfite and sodium benzoate) at 3 g/kg herbage, or Ecosyl (LAB; Lactobacillus plantarum) at 3 mL/kg herbage. There were four replicates per treatment and the silos were stored for 132 days. DIFF silage made without additive was poorly fermented. All additives increased the extent and improved the direction of DIFF silage fermentation, and reduced in-silo losses. However, MIX did not reduce butyric acid concentration and increased the extent of aerobic deterioration. LAB had a smaller effect on fermentation and in-silo losses than FA. With EASI silages, all additives restricted the extent of fermentation and improved fermentation quality, with the latter effect being smaller than for DIFF silages. LAB promoted a particularly homolactic fermentation but subsequently increased aerobic deterioration. In both DIFF and EASI silages additive treatment improved in vitro digestibility. It is concluded that only ATF1, ATF2 and MIX were as effective as FA at improving silage preservation and reducing in-silo losses with both DIFF and EASI herbages. However, ATF1 and ATF2 were superior in reducing the apparent extent of proteolysis and MIX was slightly less effective at reducing the activity of saccharolytic Clostridia.
    • Analysis and evaluation of the teat-end vacuum condition in different automatic milking systems

      Ströbel, U.; Rose-Meierhöfer, S.; Öz, H.; Entorf, A.C.; Popp, L.; Brunsch, R. (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2011)
      The number of automatic milking systems (AMSs) installed worldwide shows an increasing trend. In comparison to the preliminary models, new versions employ more sophisticated sensor technology than ever before. The originally developed AMSs were characterised by larger vacuum fluctuations and vacuum reductions than conventional milking systems. The objective of this study was to find out whether this situation still holds or if an improvement has occurred. The vacuum behaviour at the teat end of an artificial teat during simulated milking was measured in a study that involved different AMS types (AMS A, B and C). Each system was tested over a range of flow rates (0.8 to 8.0 L/min). The wet-test method was used and teat-end vacuum behaviour was recorded. At a flow rate of 4.8 L/min, the lowest vacuum fluctuation (6.4 kPa in b-phase) was recorded for AMS A, while the lowest vacuum reduction (3.5 kPa in the b-phase) was obtained for AMS B. AMS C yielded higher values for vacuum reduction and vacuum fluctuation. Consequently, it was concluded that AMS A and B, in terms of construction and operational setting (vacuum level), are more appropriate than AMS C. Nevertheless, high values for vacuum reduction or fluctuation have a negative effect on the teat tissue. Hence, one of the future challenges in milk science is to develop a control system that is able to allow fine adjustments to the vacuum curve at the teat end.
    • Analysis of DRB1 exon 2 genotyping by STR size analysis in Suffolk and Texel sheep breeds

      Sayers, Gearoid; Mitchel, S; Ryan, Marion T; Stear, Michael J.; Hanrahan, James P; Sweeney, Torres; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Wellcome Trust; RSF16; 061354 (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2004)
      Alleles of the DRB1 exon 2 locus of the major histocompatibility complex have recently been associated with genetic resistance to gastrointestinal nematodes in sheep. While sequence-based typing is the standard method for allele discrimination, a rapid, high throughput method for DRB1 exon 2 genotyping is required if such information is to be incorporated into national breeding programmes. Previous studies have highlighted a simple tandem repeat (STR) located within intron 2 of the DRB1 gene, which could potentially be used to accurately assess the allele present within the adjacent exon 2. The aims of this study were firstly to compare two methods of STR analysis, Genescan™ and autoradiography, and secondly to investigate if STR analysis of DRB1 intron 2 could be used to accurately assess the profile of DRB1 exon 2. Six DRB1 exon 2 alleles were identified by sequence-based typing in Suffolk (n = 31) and eight in Texel (n = 60) sheep. The results indicated that Genescan™ was a more accurate method of STR analysis than autoradiography. The expected 1:1 correspondence between STR size, analysed by Genescan™ and DRB1 exon 2 allele, determined by sequence-based typing, was not observed. However, the correspondence was found to be degenerate, whereby some alleles were associated with two STR sizes. Thus, irrespective of the STR size identified, STR analysis by Genescan™ identified the correct allele in all cases within both populations of animals studied. However, the Genescan™ method of allele identification cannot be used for Suffolk × Texel crossbred progeny or in other breeds where the relationship between STR size and DRB1 exon 2 allele is not known.
    • Animal performance and economic implications of alternative production systems for dairy bulls slaughtered at 15 months of age

      Murphy, B.M.; Crosson, Paul; Kelly, Alan 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.
    • Animal welfare research – progress to date and future prospects

      Boyle, Laura A; Conneely, M.; Kennedy, Emer; O’Connell, N.; O'Driscoll, Keelin; Earley, Bernadette (Teagasc, 2022-02-26)
      RECORDABSTRACTARTICLE Animal welfare research – progress to date and future prospects OTHER Author(s): L. Boyle 1 , M. Conneely 1 , E. Kennedy 1 , N. O’Connell 2 , K. O’Driscoll 1 , B. Earley 3 , Publication date (Electronic): 26 February 2022 Journal: Irish Journal of Agricultural and Food Research Publisher: Compuscript Keywords: Animal welfare, beef, dairy, pig, poultry, welfare assessment Abstract The welfare status of an animal is dependent on its ability to cope and exist in harmony with its environment, such that good physical and psychological health is maintained. Improving animal welfare is an increasingly important aspect of livestock production systems due, in a large extent, to increased consumer concerns about animal production practices. Animal welfare is an integrated part of quality assurance programmes for sustainable animal production, considering that welfare, health, management, economy, consumer acceptance and environmental impact are interdependent. The major welfare concerns in the livestock industry in recent years relate to the rearing and management of dairy calves, the welfare of the dairy cow, effect of husbandry management procedures on the welfare of beef cattle, rearing of sows in gestation and farrowing crates, and the broiler (meat) chicken sector. The paper will focus on scientific research underpinning these welfare concerns, with a particular focus on research conducted on the island of Ireland.
    • Application of data envelopment analysis to measure technical efficiency on a sample of Irish dairy farms

      Kelly, Eoin; Shalloo, Laurence; Geary, Una; Kinsella, Anne; Wallace, Michael (Teagasc, 2012-12)
      The aim of this study was to determine the levels of technical efficiency on a sample of Irish dairy farms utilizing Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) and to identify key management and production factors that differ between producers indentified as efficient and inefficient. DEA was used in this study to generate technical efficiency scores under assumptions of both constant returns to scale (CRS) and variable returns to scale (VRS). The average technical efficiency score was 0.785 under CRS and 0.833 under VRS. Key production characteristics of efficient and inefficient producers were compared using an analysis of variance. More technically efficient producers used less input per unit of output, had higher production per cow and per hectare and had a longer grazing season, a higher milk quality standard, were more likely to have participated in milk recording and had greater land quality compared to the inefficient producers.
    • Application of Dexter’s soil physical quality index: an Irish case study

      Fenton, Owen; Vero, Sara E.; Schulte, Rogier P.; 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 application of low crude protein wheat-soyabean diets to growing and finishing pigs: 2. The effects on nutrient digestibility, nitrogen excretion, faecal volatile fatty acid concentration and ammonia emission from boars

      Leek, A. B. G.; Callan, J.J.; Henry, R. W.; O'Doherty, John V. (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2005)
      Diets containing 132, 152, 183 and 206 g/kg crude protein (CP) were fed to growing and finishing boars to evaluate the effect on nutrient digestibility, N balance, faecal volatile fatty acids (VFA) and ammonia-N (NH3–N) emission. Dietary CP concentration was adjusted by altering the ratio of wheat:soyabean meal. Lysine, threonine, tryptophan and total sulphur-containing amino acids were included in all diets at concentrations equivalent to that in the highest CP diet. All diets were formulated to provide 9.7 MJ/kg of net energy. Urine and faeces were collected from 16 boars (4 boars per treatment) housed in metabolism crates. Collections were performed at 72, 80 and 87 kg live weight. NH3–N emission was measured over 10 days using a laboratory scale procedure. Reducing the concentration of dietary CP decreased N intake (linear, P < 0.01), the excretion of urinary N, ammoniacal N and total N (linear, P < 0.001; cubic, P < 0.001) and the emission of NH3–N (linear, P < 0.001; cubic, P < 0.01). Total N excretion and NH3–N emission decreased 8.7% and 10.1% per 10 g/kg reduction in dietary CP concentration between 205.6 and 131.9 g/kg, respectively. There was no interaction between dietary CP concentration and collection period. N balance differed between the collection periods and less NH3–N was emitted at 87 kg than at 72 kg. Decreasing dietary CP reduced faecal VFA concentration (linear, P < 0.05) and the molar proportions of acetic and butyric acids (quadratic, P < 0.01).
    • 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.
    • The association between herd- and cow-level factors and somatic cell count of Irish dairy cows

      McParland, Sinead; O'Brien, Bernadette; McCarthy, J.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 10/RD/AAQUALITYMILK/TMFRC713 (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2013)
      Somatic cell count (SCC) is an indicator of both udder health and milk quality and is measured at an animal level through national milk recording schemes. The objective of this study was to assess the animal and herd factors contributing to elevated SCC (i.e. poorer milk quality). Test day records (n = 2,658,928) from 519,456 cow lactations obtained between 2007 and 2011 were included in the analyses. Herd factors tested included the geographical region of the herd and production system operated (spring calving or mixed calving system). Animal factors tested included breed, parity and age nested within parity. Four definitions of normalised SCC (i.e. SCS) were considered: 1) average test-day SCS within a 24 hour period (TD_SCS), 2) maximum SCS (peak_SCS), 3) minimum SCS (min_SCS), and 4) average SCS (avg_SCS) recorded across cow lactation; in addition, the proportion of test day records with an SCC count >200,000 (prop_200) or >250,000 (prop_250) within cow lactation were included. Following adjustment for fixed effects, average TD_SCS was 179,308 cells per mL while avg_SCS, and average min_SCS and peak_SCS were 119,481, 50,992 and 298,813 cells per mL, respectively. All animal and herd factors had a significant effect on SCC. Older animals, animals which were younger at calving than contemporaries and Holstein animals had higher SCC than younger alternative breed animals who calved at the median age. In addition, mixed calving production systems and herds in Connaught had higher SCC than spring calving herds in the other regions of Ireland.
    • Associations between the K232A polymorphism in the diacylglycerol-O-transferase 1 (DGAT1) gene and performance in Irish Holstein-Friesian dairy cattle

      Berry, Donagh; Howard, Dawn J.; O'Boyle, Padraig; Waters, Sinead M.; Kearney, J.F.; McCabe, Matthew (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2010)
      Selection based on genetic polymorphisms requires accurate quantification of the effect or association of the polymorphisms with all traits of economic importance. The objective of this study was to estimate, using progeny performance data on 848 Holstein-Friesian bulls, the association between a non-conservative alanine to lysine amino acid change (K232A) in exon 8 of the diacylglycerol-O-transferase 1 (DGAT1) gene and milk production and functionality in the Irish Holstein-Friesian population. The DGAT1 gene encodes the diacylglycerol-O-transferase microsomal enzyme necessary to catalyze the final step in triglyceride synthesis. Weighted mixed model methodology, accounting for the additive genetic relationships among animals, was used to evaluate the association between performance and the K232A polymorphism. The minor allele frequency (K allele) was 0.32. One copy of the K allele was associated (P < 0.001) with 77 kg less milk yield, 4.22 kg more fat yield, 0.99 kg less protein yield, and 1.30 and 0.28 g/kg greater milk fat and protein concentration, respectively; all traits were based on predicted 305-day production across the first five lactations. The K232A polymorphism explained 4.8%, 10.3% and 1.0% of the genetic variance in milk yield, fat yield and protein yield, respectively. There was no association between the K232A polymorphism and fertility, functional survival, calving performance, carcass traits, or any conformation trait with the exception of rump width and carcass conformation. Using the current economic values for the milk production traits in the Irish total merit index, one copy of the K allele is worth €5.43 in expected profitability of progeny. Results from this study will be useful in quantifying the cost-benefit of including the K232A polymorphism in the Irish national breeding programme.
    • The Beast from the East: impact of an atypical cold weather event on hydrology and nutrient dynamics in two Irish catchments

      Vero, S.E.; McDonald, N.T.; McGrath, G.; Mellander, Per-Erik (Compuscript Ltd.Teagasc, 2020-11-21)
      A historic lack of continuous stream nutrient monitoring at the catchment scale limits understanding of the effects of snowstorms. The most significant snowstorm since 1985, nicknamed “the Beast from the East”, occurred in February–March 2018. High-frequency stream outlet monitoring in two close but hydrologically and agriculturally contrasting catchments (<1,200 ha) captured phosphorus (total and reactive), total oxygenated nitrogen (TON), temperature and discharge dynamics during and after the event. The grassland catchment consists of poorly drained gley soils and exhibits overland flow pathways, while the arable catchment consists of well-drained brown earths and is dominated by subsurface pathways. Nitrate (NO3-N) concentrations were initially elevated (3.50 and 7.89 mg/L for poorly drained grassland and well-drained arable catchments, respectively) before becoming diluted by meltwater. Total reactive phosphorus (TRP) displayed a distal (anti-clockwise) concentration-discharge hysteresis in the poorly drained grassland catchment suggesting low mobilisation from the soil. Conversely, the well-drained arable catchment displayed proximal (clockwise) hysteresis, indicative of the mobilisation from stream and bank sediment. These relatively infrequent snow events behave similarly to heavy rainfall as regards nutrient losses, albeit subject to a time-lag induced by the speed of snowmelt and the soil moisture deficit (SMD) prior to snowfall. Antecedent land management is crucial to mitigate risk. The current absence of records and analyses of catchment response, particularly nutrient dynamics, to atypical cold weather events in Ireland limits understanding of their effects on water quality. The present study provides the first such baseline information from which land management strategies and the implications for attaining environmental targets can be explored.
    • Behaviour of tail-docked lambs tested in isolation

      Marchewka, Joanna; Beltran de Heredia, Ina; Averos, Xavier; Ruiz, Roberto; Zanella, Adroaldo J.; Calderon Diaz, Julia; 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.
    • Behavioural and physiological responses of individually housed dairy calves to change in milk feeding frequency at different ages

      Scoley, G.; Ashfield, A.; Oiartzun, M. Romero; Gordon, A.; Morrison, S.J. (Compuscript Ltd.Teagasc, 2020-11-30)
      This study aimed to use a range of non-invasive monitoring technologies to investigate the behavioural and physiological responses of individually housed dairy calves to age at change in milk replacer (MR) feeding frequency. Forty-eight Holstein Friesian calves were individually penned and fed MR (625 g/d) as solids in one of three feeding regimes: (i) once-a-day feeding commencing at age 14 d (OAD14), (ii) once-a-day feeding commencing at age 28 d (OAD28) and (iii) twice-a-day feeding (TAD). Several behavioural (automatic activity sensors), physiological (infrared [IR] thermography and heart rate variability [HRV]) and haematological indicators were used to examine calf responses. Reduction in milk feeding frequency at 14 or 28 d of age increased daily concentrate intakes and drinking water consumption throughout the pre-wean period. Calf lying behaviour was unaffected by reduction in milk feeding frequency; however, TAD calves recorded a significant decrease in total daily lying time during the post-wean period compared with OAD28s. There was no effect of treatment on IR eye or rectal temperature throughout the experiment; however, there was an effect of age, with IR temperature decreasing as calf age increased. OAD14 calves tended to have decreased HRV at days 14 and 16, which is suggestive of an increased stress load. The findings suggest that under high levels of animal husbandry and whilst maintaining the same amount of milk powder/d (625 g/d), reduction in milk feeding frequency from twice to once daily at 28 d can occur without significant impact to behavioural, performance and physiological parameters assessed here.
    • Benchmarking a decade of holistic agro-environmental studies within the Agricultural Catchments Programme

      Mellander, Per-Erik; Lynch, M.B.; Galloway, J.; Žurovec, O.; McCormack, Michele; O’Neill, M.; Hawtree, D.; Burgess, E.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Teagasc, 2022-02-26)
      Meeting sustainable food production challenges requires efficient ways to manage nutrients and mitigate the losses of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) to water. Future nutrient management therefore requires a clearer understanding of the relative influence of soils, geology, farm practice, landscape and weather on the propensity for nutrients to be lost to water. Within the Agricultural Catchments Programme (ACP), environmental, agronomic and socioeconomic data have been gathered since 2009, using the same experimental methodology in five meso-scale river catchments, and one karst spring zone, covering a range of soils, landscapes and farming systems. The ACP has contributed to a better understanding of nutrient mobilisation and transfer pathways and highlighted the influence of the physical and chemical environment as well as agricultural and meteorological drivers on diffuse nutrient loss to ground and surface waters. The environmental quality standards were breached for N and/or P in some of the catchments, but for different reasons and not always clearly linked to the source pressures within the catchment. There are clearly no one-size-fits-all solutions for mitigation of nutrient losses to water. A better understanding of the underlying processes is required to identify critical source areas, to select mitigation strategies, when to implement them and to build realistic expectations of their impact. Sustainability in an agricultural setting is not confined to environmental issues, but also includes social, economic and innovative aspects. To maximise farmers’ uptake of environmental measures, the actions should encompass all these aspects of sustainability. Integrated knowledge transfer is key.
    • Bioeconomic modelling of male Holstein-Friesian dairy calf-to-beef production systems on Irish farms

      Ashfield, A.; Wallace, Michael; Prendiville, Robert; Crosson, Paul (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2014)
      With the abolition of milk quota in 2015 and increase in the use of Holstein-Friesian sires in recent years there is predicted to be an increase in the number of male Holstein-Friesian animals available for beef production. In broad terms, farmers have two options for finishing these animals; as bulls or steers. In either case, Irish beef cattle systems are based on maximising lifetime live-weight gain from grass-based diets. Managing the relationship between the supply and demand for grazed grass is complicated in these pasture-based systems due to the seasonal variability in grass growth. The Grange Dairy Beef Systems Model (GDBSM) was used to simulate the relationship between grazed grass supply and demand and then determine the profitability of Holstein-Friesian male animals finished as bulls at 16 (B16), 19 (B19) and 22 (B22) months of age and steers at 24 (S24) months of age. Combinations of these cattle finishing options were also evaluated. The most profitable system was S24. All systems were very sensitive to variations in beef and concentrate prices and less sensitive to calf price changes with fertiliser price changes having very little effect. Bull systems were more sensitive than the steer system to variation in beef, calf and concentrate prices. There was no advantage of combination systems in terms of utilisation of grass grown or net margin.