• Additive genetic, non-additive genetic and permanent environmental effects for female reproductive performance in seasonal calving dairy females

      Kelleher, M.M.; Buckley, Frank; Evans, R.D.; Berry, Donagh P.; 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).
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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 and prolyl endopeptidase- (PEP; EC 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.
    • A field-based comparison of ammonia emissions from six Irish soil types following urea fertiliser application

      Burchill, William; Lanigan, Gary; Forrestal, Patrick J.; Reville, F.; Misselbrook, T.; Rochards, Karl G.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; RSF 13/S/430 (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 30/12/2016)
      Ammonia (NH3) emissions from a range of soil types have been found to differ under laboratory conditions. However, there is lack of studies comparing NH3 emissions from different soil types under field conditions. The objective was to compare NH3 emissions from six different soil types under similar environmental conditions in the field following urea fertiliser application. The study was conducted on a lysimeter unit and NH3 emissions were measured, using wind tunnels, from six different soil types with varying soil characteristics following urea fertiliser application (80 kg N/ha). On average, 17.6% (% total N applied) was volatilised, and there was no significant difference in NH3 emissions across all soil types. Soil variables, including pH, cation exchange capacity and volumetric moisture, were not able to account for the variation in emissions. Further field studies are required to improve the urea-NH3 emission factor used for Ireland’s NH3 inventory.
    • The health status of Irish honeybee colonies in 2006

      Coffey, M. F.; Barth, Susanne; Hayes, K.; Breen, James; European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2013)
      This study assessed the health status of Irish honeybee colonies and provides a snapshot of the incidence of a number of important colony parasites/pathogens including: the mite Varroa destructor; three associated viruses (deformed wing virus (DWV), acute bee paralysis virus (ABPV) and Kashmir virus (KBV)); the tracheal mite Acarapis woodi; the microsporidian Nosema spp., and the insect Braula coeca. During June/July 2006, 135 samples of adult bees were collected from productive colonies throughout Ireland and standard techniques were used to determine the presence and absence of the parasites and pathogens. Varroa destructor was positively identified in 72.6% of the samples and was widely distributed. Although the samples were analysed for three viruses, DWV, ABPV and KBV, only DWV was detected (frequency = 12.5%). Acarapis woodi and Nosema spp. occurred in approximately 11% and 22% of the samples, respectively, while B. coeca, a wingless dipteran that was once common in Irish honeybee colonies, was very rare (3.7%). Samples where all the pathogens/parasites were jointly absent were statistically under-represented in Leinster and DWV was statistically over-represented in Munster. In Ulster, there was over-representation of the categories where all parasites/pathogens were jointly absent and for A. woodi, and underrepresentation of V. destructor.
    • Identification of existing and emerging chemical residue contamination concerns in milk

      Danaher, Martin; Jordan, Kieran; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2013)
      In order to maintain the quality of Irish milk and meet increasingly demanding specifications, it is necessary to focus on chemical residues in milk, in addition to other quality issues. The objective of the work was to assess the current status of chemical contaminant analysis and to identify technological and knowledge needs. This was achieved through a review of literature with respect to chemical contaminants. Quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs) have been identified as an area of concern for the dairy industry because of the recent reports of QAC residues in dairy products internationally. Analytical support to analyse QAC residues in milk and dairy products on an ongoing basis is required. Furthermore, the source of QAC residues along the milk production chain needs to be identified. Similarly, analytical support and research is needed in the area of phthalates, to support the development of intervention strategies to reduce contamination, if present. Cephalosporin antibiotics have been a concern for the dairy industry because of the lack of suitable chemical tests to measure these substances.
    • The interactive effects of fertiliser nitrogen with dung and urine on nitrous oxide emissions in grassland

      Hyde, B.P.; Forrestal, Patrick J.; Jahangir, M.M.R.; Ryan, M.; Fanning, A.F.; Carton, Owen T.; Lanigan, Gary; Richards, Karl G.; Environmental Protection Agency; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; RSF 13S430; 11S138 (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 08/09/2016)
      Nitrous oxide (N2O) is an important and potent greenhouse gas (GHG). Although application of nitrogen (N) fertiliser is a feature of many grazing systems, limited data is available on N2O emissions in grassland as a result of the interaction between urine, dung and fertiliser N. A small plot study was conducted to identify the individual and interactive effects of calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN) fertiliser, dung and urine. Application of CAN with dung and urine significantly increased the mass of N2O-N emission. Importantly, the sum of N2O-N emitted from dung and CAN applied individually approximated the emission from dung and CAN fertiliser applied together, that is, an additive effect. However, in the case of urine and CAN applied together, the emission was more than double the sum of the emission from urine and CAN fertiliser applied individually, that is, a multiplicative effect. Nitrous oxide emissions from dung, urine and fertiliser N are typically derived individually and these individual emission estimates are aggregated to produce estimates of N2O emission. The presented findings have important implications for how individual emission factors are aggregated; they suggest that the multiplicative effect of the addition of CAN fertiliser to urine patches needs to be taken into account to refine the estimation of N2O emissions from grazing grasslands.
    • 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.