Recent Submissions

  • Electronic feeding behavioural data as indicators of health status in dairy calves

    Johnston, D.; Kenny, David A.; McGee, Mark; Waters, Sinead; Kelly, A.K.; Earley, Bernadette (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2016-12-30)
    The objectives of this study were (i) to characterise clinical health in dairy calves on an Irish research farm during the artificial calf-rearing period and (ii) to determine whether calves’ pre-weaning intakes and feeding behaviour, recorded by electronic calf feeders, changes in response to incidents of bovine respiratory disease (BRD). Holstein-Friesian (H-F) and Jersey (J) calves were fed by automatic milk replacer (MR) and concentrate feeders. Feeding behaviour, including MR consumption, drinking speed, number of rewarded and unrewarded visits to the feeder as well as concentrate consumption, was recorded by the feeders. A modified version of the Wisconsin calf health scoring criteria chart was used to score calves’ clinical measurements and identify incidences of BRD. Thus, 40% of calves were found to have at least one incident of BRD. Feeding behaviour was altered during incidents of BRD. The number of unrewarded visits to the feeder was reduced, by approximately four visits, for calves with BRD during the 3 d prior to the identification of BRD (P < 0.05) and tended to be reduced during the 7 d following the identification of BRD (P = 0.05), compared with healthy calves. Additionally, calves with BRD had a tendency for reduced net energy intake (approximately 8%) during the 3 d prior to the identification of BRD, compared with healthy calves. Therefore, calf feeding behavioural data, recorded by electronic feeders during the pre-weaning period, can indicate cases of BRD.
  • A field-based comparison of ammonia emissions from six Irish soil types following urea fertiliser application

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

    O'Connell, A.; Lawton, E.M.; Leong, Dara; Cotter, Paul D; Gleeson, David; Guinane, Catriona M. (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2016-01-30)
    The objective of the study was to isolate potential Bacillus cereus sensu lato (B. cereus s.l.) from a range of farm environments. Samples of tap water, milking equipment rinse water, milk sediment filter, grass, soil and bulk tank milk were collected from 63 farms. In addition, milk liners were swabbed at the start and the end of milking, and swabs were taken from cows’ teats prior to milking. The samples were plated on mannitol egg yolk polymyxin agar (MYP) and presumptive B. cereus s.l. colonies were isolated and stored in nutrient broth with 20% glycerol and frozen at -80 °C. These isolates were then plated on chromogenic medium (BACARA) and colonies identified as presumptive B. cereus s.l. on this medium were subjected to 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) sequencing. Of the 507 isolates presumed to be B. cereus s.l. on the basis of growth on MYP, only 177 showed growth typical of B. cereus s.l. on BACARA agar. The use of 16S rRNA sequencing to identify isolates that grew on BACARA confirmed that the majority of isolates belonged to B. cereus s.l. A total of 81 of the 98 isolates sequenced were tentatively identified as presumptive B. cereus s.l. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis was carried out on milk and soil isolates from seven farms that were identified as having presumptive B. cereus s.l. No pulsotype was shared by isolates from soil and milk on the same farm. Presumptive B. cereus s.l. was widely distributed within the dairy farm environment.
  • Developing farm-level sustainability indicators for Ireland using the Teagasc National Farm Survey

    Ryan, Mary; Hennessy, Thia; Buckley, Cathal; Dillon, Emma J.; Donnellan, Trevor; Hanrahan, Kevin; Moran, Brian (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2016-12-30)
    In the context of an expanding, export-dependent agri-food sector, indicators of sustainable development and intensification are necessary to measure, assess and verify the comparative advantage afforded by Ireland’s natural pastoral-based food production systems. Such indicators are also necessary to ensure that we produce more food with less adverse impacts on the Irish environment, climate and society. This article outlines the development of farm-level indicators that refect the multifaceted nature of sustainability, which is encompassed in economic, environmental and social indicators. The role of innovation in farm sustainability was also examined. A comparison of indicators across Irish farm systems showed that dairy farms, followed by tillage farms, tended to be the most economically and socially sustainable farm systems. In relation to greenhouse gas emissions in particular, the top-performing dairy farms, in an economic sense, also tended to be the best-performing farms from an environmental sustainability perspective. This trend was also evident in relation to the adoption of innovative practices on farm, which was found to be strongly correlated with economic performance.
  • Dairy product production and lactose demand in New Zealand and Ireland under different simulated milk product-processing portfolios

    Sneddon, N.W.; Lopez-Villabos, N.; Hickson, R.E.; Davis, S.R.; Geary, U.; Garrick, D.J.; Shalloo, Laurence (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2016-12-30)
    Maximising dairy industry profitability involves maximising product returns for a specific set of costs or minimising costs for a certain level of output. A strategy currently utilised by the New Zealand dairy industry to optimise the value of exports is to incorporate imported lactose along with local milk to maximise the production of whole milk powder (WMP) while complying with the Codex Alimentarius (Codex) standards, in addition to increasing the exported product for every litre of milk. This study investigated the impact of different product portfolio strategies on lactose requirements for the Irish and New Zealand dairy industries for current and predicted 2020 milk output projections. A mass balance processing sector model that accounts for all inputs, outputs and losses involved in dairy processing was used to simulate the processing of milk into WMP, skim milk powder (SMP), cheese, butter and fluid milk of different proportions. All scenarios investigated projected an increase in production and revenue from 2012 to 2020. Higher cheese production reduced industry lactose demand through whey processing, while scenarios reliant on an increase in the proportion of WMP were associated with increased lactose deficits.
  • Response of two-row and six-row barley to fertiliser N under Irish conditions

    Hackett, Richard (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2016-12-30)
    A range of cultivar types, including two-row and six-row types as well as line and hybrid types, are used for winter barley production in Ireland. There is little information available on the fertiliser nitrogen (N) requirements or the N use efficiency of these different types, particularly under Irish conditions. The objectives of the work presented here were to compare the response to fertiliser N of a two-row line cultivar, a six-row line cultivar and a six-row hybrid cultivar in terms of grain yield and aspects of N use efficiency. Experiments were carried out over three growing seasons, in the period 2012-2014, on a light-textured soil comparing the response of the three cultivars of winter barley to fertiliser N application rates ranging from 0 to 260 kg N/ha. There was no evidence that cultivar type, regardless of whether it was a two-row or six-row line cultivar or a six-row hybrid cultivar, influenced the response to fertiliser N of winter barley. There were some indications that six-row cultivars were less efficient at recovering soil N but used accumulated N more efficiently than the two-row cultivar. This work provided no evidence to support adjustment of fertiliser N inputs to winter barley based on cultivar type
  • The costs of seasonality and expansion in Ireland’s milk production and processing

    Heinschink, K.; Shalloo, Laurence; Wallace, M. (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2016-12-30)
    Ireland’s milk production sector relies on grass-based spring-calving systems, which facilitates cost advantages in milk production but entails a high degree of supply seasonality. Among other implications, this supply seasonality involves extra costs in the processing sector including elevated plant capacities and varying levels of resource utilisation throughout the year. If both the national raw milk production increased substantially (e.g. post-milk quota) and a high degree of seasonality persisted, extra processing capacities would be required to cope with peak supplies. Alternatively, existing capacities could be used more efficiently by distributing the milk volume more evenly during the year. In this analysis, an optimisation model was applied to analyse the costs and economies arising to an average Irish milk-processing business due to changes to the monthly distribution of milk deliveries and/or the total annual milk pool. Of the situations examined, changing from a seasonal supply prior to expansion to a smoother pattern combined with an increased milk pool emerged as the most beneficial option to the processor because both the processor’s gross surplus and the marginal producer milk price increased. In practice, it may however be the case that the extra costs arising to the producer from smoothing the milk intake distribution exceed the processor’s benefit. The interlinkages between the stages of the dairy supply chain mean that nationally, the seasonality trade-offs are complex and equivocal. Moreover, the prospective financial implications of such strategies will be dependent on the evolving and uncertain nature of international dairy markets in the post-quota environment.
  • A methodological framework to determine optimum durations for the construction of soil water characteristic curves using centrifugation

    Vero, Sara E.; Healy, Mark G.; Henry, Tiernan; Creamer, Rachel E.; Ibrahim, Tristan G.; Forrestal, Patrick J.; Richards, Karl G.; Fenton, Owen T. (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2016-12-30)
    During laboratory assessment of the soil water characteristic curve (SWCC), determining equilibrium at various pressures is challenging. This study establishes a methodological framework to identify appropriate experimental duration at each pressure step for the construction of SWCCs via centrifugation. Three common temporal approaches to equilibrium – 24-, 48- and 72-h – are examined, for a grassland and arable soil. The framework highlights the differences in equilibrium duration between the two soils. For both soils, the 24-h treatment significantly overestimated saturation. For the arable site, no significant difference was observed between the 48- and 72-h treatments. Hence, a 48-h treatment was sufficient to determine ‘effective equilibrium’. For the grassland site, the 48- and 72-h treatments differed significantly. This highlights that a more prolonged duration is necessary for some soils to conclusively determine that effective equilibrium has been reached. This framework can be applied to other soils to determine the optimum centrifuge durations for SWCC construction.
  • Comparison of methods for the identification and sub-typing of O157 and non-O157 Escherichia coli serotypes and their integration into a polyphasic taxonomy approach

    Prieto-Calvo, M.A.; Omer, M.K.; Alveseike, O.; Lopez, M.; Alvarez-Ordonez, A.; Prieto, M. (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2016-12-30)
    Phenotypic, chemotaxonomic and genotypic data from 12 strains of Escherichia coli were collected, including carbon source utilisation profiles, ribotypes, sequencing data of the 16S–23S rRNA internal transcribed region (ITS) and Fourier transform-infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopic profiles. The objectives were to compare several identification systems for E. coli and to develop and test a polyphasic taxonomic approach using the four methodologies combined for the sub-typing of O157 and non-O157 E. coli. The nucleotide sequences of the 16S–23S rRNA ITS regions were amplified by polymerase chain reaction (PCR), sequenced and compared with reference data available at the GenBank database using the Basic Local Alignment Search Tool (BLAST) . Additional information comprising the utilisation of carbon sources, riboprint profiles and FT-IR spectra was also collected. The capacity of the methods for the identification and typing of E. coli to species and subspecies levels was evaluated. Data were transformed and integrated to present polyphasic hierarchical clusters and relationships. The study reports the use of an integrated scheme comprising phenotypic, chemotaxonomic and genotypic information (carbon source profile, sequencing of the 16S–23S rRNA ITS, ribotyping and FT-IR spectroscopy) for a more precise characterisation and identification of E. coli. The results showed that identification of E. coli strains by each individual method was limited mainly by the extension and quality of reference databases. On the contrary, the polyphasic approach, whereby heterogeneous taxonomic data were combined and weighted, improved the identification results, gave more consistency to the final clustering and provided additional information on the taxonomic structure and phenotypic behaviour of strains, as shown by the close clustering of strains with similar stress resistance patterns.