Now showing items 1-20 of 317

    • Consumer assessment, in Ireland and the United Kingdom, of the impact of the method of suspension of carcasses from dairy-origin bulls and steers, on the sensory characteristics of the longissimus muscle

      Moloney, A.P.; Chong, F.S.; Hagan, T.D.J.; Gordon, A.W.; Methven, L.; O’Sullivan, M.G.; Farmer, L.J.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 13/SN/401; 11/SF/322 (Teagasc, 2023)
      The objective was to compare the assessment of beef produced in Ireland from a 19-month bull or a 24-month steer dairy beef production system by consumers in Ireland (Cork) and the United Kingdom (Belfast and Reading). Carcass sides were suspended by the Achilles tendon or by the pelvic bone and 21-d aged longissimus muscle assessed using Meat Standards Australia protocols. Carcass weight and classification were similar for bulls and steers. Consumers in Belfast and Cork rated aroma liking, tenderness, juiciness, overall liking and the composite meat quality score (MQ4) similarly, but lower (P < 0.05) than consumers in Reading. Consumers in Belfast and Cork rated flavour liking similarly as did consumers in Cork and Reading, but consumers in Reading rated flavour liking higher (P < 0.05) than consumers in Belfast. Muscle from steers had higher scores for aroma liking, flavour liking, overall liking and MQ4 scores than bulls (P < 0.05). On average, pelvic suspension increased (P < 0.05) the scores for aroma liking and flavour liking compared with conventional suspension but increased (P < 0.05) tenderness, juiciness, overall liking and MQ4 scores only in bulls. Consumers in Reading rated striploin from the traditional Achilles tendon-suspended steers similarly to striploin from pelvic-suspended bulls (MQ4 score of 71.8 and 68.2, respectively). Beef from the latter system could replace the traditional steer beef in this market, thereby benefiting the beef producer and the environment.
    • Linear type trait genetic trends in Irish Holstein-Friesian dairy animals

      Berry, Donagh; Ring, S.C.; Kelleher, M.M.; Science Foundation Ireland; Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine; 16/RC/3835 (Teagasc, 2022-11-04)
      The objective of the present study was to investigate the genetic trends of 18 subjectively scored linear type traits describing animal morphology, as well as udder, teat, feet and leg conformation. The analysis was undertaken using 2,932,700 Holstein-Friesian females born in the Republic of Ireland between the years 2000 and 2020, inclusive. The results indicate that Holstein-Friesian females have progressively become shorter in stature as well as shallower (i.e. body depth) and less angular. The reduction in genetic merit for stature score since the year 2004 was, however, only observed in non-herdbook-registered heifers. Furthermore, the reducing score in body depth (i.e. narrower) and angularity (i.e. less angular) was approximately twice as fast in non-herdbook-registered heifers as it was in herdbook-registered heifers. Differences in the genetic merit of the body-related traits for calves born versus those that became cows only existed prior to 2010 with little biological differences thereafter; this observation was common across most of the linear type traits. Genetic merit for locomotion in non-herdbook-registered animals has deteriorated over the 20-yr period, while the foot angle over that period is becoming lower; no such trends were observed for the herdbook-registered animals. Large differences not only in the trends themselves, but also in the mean genetic merit for udder traits existed when comparing herdbook-registered calves versus non-registered calves. In conclusion, genetic merit for many of the traits evaluated has trended relatively consistent in a given direction, albeit the cumulative change in genetic s.d. units per traits over the 20-yr period was very small.
    • Irish cattle farmers’ experiences and perceptions of negative framing of farm animal welfare in the media

      Duley, A.; Connor, M.; Vigors, B. (Teagasc, 2022-11-04)
      RECORDABSTRACTARTICLE Irish cattle farmers’ experiences and perceptions of negative framing of farm animal welfare in the media RESEARCH-ARTICLE Author(s): A. Duley 1 , , M. Connor 1 , B. Vigors 2 Publication date (Electronic): 04 November 2022 Journal: Irish Journal of Agricultural and Food Research Publisher: Compuscript Keywords: Agriculture, farm animal welfare, farmer perception, media framing, rural sociology Abstract Increased urbanisation in recent decades has created a knowledge gap between farming and the Irish public. Mainstream media has begun filling this gap through reports on farm animal welfare (FAW) incidents that sometimes frame farming in a negative way. This negative framing can influence how farmers perceive the information communicated in these media stories and colour their experiences. Furthermore, perceived societal pressures may contribute to farmers feeling overwhelmed or negatively impact their mental health. In the context of FAW, the latter is particularly relevant as poor farmer mental health has been associated with poorer animal welfare. However, little is known about how the negative framing of FAW stories influence farmers’ perceptions and experiences. The aim of this study was to explore how negatively framed media stories about FAW incidents affect cattle farmers’ perceptions of animal welfare. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with seven Irish beef and dairy farmers using vignettes displaying negatively framed FAW incidents presented in the media. Five themes were identified: (1) job satisfaction and motivation, (2) impact on the human–animal relationship, (3) the importance of community, (4) negative portrayal of farmers and (5) need for FAW education. Findings suggest that negative framing of FAW in the media, as well as rural restructuring in Ireland, may negatively affect farmers’ motivation which could have indirect implications for the welfare of their animals.
    • A short survey of key silage-making practices on Northern Ireland dairy farms, and farmer perceptions of factors influencing silage quality

      Ferris, C.P.; Laidlaw, A.S.; Wylie, A.R.G. (Teagasc, 2022-11-07)
      Northern Ireland dairy farmers (n = 174) were surveyed to identify key silage-making practices, and factors perceived to influence the quality of grass silage made on their farms. The majority of farmers (65%) harvested grass for silage three times/year: 62% normally used a contractor, while 47% routinely used a silage additive. Delays to mowing and delays to harvesting due to adverse weather or poor ground conditions were perceived to have a large or very large impact on silage quality (68% and 53% of farmers, respectively). Inadequate wilting, poor-quality swards on owned land, on rented land and “contamination” of first-cut grass with autumn or winter growth herbage were all perceived as having a large or very large impact on silage quality (32%, 27%, 40%, 30% of farmers, respectively). Over the previous decade, 11%, 41% and 37% of farmers claimed a small, moderate or large improvement in silage quality, mainly due to earlier cutting of grass and ensiling better quality swards.
    • Solutions to enteric methane abatement in Ireland

      Cummins, S.; Lanigan, G.J.; Richards, K.G.; Boland, T.M.; Kirwan, S.F.; Smith, P.E.; Waters, S.M.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Teagasc, 2022-11-10)
      The efficiency of Ireland’s grass-based livestock systems can be attributed to high outputs, low production costs and a low carbon footprint relative to housed systems. Methane (CH4) is a potent greenhouse gas (GHG) of which enteric fermentation from livestock production is a key source, being directly responsible for 57% of Irish agricultural GHG emissions. There are a number of strategies including dietary manipulation and breeding initiatives that have shown promising results as potential mitigation solutions for ruminant livestock production. However, the majority of international research has predominantly been conducted on confined systems. Given the economic viability of Irish livestock systems, it is vital that any mitigation methods are assessed at pasture. Such research cannot be completed without access to suitable equipment for measuring CH4 emissions at grazing. This review documents the current knowledge capacity in Ireland (publications and projects) and includes an inventory of equipment currently available to conduct research. A number of strategic research avenues are identified herein that warrant further investigation including breeding initiatives and dietary manipulation. It was notable that enteric CH4 research seems to be lacking in Ireland as it constituted 14% of Irish agricultural GHG research publications from 2016 to 2021. A number of key infrastructural deficits were identified including respiration chambers (there are none currently operational in the Republic of Ireland) and an urgent need for more pasture-based GreenFeed™ systems. These deficits will need to be addressed to enable inventory refinement, research progression and the development of effective solutions to enteric CH4 abatement in Ireland.
    • Evaluating the timing of insecticide application to manage barley yellow dwarf virus and yield in winter barley

      Walsh, L. E.; Lacey, S.; Doyle, D.; Gaffney, M. T.; Mc Namara, L.; Department of Agriculture, Fod and the MArine; 14/s/879 (Teagasc, 2022-11-30)
      Barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV) is an important viral disease of grain crops worldwide and a major cause of yield loss. The risk periods for BYDV infection coincide with milder temperature that prolongs aphid flight and facilitates viral transmission through primary and secondary aphid movement in the crop. Secondary aphid movement is associated with greater BYDV spread in winter cereals. A critical component of BYDV management is therefore delaying sowing of winter cereals and correctly timing insecticide application to maximise crop protection. Previous research in Ireland considered insecticide timing in early (September) and late (October onwards) sown cereals. Early research did not consider action thresholds around temperature, aphid flight and risk of secondary spread. This research set out to understand the optimal timing of insecticide application in October sown winter barley to reduce BYDV infection and yield impact. A critical temperature of 3°C was used as a threshold for aphid development that leads to movement and BYDV spread, and insecticide treatments were applied to the crop at predictable intervals in relation to temperature. Results show that BYDV symptoms and yield are affected by spray time, location and year, although only significant with regard to the reduction of BYDV symptoms. For both BYDV symptoms and yield, there was a significant difference between untreated (control) plots and “early” and “late” applications of insecticide, again more notable for BYDV symptoms than yield. This work indicates the value of optimising a single insecticide spray for control of October sown cereals and supports decision-making in the management of cereal crops.
    • Yield response of field beans (Vicia faba) to plant population and sowing date in a temperate climate

      Murphy, L.C.; Sparkes, D.L.; Spink, J.H.; Alves, S.; Teagasc Walsh Scholarship programme; Irish Farmers Association (Teagasc, 2022-12-23)
      Sowing date and seed rate influence crop establishment, growth, yield and profitability. The growth and yield of field beans (Vicia faba) in response to sowing date and seed rate was examined over three seasons, 2016–2019, in Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland. Early winter sowings (October) established better than late winter sowings in November and January. No significant difference was found in establishment from mid-February to mid-March. Yield was generally highest from October sowings for the winter cultivar. Yields were similar from February, March and April sowings for the spring cultivar, with March generally yielding higher across the three seasons. Yield was also found to increase significantly with seed rate for both winter and spring cultivars. The economic optimum plant population was estimated for the October and March sowing dates, by fitting a standard (linear + exponential) curve. There is no published information on the optimum plant populations for field beans in Ireland and we believe we are the first to report these findings. The estimated economic optimum plant populations varied between 13 and 38 plants/m2 for both varieties, with an average optimum of 25.5 plants/m2. This range falls within the current recommendations for sowing field beans in Ireland, demonstrating that increasing plant populations above the current commercial practice for field beans in Ireland, will not increase yield or profitability.
    • A note on current pyrethroid susceptibility in the bird cherry-oat aphid Rhopalosiphum padi in Ireland

      George, A.; Meally, H.; Foster, S.; Williamson, M.; Walsh, L.; Carroll, J.; Gaffney, M.T.; McNamara, L.; South East Technological University, President’s Fellowship scheme; Teagasc (Teagasc, 2022-12-28)
      The objective of this study was to observe the response of the bird cherry oat aphid, Rhopalosiphum padi (Linnaeus, 1758) to field rate equivalents of insecticides, by using bioassays of vials coated with the pyrethroid, λ-cyhalothrin. The results from the geographically separated Irish R. padi colonies indicated a susceptible response, which was a similar finding to the UK which showed sensitivity in this species of cereal aphids. Monitoring the susceptibility status of aphids using bioassays gives information regarding developments of any tolerance, which could be a precursor, or resistance against the target chemical insecticide, which is an important integrated pest management tool.
    • Identification and distribution of leatherjackets (Tipula spp.) in the Republic of Ireland

      Moffat, A.; Gaffney, M. T.; Brennan, Fiona P.; Cole, L.; Jackson, G.; Konkolewska, A.; McNamara, L.; Teagasc (Teagasc, 2022-12-28)
      The soil-dwelling larval stage of crane flies, commonly known as leatherjackets, are classified as agricultural pests in Europe, and pests of turf in North America and Canada. They cause significant damage and yield loss in many cropping systems through their feeding on plant roots and stems at ground level. The effective chemical control for these pests, chlorpyrifos (available since 1965), was prohibited across Europe in 2019. This has left severely restricted control options for growers. Unlike Northern Ireland and Great Britain, no leatherjacket surveys or routine identifications have been conducted across Ireland. Therefore, the leatherjacket species of agronomic importance has not been confirmed. Since lifecycles, feeding behaviour and damage periods differ between species, identifying the most common species is a vital first step in any pest management strategy. Here we report key findings from a 2-yr structured survey of Irish crops, conducted in 2019 and 2021, where 135 sites were sampled. Both grassland and cereal crops were inspected. Soil cores and soil samples were collected and larval abundance determined. The European crane fly, Tipula paludosa Meigen, accounted for approximately 70% of larvae collected and identified (n = 337). In 2019, 40% of grasslands exceeded the threshold of 1 million larvae/ha, while only 3.3% of cereal fields were over the threshold of 600,000 larvae/ha. These results indicate that agricultural grasslands in Ireland have the potential to be significantly impacted by leatherjacket damage, although this may vary temporally and geographically across the island. Without effective control options, yield losses will be highly probable.
    • An in vitro study to assess bioaccessibility and bioavailability of calcium from blue whiting (Micromesistius poutassou) fish bone powder

      Busca, K.; Wu, S.; Miao, S.; Govindan, A.; Strain, C.R.; O’Donnell, S.T.; Whooley, J.; Gite, S.; Paul Ross, R.; Stanton, C.; et al. (Teagasc, 2021-12-21)
      The aim of this study was to determine how well calcium-rich mineral extracts derived from blue whiting fish bone powders compare with existing calcium sources (commercially available fish bone supplement, calcium carbonate and milk powder) in terms of physicochemical properties, in vitro bioaccessibility and bioavailability using simulated gastrointestinal tract treatment and a Caco-2 cell culture model. Blue whiting calcium-rich fish bone powders (A to E) were supplied by Bio-marine Ingredients Ireland (BII) and a commercial calcium-rich fish bone powder was used as the positive control F. The BII calcium-rich fish bone powders analysed through atomic emission spectrometry were shown to have similar levels of mineral content in comparison with powder F. Solubility and rheology tests were performed on the rehydrated powders. The pH of BII calcium-rich fish bone powders in water solution (10% w/v) ranged from 6.96 to 9.09 compared to control F (pH 7.33). Following simulated oral, gastric and duodenal in vitro digestion using the COST INFOGEST standardised static adult digestion method, the fish powders A, E and F showed higher values of soluble ionic calcium than rehydrated milk powder. We compared in vitro bioavailability of the powders using the Caco-2 cell line to test the effects of calcium on human colonic epithelial cells, which confirmed that calcium from blue whiting fish bone was more bioavailable than calcium from milk and calcium carbonate. These data indicate that calcium-rich blue whiting fish bone powder compares well with existing calcium sources, in terms of physicochemical properties, bioaccessibility and bioavailability.
    • Celebrating 60 years of the Irish Journal of Agricultural and Food Research

      O'Mara, Frank (Teagasc, 2022-12-23)
      This special issue consists of 12 papers, compiled in 2021 — the journal’s anniversary year, providing an overview of the wide range of research undertaken by Teagasc. These papers provide a great source of reference for those interested in Irish agricultural and food research. Topics include forestry, potato breeding and production, pig production, milk quality and processing, meat processing, ruminant nutrition, ruminant breeding, the Agricultural Catchments Programme, grassland, animal health and welfare, and the role of social science in agri food research.
    • Ruminant health research – progress to date and future prospects, with an emphasis on Irish research

      Mee, J.F.; Barrett, D.; Boloña, P. Silva; Conneely, M.; Earley, B.; Fagan, S.; Keane, O.M.; Lane, E.A. (Teagasc, 2022-05-20)
      This review addresses the progress that has been made in ruminant health research over the last 60 yr, with an emphasis on Irish research. The review focuses on the economically important infectious diseases of dairy and beef cattle and of sheep, calf diseases, regulated and non-regulated infectious diseases, lameness, mastitis and parasitoses. The progress to date, current knowledge and future challenges are all addressed. Paradigm shifts have occurred in many of these diseases, the most profound of which is the change from increasing antimicrobial usage (AMU) to the realisation of the challenge of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and the current reduction in AMU. Another major change in thinking is the move away from focus on the pathogen exclusively towards a more holistic view of the roles of host immunity and adequacy of management. In the last 60 yr, many new diseases have emerged but in parallel many new technologies have rapidly evolved to monitor and control these threats to animal health. Irish research has contributed substantially to improved current ruminant health. The major future challenge is how to manage ruminant health in a OneHealth world where animal, human and environmental health and sustainability are intimately intertwined and interdependent.
    • ‘Come aboard’ the systems-based approach: the role of social science in agri-food research and innovation

      Macken-Walsh, Á.; Henchion, M.M.; Regan, Á. (Teagasc, 2022-05-20)
      Increasingly, systems-based approaches are taken in agri-food research and innovation (R&I). Such approaches also align with changes in science governance and new policies related to research impact and responsible research and innovation. However, taking a holistic view of food systems to maximise impact from R&I in a societally acceptable manner poses theoretical and methodological challenges. How can diverse actors come to occupy roles in forming and pursuing common visions towards more sustainable food systems? This paper focuses on how social science can activate, mediate and add rigour to systems-based approaches. An overview is presented of the policy context in which greater attention is paid to systems-based approaches and we present a framework to theoretically and practically support systems-based approaches: transdisciplinarity and the “multi-actor approach” (MAA). These approaches explain practically how different scientific contributions and non-scientific actors can be engaged and unified in creatively addressing R&I challenges. Overall, because social science is used to inform and deliver R&I outcomes that take into account the whole system of actors, their different values and expectations and their interactions and knowledge exchange, it is a crucial source of knowledge for advancing and meeting the challenges of systems-based approaches. Illustrating this, we present a profile of projects where social science has been applied to enhance R&I within a systems-based approach. However, we also signal caveats, qualifications and provisos in applying such approaches. This paper will be of interest to researchers and practitioners planning to incorporate social science to systems-based R&I initiatives to avoid pitfalls and add rigour.
    • Effects of early spring N-fertilisation strategies on grass production and nitrogen recovery

      McNamara, K.A.; Casey, I.; Humphreys, James; European Union; Irish Dairy Levy (Teagasc, 2022-11-02)
      Application rate and application date of fertiliser nitrogen (N) are important factors determining grass production response and N recovery by grassland in spring. This study was conducted at two sites with different soil types (sandy loam and clay loam) in Ireland in spring 2005 and 2006. In comparison with a non-fertilised (zero-N) control, urea N was applied at rates of 60 and 90 kg N/ha either as single or split applications on eight dates ranging between 11 January and 14 March. Grass was harvested on four occasions between 21 February and 25 April. Split fertiliser N applications provided the best outcome in relation to grass DM production, apparent recovery of fertiliser N (ARFN) and cost of additional grass produced compared with single applications. Likewise, in this study the optimum date to commence fertiliser N application was 21 January combined with a second application on 26 February in terms of the cost-effectiveness of the fertiliser N input to increase grass DM production.
    • Lipid and protein oxidation and colour stability during display in high oxygen modified atmosphere packaging of beef from late-maturing bulls fed rumen protected fish oil

      Siphambili, S.; Moloney, Aidan; O'Riordan, Edward G.; McGee, Mark; Monahan, F.J.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 11/SF/322 (Teagasc, 2022-11-02)
      Increasing the concentration of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in beef enhances its nutritional value but may compromise its oxidative shelf life. In this experiment, the impact of inclusion of rumen protected fish oil (PFO) in the finishing diet of late-maturing bulls on muscle fatty acid profile, antioxidant content, lipid stability, colour and protein oxidation was investigated. Charolais-sired suckler bulls were offered ad libitum, for 101 d pre-slaughter, a barley-based concentrate (C) or a concentrate containing rumen PFO. Following post-mortem ageing for 14 d, M. Longissimus thoracis muscle was subjected to simulated retail display (4°C, 1,000 lux for 12 h out of 24 h) for 3, 7 and 10 d in modified atmosphere packs (O2:CO2; 80:20). The concentrations of C22:6n-3, n-6 PUFA and total PUFA and the n-6:n-3 PUFA ratio were higher (P < 0.001) in muscle of PFO bulls compared to C bulls, while the α-tocopherol concentration was lower (P < 0.01). The concentrations of C18:3n-6, C20:4n-6, n-3 PUFA and highly peroxidisable PUFA were lower (P < 0.05) on day 14 compared to day 0 of display. Lipid oxidation after 10 d of display was higher (P < 0.05) in muscle of PFO bulls compared to C bulls but not to an extent that would be detected by a consumer. Colour stability was not affected. It is concluded that the increase in PUFA concentration achieved had minor effects on bull beef shelf life.
    • Field margin botanical diversity, composition and quality on intensively managed farming systems

      Larkin, Julie; Ó hUallacháin, Daire; Finn, John; Sheridan, Helen; Teagasc Walsh Scholarship Programme (Teagasc, 2022-11-02)
      Remaining semi-natural habitats are important refuges for farmland biodiversity, and field margins are one such habitat. Field margins consist of strips of herbaceous vegetation that are located between field boundary features such as hedgerows and the main grassland or arable field. However, little is known about their extent or ecological quality on intensively managed farmlands in Ireland. This lack of knowledge can only be addressed through the application of a standardised assessment methodology, which we developed and implemented in this study. A survey of field margins was conducted on 92 intensively managed farms, across three enterprise types (arable, beef and dairy farms) in Ireland. We describe the botanical composition and assess the ecological quality of field margins based on threshold levels of the percentage cover of positive, neutral and negative botanical indicator species that are predominantly informed by existing European Union (EU)-accepted methods for vegetation classification. Positive indicator species occurred in 77% of margins and had a mean cover of 10%. There was a high incidence of negative indicator species, occurring in 93% of margins with a mean cover of 55%. Using our quality appraisal system, 16% of field margins were of high or very high quality, and the majority (55%) were of low or very low quality. Compared to either arable or dairy farms, beef farms had a greater percentage of higher-quality margins, higher species richness and greater percentage of positive indicator species. Retaining areas of high-quality farmland habitat and enhancing those areas that have become ecologically degraded will be key to achieving the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) objective of protecting landscapes and biodiversity. However, the implementation of appropriate management decisions requires effective evaluation of the current ecological condition of these habitats. Field margins are ubiquitous habitats in Irish farmlands and comprise a significant proportion of overall farmland habitat area. However, our results show that the majority in more intensively managed systems are in a botanically impoverished condition. Our standardised field margin quality assessment technique may offer an appropriate method of tracking change in habitat quality in response to conservation actions to improve habitat quality.
    • Exploring adolescents’ perceptions of dairy farming careers in Ireland: views of students studying agricultural science in secondary school

      Beecher, Marion; Ryan, A.; Gorman, M. (Teagasc, 2022-06-24)
      A global challenge for dairy farmers is the attraction and retention of people to careers in primary agriculture. This study aimed to explore the perceptions of Irish secondary-level students studying agricultural science towards careers in dairy farming. Quantitative data were collected via a national survey (n = 976) prior to collection of qualitative data via two focus groups. Descriptive statistics including frequencies, percentages and means were used to analyse the quantitative data. Data analysis of the survey results identified general themes, which contributed to a deductive assessment of the overarching hypothesis, supplemented by inductive reasoning based on the analysis of the data from the focus groups. From the survey, adolescents perceived dairy farming as a physically demanding job with a poor work–life balance without any extra financial reward compared to other careers. In the focus groups, participants expressed concerns about environmental sustainability and economic viability. They also identified the ageing farming population as making it a less attractive career for young people. The paper supports arguments for greater integration of actual labour market opportunities into the secondary school curriculum to raise aspirations for 21st century careers in dairy farming, among other careers. There is an opportunity within the agricultural science curriculum to encourage students to explore the wide spectrum of emerging careers in food systems including dairy farming through classroom discussion, ideally with a variety of role models employed in the agricultural sector.
    • The distribution, type, popularity, size and availability of river-run gravel and crushed stone for use in land drainage systems and their suitability for mineral soils in Ireland

      Byrne, I.; Healy, M. G.; Fenton, Owen; Tuohy, P. (Teagasc, 2022-06-24)
      The performance of land drainage systems installed in mineral soils in Ireland is highly variable, and is dependent on, amongst other factors, the quality and suitability of the aggregate used. In Ireland, aggregate for land drainage systems is usually river-run gravel and crushed stone. This study classified the distribution, type, popularity, size and availability of aggregates for land drainage systems throughout Ireland and quantified their suitability for use in mineral soils. Eighty-six quarries were surveyed. Limestone and river-run gravel (80% of lithologies) are widespread throughout the country. The quarry aggregate sizes (“Q sizes”), reported by the quarries as either a single size, that is, “50 mm”, or a graded size, that is, 20–40 mm, were variable, changed across lithology and region and were, in most cases, larger than what is currently recommended. A particle size distribution analysis of 74 samples from 62 quarries showed that individual Q sizes increased in variability with increasing aggregate size. In some regions, the aggregate sold does not meet current national regulations, which specify an aggregate size ranging from 10 to 40 mm. The suitability of these aggregates for drainage in five soils of different textures was compared using three established design criteria. It was found that the aggregate in use is too large for heavy soil textures and is therefore unsuitable as drainage envelope material. Guidance for contractors, farmers and quarry owners will be required, and investment may be needed by quarries to produce aggregate that satisfies design criteria. An aggregate size, based on one or a combination of established aggregate design criteria, where an analysis of the soil texture is conducted and an appropriate aggregate is chosen based off its 15% passing size, is required.
    • Developments in nutrition for pasture-based cattle and sheep systems in Ireland

      Patton, J.; Dineen, M.; Keady, T.W.J.; McGee, Mark; Waters, Sinead M. (Teagasc, 2022-03-03)
      For ruminant production systems, the requirement to meet specific nutrient targets in the animal’s diet must be balanced with the aim of achieving high utilisation of forage in the overall feed budget. A focus of research and extension in an Irish industry context has been to meet these objectives using grazed pasture as the predominant forage source. This has prompted investigation to improve understanding of the components defining forage nutritive value, as well as the management factors affecting its intake and utilisation by animals. Similarly, quantifying the animal performance responses to varying type, rate and timing of dietary supplementation has been an important area of investigation. This review summarises some of the principal outcomes and developments over recent years across beef, sheep and dairy production systems. In addition, ruminant production systems are increasingly challenged to reduce potential environmental impacts by mitigating nutrient and gaseous emissions across their production cycles. Current and emerging research with regard to this issue, and enteric methane production in particular, is discussed.
    • Characteristics of robust animals for grass-based production systems

      Delaby, Luc; Buckley, Frank; McHugh, Noirin; Blanc, F. (Teagasc, 2021-12-21)
      A characterisation of dairy, beef and sheep breeds and/or strains best suited to profitable/sustainable production within the context of European [semi] intensive pasture-based systems is presented. To deliver optimal performance, pasture must be managed effectively, but pasture-based systems are less energy intensive, are climate sensitive and induce challenges and constraints not normally posed to animals in intensive feeding environments. This emphasises the importance of animal traits associated with robustness and adaptive abilities. A survey of French dairy farmers concluded that a robust cow is an “invisible” cow with a long lifetime. The traits common to both indoor and grazing systems include: efficient converters of feed to human edible products, functionality, being healthy, reproductively fit and exhibiting longevity. Unique to successful grazing is the capability to achieve large intakes of forage to meet productive potential, an ability to adapt to fluctuating feed supply and, in seasonal systems, the ability to conceive and give birth at the appropriate time each year, usually within 365 d. The breed or strain of choice may differ based on local management constraints and objectives; however, general principles apply, and ideally should be guided by a suitable selection index combining all of the economically important traits appropriate to the local conditions and systems.