• Effect of stocking rate and animal genotype on dry matter intake, milk production, body weight, and body condition score in spring-calving, grass-fed dairy cows

      Coffey, E. L.; Delaby, Luc; Fitzgerald, S.; Galvin, Norann; Pierce, K.M.; Horan, Brendan; Dairy Research Ireland (Elsevier, 2017-06-28)
      The objective of the experiment was to quantify the effect of stocking rate (SR) and animal genotype on milk production, dry matter intake (DMI), energy balance, and production efficiency across 2 consecutive grazing seasons (2014 and 2015). A total of 753 records from 177 dairy cows were available for analysis: 68 Holstein-Friesian and 71 Jersey × Holstein-Friesian (JxHF) cows each year of the experiment under a pasture-based seasonal production system. Animals within each breed group were randomly allocated to 1 of 3 whole-farm SR treatments defined in terms of body weight per hectare (kg of body weight/ha): low (1,200 kg of body weight/ha), medium (1,400 kg of body weight/ha), and high (1,600 kg of body weight/ha), and animals remained in the same SR treatments for the duration of the experiment. Individual animal DMI was estimated 3 times per year at grass using the n-alkane technique: March (spring), June (summer), and September (autumn), corresponding to 45, 111, and 209 d in milk, respectively. The effects of SR, animal genotype, season, and their interactions were analyzed using mixed models. Milk production, body weight, and production efficiency per cow decreased significantly as SR increased due to reduced herbage availability per cow and increased grazing severity. As a percentage of body weight, JxHF cows had higher feed conversion efficiency, higher DMI and milk solids (i.e., kg of fat + kg of protein) production, and also required less energy intake to produce 1 kg of milk solids. The increased production efficiency of JxHF cows at a similar body weight per hectare in the current analysis suggests that factors other than individual cow body weight contribute to the improved efficiency within intensive grazing systems. The results highlight the superior productive efficiency of high genetic potential crossbred dairy cows within intensive pasture-based milk production systems at higher SR where feed availability is restricted.
    • Milk production per cow and per hectare of spring-calving dairy cows grazing swards differing in Lolium perenne L. ploidy and Trifolium repens L. composition

      McClearn, Bríd; Gilliland, Trevor J.; Delaby, Luc; Guy, Clare; Dineen, Michael; Coughlan, Fergal; McCarthy, Brian; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Dairy Research Ireland (Elsevier, 2019-07-10)
      Grazed grass is the cheapest feed available for dairy cows in temperate regions; thus, to maximize profits, dairy farmers must optimize the use of this high-quality feed. Previous research has defined the benefits of including white clover (Trifolium repens L.) in grass swards for milk production, usually at reduced nitrogen usage and stocking rate. The aim of this study was to quantify the responses in milk production of dairy cows grazing tetraploid or diploid perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.; PRG) sown with and without white clover but without reducing stocking rate or nitrogen usage. We compared 4 grazing treatments in this study: tetraploid PRG-only swards, diploid PRG-only swards, tetraploid with white clover swards, and diploid with white clover swards. Thirty cows were assigned to each treatment, and swards were rotationally grazed at a farm-level stocking rate of 2.75 cows/ha and a nitrogen fertilizer rate of 250 kg/ha annually. Sward white clover content was 23.6 and 22.6% for tetraploid with white clover swards and diploid with white clover swards, respectively. Milk production did not differ between the 2 ploidies during this 4-yr study, but cows grazing the PRG-white clover treatments had significantly greater milk yields (+596 kg/cow per year) and milk solid yields (+48 kg/cow per year) compared with cows grazing the PRG-only treatments. The PRG-white clover swards also produced 1,205 kg of DM/ha per year more herbage, which was available for conserving and buffer feeding in spring when these swards were less productive than PRG-only swards. Although white clover is generally combined with reduced nitrogen fertilizer use, this study provides evidence that including white clover in either tetraploid or diploid PRG swards, combined with high levels of nitrogen fertilizer, can effectively increase milk production per cow and per hectare.
    • Milk production per cow and per hectare of spring-calving dairy cows grazing swards differing in Lolium perenne L. ploidy and Trifolium repens L. composition

      McClearn, B.; Gilliland, T.J.; Delaby, L.; Guy, C.; Dineen, M.; Coughlan, F.; McCarthy, B.; Dairy Research Ireland; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (American Dairy Science Association, 2019-09)
      Grazed grass is the cheapest feed available for dairy cows in temperate regions; thus, to maximize profits, dairy farmers must optimize the use of this high-quality feed. Previous research has defined the benefits of including white clover (Trifolium repens L.) in grass swards for milk production, usually at reduced nitrogen usage and stocking rate. The aim of this study was to quantify the responses in milk production of dairy cows grazing tetraploid or diploid perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.; PRG) sown with and without white clover but without reducing stocking rate or nitrogen usage. We compared 4 grazing treatments in this study: tetraploid PRG-only swards, diploid PRG-only swards, tetraploid with white clover swards, and diploid with white clover swards. Thirty cows were assigned to each treatment, and swards were rotationally grazed at a farm-level stocking rate of 2.75 cows/ha and a nitrogen fertilizer rate of 250 kg/ha annually. Sward white clover content was 23.6 and 22.6% for tetraploid with white clover swards and diploid with white clover swards, respectively. Milk production did not differ between the 2 ploidies during this 4-yr study, but cows grazing the PRG-white clover treatments had significantly greater milk yields (+596 kg/cow per year) and milk solid yields (+48 kg/cow per year) compared with cows grazing the PRG-only treatments. The PRG-white clover swards also produced 1,205 kg of DM/ha per year more herbage, which was available for conserving and buffer feeding in spring when these swards were less productive than PRG-only swards. Although white clover is generally combined with reduced nitrogen fertilizer use, this study provides evidence that including white clover in either tetraploid or diploid PRG swards, combined with high levels of nitrogen fertilizer, can effectively increase milk production per cow and per hectare
    • Pasture Feeding Changes the Bovine Rumen and Milk Metabolome

      O’Callaghan, Tom; Vázquez-Fresno, Rosa; Serra-Cayuela, Arnau; Dong, Edison; Mandal, Rupasri; Hennessy, Deirdre; McAuliffe, Stephen; Dillon, Pat; Wishart, David; Stanton, Catherine; et al. (MDPI AG, 2018-04-06)
      The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of two pasture feeding systems—perennial ryegrass (GRS) and perennial ryegrass and white clover (CLV)—and an indoor total mixed ration (TMR) system on the (a) rumen microbiome; (b) rumen fluid and milk metabolome; and (c) to assess the potential to distinguish milk from different feeding systems by their respective metabolomes. Rumen fluid was collected from nine rumen cannulated cows under the different feeding systems in early, mid and late lactation, and raw milk samples were collected from ten non-cannulated cows in mid-lactation from each of the feeding systems. The microbiota present in rumen liquid and solid portions were analysed using 16S rRNA gene sequencing, while 1H-NMR untargeted metabolomic analysis was performed on rumen fluid and raw milk samples. The rumen microbiota composition was not found to be significantly altered by any feeding system in this study, likely as a result of a shortened adaptation period (two weeks’ exposure time). In contrast, feeding system had a significant effect on both the rumen and milk metabolome. Increased concentrations of volatile fatty acids including acetic acid, an important source of energy for the cow, were detected in the rumen of TMR and CLV-fed cows. Pasture feeding resulted in significantly higher concentrations of isoacids in the rumen. The ruminal fluids of both CLV and GRS-fed cows were found to have increased concentrations of p-cresol, a product of microbiome metabolism. CLV feeding resulted in increased rumen concentrations of formate, a substrate compound for methanogenesis. The TMR feeding resulted in significantly higher rumen choline content, which contributes to animal health and milk production, and succinate, a product of carbohydrate metabolism. Milk and rumen-fluids were shown to have varying levels of dimethyl sulfone in each feeding system, which was found to be an important compound for distinguishing between the diets. CLV feeding resulted in increased concentrations of milk urea. Milk from pasture-based feeding systems was shown to have significantly higher concentrations of hippuric acid, a potential biomarker of pasture-derived milk. This study has demonstrated that 1H-NMR metabolomics coupled with multivariate analysis is capable of distinguishing both rumen-fluid and milk derived from cows on different feeding systems, specifically between indoor TMR and pasture-based diets used in this study.