• Bi-directional gene set enrichment and canonical correlation analysis identify key diet-sensitive pathways and biomarkers of metabolic syndrome.

      Morine, Melissa J; McMonagle, Jolene; Toomey, Sinead; Reynolds, Clare M; Moloney, Aidan P; Gormley, Isobel C; Gaora, Peadar Ó; Roche, Helen M.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology; Science Foundation Ireland; 5254 (Biomed Central, 2010-10-07)
      Background Currently, a number of bioinformatics methods are available to generate appropriate lists of genes from a microarray experiment. While these lists represent an accurate primary analysis of the data, fewer options exist to contextualise those lists. The development and validation of such methods is crucial to the wider application of microarray technology in the clinical setting. Two key challenges in clinical bioinformatics involve appropriate statistical modelling of dynamic transcriptomic changes, and extraction of clinically relevant meaning from very large datasets. Results Here, we apply an approach to gene set enrichment analysis that allows for detection of bi-directional enrichment within a gene set. Furthermore, we apply canonical correlation analysis and Fisher's exact test, using plasma marker data with known clinical relevance to aid identification of the most important gene and pathway changes in our transcriptomic dataset. After a 28-day dietary intervention with high-CLA beef, a range of plasma markers indicated a marked improvement in the metabolic health of genetically obese mice. Tissue transcriptomic profiles indicated that the effects were most dramatic in liver (1270 genes significantly changed; p < 0.05), followed by muscle (601 genes) and adipose (16 genes). Results from modified GSEA showed that the high-CLA beef diet affected diverse biological processes across the three tissues, and that the majority of pathway changes reached significance only with the bi-directional test. Combining the liver tissue microarray results with plasma marker data revealed 110 CLA-sensitive genes showing strong canonical correlation with one or more plasma markers of metabolic health, and 9 significantly overrepresented pathways among this set; each of these pathways was also significantly changed by the high-CLA diet. Closer inspection of two of these pathways - selenoamino acid metabolism and steroid biosynthesis - illustrated clear diet-sensitive changes in constituent genes, as well as strong correlations between gene expression and plasma markers of metabolic syndrome independent of the dietary effect. Conclusion Bi-directional gene set enrichment analysis more accurately reflects dynamic regulatory behaviour in biochemical pathways, and as such highlighted biologically relevant changes that were not detected using a traditional approach. In such cases where transcriptomic response to treatment is exceptionally large, canonical correlation analysis in conjunction with Fisher's exact test highlights the subset of pathways showing strongest correlation with the clinical markers of interest. In this case, we have identified selenoamino acid metabolism and steroid biosynthesis as key pathways mediating the observed relationship between metabolic health and high-CLA beef. These results indicate that this type of analysis has the potential to generate novel transcriptome-based biomarkers of disease.
    • Biologic response of animals to husbandry stress with implications for biomedical models

      Earley, Bernadette; Buckham-Sporer, Kelly; Gupta, Sandeep; Pang, Wanyong; Ting, Simon (Dove Press, 2010-08-04)
      The quality of life of animals is defined by a range of parameters including health, physiology, and behavior. Stress is defined as any damaging strain, force, or agent which stimulates a physiologic defense reaction and is capable under certain circumstances of producing pathologic lesions. Disruption to normal homeostasis can impinge on other biologic processes such as metabolism, cardiovascular activity, immune function, and behavior. In general, chronic stress is considered to have a greater potential impact on animal health and welfare than acute stress, because the animals are exposed and reacting to the stressor(s) for longer periods, thereby causing prolonged disruption to homeostasis and related biologic processes. Impaired coping responses may trigger specific alterations in behavior, organ damage, reduced performance, increased susceptibility to disease, and subfertility. At a molecular level, immune function is mediated by the release of cytokines, nonantibody messenger molecules from a variety of cells of the immune system and from other cells, such as endothelial cells. Biochemical alterations in immune function are, in part, induced by plasma hormone concentration changes elicited by a stressor subsequent to activation of the sympathetic nervous system, the sympathetic adrenomedullary axis, and the hypothalamo–pituitary–adrenocortical axis.
    • Body and carcass measurements, carcass conformation and tissue distribution of high dairy genetic merit Holstein, standard dairy genetic merit Friesian and Charolais x Holstein-Friesian male cattle

      McGee, Mark; Keane, Michael G.; Neilan, R.; Moloney, Aidan P; Caffrey, P.J. (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2007)
      The increased proportion of Holstein genes in the dairy herd may have undesirable consequences for beef production in Ireland. A total of 72 spring-born calves, (24 Holstein (HO), 24 Friesian (FR) and 24 Charolais X Holstein-Friesian (CH)) were reared from calfhood to slaughter. Calves were artificially reared indoors and spent their first summer at pasture following which they were assigned to a 3 breeds (HO, FR and CH) 2 production systems (intensive 19-month bull beef and extensive 25-month steer beef) 2 slaughter weights (560 and 650 kg) factorial experiment. Body measurements of all animals were recorded at the same time before the earliest slaughter date. After slaughter, carcasses were graded and measured and the pistola hind-quarter was separated into fat, bone and muscle. HO had significantly higher values for withers height, pelvic height and chest depth than FR, which in turn had higher values than CH. HO had a longer back and a narrower chest than either FR or CH, which were not significantly different. Carcass length and depth, pistola length, and leg length were 139.2, 134.4 and 132.0 (s.e. 0.81), 52.1, 51.3 and 47.7 (s.e. 0.38), 114.4, 109.0 and 107.0 (s.e. 0.65) and 76.7, 71.9 and 71.4 (s.e. 0.44) cm for HO, FR and CH, respectively. Breed differences in pistola tissue distribution between the joints were small and confined to the distal pelvic limb and ribs. There were relatively small breed differences in the distribution of pistola muscle weight between individual muscles. Body measurements were significantly greater for animals on the intensive system (bulls) than the extensive system (steers) in absolute terms, but the opposite was so when they were expressed relative to live weight. The only significant difference in relative carcass measurements between the production systems was for carcass depth, which was lower for the intensive compared with the extensive system. Increasing slaughter weight significantly increased all carcass measurements in absolute terms but reduced them relative to weight. It is concluded that there were large differences between the breed types in body and carcass measurements, and hence in carcass shape and compactness but differences in tissue distribution were small.
    • Body condition score and live-weight effects on milk production in Irish Holstein-Friesian dairy cows

      Berry, Donagh P.; Buckley, Frank; Dillon, Pat; Allied Irish Bank; Artificial Insemination Managers Association;; Holstein-Friesian Society of Great Britain and Ireland; Dairy Levy Research Trust; European Union (Cambridge University Press, 2007-10)
      The objective of the present study was to quantify the relationships among body condition score (BCS; scale 1 to 5), live weight (WT) and milk production in Irish Holstein-Friesian spring calving dairy cows. Data were from 66 commercial dairy herds during the years 1999 and 2000. The data consisted of up to 9886 lactations with records for BCS or WT at least once pre-calving, or at calving, nadir or 60 days post-calving. Change in BCS and WT was also calculated between time periods. Mixed models with cow included as a random effect were used to quantify the effect of BCS and WT, as well as change in each trait, on milk yield, milk fat concentration and milk protein concentration. Significant and sometimes curvilinear associations were observed among BCS at calving or nadir and milk production. Total 305-day milk yield was greatest in cows calving at a BCS of 4.25 units. However, cows calving at a BCS of 3.50 units produced only 68 kg less milk than cows calving at a BCS of 4.25 units while cows calving at 3.25 or 3.00 BCS units produced a further 50 and 114 kg less, respectively. Cows that lost more condition in early lactation produced more milk of greater fat and protein concentration, although the trend reversed in cows that lost large amounts of condition post-calving. Milk yield increased with WT although the marginal effect decreased as cows got heavier. Milk fat and protein concentration in early lactation also increased with WT pre-calving, calving and nadir, although WT did not significantly affect average lactation milk fat concentration.
    • The bovine paranasal sinuses: Bacterial flora, epithelial expression of nitric oxide and potential role in the in-herd persistence of respiratory disease pathogens

      Murray, Gerard M.; O'Neill, Ronan G.; Lee, Alison M.; McElroy, Maire; More, Simon J.; Monagle, Aisling; Earley, Bernadette; Cassidy, Joseph P. (PLOS, 2017-03-10)
      The bovine paranasal sinuses are a group of complex cavernous air-filled spaces, lined by respiratory epithelium, the exact function of which is unclear. While lesions affecting these sinuses are occasionally reported in cattle, their microbial flora has not been defined. Furthermore, given that the various bacterial and viral pathogens causing bovine respiratory disease (BRD) persist within herds, we speculated that the paranasal sinuses may serve as a refuge for such infectious agents. The paranasal sinuses of clinically normal cattle (n = 99) and of cattle submitted for post-mortem examination (PME: n = 34) were examined by microbial culture, PCR and serology to include bacterial and viral pathogens typically associated with BRD: Mycoplasma bovis, Histophilus somni, Mannheimia haemolytica and Pasteurella multocida, bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV) and bovine parainfluenza-3 virus (BPIV-3). Overall, the paranasal sinuses were either predominantly sterile or did not contain detectable microbes (83.5%: 94.9% of clinically normal and 50.0% of cattle submitted for PME). Bacteria, including BRD causing pathogens, were identified in relatively small numbers of cattle (<10%). While serology indicated widespread exposure of both clinically normal and cattle submitted for PME to BPIV-3 and BRSV (seroprevalences of 91.6% and 84.7%, respectively), PCR identified BPIV-3 in only one animal. To further explore these findings we investigated the potential role of the antimicrobial molecule nitric oxide (NO) within paranasal sinus epithelium using immunohistochemistry. Expression of the enzyme responsible for NO synthesis, inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), was detected to varying degrees in 76.5% of a sub-sample of animals suggesting production of this compound plays a similar protective role in the bovine sinus as it does in humans.
    • Bovine proteins containing poly-glutamine repeats are often polymorphic and enriched for components of transcriptional regulatory complexes

      Whan, Vicki; Hobbs, Matthew; McWilliam, Sean; Lynn, David J; Lutzow, Ylva S; Khatkar, Mehar; Barendse, William; Raadsma, Herman; Tellam, Ross L; Dairy Australia (Biomed Central, 23/11/2010)
      Background: About forty human diseases are caused by repeat instability mutations. A distinct subset of these diseases is the result of extreme expansions of polymorphic trinucleotide repeats; typically CAG repeats encoding poly-glutamine (poly-Q) tracts in proteins. Polymorphic repeat length variation is also apparent in human poly-Q encoding genes from normal individuals. As these coding sequence repeats are subject to selection in mammals, it has been suggested that normal variations in some of these typically highly conserved genes are implicated in morphological differences between species and phenotypic variations within species. At present, poly-Q encoding genes in non-human mammalian species are poorly documented, as are their functions and propensities for polymorphic variation. Results: The current investigation identified 178 bovine poly-Q encoding genes (Q ≥ 5) and within this group, 26 genes with orthologs in both human and mouse that did not contain poly-Q repeats. The bovine poly-Q encoding genes typically had ubiquitous expression patterns although there was bias towards expression in epithelia, brain and testes. They were also characterised by unusually large sizes. Analysis of gene ontology terms revealed that the encoded proteins were strongly enriched for functions associated with transcriptional regulation and many contributed to physical interaction networks in the nucleus where they presumably act cooperatively in transcriptional regulatory complexes. In addition, the coding sequence CAG repeats in some bovine genes impacted mRNA splicing thereby generating unusual transcriptional diversity, which in at least one instance was tissue-specific. The poly-Q encoding genes were prioritised using multiple criteria for their likelihood of being polymorphic and then the highest ranking group was experimentally tested for polymorphic variation within a cattle diversity panel. Extensive and meiotically stable variation was identified. Conclusions: Transcriptional diversity can potentially be generated in poly-Q encoding genes by the impact of CAG repeat tracts on mRNA alternative splicing. This effect, combined with the physical interactions of the encoded proteins in large transcriptional regulatory complexes suggests that polymorphic variations of proteins in these complexes have strong potential to affect phenotype.
    • Breeding the dairy cow of the future: what do we need?

      Berry, Donagh P. (CSIRO, 2015-06)
      Genetics is responsible for approximately half the observed changes in animal performance in well structured breeding programs. Key characteristics of the dairy cow of the future include (1) production of a large quantity of high-value output (i.e. milk and meat), (2) good reproductive performance, (3) good health status, (4) good longevity, (5) no requirement for a large quantity of feed, yet being able to eat sufficient feed to meet its requirements, (6) easy to manage (i.e. easy calving, docile), (7) good conformation (over and above reflective of health, reproductive performance and longevity), (8) low environmental footprint, and (9) resilience to external perturbations. Pertinent and balanced breeding goals must be developed and implemented to achieve this type of animal; excluding any characteristic from the breeding goal could be detrimental for genetic gain in this characteristic. Attributes currently not explicitly considered in most dairy-cow breeding objectives include product quality, feed intake and efficiency, and environmental footprint; animal health is poorly represented in most breeding objectives. Lessons from the past deterioration in reproductive performance in the global Holstein population remind us of the consequences of ignoring or failing to monitor certain animal characteristics. More importantly, however, current knowledge clearly demonstrates that once unfavourable trends have been identified and the appropriate breeding strategy implemented, the reversal of genetic trends is achievable, even for low-heritability traits such as reproductive performance. Genetic variation exists in all the characteristics described. In the genomics era, the relevance of heritability statistics for most traits is less; the exception is traits not amenable to routine measurement in large populations. Phenotyping strategies (e.g. more detailed phenotypes, larger population) will remain a key component of an animal breeding strategy to achieve the cow of the future as well as providing the necessary tools and information to monitor performance. The inclusion of genomic information in genetic evaluations is, and will continue, to improve the accuracy of genetic evaluations, which, in turn, will augment genetic gain; genomics, however, can also contribute to gains in performance over and above support of increased genetic gain. Nonetheless, the faster genetic gain and thus reduced ability to purge out unfavourable alleles necessitates the appropriate breeding goal and breeding scheme and very close monitoring of performance, in particular for traits not included in the breeding goals. Developments in other disciplines (e.g. reproductive technologies), coupled with commercial struggle for increased market share of the breeding industry, imply a possible change in the landscape of dairy-cow breeding in the future.
    • Calf health from birth to weaning. I. General aspects of disease prevention

      Lorenz, Ingrid; Mee, John F; Earley, Bernadette; More, Simon J (Biomed Central, 2011-09-16)
      Calfhood diseases have a major impact on the economic viability of cattle operations. This is the first in a three part review series on calf health from birth to weaning, focusing on preventive measures. The review considers both pre- and periparturient management factors influencing calf health, colostrum management in beef and dairy calves and further nutrition and weaning in dairy calves.
    • Calf health from birth to weaning. III. Housing and management of calf pneumonia

      Lorenz, Ingrid; Earley, Bernadette; Gilmore, John; Hogan, Ian; Kennedy, Emer; More, Simon J (Biomed Central, 2011-10-21)
      Calfhood diseases have a major impact on the economic viability of cattle operations. A three part review series has been developed focusing on calf health from birth to weaning. In this paper, the last of the three part series, we review disease prevention and management with particular reference to pneumonia, focusing primarily on the pre-weaned calf. Pneumonia in recently weaned suckler calves is also considered, where the key risk factors are related to the time of weaning. Weaning of the suckler calf is often combined with additional stressors including a change in nutrition, environmental change, transport and painful husbandry procedures (castration, dehorning). The reduction of the cumulative effects of these multiple stressors around the time of weaning together with vaccination programmes (preconditioning) can reduce subsequent morbidity and mortality in the feedlot. In most studies, calves housed individually and calves housed outdoors with shelter, are associated with decreased risk of disease. Even though it poses greater management challenges, successful group housing of calves is possible. Special emphasis should be given to equal age groups and to keeping groups stable once they are formed. The management of pneumonia in calves is reliant on a sound understanding of aetiology, relevant risk factors, and of effective approaches to diagnosis and treatment. Early signs of pneumonia include increased respiratory rate and fever, followed by depression. The single most important factor determining the success of therapy in calves with pneumonia is early onset of treatment, and subsequent adequate duration of treatment. The efficacy and economical viability of vaccination against respiratory disease in calves remains unclear.
    • A case of bovine raw milk contamination with Listeria monocytogenes

      Hunt, Karen; Drummond, Niall; Murphy, Mary; Butler, Francis; Buckley, Jim; Jordan, Kieran; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; European Union (Biomed Central, 06/07/2012)
      During routine sampling of bulk raw milk on a dairy farm, the pathogenic bacteria Listeria monocytogenes was found to be a contaminant, at numbers < 100 cfu/ml. A strain with an indistinguishable pulsed-field gel electrophoresis pattern was isolated from the bulk milk two months later. Environmental swabs taken at the dairy environment were negative for the presence of L. monocytogenes, indicating a possible case of excretion of the L. monocytogenes directly into the milk. Milk samples were collected from the individual cows and analysed, resulting in the identification of L. monocytogenes excretion (at 280 cfu/ml) from one of the 4 mammary quarters of one dairy cow out of 180. When the infected cow was isolated from the herd, no L. monocytogenes was detected from the remaining herd. The pulsed-field gel electrophoresis pattern of the strain from the individual cow was indistinguishable from that originally isolated from the bulk milk. The infected cow did not show any clinical signs of disease, nor did the appearance of the milk have any physical abnormalities. Antibiotic treatment of the infected mammary quarter was found to be ineffective. This study shows that there can be risks associated with direct contamination of raw milk with L. monocytogenes.
    • A catalogue of validated single nucleotide polymorphisms in bovine orthologs of mammalian imprinted genes and associations with beef production traits

      Magee, D. A.; Berkowicz, Erik W; Sikora, K. M.; Berry, Donagh P.; Park, S. D. E.; Kelly, A. K.; Sweeney, T.; Kenny, David A.; Evans, R. D.; Wickham, B. W.; Spillane, C.; MacHugh, D. E.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Science Foundation Ireland; RSF 06 406; SFI/01/F.1/B028 (Cambridge University Press, 2010-06)
      Genetic (or ‘genomic’) imprinting, a feature of approximately 100 mammalian genes, results in monoallelic expression from one of the two parentally inherited chromosomes. To date, most studies have been directed on imprinted genes in murine or human models; however, there is burgeoning interest in the effects of imprinted genes in domestic livestock species. In particular, attention has focused on imprinted genes that influence foetal growth and development and that are associated with several economically important production traits in cattle, sheep and pigs. We have re-sequenced regions in 20 candidate bovine imprinted genes in order to validate single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that may influence important production traits in cattle. Putative SNPs detected via re-sequencing were subsequently re-formatted for high-throughput SNP genotyping in 185 cattle samples comprising 138 performance-tested European Bos taurus (all Limousin bulls), 29 African B. taurus and 18 Indian B. indicus samples. Analysis of the resulting genotypic data identified 117 validated SNPs. Preliminary genotype–phenotype association analyses using 83 SNPs that were polymorphic in the Limousin samples with minor allele frequencies >0.05 revealed significant associations between two candidate bovine imprinted genes and a range of important beef production traits: average daily gain, average feed intake, live weight, feed conversion ratio, residual feed intake and residual gain. These genes were the Ras proteinspecific guanine nucleotide releasing factor gene ( RASGRF1) and the zinc finger, imprinted 2 gene ( ZIM2). Despite the relatively small sample size used in these analyses, the observed associations with production traits are supported by the purported biological function of the RASGRF1 and ZIM2 gene products. These results support the hypothesis that imprinted genes contribute significantly to important complex production traits in cattle. Furthermore, these SNPs may be usefully incorporated into future marker-assisted and genomic selection breeding schemes.
    • Characterisation and expression profile of the bovine cathelicidin gene repertoire in mammary tissue

      Whelehan, Cormac J; Barry-Reidy, Anne; Meade, Kieran G; Eckersall, P David; Chapwanya, Aspinas; Narciandi, Fernando; Lloyd, Andrew T; O'Farrelly, Cliona; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Biomed Central, 2014-02-13)
      Abstract Background Cathelicidins comprise a major group of host-defence peptides. Conserved across a wide range of species, they have several functions related to host defence. Only one cathelicidin has been found in humans but several cathelicidin genes occur in the bovine genome. We propose that these molecules may have a protective role against mastitis. The aim of this study was to characterise the cathelicidin gene-cluster in the bovine genome and to identify sites of expression in the bovine mammary gland. Results Bioinformatic analysis of the bovine genome (BosTau7) revealed seven protein-coding cathelicidin genes, CATHL1-7, including two identical copies of CATHL4, as well as three additional putative cathelicidin genes, all clustered on the long arm of chromosome 22. Six of the seven protein-coding genes were expressed in leukocytes extracted from milk of high somatic cell count (SCC) cows. CATHL5 was expressed across several sites in the mammary gland, but did not increase in response to Staphylococcus aureus infection. Conclusions Here, we characterise the bovine cathelicidin gene cluster and reconcile inconsistencies in the datasets of previous studies. Constitutive cathelicidin expression in the mammary gland suggests a possible role for these host defence peptides its protection. Background Cathelicidins comprise a major group of host-defence peptides. Conserved across a wide range of species, they have several functions related to host defence. Only one cathelicidin has been found in humans but several cathelicidin genes occur in the bovine genome. We propose that these molecules may have a protective role against mastitis. The aim of this study was to characterise the cathelicidin gene-cluster in the bovine genome and to identify sites of expression in the bovine mammary gland. Results Bioinformatic analysis of the bovine genome (BosTau7) revealed seven protein-coding cathelicidin genes, CATHL1-7, including two identical copies of CATHL4, as well as three additional putative cathelicidin genes, all clustered on the long arm of chromosome 22. Six of the seven protein-coding genes were expressed in leukocytes extracted from milk of high somatic cell count (SCC) cows. CATHL5 was expressed across several sites in the mammary gland, but did not increase in response to Staphylococcus aureus infection. Conclusions Here, we characterise the bovine cathelicidin gene cluster and reconcile inconsistencies in the datasets of previous studies. Constitutive cathelicidin expression in the mammary gland suggests a possible role for these host defence peptides its protection.
    • Characterisation of dairy soiled water in a survey of 60 Irish dairy farms

      Minogue, Denis; French, Padraig; Bolger, T.; Murphy, P. N. C. (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2016-01-13)
      Dairy farming in Ireland generates an effluent known as dairy soiled water (DSW), which consists of a relatively dilute mixture of cow faeces, urine, spilt milk and detergents that is typically applied to grassland. However, relatively little is known about the volumes generated, nutrient content and management factors that influence volume and concentration. Sixty dairy farms that had a separate storage tank for storing DSW were selected for this study. The spatial distribution of the farms reflected the spatial distribution of dairy cows across the 26 counties of the Republic of Ireland, with each farm representing between 10,000 and 20,000 dairy cows. Samples were analysed for biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), ammonium N (NH4-N), total nitrogen (TN), potassium (K), phosphorus (molybdate-reactive and total) (MRP and TP) and dry matter (DM) content. Management characteristics and parlour properties were quantified. Factors influencing volume and concentration of DSW were determined using mixed model multiple regression analysis. On average, 9784 l (standard error 209 l) of DSW, including rainfall, was produced cow−1 year−1 and this contained significant quantities of total N, P and K (587, 80 and 568 mg l−1, respectively). A typical Irish dairy farm stocked at 1.9 cows ha−1 could therefore supply approximately 13, 2 and 12 kg ha−1 of total N, P and K, respectively, across the farm, annually to meet some of the nutrient requirements for herbage production and potentially replace some of the synthetic fertilizer use. Seventy one percent of samples were within the regulated concentration limits of soiled water for BOD (<2500 mg l−1), rising to 87% during the closed period for slurry spreading (mid October to mid-late January), while 81% were within the concentration limits for DM (<1% DM), rising to 94% during the closed period. The efficiency of a milking parlour (cows per unit, time taken) plays a key role in determining the volume of DSW generated. This, in turn, also influences the concentration of nutrients and other chemicals. Large variability was found in nutrient concentrations and this presents a challenge for effective nutrient management to maximise the fertilizer replacement value of DSW.
    • Characterisation of physiological and immunological responses in beef cows to abrupt weaning and subsequent housing

      Lynch, Eilish M; Earley, Bernadette; McGee, Mark; Doyle, Sean; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; John Hume Scholarship (Biomed Central, 2010-07-20)
      Background: Weaning involves the permanent separation of the calf from the dam and has been shown to be stressful for both. The objectives of this study were to characterise the effect of i) abrupt weaning and ii) subsequent housing on the extended physiological and immunological responses of beef cows. At weaning (day (d) 0, mean age of calf (s.d.) 212 (24.5) d), cows were abruptly separated from their calves and returned to the grazing area. After 35 d at pasture, cows were housed in a slatted floor shed and offered grass silage ad libitum plus a mineral-vitamin supplement daily. Rectal body temperature was recorded and blood samples were obtained on i) d 0 (weaning), 2, 7, 14, 21, 28, 35 and subsequently on ii) d 0 (housing), 2, 7, 14 and 21 for physiological, haematological and immunological measurements. Results: Post-weaning, concentration of cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone were unchanged (P > 0.05). Rectal body temperature, neutrophil number and neutrophil: lymphocyte ratio increased (P < 0.01) on d 2 compared with pre-weaning baseline. Lymphocyte and neutrophil number decreased (P < 0.05) on d 2 to 7 and d 7 to 21, respectively, compared with pre-weaning baseline. Interferon-γ production decreased (P < 0.05) on d 2 compared with pre-weaning baseline. An increase (P < 0.05) in acute phase proteins, fibrinogen and haptoglobin was evident on d 2 to 35 compared with pre-weaning baseline. Concentration of glucose increased on d 2 to 28, whereas non-esterified fatty acid decreased on d 2 to 35 compared with pre-weaning baseline. Post-housing, concentrations of cortisol, rectal body temperature, total leukocyte number, and glucose were unchanged (P > 0.05). On d 2 post-housing, neutrophil number and neutrophil: lymphocyte ratio increased (P < 0.05), whereas lymphocyte number and concentrations of dehydroepiandrosterone, fibrinogen and non-esterified fatty acid decreased (P < 0.05) compared with pre-housing baseline. Concentration of haptoglobin increased (P < 0.05) on d 14 to 21 post-housing. Conclusions: A transitory increase in neutrophil number and decrease in lymphocyte number, increased neutrophil:lymphocyte ratio coupled with decreased interferon-γ production, and increased concentration of acute phase proteins indicate a stress response in cows post-weaning, whereas post-housing, changes were less marked.
    • Characterisation of the Whole Blood mRNA Transcriptome in Holstein-Friesian and Jersey Calves in Response to Gradual Weaning

      Johnston, D.; Earley, Bernadette; Cormican, Paul; Kenny, David A.; McCabe, Matthew; Kelly, A. K.; McGee, Mark; Waters, Sinead M.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; European Union; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; RSF 11/S/16; 311825; WF2013216 (PLOS, 2016-08-01)
      Weaning of dairy calves is an early life husbandry management practice which involves the changeover from a liquid to a solid feed based diet. The objectives of the study were to use RNA-seq technology to examine the effect of (i) breed and (ii) gradual weaning, on the whole blood mRNA transcriptome of artificially reared Holstein-Friesian and Jersey calves. The calves were gradually weaned over 14 days (day (d) -13 to d 0) and mRNA transcription was examined one day before gradual weaning was initiated (d -14), one day after weaning (d 1), and 8 days after weaning (d 8). On d -14, 550 genes were differentially expressed between Holstein-Friesian and Jersey calves, while there were 490 differentially expressed genes (DEG) identified on d 1, and 411 DEG detected eight days after weaning (P < 0.05; FDR < 0.1). No genes were differentially expressed within breed, in response to gradual weaning (P > 0.05). The pathways, gene ontology terms, and biological functions consistently over-represented among the DEG between Holstein-Friesian and Jersey were associated with the immune response and immune cell signalling, specifically chemotaxis. Decreased transcription of several cytokines, chemokines, immunoglobulin-like genes, phagocytosis-promoting receptors and g-protein coupled receptors suggests decreased monocyte, natural killer cell, and T lymphocyte, chemotaxis and activation in Jersey compared to Holstein-Friesian calves. Knowledge of breed-specific immune responses could facilitate health management practices better tailored towards specific disease sensitivities of Holstein-Friesian and Jersey calves. Gradual weaning did not compromise the welfare of artificially-reared dairy calves, evidenced by the lack of alterations in the expression of any genes in response to gradual weaning.
    • Colour of subcutaneous adipose tissue and muscle of Irish beef carcasses destined for the Italian market.

      Dunne, Peter G.; O'Mara, Frank P.; Monahan, Frank J; Moloney, Aidan P; National Development Plan, 2000–2006; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2004)
      The purposes of this study were (i) to objectively measure the colour of carcass fat and muscle of heifers that had been previously selected, subjectively, for the Italian market and (ii) to define instrumental colour values which would describe the required fat colour for that market. On one day during each of 5 months (11 April, 13 June, 10 October, 10 November and 19 December) the ‘b’ (yellowness) value of carcass fat was measured at two positions (proximal pelvic limb area and the area between 9th rib and 4th lumbar vertebra) and the ‘L’ (lightness) and ‘a’ (redness) values of two muscles (M. longissimus dorsi (LD) and M. rhomboideus thoracis (RT)) were measured using a Minolta chromameter. Measurement date had a significant effect (P < 0.05) on ‘b’ values of fat at both positions, with carcasses displaying the most yellow fat on 13 June (P < 0.05). The LD was palest and most red on 11 April (P < 0.05) and the RT tended to be palest on 13 June but most red (P < 0.05) on 11 April. The ‘L’ value differed between muscles on 11 April (P < 0.01) and 19 December (P < 0.05) and the ‘a’ value differed between muscles on all dates except 13 June. The majority of carcasses on each date fell between muscle ‘L’ values of 31 and 35, regardless of muscle, and between muscle ‘a’ values of 18 and 22. It is concluded that application of a “cut-off” value to muscle colour would be futile but as 81% of accepted carcasses had fat ‘b’ values below 14.2, regardless of position, that this could be used as a threshold of acceptable yellowness.
    • Comparative genomic identification and validation of β-defensin genes in the Ovis aries genome

      Hall, T. J; McQuillan, C.; Finlay, E. K; O’Farrelly, C.; Fair, S.; Meade, Kieran G.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 11/S/104 (Biomed Central, 2017-04-04)
      Background β-defensins are small, cationic, antimicrobial peptides found in species across the plant and animal kingdoms. In addition to microbiocidal activity, roles in immunity as well as reproduction have more recently been documented. β-defensin genes in Ovis aries (domestic sheep) have been poorly annotated, having been identified only by automatic gene prediction algorithms. The objective of this study was to use a comparative genomics approach to identify and characterise the β-defensin gene repertoire in sheep using the bovine genome as the primary reference. Results All 57 currently predicted bovine β-defensin genes were used to find orthologous sequences in the most recent version of the sheep genome (OAR v4.0). Forty three genes were found to have close genomic matches (>70% similarity) between sheep and cattle. The orthologous genes were located in four clusters across the genome, with 4 genes on chromosome 2, 19 genes on chromosome 13, 5 genes on chromosome 20 and 15 genes on chromosome 26. Conserved gene order for the β-defensin genes was apparent in the two smaller clusters, although gene order was reversed on chromosome 2, suggesting an inversion between sheep and cattle. Complete conservation of gene order was also observed for chromosome 13 β-defensin orthologs. More structural differences were apparent between chromosome 26 genes and the orthologous region in the bovine reference genome, which is known to be copy-number variable. In this cluster, the Defensin-beta 1 (DEFB1) gene matched to eleven Bovine Neutrophil beta-Defensin (BNBD) genes on chromosome 27 with almost uniform similarity, as well as to tracheal, enteric and lingual anti-microbial peptides (TAP, EAP and LAP), suggesting that annotation of the bovine reference sequence is still incomplete. qPCR was used to profile the expression of 34 β-defensin genes, representing each of the four clusters, in the ram reproductive tract. Distinct site-specific and differential expression profiles were detected across the reproductive tract of mature rams with preferential β-defensin gene expression in the epididymis, recapitulating observations for orthologous genes in other species. Conclusions This is the first comprehensive analysis of β-defensin genes encoded by the ovine reference sequence, and the first report of an expanded repertoire of β-defensin genes in this species. The preferential expression of these genes in the epididymis suggests a role in fertility, possibly providing immunoprotection for sperm within the female reproductive tract.
    • Comparative performance and economic appraisal of Holstein-Friesian, Jersey and Jersey×Holstein-Friesian cows under seasonal pasture-based management

      Prendiville, R.; Shalloo, Laurence; Pierce, K.M.; Buckley, Frank; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; RSF-06-353 (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2011)
      The objective of this study was to provide comparative performance data for Holstein- Friesian (HF), Jersey (J) and Jersey×Holstein-Friesian (F1) cows under a seasonal pasture-based management system and to simulate the effect of cow breed on farm profitability. Data for a total of 329 lactations, from 162 (65 HF, 48 J and 49 F1) cows, were available. Milk yield was highest for HF, intermediate for F1 and lowest for J, while milk fat and protein concentrations were highest for J, intermediate for F1 and lowest for HF. Yield of fat plus protein was highest for F1, intermediate for HF and lowest for J. Mean bodyweight was 523, 387 and 466 kg for HF, J and F1, respectively. Body condition score was greater for the J and F1 compared to HF. Reproductive efficiency was similar for the HF and J but superior for the F1. The Moorepark Dairy Systems Model was used to simulate a 40 ha farm integrating biological data for each breed group. Milk output was highest for systems based on HF cows. Total sales of milk solids and, consequently, milk receipts were higher with J and F1 compared to HF. Total costs were lowest with F1 cows, intermediate with HF and highest with J. Overall farm profitability was highest with F1 cows, intermediate with HF and lowest with J. Sensitivity analysis of milk price, fat to protein price ratio and differences in cost of replacement heifers showed no re-ranking of the breed groups for farm profit.
    • Comparing the immune response to a novel intranasal nanoparticle PLGA vaccine and a commercial BPI3V vaccine in dairy calves

      Mansoor, Fawad; Earley, Bernadette; Cassidy, Joseph P; Markey, Bryan; Doherty, Simon; Welsh, Michael D; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Biomed Central, 2015-08-21)
      Background There is a need to improve vaccination against respiratory pathogens in calves by stimulation of local immunity at the site of pathogen entry at an early stage in life. Ideally such a vaccine preparation would not be inhibited by the maternally derived antibodies. Additionally, localized immune response at the site of infection is also crucial to control infection at the site of entry of virus. The present study investigated the response to an intranasal bovine parainfluenza 3 virus (BPI3V) antigen preparation encapsulated in PLGA (poly dl-lactic-co-glycolide) nanoparticles in the presence of pre-existing anti-BPI3V antibodies in young calves and comparing it to a commercially available BPI3V respiratory vaccine. Results There was a significant (P < 0.05) increase in BPI3V-specific IgA in the nasal mucus of the BPI3V nanoparticle vaccine group alone. Following administration of the nanoparticle vaccine an early immune response was induced that continued to grow until the end of study and was not observed in the other treatment groups. Virus specific serum IgG response to both the nanoparticle vaccine and commercial live attenuated vaccine showed a significant (P < 0.05) rise over the period of study. However, the cell mediated immune response observed didn’t show any significant rise in any of the treatment groups. Conclusion Calves administered the intranasal nanoparticle vaccine induced significantly greater mucosal IgA responses, compared to the other treatment groups. This suggests an enhanced, sustained mucosal-based immunological response to the BPI3V nanoparticle vaccine in the face of pre-existing antibodies to BPI3V, which are encouraging and potentially useful characteristics of a candidate vaccine. However, ability of nanoparticle vaccine in eliciting cell mediated immune response needs further investigation. More sustained local mucosal immunity induced by nanoparticle vaccine has obvious potential if it translates into enhanced protective immunity in the face of virus outbreak.
    • A comparison of 4 predictive models of calving assistance and difficulty in dairy heifers and cows

      Fenlon, Caroline; O'Grady, Luke; Mee, John F; Butler, Stephen T.; Doherty, Michael L.; Dunnion, John; Dairy Research Ireland (Elsevier, 21/09/2017)
      The aim of this study was to build and compare predictive models of calving difficulty in dairy heifers and cows for the purpose of decision support and simulation modeling. Models to predict 3 levels of calving difficulty (unassisted, slight assistance, and considerable or veterinary assistance) were created using 4 machine learning techniques: multinomial regression, decision trees, random forests, and neural networks. The data used were sourced from 2,076 calving records in 10 Irish dairy herds. In total, 19.9 and 5.9% of calving events required slight assistance and considerable or veterinary assistance, respectively. Variables related to parity, genetics, BCS, breed, previous calving, and reproductive events and the calf were included in the analysis. Based on a stepwise regression modeling process, the variables included in the models were the dam's direct and maternal calving difficulty predicted transmitting abilities (PTA), BCS at calving, parity; calving assistance or difficulty at the previous calving; proportion of Holstein breed; sire breed; sire direct calving difficulty PTA; twinning; and 2-way interactions between calving BCS and previous calving difficulty and the direct calving difficulty PTA of dam and sire. The models were built using bootstrapping procedures on 70% of the data set. The held-back 30% of the data was used to evaluate the predictive performance of the models in terms of discrimination and calibration. The decision tree and random forest models omitted the effect of twinning and included only subsets of sire breeds. Only multinomial regression and neural networks explicitly included the modeled interactions. Calving BCS, calving difficulty PTA, and previous calving assistance ranked as highly important variables for all 4 models. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (ranging from 0.64 to 0.79) indicates that all of the models had good overall discriminatory power. The neural network and multinomial regression models performed best, correctly classifying 75% of calving cases and showing superior calibration, with an average error in predicted probability of 3.7 and 4.5%, respectively. The neural network and multinomial regression models developed are both suitable for use in decision-support and simulation modeling.