• 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. (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 (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 (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. (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 (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. (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 (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 (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.
    • Comparison of breed of dairy cow under grass-based spring milk production systems

      Buckley, Frank; Walsh, S.; Dillon, Pat (Teagasc, 2006-01-01)
      The objective of this study was to investigate the potential differences among different dairy cow breeds across two feeding systems on milk production, udder health, milking characteristics, body weight, body condition score, hormone parameters, ovarian function, survival and overall reproductive efficiency. The breeds investigated included Holstein-Friesian (HF), Montbéliarde (MB), Normande (NM), Norwegian Red (NRF) and Holstein- Friesian × Montbéliarde (MBX) and Holstein- Friesian × Normande (NMX). Selection within the HF breed has, until recently, been predominantly for milk production with little or no direct selection for functional traits other than those correlated with superior type. The MB and the NM have been simultaneously selected for both milk and beef production in the past. The NRF were imported as calves and come from a more balanced total merit index incorporating production and cow functionality since the early 1970s. The dairy cow breeds were grouped into blocks of two within breed groups and randomized across two spring-calving grass-based feeding systems: low concentrate feeding system (LC) and high concentrate feeding system (HC). Those on LC feeding system were offered approximately 530 kg/cow over the total lactation, while those on HC feeding system were offered approximately 1030 kg/cow.
    • Comparison of breed of dairy cow under grass-based spring milk production systems.

      Buckley, Frank; Walsh, S.; Dillon, Pat (Teagasc, 2006-01)
      The objective of this study was to investigate the potential differences among different dairy cow breeds across two feeding systems on milk production, udder health, milking characteristics, body weight, body condition score, hormone parameters, ovarian function, survival and overall reproductive efficiency. The breeds investigated included Holstein-Friesian (HF), Montbéliarde (MB), Normande (NM), Norwegian Red (NRF) and Holstein- Friesian × Montbéliarde (MBX) and Holstein- Friesian × Normande (NMX). Selection within the HF breed has, until recently, been predominantly for milk production with little or no direct selection for functional traits other than those correlated with superior type. The MB and the NM have been simultaneously selected for both milk and beef production in the past. The NRF were imported as calves and come from a more balanced total merit index incorporating production and cow functionality since the early 1970s. The dairy cow breeds were grouped into blocks of two within breed groups and randomized across two spring-calving grass-based feeding systems: low concentrate feeding system (LC) and high concentrate feeding system (HC). Those on LC feeding system were offered approximately 530 kg/cow over the total lactation, while those on HC feeding system were offered approximately 1030 kg/cow. There was no genotype by environment interaction observed for any of the milk production, BCS, BW, udder health, milking characteristics, reproductive performance or feed intake/efficiency parameters investigated. Compared to the MB and NM, all other breeds had higher total lactation milk, fat, protein and lactose yield, with the HF having the highest. Animals on the HC feeding system had higher total lactation milk, fat, protein and lactose yield. Compared to the NRF, SCS was higher for the HF, NM, MBX and NMX breed groups, while SCS of the MB was not different. The NM and MB had lower AMF compared to all breeds. The crossbreds achieved the higher AMF. The NM had the lowest PMF, while that of the crossbreds were higher compared to all breeds. Milking duration was not affected by breed. Differences between breeds for AMF, PMF and MD were not apparent after adjustment for milk yield. Animals offered a HC diet had higher AMF, PMF and MD compared to those on the LC feeding system. Somatic cell score did not differ between the feeding systems. The interaction between breed and milk yield influenced SCS, AMF, PMF and MD thus implying that for each unit increase of milk yield by breed, the response in SCS, AMF, PMF and MD was different for some breeds. The response in SCS was similar for the NRF, MBX and NMX, while MD was similar for the MB and MBX. The effect of one unit increase in daily average milk yield caused a favourable decrease in SCS; however a one unit increase in PMF and MD did not influence SCS. No interactions were observed for breed with any milking characteristic on SCS. The HF had the lowest BCS, the MB and NM the highest, while the NRF, MBX and NMX were intermediate. The NRF had the lowest BW; the NM had the highest while the other breeds were intermediate. The NRF had increased likelihood of SR24, PREG1, PREG42 and FINALPR and greater survival compared to the HF. Both MBX and NMX had shorter CSI and CCI and were more likely to be pregnant at the end of the breeding season, thus had higher survival rates compared to the HF; however heterosis estimates for these traits was not significant, likely due to the small data size. Feed system did not influence reproductive performance of the different breeds. Breed of dairy cow did not influence any of the ovarian parameters studied. Breed of dairy cow did not influence insulin or IGF-1 concentrations at any sampling period. Breed significantly effected gestation length, calf birth weight and calving ease score. The NRF had the shortest gestation, lightest calves and least calving difficulty. Genotype had a significant effect on estimated dry matter intake, being highest with the HF, MBX, NMX and lowest with NM and NRF. Genotype also had a significant effect on yield of milk solids per kg of DMI. The highest yield of milk solids per kg of DMI was achieved with the NRF, HF and MBX. Comparisons between genotypes reveal that estimated residual feed intake estimates were lowest (most favourable) for the NRF, compared to other genotypes with the exception of HF.
    • A comparison of energy balance and metabolic profiles of the New Zealand and North American strains of Holstein Friesian dairy cow

      Patton, Joe; Murphy, J.J.; O'Mara, Frank P.; Butler, Stephen T. (Cambridge University Press, 2008-06)
      The milk production, energy balance (EB), endocrine and metabolite profiles of 10 New Zealand Holstein Friesian (NZ) cows and 10 North American Holstein Friesian (NA) cows were compared. The NA cows had greater peak milk yields and total lactation milk yields (7387 v. 6208 kg; s.e.d.5359), lower milk fat and similar protein concentrations compared with the NZ cows. Body weight (BW) was greater for NA cows compared with NZ cows throughout lactation (596 v. 544 kg; s.e.d.515.5), while body condition score (BCS) tended to be lower. The NA strain tended to have greater dry matter intake (DMI) (17.2 v. 15.7 kg/day; s.e.d.50.78) for week 1 to 20 of lactation, though DMI as a proportion of metabolic BW was similar for both strains. No differences were observed between the strains in the timing and magnitude of the EB nadir, interval to neutral EB, or mean daily EB for week 1 to 20 of lactation. Plasma concentrations of glucose and insulin were greater for NA cows during the transition period (day 14 pre partum to day 28 post partum). Plasma IGF-I concentrations were similar for the strains at this time, but NZ cows had greater plasma IGF-I concentration from day 29 to day 100 of lactation, despite similar calculated EB. In conclusion, the results of this study do not support the premise that the NZ strain has a more favourable metabolic status during the transition period. The results, however, indicate that NZ cows begin to partition nutrients towards body reserves during mid-lactation, whereas NA cows continue to partition nutrients to milk production.
    • A comparison of finishing strategies to fixed slaughter weights for Holstein Friesian and Belgian Blue × Holstein Friesian steers

      Keane, Michael G. (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2010)
      Cattle finishing strategies may involve feeding a high energy diet throughout or following a period of moderate growth. The objective of this study was to compare Holstein Friesian (HF) and Belgian Blue × Holstein Friesian (BB) steers (24 per breed type, initial live weight 434 and 431 kg for HF and BB, respectively) finished to 560 kg or 620 kg target slaughter weight, on either a concentrate diet ad libitum from the start of the finishing period (C), or on a concentrate diet ad libitum following an 84-day period on grass silage (SC). Slaughter weights were similar for HF and BB, but kill-out proportion, carcass weight and carcass conformation class were superior (P < 0.001), and carcass fat score was inferior (P < 0.001), for BB. Total concentrate, dry matter and net energy intakes were higher (P < 0.001) for HF, and efficiency of utilization of net energy for carcass-weight gain was lower (P < 0.01). Mean daily live-weight gain was higher for C than SC (P < 0.001) and for slaughter at 560 kg than at 620 kg (P < 0.05). Killout proportion was higher for C than SC (P < 0.05) and for 620 kg compared to 560 kg slaughter weight (P < 0.001). Measures of fatness were unaffected by feeding treatment but all were higher (P < 0.01) for the 620 kg slaughter weight. Net energy required per unit carcass-weight gain was higher for C than SC (P < 0.001) and for 620 kg than for 560 kg slaughter weight (P < 0.001). When slaughtered at 620 kg live weight there was no difference between the feeding treatments in net energy required per unit carcass-weight gain. While both breed types had similar live-weight gain BB had 9% greater (P < 0.01) carcass-weight gain and were 14% more efficient (P < 0.01) in converting feed energy to carcass weight. Neither breed type had commercially acceptable carcasses at 560 kg slaughter weight when finished on SC.
    • Comparison of growth curves of three strains of female dairy cattle

      Berry, Donagh P.; Horan, Brendan; Dillon, Pat (Cambridge University Press, 2005-04)
      The objective of the present study was to compare growth curves for live weight (LW) and body size of three strains of female dairy cattle reared under common environments in Ireland. One strain (HP) was selected from a predominantly North-American/European Holstein-Friesian genetic pool selected for high milk production. The second strain (HD) represented a predominantly North-American/European Holstein-Friesian genetic pool selected for high milk production but with greater selection emphasis on functional non-production traits. The third strain (NZ) consisted of New Zealand Holstein-Friesian females of high genetic merit for profitability in New Zealand. The data consisted of 99 animals (33 animals in each strain) with records on LW, length, girth and height from birth to a minimum of 594 days of age. The von Bertalanffy growth function was fitted to each animal's records separately and least-squares analyses were used to investigate the effect of strain on birth LW/body size, parameters of the growth function and average daily gains. Average mature live weight of the HD animals (591 kg) was significantly larger than that of the HP (566 kg) or NZ (543 kg) strain; the HD strain matured more slowly. The HD (134 cm) and HP (135 cm) strains were significantly taller than the NZ (128 cm) strain. Although the data set was relatively small there are indications that dairy females of North-American genetic origin were heavier at birth, grew faster, and were heavier and taller at maturity than dairy females of New Zealand origin.
    • A comparison of machine learning techniques for predicting insemination outcome in Irish dairy cows

      Fenlon, Caroline; O'Grady, Luke; Dunnion, John; Shalloo, Laurence; Butler, Stephen; Doherty, Michael (AICS, 2016-09)
      Reproductive performance has an important effect on economic efficiency in dairy farms with short yearly periods of breeding. The individual factors affecting the outcome of an artificial insemination have been extensively researched in many univariate models. In this study, these factors are analysed in combination to create a comprehensive multivariate model of conception in Irish dairy cows. Logistic regression, Naive Bayes, Decision Tree learning and Random Forests are trained using 2,723 artificial insemination records from Irish research farms. An additional 4,205 breeding events from commercial dairy farms are used to evaluate and compare the performance of each data mining technique. The models are assessed in terms of both discrimination and calibration ability. The logistic regression model was found to be the most useful model for predicting insemination outcome. This model is proposed as being appropriate for use in decision support and in general simulation of Irish dairy cows.
    • Comparison of pasture and concentrate finishing of Holstein Friesian, Aberdeen Angus × Holstein Friesian and Belgian Blue × Holstein Friesian steers

      Keane, Michael G.; Moloney, Aidan P (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2010)
      Crossbreeding Holstein Friesian dairy cows with both early and late maturing beef breed bulls is common in Ireland. This study concerned the comparison of spring-born Holstein Friesian (HF), Aberdeen Angus × Holstein Friesian (AA) and Belgian Blue × Holstein Friesian (BB) steers slaughtered directly off pasture in the autumn or following a period of concentrate finishing indoors. Male calves (18 per breed type) were reared together until August of their second year when they were assigned to a 3 (breed type) × 3 (finishing strategy) factorial experiment. The three finishing strategies were (i) pasture only for 94 days to slaughter (PE), (ii) concentrate ad libitum indoors for 94 days to slaughter (CE), and (iii) pasture only for 94 days followed by concentrate ad libitum indoors for 98 days to slaughter (PC). For HF, AA, and BB, mean carcass weight, carcass conformation score and carcass fat score values were 275, 284 and 301 (s.e. 5.1) kg, 1.75, 2.42 and 2.89 (s.e. 0.11), and 2.48, 2.89 and 2.17 (s.e. 0.11), respectively. Pasture alone supported live-weight and carcass-weight gains of approximately 800 g/day and 400 g/day, respectively. Live-weight and carcass-weight gains on concentrate ad libitum were approximately 1400 and 870 g/day, respectively. For PE, CE and PC, mean carcass weight, carcass conformation score and carcass fat score values were 244, 287 and 329 (s.e. 5.1) kg, 1.81, 2.56 and 2.69 (s.e. 0.11), and 1.83, 2.71 and 3.01 (s.e. 0.11), respectively. It is concluded that none of the breed types reached an acceptable carcass weight on PE and only HF had acceptable carcass finish. All breed types were acceptably finished on both concentrate finishing strategies.