• Dairy cattle breeding objectives combining production and non-production traits for pasture based systems in Ireland.

      Berry, Donagh P.; Buckley, Frank; Dillon, Pat; Veerkamp, R.F. (Teagasc, 2005-11-01)
      The objectives of this study were: 1) to estimate genetic (co) variances among body condition score, body weight, milk production, linear type traits and fertility, and 2) to investigate the presence of genotype by environment interactions for milk production, body condition score, and body weight, in Irish grass based seasonal calving herds. Genetic parameters were estimated from a potential 8928 primiparous and multiparous Holstein-Friesian cows over two years (1999 and 2000). Heritability estimates for body condition score (BCS) and body weight (BW) were found to be moderate to high; estimates ranged from 0.27 to 0.51 for BCS, and from 0.39 to 0.61 for BW. Heritability estimates for BCS change and BW change at different stages of lactation were all less than 0.11. Heritability for the linear type traits varied from 0.11 to 0.43. Phenotypic and genetic correlations between BCS and BW at the same stage of lactation were all close to 0.50 indicating that approximately 25% of the genetic and phenotypic variation in BW may be attributed to differences in BCS. Genetic correlations between BCS and milk yield tended to be negative (-0.14 to –0.51) and genetic correlations between BW and milk yield were close to zero (-0.07 to 0.09). However, the genetic correlations between BW adjusted for differences in BCS were positive (0.15 to 0.39). Genetic correlations between BCS and the fertility traits investigated were all favourable, indicating that cows with a superior genetic merit for BCS are on average likely to be served sooner, receive less services and have higher pregnancy rates. The genetic correlations between linear type traits and milk yield indicate that selection for milk production has resulted in taller, deeper cows that tend to be more angular and have less body condition. Genetically these cows are predisposed to inferior reproductive efficiency. Moderate genetic correlations were found between some of the linear type traits investigated and somatic cell count. A comparison of BCS, as recorded by Teagasc personnel (scale 1-5) and Holstein herd-book classifiers (scale 1-9) indicated consistency between the two sources. Phenotypic and genetic correlations of 0.54 and 0.86, respectively, were observed between the two measurement sources on the same animals. Genotype by environment interactions, were found for milk yield across different silage quality environments, and for BCS across different herd-year milk yield, concentrate, grazing severity and silage quality environments.
    • Demographics of cattle positive for Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis by faecal culture, from submissions to the Cork Regional Veterinary Laboratory

      Richardson, EKB; Mee, John F; Sánchez-Miguel, C; Crilly, J; More, Simon J (Biomed Central, 2009-06-01)
      The demography of bovine infections caused by Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) in Ireland is poorly defined. The objective of this study was to describe the demographics of cattle positive to MAP on faecal culture, based on submissions to the Cork Regional Veterinary Laboratory (Cork RVL) from 1994 to 2006. The study focused on all available faecal samples from adult cattle with non-responsive chronic diarrhoea that were submitted by private veterinary practitioners to Cork RVL for MAP culture. For each MAP-positive by faecal culture animal, data were collated from Cork RVL and Cattle Movement Monitoring Scheme (CMMS) records. Johne's disease (JD) was confirmed in 110 animals from 86 herds by the Cork RVL between 1994 and 2006, with a rate of positive cases between 15% and 18% over last four years of the study. Two breeds (Holstein/Friesian or Limousin) made up 78% of submissions. Movements were assessed for the 57 study animals with available movement information, 90% died within one year of the test and 26% tested positive in the herd they were born into. The study provides preliminary information about movement trends and demographics of animals with MAP positive submissions. Although the study area is restricted, it includes the most intensive (and economically-important) dairy region in Ireland. The demographics of JD infection from the study area are in agreement with international reports. Further work is required to determine demographic trends, incidence and prevalence of JD throughout Ireland. It is hoped this work may contribute to the development of a surveillance strategy for MAP by regional veterinary laboratories.
    • Detection of abnormal recordings in Irish milk recorded data

      Quinn-Whelton, N.; Killen, L.; Guinee, Timothy P.; Buckley, Frank (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2007)
      The objective of this study was to detect abnormal recordings of milk yield, fat concentration and protein concentration in Irish milk-recorded data. The data consisted of 14,956 records from both commercial and experimental herds with 92% of the recordings recorded manually and the remainder recorded electronically. The method used in this paper was a modified version of the method employed by the Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory in Maryland, USA and conformed with the guidelines outlined by the International Committee of Animal Recording. The results illustrate the effectiveness of detecting abnormal recordings in Irish milk records. The method described in this paper, defines the upper and lower limits for each production trait and these limits along with the slope parameters were used to determine if a recording was abnormal or not. Three percent of milk yield recordings, 5% of fat concentration recordings and less than 1% of protein concentration recordings were found to be abnormal. The proportion of values declared abnormal in manually recorded and electronically recorded data were examined and found to be significantly different for fat concentration.
    • Detection of selection signatures in dairy and beef cattle using high-density genomic information

      Zhao, Fuping; McParland, Sinead; Kearney, Francis; Du, Lixin; Berry, Donagh P. (Biomed Central, 2015-06-19)
      Background Artificial selection for economically important traits in cattle is expected to have left distinctive selection signatures on the genome. Access to high-density genotypes facilitates the accurate identification of genomic regions that have undergone positive selection. These findings help to better elucidate the mechanisms of selection and to identify candidate genes of interest to breeding programs. Results Information on 705 243 autosomal single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 3122 dairy and beef male animals from seven cattle breeds (Angus, Belgian Blue, Charolais, Hereford, Holstein-Friesian, Limousin and Simmental) were used to detect selection signatures by applying two complementary methods, integrated haplotype score (iHS) and global fixation index (FST). To control for false positive results, we used false discovery rate (FDR) adjustment to calculate adjusted iHS within each breed and the genome-wide significance level was about 0.003. Using the iHS method, 83, 92, 91, 101, 85, 101 and 86 significant genomic regions were detected for Angus, Belgian Blue, Charolais, Hereford, Holstein-Friesian, Limousin and Simmental cattle, respectively. None of these regions was common to all seven breeds. Using the FST approach, 704 individual SNPs were detected across breeds. Annotation of the regions of the genome that showed selection signatures revealed several interesting candidate genes i.e. DGAT1, ABCG2, MSTN, CAPN3, FABP3, CHCHD7, PLAG1, JAZF1, PRKG2, ACTC1, TBC1D1, GHR, BMP2, TSG1, LYN, KIT and MC1R that play a role in milk production, reproduction, body size, muscle formation or coat color. Fifty-seven common candidate genes were found by both the iHS and global FST methods across the seven breeds. Moreover, many novel genomic regions and genes were detected within the regions that showed selection signatures; for some candidate genes, signatures of positive selection exist in the human genome. Multilevel bioinformatic analyses of the detected candidate genes suggested that the PPAR pathway may have been subjected to positive selection. Conclusions This study provides a high-resolution bovine genomic map of positive selection signatures that are either specific to one breed or common to a subset of the seven breeds analyzed. Our results will contribute to the detection of functional candidate genes that have undergone positive selection in future studies.
    • Determining the Prevalence and Seasonality of Fasciola hepatica in Pasture-based Dairy herds in Ireland using a Bulk Tank Milk ELISA

      Bloemhoff, Yris; Forbes, Andrew; Danaher, Martin; Good, Barbara; Morgan, Eric; Mulcahy, Grace; Sekiya, Mary; Sayers, Riona (Biomed Central, 2015-07-09)
      Background Fasciola hepatica is a helminth parasite of global importance in livestock, with major economic impact. However information on F. hepatica infections in Irish pasture-based dairy herds is limited. Therefore this study was conducted in order to determine the prevalence, seasonality and management factors associated with F. hepatica. A total of 319 Irish dairy herds were selected for this study. Bulk tank milk (BTM) samples were collected from 290 dairy farms on a quarter year basis, while from a further 29 dairy farms BTM samples were collected on a monthly basis to provide a more detailed pattern of F. hepatica exposure in Irish herds. BTM samples were analysed using a commercially available F. hepatica antibody detection ELISA. Furthermore, within-herd prevalence of F. hepatica was assessed in a subset of these 29 herds (n = 17); both individual serum samples and bulk tank milk samples were collected. Results A within-herd prevalence of ≤ 50 % was found for herds with negative bulk tank milk samples. The mean prevalence of the 290 study herds was 75.4 % (Range 52 %–75.1 %), with the highest prevalence being observed in November (75.1 %). The seasonal pattern of F. hepatica shows elevated antibodies as the grazing season progressed, reaching a peak in January. A significant association was found between F. hepatica and age at first calving. Conclusion This study demonstrates that F. hepatica is present in a large proportion of Irish dairy herds and provides a basis on which control practices, particularly in adult dairy cows, can be reviewed.
    • Development and implementation of genomic predictions in beef cattle

      Berry, Donagh P.; Garcia, J.F.; Garrick, D. J. (American Society of Animal Science, 2016-01-05)
      Beef production represents a considerable contribution to local and global economies and food security but also the environmental footprint of agricultural production systems. The development of accurate genomic evaluations in beef populations are more difficult than in dairy populations for reasons including the presence of multiple breeds, poor extent of phenotyping, lack of artificial insemination, and beef systems being generally a lower-margin business of poorer adopters of technology. Several options exist to minimize or overcome the limitations of developing accurate genomic evaluations for beef cattle.
    • Development of Sustainable low cost animal accommodation outwintering pads (OWP’s)

      French, Padraig; Boyle, Laura (Teagasc, 2008-07)
      The aims of this study were to compare three different OWP designs with cubicle housing in terms of hoof and udder health, dirtiness scores, animal behaviour and productivity. The study was conducted over the winters 2004/2005 and 2005/2006. The pad designs investigated were: Sheltered and unsheltered pads where cows were fed from a concrete apron adjacent to the woodchip lying area and an unsheltered self-feed pad where cows self-fed from a silage pit on top of the woodchip lying area. The latter design option was not included in the first year of the study. In that year the space allowance also differed between the sheltered and unsheltered pads. In the second year of the study animals in all three pad designs had the same space allowance.
    • Differences in leukocyte profile, gene expression, and metabolite status of dairy cows with or without sole ulcers

      O'Driscoll, Keelin; McCabe, Matthew; Earley, Bernadette (Elsevier, 2014-12-31)
      Sole ulcers are one of the most severe pathologies causing lameness in dairy cows and are associated with abnormal behavior and impaired production performance. However, little is known about how or whether lameness caused by sole ulcers affects the cow systemically. This study compared hematology profile, leukocyte gene expression, and physiological responses [metabolite, cortisol, the endogenous steroid hormone dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and haptoglobin concentrations] of cows with sole ulcers and healthy cows. Twelve clinically lame cows (lame) were identified as having at least one sole ulcer and no other disorder, and matched with a cow that had good locomotion and no disorders (sound), using days in milk, liveweight, body condition score, and diet. Blood samples were taken from all 24 cows within 24 h of sole ulcer diagnosis. Leukocyte counts were obtained using an automated cell counter, cortisol and DHEA concentration by ELISA, and plasma haptoglobin, urea, total protein, creatine kinase, and glucose were analyzed on an Olympus analyzer. Expression of 16 genes associated with lameness or stress were estimated using reverse transcription-PCR. Data were analyzed using the MIXED procedure in SAS software (version 9.3; SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC). Lame cows had a higher neutrophil percentage, a numerically lower lymphocyte percentage, and tended to have a higher neutrophil:lymphocyte ratio than sound cows. Serum cortisol and DHEA concentrations were higher in lame than in sound cows. Lame cows also tended to have higher haptoglobin and glucose levels than sound, as well as higher protein yet lower urea levels. Sound cows tended to have higher relative expression of the gene coding for colony-stimulating factor 2 than lame, but in all other cases where differences were detected in cytokine gene expression (IL-1α, IL-1β, CXCL8, and IL-10), relative gene expression in sound cows tended to be, or was, lower than in lame. Relative expression of MMP-13, GR-α, Fas, haptoglobin, and CD62L were, or tended to be, higher in lame than sound cows. A high neutrophil:lymphocyte ratio in combination with higher cortisol levels in cows with ulcers is indicative of physiological stress. Moreover, increased DHEA and a higher cortisol:DHEA ratio, as well as a tendency for higher haptoglobin levels and increased haptoglobin mRNA expression, are indicative of systemic inflammation. Increased cytokine mRNA expression indicates activation of the immune system compared with healthy cows. Increased expression of MMP-13 mRNA has been found in cows with impaired locomotion and thus could be implicated in development of claw horn disorders.
    • Differences in the expression of genes involved in the somatotropic axis in divergent strains of Holstein-Friesian dairy cows during early and mid lactation

      McCarthy, Sean D.; Butler, Stephen T.; Patton, Joe; Daly, Mairead; Morris, Dermot G.; Kenny, David A.; Waters, Sinead M. (Elsevier Inc. and American Dairy Science Association, 2009-10)
      Differences in genetic selection criteria for dairy cows internationally have led to divergence in the Holstein-Friesian breed. The objective of this study was to compare hepatic expression of genes of the somatotropic axis in the North American Holstein-Friesian and the New Zealand Holstein-Friesian strains of dairy cow at early and mid lactation. Mature cows of both the North American Holstein-Friesian (n = 10) and New Zealand Holstein-Friesian (n = 10) strains were selected. Liver tissue was collected by percutaneous punch biopsy from all cows at 35 and 140 d postpartum, representing early and mid lactation, respectively. Total RNA was extracted and the hepatic expression of genes involved in the control of the somatotropic axis was examined. Abundance of insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1 mRNA was greater in the New Zealand strain, concomitant with a tendency for increased expression of acid-labile subunit mRNA. Across strains, mRNA abundance of IGF-binding protein-1, IGF-binding protein-2, and growth hormone receptor 1A decreased from d 35 to 140 postpartum, whereas expression of IGF-1 and acid-labile subunit tended to increase. Abundance of suppressor of cytokine signaling-3 mRNA was increased at d 140 postpartum. Both the strain of Holstein-Friesian cow and the stage of lactation influenced expression of genes controlling the somatotropic axis in hepatic tissue.
    • A differential interplay between the expression of Th1/Th2/Treg related cytokine genes in Teladorsagia circumcincta infected DRB1*1101 carrier lambs

      Hassan, Musa; Hanrahan, James P; Good, Barbara; Mulcahy, Grace; Sweeney, Torres (Biomed Central, 2011-03-08)
      Substantial debate exists on whether the immune response between sheep resistant and susceptible to gastrointestinal nematodes can be differentiated into a Th1 and Th2 phenotype. The present study addresses the hypothesis that variation in resistance to Teladorsagia circumcincta between DRB1*1101 (associated with reduced faecal egg count and worm burden) carriers and non-carriers is due to a differential interplay in the expression of Th1/Th2 and regulatory T (Treg) related cytokine genes. Lambs from each genotype were either slaughtered at day 0 (un-infected control) or infected with 3 × 104 Teladorsagia circumcincta L3 and slaughtered at 3, 7, 21, and 35 days later. Lambs carrying the DRB1*1101 allele had a significantly lower worm burden (P < 0.05) compared to the non-carriers. Abomasal mucosal cytokine gene expression was evaluated by quantitative real-time PCR and comparison made for time and genotype effects. The response generated varied through the course of infection and was affected by genotype. DRB1*1101 carriers had an up-regulated expression of the Th1-related cytokine genes (IL-1β, TNFα, and IFN-γ) at day 3, but this was replaced by an up-regulated expression of Th2-related cytokine genes (IL-10 and IL-13) and Treg-related cytokine genes (IL-2RA-CD25, TGFα, TGFβ, Arg2, MIF and FOXP3) by day 7. Conversely, in the non-carriers these changes in gene expression were delayed until days 7 and 21 post infection (pi), respectively. It is concluded that resistance to Teladorsagia circumcincta in animals carrying the DRB1*1101 allele is influenced by an earlier interplay between Th1, Th2 and T regulatory immune response genes.
    • Direct Evidence on the Contribution of a Missense Mutation in GDF9 to Variation in Ovulation Rate of Finnsheep

      Mullen, Michael P.; Hanrahan, James P. (PLOS, 2014-04-21)
      The Finnish Landrace (Finnsheep) is a well known high-prolificacy sheep breed and has been used in many countries as a source of genetic material to increase fecundity of local breeds. Analyses to date have indicated that mutations with a large effect on ovulation rate are not responsible for the exceptional prolificacy of Finnsheep. The objectives of this study were to ascertain if: 1) any of 12 known mutations with large effects on ovulation rate in sheep, or 2) any other DNA sequence variants within the candidate genes GDF9 and BMP15 are implicated in the high prolificacy of the Finnish Landrace breed; using material from lines developed by divergent selection on ovulation rate. Genotyping results showed that none of 12 known mutations (FecBB, FecXB, FecXG, FecXGR, FecXH, FecXI, FecXL, FecXO, FecXR, FecGE, FecGH, or FecGT) were present in a sample of 108 Finnsheep and, thus, do not contribute to the exceptional prolificacy of the breed. However, DNA sequence analysis of GDF9 identified a previously known mutation, V371M, whose frequency differed significantly (P<0.001) between High and Low ovulation rate lines. While analysis of ovulation rate data for Finnsheep failed to establish a significant association between this trait and V371M, analysis of data on Belclare sheep revealed a significant association between V371M and ovulation rate (P<0.01). Ewes that were heterozygous for V371M exhibited increased ovulation rate (+0.17, s.e. 0.080; P<0.05) compared to wild type and the effect was non-additive (ovulation rate of heterozygotes was significantly lower (P<0.01) than the mean of the homozygotes). This finding brings to 13 the number of mutations that have large effects on ovulation rate in sheep and to 5, including FecBB, FecGE, FecXO and FecXGR, the number of mutations within the TGFβ superfamily with a positive effect on prolificacy in the homozygous state.
    • The distribution of runs of homozygosity and selection signatures in six commercial meat sheep breeds

      Purfield, Deirdre C; McParland, Sinead; Wall, Eamon; Berry, Donagh P (PLOS, 2017-05-02)
      Domestication and the subsequent selection of animals for either economic or morphological features can leave a variety of imprints on the genome of a population. Genomic regions subjected to high selective pressures often show reduced genetic diversity and frequent runs of homozygosity (ROH). Therefore, the objective of the present study was to use 42,182 autosomal SNPs to identify genomic regions in 3,191 sheep from six commercial breeds subjected to selection pressure and to quantify the genetic diversity within each breed using ROH. In addition, the historical effective population size of each breed was also estimated and, in conjunction with ROH, was used to elucidate the demographic history of the six breeds. ROH were common in the autosomes of animals in the present study, but the observed breed differences in patterns of ROH length and burden suggested differences in breed effective population size and recent management. ROH provided a sufficient predictor of the pedigree inbreeding coefficient, with an estimated correlation between both measures of 0.62. Genomic regions under putative selection were identified using two complementary algorithms; the fixation index and hapFLK. The identified regions under putative selection included candidate genes associated with skin pigmentation, body size and muscle formation; such characteristics are often sought after in modern-day breeding programs. These regions of selection frequently overlapped with high ROH regions both within and across breeds. Multiple yet uncharacterised genes also resided within putative regions of selection. This further substantiates the need for a more comprehensive annotation of the sheep genome as these uncharacterised genes may contribute to traits of interest in the animal sciences. Despite this, the regions identified as under putative selection in the current study provide an insight into the mechanisms leading to breed differentiation and genetic variation in meat production.
    • DNA sequence polymorphisms in a panel of eight candidate bovine imprinted genes and their association with performance traits in Irish Holstein-Friesian cattle

      Magee, David A; Sikora, Klaudia M; Berkowicz, Erik W; Berry, Donagh P.; Howard, Dawn J; Mullen, Michael Paul; Evans, Ross D; Spillane, Charles; MacHugh, David E (Biomed Central, 2010-10-13)
      Background: Studies in mice and humans have shown that imprinted genes, whereby expression from one of the two parentally inherited alleles is attenuated or completely silenced, have a major effect on mammalian growth, metabolism and physiology. More recently, investigations in livestock species indicate that genes subject to this type of epigenetic regulation contribute to, or are associated with, several performance traits, most notably muscle mass and fat deposition. In the present study, a candidate gene approach was adopted to assess 17 validated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and their association with a range of performance traits in 848 progeny-tested Irish Holstein-Friesian artificial insemination sires. These SNPs are located proximal to, or within, the bovine orthologs of eight genes (CALCR, GRB10, PEG3, PHLDA2, RASGRF1, TSPAN32, ZIM2 and ZNF215) that have been shown to be imprinted in cattle or in at least one other mammalian species (i.e. human/mouse/pig/sheep). Results: Heterozygosities for all SNPs analysed ranged from 0.09 to 0.46 and significant deviations from Hardy-Weinberg proportions (P ≤ 0.01) were observed at four loci. Phenotypic associations (P ≤ 0.05) were observed between nine SNPs proximal to, or within, six of the eight analysed genes and a number of performance traits evaluated, including milk protein percentage, somatic cell count, culled cow and progeny carcass weight, angularity, body conditioning score, progeny carcass conformation, body depth, rump angle, rump width, animal stature, calving difficulty, gestation length and calf perinatal mortality. Notably, SNPs within the imprinted paternally expressed gene 3 (PEG3) gene cluster were associated (P ≤ 0.05) with calving, calf performance and fertility traits, while a single SNP in the zinc finger protein 215 gene (ZNF215) was associated with milk protein percentage (P ≤ 0.05), progeny carcass weight (P ≤ 0.05), culled cow carcass weight (P ≤ 0.01), angularity (P ≤ 0.01), body depth (P ≤ 0.01), rump width (P ≤ 0.01) and animal stature (P ≤ 0.01). Conclusions: Of the eight candidate bovine imprinted genes assessed, DNA sequence polymorphisms in six of these genes (CALCR, GRB10, PEG3, RASGRF1, ZIM2 and ZNF215) displayed associations with several of the phenotypes included for analyses. The genotype-phenotype associations detected here are further supported by the biological function of these six genes, each of which plays important roles in mammalian growth, development and physiology. The associations between SNPs within the imprinted PEG3 gene cluster and traits related to calving, calf performance and gestation length suggest that this domain on chromosome 18 may play a role regulating pre-natal growth and development and fertility. SNPs within the bovine ZNF215 gene were associated with bovine growth and body conformation traits and studies in humans have revealed that the human ZNF215 ortholog belongs to the imprinted gene cluster associated with Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome--a genetic disorder characterised by growth abnormalities. Similarly, the data presented here suggest that the ZNF215 gene may have an important role in regulating bovine growth. Collectively, our results support previous work showing that (candidate) imprinted genes/loci contribute to heritable variation in bovine performance traits and suggest that DNA sequence polymorphisms within these genes/loci represents an important reservoir of genomic markers for future genetic improvement of dairy and beef cattle populations.
    • DNA sequence polymorphisms within the bovine guanine nucleotide-binding protein Gs subunit alpha (Gsalpha)-encoding (GNAS) genomic imprinting domain are associated with performance traits

      Sikora, Klaudia M; Magee, David A; Berkowicz, Erik W; Berry, Donagh P.; Howard, Dawn J; Mullen, Michael Paul; Evans, Ross D; MacHugh, David E; Spillane, Charles (Biomed Central, 2011-01-07)
      Background: Genes which are epigenetically regulated via genomic imprinting can be potential targets for artificial selection during animal breeding. Indeed, imprinted loci have been shown to underlie some important quantitative traits in domestic mammals, most notably muscle mass and fat deposition. In this candidate gene study, we have identified novel associations between six validated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) spanning a 97.6 kb region within the bovine guanine nucleotide-binding protein Gs subunit alpha gene (GNAS) domain on bovine chromosome 13 and genetic merit for a range of performance traits in 848 progeny-tested Holstein-Friesian sires. The mammalian GNAS domain consists of a number of reciprocally-imprinted, alternatively-spliced genes which can play a major role in growth, development and disease in mice and humans. Based on the current annotation of the bovine GNAS domain, four of the SNPs analysed (rs43101491, rs43101493, rs43101485 and rs43101486) were located upstream of the GNAS gene, while one SNP (rs41694646) was located in the second intron of the GNAS gene. The final SNP (rs41694656) was located in the first exon of transcripts encoding the putative bovine neuroendocrine-specific protein NESP55, resulting in an aspartic acid-to-asparagine amino acid substitution at amino acid position 192. Results: SNP genotype-phenotype association analyses indicate that the single intronic GNAS SNP (rs41694646) is associated (P ≤ 0.05) with a range of performance traits including milk yield, milk protein yield, the content of fat and protein in milk, culled cow carcass weight and progeny carcass conformation, measures of animal body size, direct calving difficulty (i.e. difficulty in calving due to the size of the calf) and gestation length. Association (P ≤ 0.01) with direct calving difficulty (i.e. due to calf size) and maternal calving difficulty (i.e. due to the maternal pelvic width size) was also observed at the rs43101491 SNP. Following adjustment for multiple-testing, significant association (q ≤ 0.05) remained between the rs41694646 SNP and four traits (animal stature, body depth, direct calving difficulty and milk yield) only. Notably, the single SNP in the bovine NESP55 gene (rs41694656) was associated (P ≤ 0.01) with somatic cell count--an often-cited indicator of resistance to mastitis and overall health status of the mammary system--and previous studies have demonstrated that the chromosomal region to where the GNAS domain maps underlies an important quantitative trait locus for this trait. This association, however, was not significant after adjustment for multiple testing. The three remaining SNPs assayed were not associated with any of the performance traits analysed in this study. Analysis of all pairwise linkage disequilibrium (r2) values suggests that most allele substitution effects for the assayed SNPs observed are independent. Finally, the polymorphic coding SNP in the putative bovine NESP55 gene was used to test the imprinting status of this gene across a range of foetal bovine tissues. Conclusions: Previous studies in other mammalian species have shown that DNA sequence variation within the imprinted GNAS gene cluster contributes to several physiological and metabolic disorders, including obesity in humans and mice. Similarly, the results presented here indicate an important role for the imprinted GNAS cluster in underlying complex performance traits in cattle such as animal growth, calving, fertility and health. These findings suggest that GNAS domain-associated polymorphisms may serve as important genetic markers for future livestock breeding programs and support previous studies that candidate imprinted loci may act as molecular targets for the genetic improvement of agricultural populations. In addition, we present new evidence that the bovine NESP55 gene is epigenetically regulated as a maternally expressed imprinted gene in placental and intestinal tissues from 8-10 week old bovine foetuses.
    • Do-it-yourself milk recording as a viable alternative to supervised milk recording in Ireland

      Berry, Donagh P.; Burke, M.; O'Keeffe, M.; O'Connor, P. (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2006)
      The objective of the current study was to determine the feasibility of do-it-yourself (DIY) milk recording in commercial Irish dairy herds as well as the accuracy of predicting 24-h milk production and somatic cell count from part-day samples. The data consisted of 3,850 testday records from 1,565 cows across 23 herds in southern Ireland. Observed part-day and 24-h milk yield and composition were in accordance with previously reported observations in Ireland. Accurate prediction of 24-h milk, fat and protein yield was achieved using either AM or PM samples incorporated within prediction equations. Prediction of daily somatic cell count (SCC) was less accurate although the sensitivity and specificity of predicted daily SCC at identifying true daily SCC ≥ 200,000 was high. The accuracy of predicting 24-h fat and protein yield was augmented when two consecutive milk weights, simultaneous with one milk composition, were included in the prediction equation. Minimal effect on accuracy was observed when two milk weights were included in the prediction model for daily SCC. Thus, AM or PM SCC alone are as good, if not better, an indicator of daily SCC than predicted daily SCC using prediction equations. Milking interval defined as individual cowtestday interval measured in minutes fitted the data better than individual cow-testday interval rounded to the nearest half-hour, which was in turn superior to average herdtestday interval and average herd interval. Hence, results from this study suggest DIY milk recording is a viable alternative to supervised milk recording in Ireland.
    • The dynamic influence of the DRB1*1101 allele on the resistance of sheep to experimental Teladorsagia circumcincta infection

      Hassan, Musa; Good, Barbara; Hanrahan, James P; Campion, Deirdre P; Sayers, Gearoid; Mulcahy, Grace; Sweeney, Torres (Biomed Central, 2011-03-08)
      Suffolk sheep carrying the DRB1*1101 (previously referred to as-DRB1*0203 or G2) allele have been reported to show increased resistance to natural Teladorsagia circumcincta infection compared to non-carriers. The objective of this study was to compare the biochemical and physiological responses of DRB1*1101 carrier and non-carrier twin lambs to an experimental infection with 3 × 104 L3 Teladorsagia circumcincta. The variables studied included worm burden, faecal egg count, abomasal mast cells, IgA, IgE, IgG1 plus IgG2 and haematological parameters at 0, 3, 7, 21 and 35 days post infection (dpi), and duodenal smooth muscle contractility at 0 and 35 dpi. DRB1*1101 carrier lambs had significantly lower worm burden, higher mast cell and plasma platelet counts than the DRB1*1101 non-carriers (P < 0.05). Before infection, the non-carrier lambs exhibited significantly higher mucosal levels of all antibody isotypes measured compared to the carriers; these levels remained relatively stable over the course of infection in the non-carriers while there was a slow build up of these antibodies in the carriers up to day 21 post infection (pi). The DRB1*1101 non-carrier lambs had a significantly higher plasma lymphocyte count, and produced greater duodenal contractile force relative to the carrier lambs (P < 0.05). There was no significant difference between genotypes in the level of plasma eosinophils, monocytes, neutrophils or FEC. This evidence suggests that resistance conferred by DRB1*1101 is acquired rather than innate, depends on worm expulsion rather than fecundity and is dependent on mucosal mast cell proliferation, platelet activation, and IgA and IgE antibody responses.
    • Effect of abrupt weaning at housing on leukocyte distribution, functional activity of neutrophils, and acute phase protein response of beef calves

      Lynch, Eilish M; Earley, Bernadette; McGee, Mark; Doyle, Sean (Biomed Central, 2010-07-22)
      Background: Sixteen, spring-born, single suckled, castrated male calves of Limousin × Holstein-Friesian and Simmental × Holstein-Friesian dams respectively, were used to investigate the effect of weaning on total leukocyte and differential counts, neutrophil functional activity, lymphocyte immunophenotypes, and acute phase protein response. Calves grazed with their dams until the end of the grazing season when they were housed in a slatted floor shed. On the day of housing, calves were assigned to a treatment, (i) abruptly weaned (W: n = 8) or (ii) non-weaned (controls) (C: n = 8). Weaned calves were housed in pens without their dams, whereas non-weaned (control) calves were housed with their dams. Blood was collected on day -7, 0 (housing), 2, 7, and 14 to determine total leukocyte and differential counts and concentration of fibrinogen and haptoglobin. Lymphocyte immunophenotypes were characterised using selected surface antigens (CD4+, CD8+, WC1+ (γδ T cells), MHC Class II+ lymphocytes), and the functional activities of neutrophils (surface expression of L-selectin (CD62L), phagocytic and oxidative burst activity) were investigated using flow cytometry. Results: Treatment × sampling time interactions (P < 0.05) were detected for total leukocyte and neutrophil counts, all lymphocyte subsets, mean fluorescence intensity of CD62L+ neutrophils, and percentage neutrophils performing phagocytosis. On d 2, total leukocyte and neutrophil count increased (P < 0.001), and percentage CD4+ and CD8+ lymphocytes, percentage phagocytic neutrophils, mean fluorescence intensity of CD62L+ neutrophils decreased (P < 0.05) in W compared with baseline (d 0), whereas they were unchanged (P > 0.05) in C. On d 2, percentage WC1+ lymphocytes decreased (P < 0.05), whereas percentage MHC class II+ lymphocytes increased (P < 0.05) in W and C, however the magnitude of change was greater in W than C. There were no treatment × sampling time interactions (P > 0.05) for monocyte, eosinophil, and basophil counts, percentage G1+ neutrophils, or percentage oxidative burst positive neutrophils. Conclusions: Abrupt weaning resulted in increased neutrophil counts and impaired trafficking and phagocytic function. Together with the changes in lymphocyte subsets, the results suggest that there was a greater transitory reduction in immune function at housing in abruptly weaned than non-weaned beef calves.
    • The effect of abrupt weaning of suckler calves on the plasma concentrations of cortisol, catecholamines, leukocyte, acute-phase proteins and in vitro interferon-gamma production

      Hickey, Mary-Clare; Drennan, Michael J; Earley, Bernadette (Teagasc, 2005-12-01)
      The objective of this study was to examine the effect of abrupt weaning (inclusive of social group disruption and maternal separation) on the physiological mediators of stress and measures of immune function. Thirty-eight male and 38 female continental calves were habituated to handling for two weeks prior to bleeding. Calves were blocked on sex, weight and breed of dam and randomly assigned, within block, to either a control (cows remain with calves) or abruptly weaned group (calves removed from cows). Animals were separated into the respective treatment groups at weaning (0 h). Calves were bled at – 168 h, 6 h (males only), 24 h, 48 h and 168 h post weaning. At each sampling time an observer scored the behavioural reaction of calves to sampling. Blood samples were analysed for cortisol, catecholamine concentrations (not sampled at –168 h) and in vitro interferon-gamma production, neutrophil :lymphocyte ratio and acute phase protein concentrations. All continuous data were analysed using a split-plot ANOVA, except that collected at 6 h, which was analysed using a single factor ANOVA model. The effects of weaning, calf sex and time and respective interactions were described. Disruption of the established social groups at 0 h, increased (p<0.001) the plasma cortisol concentration and neutrophil: lymphocyte ratio and reduced the leukocyte concentration (p<0.001) and the in vitro interferon-gamma response to the mitogen concanavalin-A (p<0.001) and keyhole limpet haemocyanin (p<0.001) for weaned and control animals, when compared with –168h. Plasma adrenaline and noradrenaline concentrations were not affected by group disruption. There was no effect of weaning or sex on calf behavioural reaction to handling during blood sampling. Plasma cortisol and adrenaline concentrations were not affected by weaning or sex. Plasma noradrenaline concentration was influenced by weaning x sex (p<0.05) and time x sex (p<0.05). The response increased for male calves with weaning and increased with each sampling time post weaning. For heifers the response was not affected by weaning and plasma concentrations decreased at 168 h post weaning. There was no effect of weaning or sex on leukocyte concentration. The neutrophils : lymphocyte ration increased post weaning (p<0.01) and was affected by sex (p<0.05). Weaning decreased (p<0.05) the in vitro interferon-gamma response to the antigen KLH. There was a time x weaning x sex (p<0.05) interaction for fibrinogen concentration but no effect of treatment on haptoglobin concentration. Abrupt weaning increased plasma cortisol and nor-adrenaline concentrations, which was accompanied by attenuation of in vitro interferon gamma production to novel mitogen and antigen complexes up to 7 days post weaning.
    • The effect of abrupt weaning of suckler calves on the plasma concentrations of cortisol, catecholamines, leukocyte, acute-phase proteins and in vitro interferon-gamma production.

      Hickey, Mary-Clare; Drennan, Michael J; Earley, Bernadette (Teagasc, 2005-12-01)
      The objective of this study was to examine the effect of abrupt weaning (inclusive of social group disruption and maternal separation) on the physiological mediators of stress and measures of immune function. Thirty-eight male and 38 female continental calves were habituated to handling for two weeks prior to bleeding. Calves were blocked on sex, weight and breed of dam and randomly assigned, within block, to either a control (cows remain with calves) or abruptly weaned group (calves removed from cows). Animals were separated into the respective treatment groups at weaning (0 h). Calves were bled at – 168 h, 6 h (males only), 24 h, 48 h and 168 h post weaning. At each sampling time an observer scored the behavioural reaction of calves to sampling. Blood samples were analysed for cortisol, catecholamine concentrations (not sampled at –168 h) and in vitro interferon-gamma production, neutrophil :lymphocyte ratio and acute phase protein concentrations. All continuous data were analysed using a split-plot ANOVA, except that collected at 6 h, which was analysed using a single factor ANOVA model. The effects of weaning, calf sex and time and respective interactions were described. Disruption of the established social groups at 0 h, increased (p<0.001) the plasma cortisol concentration and neutrophil: lymphocyte ratio and reduced the leukocyte concentration (p<0.001) and the in vitro interferon-gamma response to the mitogen concanavalin-A (p<0.001) and keyhole limpet haemocyanin (p<0.001) for weaned and control animals, when compared with –168h. Plasma adrenaline and noradrenaline concentrations were not affected by group disruption. There was no effect of weaning or sex on calf behavioural reaction to handling during blood sampling. Plasma cortisol and adrenaline concentrations were not affected by weaning or sex. Plasma noradrenaline concentration was influenced by weaning x sex (p<0.05) and time x sex (p<0.05). The response increased for male calves with weaning and increased with each sampling time post weaning. For heifers the response was not affected by weaning and plasma concentrations decreased at 168 h post weaning. There was no effect of weaning or sex on leukocyte concentration. The neutrophils : lymphocyte ration increased post weaning (p<0.01) and was affected by sex (p<0.05). Weaning decreased (p<0.05) the in vitro interferon-gamma response to the antigen KLH. There was a time x weaning x sex (p<0.05) interaction for fibrinogen concentration but no effect of treatment on haptoglobin concentration. Abrupt weaning increased plasma cortisol and nor-adrenaline concentrations, which was accompanied by attenuation of in vitro interferon gamma production to novel mitogen and antigen complexes up to 7 days post weaning.
    • The effect of cereal type and feeding frequency on intake, rumen fermentation, digestibility, growth and carcass traits of finishing steers offered a grass silage-based diet

      Drennan, Michael J; McGee, Mark; Moloney, Aidan P (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2006)
      The effect of concentrate cereal type (rolled barley-based v. rolled wheat-based) and concentrate feeding frequency (one 6 kg feed v. two 3 kg feeds per day) on intake, rumen fermentation, diet digestibility and performance of finishing steers offered grass silage to appetite was evaluated over four experiments using a total of 154 animals. Not all four feeding treatments were used in each of the four experiments. The duration of the growth measurement period was 152, 112, 111 and 113 days for experiments 1 to 4, respectively, after which all animals were slaughtered. Dietary dry matter (DM) intake and in vivo digestibility, final live weight, kill-out proportion, carcass weight, carcass conformation score, carcass fat score and daily liveweight and estimated carcass gain were not affected (P > 0.05) by cereal type or feeding frequency. Cereal type or feeding frequency had no effect (P > 0.05) on feed conversion efficiency (FCE) expressed as either live-weight or carcass gain per unit DM intake. Neither mean rumen fluid pH or concentrations of ammonia or L-lactate were influenced by cereal type or feeding frequency. The mean molar proportion of propionate was higher and that of butyrate lower (P < 0.05) with wheat than with barley. Estimated carcass weight gain and FCE to carcass were similar for wheat based and barley-based concentrate as a supplement to grass silage offered either as one feed or two equal feeds daily.