• Conservation characteristics of grass and dry sugar beet pulp co-ensiled after different degrees of mixing

      Cummins, B.; O'Kiely, Padraig; Keane, Michael G.; Kenny, David A.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2007)
      The objective of this experiment was to quantify the effects of the degree of mixing of dry molassed sugar beet pulp (BP) with grass on silage conservation characteristics. Herbage from a timothy (Phleum pratense) sward was precision chopped and treated with a formic acid based additive (3 l/t grass). Units of 50 kg grass, without or with 2.5kg BP were randomly allocated among four replicates on each of seven treatments. The treatments were (1) no BP (NONE), (2) BP evenly mixed through the grass (EVEN), (3) BP evenly mixed through the lower 25 kg grass (LOWH), (4) BP evenly mixed through the lower 12.5 kg grass (LOWQ), (5) 0.625 kg BP mixed through the top 25 kg grass and 1.875 kg SBP mixed through the lower 25 kg grass (25/75), (6) BP placed in 0.5 kg layers beneath each 10 kg grass (LAYR), and (7) BP placed in a single layer under all of the grass (BOTM). Laboratory silos were filled and sealed, and stored at 15 °C for 163 days. Effluent was collected and weighed from each silo throughout the ensilage period. At opening, silage composition and aerobic stability measurements were made. Total outflow of effluent was reduced (P<0.001) by the addition of BP; LAYR had a greater effect (P<0.001) than any of the other treatments. Effluent dry matter (DM) concentration was highest (P<0.05) for BOTM and lowest (P<0.01) for NONE. All treatments underwent similar lactic-acid dominant fermentations. Incorporation of BP with grass increased silage DM concentration (P<0.001), in vitro DM digestibility (P<0.05) and water soluble carbohydrate (P<0.001) concentration and reduced acid detergent fibre (P<0.001) concentration. Aerobic stability was similar across treatments and aerobic deterioration at 192 h was higher (P<0.05) for LOWQ, 25/75, LAYR and BOTM than for NONE. In conclusion, the incorporation of BP increased silage DM digestibility but had relatively little effect on fermentation or aerobic stability. Placing BP in layers gave the largest and most sustained restriction in effluent output.
    • Manipulating the ensilage of wilted, unchopped grass through the use of additive treatments

      McEniry, Joseph; O'Kiely, Padraig; Clipson, Nicholas J.W.; Forristal, P.D.; Doyle, Evelyn M.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2007)
      Baled silage composition frequently differs from that of comparable conventional precision-chop silage. The lower final concentration of fermentation products in baled silage makes it more conducive to the activities of undesirable microorganisms. Silage additives can be used to encourage beneficial microbial activity and/or inhibit detrimental microbial activity. The experiment was organised in a 2 (chop treatments) × 6 (additive treatments) × 2 (stages of ensilage) factorial arrangement of treatments (n = 3 silos/treatment) to suggest additive treatments for use in baled silage production that would help create conditions more inhibitory to the activities of undesirable microorganisms and realise an outcome comparable to precision-chop silage. Chopping the herbage prior to ensiling, in the absence of an additive treatment, improved the silage fermentation. In the unchopped herbage, where the fermentation was poorer, the lactic acid bacterial inoculant resulted in an immediate increase (P < 0.001) in lactic acid concentration and a faster decline (P < 0.001) in pH with a subsequent reduction in butyric acid (P < 0.001) and ammonia-N (P < 0.01) concentrations. When sucrose was added in addition to the lactic acid bacterial inoculant, the combined treatment had a more pronounced effect on pH, butyric acid and ammonia-N values at the end of ensilage. The formic acid based additive and the antimicrobial mixture restricted the activities of undesirable microorganisms resulting in reduced concentrations of butyric acid (P < 0.001) and ammonia-N (P < 0.01). These additives offer a potential to create conditions in baled silage more inhibitory to the activities of undesirable microorganisms.
    • Aspects of management options for pasture-based dairy production stocked at two cows per hectare

      Humphreys, James; Lawless, Aidan; Healy, M.; Boland, A.; McNamara, K. (Teagasc, 2007-01-01)
      White clover in association with Rhizobium bacteria have the capacity to fix or convent atmospheric N into plant available N. This can make a considerable contribution to sward productivity. One of the objectives of this experiment was to determine the upper carrying capacity of grass-white clover swards receiving 90 kg fertilizer N/ha. A second objective was to examine the impact of grass-clover swards on mineral-N in the soil and losses of nitrate-N from soil to drainage water during the winter. This experiment was conducted at Solohead Research Farm. There were three treatments: (i) A grass-only treatment (FN) stocked at 2.0 cows per ha in 2003 and 2.2 cows per ha during 2004, 2005 and 2006. This treatment received an average of 226 kg per ha of fertilizer N per year during these years. (ii) A grass-clover treatment (WC) stocked at the same rates as FN and received an average of 90 kg per ha of fertilizer N per year during the experiment. (iii) A grass-only treatment (CC) that was gradually converted over to grass-clover during the experiment and stocked at 2.0 cows per ha throughout the experiment. Fertilizer N input was gradually lowered from 150 kg per ha in 2003 to a target of 90 kg per ha in 2005 and 2006.
    • Evaluation of Lolium perenne L. cv. AberDart and AberDove for silage production

      Conaghan, Patrick; O'Kiely, Padraig; Howard, H.; O'Mara, Frank P.; Halling, M.A.; European Union; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; QLK5-CT-2001-0498 (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2008)
      The objective of this study was to assess the value, for silage production, of intermediateheading Lolium perenne L. cultivars, AberDart and AberDove (diploid), bred for increased water-soluble carbohydrate (WSC) concentrations, relative to four control cultivars (Fennema, AberElan and Spelga (diploid), and Greengold (tetraploid)). Cultivars were evaluated for forage dry matter (DM) yield, ground cover and indirect laboratory measures of nutritional value and ensilability over 3 harvest years within intensive silage-production systems. AberDove was the most desirable diploid for silage production producing on average 316 kg/ha higher (2%) DM yield per annum, having a 10 g/kg higher (1%) dry matter digestibility (DMD) and, based primarily on a 6 g/L higher (19%) concentration of WSC expressed in the aqueous extract (WSCAE), offered the greatest potential to produce well preserved silage. Ensiling AberDart compared to the diploid controls offered a slightly greater probability of producing well preserved silage based on a modest increase of 2 g/L (6%) in WSCAE concentration. The dilemma for silage production is that AberDart, on average produced 558 kg/ha less (4%) DM yield per annum but had a greater (1%) DMD of 6 g/kg than the diploid controls. The tetraploid control had, on average, 13 and 8 g/kg higher (2% and 1%, respectively) DMD than AberDart and AberDove, but at a cost of lower ensilability with lower (6% and 21%, respectively) WSCAE values of 2 and 6 g/L. In its favour, the tetraploid control outyielded AberDart by, on average, 917 kg/ha DM per annum (7%) and produced comparable yields to AberDove. Final ground cover ratings were high (≥ 95%) for all cultivars. Evaluation of nutritional value and ensilability offers further grounds to differentiate and select cultivars for animal production potential.
    • Alternatives to formic acid as a grass silage additive under two contrasting ensilability conditions

      Lorenzo, B. Fernandez; O'Kiely, Padraig (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2008)
      The effects of formic acid and four alternative additives on silage fermentation, in-silo DM losses and aerobic stability were compared in an experiment using both difficultto- ensile (DIFF) and easier-to-ensile (EASI) herbages. Both were ensiled in laboratory silos with either no additive or following the application of formic acid (FA; 850 g/kg) at 3 mL/kg herbage, Add-SaFeR® (ATF1) and GrasAAT® (ATF2), both based on ammonium tetraformate, at 4 mL/kg herbage, an antimicrobial mixture (MIX; potassium formate, sodium disulfite and sodium benzoate) at 3 g/kg herbage, or Ecosyl (LAB; Lactobacillus plantarum) at 3 mL/kg herbage. There were four replicates per treatment and the silos were stored for 132 days. DIFF silage made without additive was poorly fermented. All additives increased the extent and improved the direction of DIFF silage fermentation, and reduced in-silo losses. However, MIX did not reduce butyric acid concentration and increased the extent of aerobic deterioration. LAB had a smaller effect on fermentation and in-silo losses than FA. With EASI silages, all additives restricted the extent of fermentation and improved fermentation quality, with the latter effect being smaller than for DIFF silages. LAB promoted a particularly homolactic fermentation but subsequently increased aerobic deterioration. In both DIFF and EASI silages additive treatment improved in vitro digestibility. It is concluded that only ATF1, ATF2 and MIX were as effective as FA at improving silage preservation and reducing in-silo losses with both DIFF and EASI herbages. However, ATF1 and ATF2 were superior in reducing the apparent extent of proteolysis and MIX was slightly less effective at reducing the activity of saccharolytic Clostridia.
    • Development of an efficient milk production profile of the Irish dairy Industry

      Shalloo, Laurence; Dillon, Pat; Wallace, Michael; Dairy Levy Research Trust; European Union (Teagasc, 2008-07)
      Fluctuation around milk price will be the biggest factor that the dairy industry will experience over the next number of years. This fluctuation is being driven by fluctuation on the world dairy markets. In the past, when intervention was a much bigger feature of the CAP regime, the fluctuation in world markets had little effect on the EU price. This was because the Intervention system bought product from the market when prices were depressed and placed products on the world market when the price rose. This in effect meant that the CAP regime was having a regulatory effect on the world market as well as the EU markets. An example of the type of fluctuation observed on the world market can be gleamed from the Fonterra milk price in 2006-2007 ($4.50/kg (MS) milk solid) versus 2007-2008 ($7.90/kg MS). This corresponds to a 76% increase in price in 1 year. For the Dairy Industry in Ireland to prosper under these conditions all sectors will be required to be as efficient as possible from the farm, processing and marketing sectors. This report deals with; (1) Milk payment (2) Optimum milk production systems and (3) Seasonality of milk supply. (1) Milk payment systems in Ireland currently do not adequately reward high solids quality milk. Virtually all milk payment systems include a positive constant which reward the production of volume rather than the production of protein and fat kilograms. The A+B-C system of milk payment would adequately reward the production of protein and fat while at the same time correcting for the volume related processing costs. (2) Optimum systems of milk production will be built around the maximization of grass utilization in the future. Grazed grass is the cheapest feed that can be fed to dairy cows. Stocking rates nationally are 1.74cows/Ha around the milking platform and therefore when dairy farms are expanding they should do so by increasing stocking rate. The inclusion of supplementary feeds will reduce profitability for the vast majority of dairy farmers and could only possibly lead to increases in profitability when coupled increases in stocking rate. (3) Grass based systems while substantially reducing costs at farm level result in a seasonal milk supply profile. This results in a reduced capacity utilization of the milk processing facilities as well as restricted product port folio. However the production of Winter milk will lead to significant cost increases at farm level and should only be encouraged if the specific product produced would be sufficient to cover the additional costs associated with over winter production. Within spring calving systems milk payment systems should be used to encourage an efficient milk supply profile with a mean compact calving date of mid February.
    • The effect of grass genotype and spring management on the nutritive value of mid-summer ryegrass swards

      O'Donovan, Michael; Hurley, Grainne; Gilliland, Trevor (Teagasc, 2008-07-01)
      The objective of this project was to investigate the environmental, morphological and management factors that control reproductive initiation and development in Lolium perenne L. (perennial ryegrass) and their influence on mid-season sward quality. These factors were assessed on eight perennial ryegrass cultivars through spaced plant and plot studies. The first part of this project determined the effects of meteorological conditions and latitude on reproductive initiation and ear emergence of cultivars over two consecutive years. It was concluded that the critical day length requirement for reproductive initiation varies between perennial ryegrass cultivars and is independent of latitude and the normal range of conditions. Using this information a strong correlation (r2 = 0.94) was found between the critical day length for ear initiation and the ten year standardised ear emergence dates of the cultivars. This correlation was sufficiently robust to predict the critical initiation date for any perennial ryegrass cultivar on a UK recommended list or on the EU common catalogue by using their heading dates from the UK Plant Breeders Rights trials at Crossnacreevy. Large variation was observed for secondary initiation and re-heading between cultivars of similar and varying maturity, which is a major factor reducing mid-season sward quality. The propensity for initiation of re-heading was strongly influenced by the severity of defoliation (intense to very lax), but there was also evidence to suggest that critical day length post-solstice, may determine the latest date when further reproductive initiation could occur. Differences in plant growth modes were clearly evident as the sward structure, plant morphology and nutritive compositions differed significantly between cultivars during the mid-season. Defoliation management also significantly affected mid-season sward structure, morphology and nutritive composition. While the effect of defoliation height on the sward physical and chemical compositions was inconclusive, an intensive (30 mm) defoliation resulted in plants returning to a vegetative growth mode earlier compared to a lax (60 mm) defoliation treatment. It was observed that defoliation at a critical growth stage can significantly affect subsequent sward structures. Delaying initial spring defoliation resulted in a greater leaf proportion and swards of greater herbage quality in the plot study. This study, therefore, established the need for more detailed evaluation of cultivars by national testing authorities to allow farmers to select cultivars for grazing use that will optimise animal intake and performance.
    • Cow welfare in grass based milk production systems

      Boyle, Laura; Olmos, G.; Llamas Moya, S.; Palmer, M.A.; Gleeson, David E; O'Brien, Bernadette; Horan, Brendan; Berry, Donagh; Arkins, S.; Alonso Gómez, M.; et al. (Teagasc, 2008-08-01)
      Under this project, aspects of pasture based milk production systems, namely different milking frequency and feeding strategies as well as genetic selection for improved fitness using the Irish Economic Breeding Index (EBI) were evaluated in terms of dairy cow behaviour, health, immune function and reproductive performance. Additionally, a typical Irish pasture based system was compared to one in which cows were kept indoors in cubicles and fed a total mixed ration for the duration of lactation in order to elucidate the perceived benefits of pasture based systems for dairy cow welfare.
    • The effect of different levels of spring grass supply and stocking rate on the performance and intake of cows in early lactation

      O'Donovan, Michael; McEvoy, Mary; Kennedy, Emer; Delaby, Luc; Murphy, John (Teagasc, 2008-11-01)
      Grazed herbage can supply nutrients to dairy cows at a lower cost than alternative feeds (Shalloo et al., 2004). Therefore, the objective of pasture-based systems must be to maximize the proportion of grazed grass in the diet of the dairy cow (Dillon et al., 2005). The extension of the grazing season into the early spring period can be facilitated by ceasing grazing of pastures earlier in autumn which allows grass to accumulate, thereby ensuring an adequate herbage supply in early spring when animal demand exceeds grass growth/supply (O’Donovan, 2000). Grazing pastures in early spring has previously been shown to increase herbage utilization and condition swards for subsequent grazing rotations (O’Donovan et al., 2004; Kennedy et al., 2006).
    • Comparative growth and management of white and red clovers

      Black, Alistair D; Laidlaw, A.S.; Moot, D.J.; O'Kiely, Padraig (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2009)
      The aim of this paper is to provide the underpinning scientific basis for the optimum management of white and red clovers. Critical morphological and canopy characteristics which influence the yield and persistence of white and red clover in swards, and how management factors (choice of cultivar, defoliation and nitrogen (N) fertilizer) modify these are considered. Canopy development is vitally important as it determines the extent to which a) light is intercepted for photosynthesis needed for growth and b) the base of the sward is deprived of the red component in daylight, inhibiting branching of stolons and crowns in white and red clover, respectively. The role of cultivar, defoliation and N fertilizer in determining yield and persistence of the two legumes, mainly in mixtures with grass, are discussed principally in terms of morphological development and exploitation of light. It is concluded that optimum management for grass/white clover places emphasis on building up stolons and maximising contribution of clover leaf area to the upper layers of the mixed canopy and, while red clover is more competitive to grass than white clover, that benefit is lost when a grass/red clover sward is grazed.
    • Influence of testing procedure on evaluation of white clover (Trifolium repens L.)

      Gilliland, T. J.; McGilloway, D.; Conaghan, Patrick (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2009)
      This study examined data sets derived from the white clover cultivar evaluation programmes of AFBI (N. Ireland), and DAFF (Republic of Ireland) to determine whether elite performing genotypes are identifiable, independent of test procedure and leaf size factors. Genetic variation in yield and persistency, independent of the leaf size continuum effect, was observed. Identification of elite cultivars by breeders or testers therefore required readjustment of assessment standards to account for the mostly curvilinear relationships between performance and leaf size. The different testing procedures, involving cutting or grazing at different heights, frequencies and nitrogen rates changed the relative performances between the cultivars, making it difficult to predict performance potential beyond specific test conditions. The underlying causes for these changes in rankings was considered, including sensitivity to season and location, the antagonistic affects of defoliation pressure and companion grass competition, the independence of different seasonal profiles and the probable role of other morphological characteristics. In is concluded that testing authorities must calculate the management by leaf size relationships to adjust pass/fail standards if elite performing cultivars are to be correctly indentified.
    • Variations in travel time for N loading to groundwaters in four case studies in Ireland:Implications for policy makers and regulators

      Fenton, Owen; Coxon, Catherine E.; Haria, Atul H.; Horan, Brendan; Humphreys, James; Johnston, Paul; Murphy, Paul N. C.; Necpalova, Magdalena; Premrov, Alina; Richards, Karl G. (School of Agriculture, Food Science and Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin in association with Teagasc, 2009)
      Mitigation measures to protect waterbodies must be implemented by 2012 to meet the requirements of the EU Water Framework Directive. The efficacy of these measures will be assessed in 2015. Whilst diffuse N pathways between source and receptor are generally long and complex, EU legislation does not account for differences in hydrological travel time distributions that may result in different water quality response times. The “lag time” between introducing mitigation measures and first improvements in water quality is likely to be different in different catchments; a process that should be considered by policy makers and catchment managers. Many examples of travel time variations have been quoted in the literature but no Irish specific examples are available. Lag times based on initial nutrient breakthrough at four contrasting sites were estimated to a receptor 500 m away from a source. Vertical travel times were estimated using a combination of depth of infiltration calculations based on effective rainfall and subsoil physical parameters and existing hydrological tracer data. Horizontal travel times were estimated using a combination of Darcian linear velocity calculations and existing tracer migration data. Total travel times, assuming no biogeochemical processes, ranged from months to decades between the contrasting sites; the shortest times occurred under thin soil/subsoil on karst limestone and the longest times through thick low permeability soils/subsoils over poorly productive aquifers. Policy makers should consider hydrological lag times when assessing the efficacy of mitigation measures introduced under the Water Framework Directive. This lag time reflects complete flushing of a particular nutrient from source to receptor. Further research is required to assess the potential mitigation of nitrate through denitrification along the pathway from source to receptor.
    • Nutritive value of forage legumes used for grazing and silage

      Dewhurst, Richard J.; Delaby, Luc; Moloney, Aidan P; Boland, T. M.; Lewis, Eva (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2009)
      Legume forages have an important position in ruminant production in Western Europe and with further development can play an even larger role. Red clover for silage and white clover in grazed swards lead to enhanced growth rate and milk yield in comparison with pure grasses. Much of the production benefit of these legumes relates to enhanced intake since digestibilities are not markedly different to grasses. The higher intake of legume silages reflects differences in the cell structure of legume plants which combined with high fermentation rates means that they break down into small particles in the rumen, and leave the rumen more rapidly than perennial ryegrass. Ease of ingestion leads to high rates of intake, which explains higher intakes for grazed legumes. A further benefit of legumes is the reduced rate of decline in digestibility with advancing maturity. Whilst legumes have limited effects on gross milk composition or carcass characteristics, there are marked increases in levels of beneficial n−3 PUFA. Legumes have often led to a reduction in methane production from the rumen and again, this relates to both physical and chemical differences between forage species. The high rates of release of soluble protein and of breakdown to small particles from clovers and lucerne is associated with susceptibility to bloat, which is a limitation to further exploitation in grazing systems. The high concentration of rapidly degraded protein in legumes also leads to inefficient utilisation of dietary N and increased urinary N output. Research with tanniniferous forages, such as birdsfoot trefoil and sulla, demonstrates the potential for future legumes with reduced environmental and health effects, though these particular forage legumes are not well adapted to temperate regions of Western Europe that are the focus of this review.
    • Feed intake pattern, behaviour, rumen characteristics and blood metabolites of finishing beef steers offered total mixed rations constituted at feeding or ensiling

      Cummins, B.; O'Kiely, Padraig; Keane, Michael G.; Kenny, David A.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2009)
      Two experiments were undertaken. In Experiment 1, behaviour, intake pattern and blood metabolites, were recorded for steers offered total mixed rations (TMR) based on grass silage and concentrates, and constituted either at ensiling (E-TMR) or feedout (F-TMR). Fourteen continental crossbred steers (mean starting weight 505 (s.d. 41.5) kg) were assigned to each of the following eight treatments: grass silage offered ad libitum (SO), E-TMR diets constituted in approximate dry matter (DM) ratios of grass:concentrates of 75:25 (EL), 50:50 (EM) and 25:75 (EH), F-TMR diets constituted in approximate DM ratios of grass silage:concentrates of 75:25 (FL), 50:50 (FM) and 25:75 (FH), and finally concentrates ad libitum (AL). Total DM intake increased linearly (P < 0.001) and the time spent eating and ruminating decreased linearly (P < 0.001) with increasing concentrate proportion. Animals on the F-TMR diets had higher total DM intakes (P < 0.05) and plasma glucose (P < 0.05) and urea (P < 0.001) concentrations than animals on the corresponding E-TMR diets. No effect of method of feed preparation on intake pattern or behaviour was recorded. In Experiment 2, four ruminally cannulated Holstein-Friesian steers of mean initial live weight 630 (s.d. 23.2) kg were used to evaluate rumen characteristics for four of the above diets (FL, EL, FH and EH) in a 4 × 4 latin square design. Higher concentrate diets resulted in lower rumen pH (P < 0.05), higher lactic acid (P < 0.001) and ammonia (P < 0.05) concentrations and lower acetate:propionate (P < 0.05). F-TMR was associated with a higher (P < 0.05) rumen volatile fatty acid concentration but no difference in other rumen fermentation characteristics compared to E-TMR. Concentrate proportion and method of feed preparation had no effect (P > 0.05) on rumen pool sizes but animals consuming the high concentrate diet had a faster (P < 0.05) rumen passage rate of NDF than animals on the low concentrate diet.
    • An evaluation of two grassland-based systems of mid-season prime lamb production using prolific ewes of two genotypes

      Keady, Tim; Hanrahan, James P; Flanagan, S. (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2009)
      A 4-year study was undertaken to evaluate the effects of two contrasting management systems [year-round grazing (YRG) and normal seasonal grazing followed by indoor feeding during winter (GWF)] on performance of mid-season lambing ewes. On the GWF system, the annual stocking rate was 14.4 ewes/ha, grass silage was conserved for winter feeding indoors, and the ewes were lambed indoors and were then turned out to pasture. The YRG system was stocked at 10.5 ewes/ha, was grazed during the winter, had outdoor lambing and the animals had access to all the farmlet for summer grazing. The ewes were Belclare and Cheviot × Belclare which were balanced across systems. Mean lambing dates and fertiliser N application rates were 20 and 30 March, and 85 and 92 kg/ha, for the GWF and YRG systems, respectively. Concentrate supplementation during late pregnancy was similar on both systems. For the GWF and YRG systems, litter size, lamb mortality, number of lambs reared, birth weight (kg), weaning weight (kg) and lamb carcass output (kg/ha) were 2.17 and 2.24 (s.e. 0.038), 10.1 and 13.8% (P = 0.05), 1.77 and 1.78 (s.e. 0.042), 4.0 and 4.7 (s.e. 0.05, P < 0.001), 27.9 and 30.8 (s.e. 0.25, P < 0.001) and 469 and 348, respectively. Belclare ewes had a higher litter size (2.34 v 2.07; s.e. 0.038, P < 0.001) and number of lambs reared per ewe joined (1.86 v 1.69; s.e. 0.048, P < 0.01) than the Cheviot × Belclare ewes. There were no significant interactions between system and ewe breed type. It is concluded that the YRG system of prime lamb production was sustainable using prolific ewes but at a reduced stocking rate (−26%) and with greater lamb mortality relative to the GWF system. Ewe genotypes with a mean litter size of up to 2.34 lambs are suitable for both systems. Lamb carcass output of 501 kg/ha was achieved from a primarily grass-based system of mid-season prime lamb production using prolific ewes (Belclare).
    • Prediction of cull cow carcass characteristics from live weight and body condition score measured pre slaughter

      Minchin, William; Buckley, Frank; Kenny, David A.; Keane, Michael G.; Shalloo, Laurence; O'Donovan, Michael (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2009)
      A study was conducted to provide information on the degree of carcass finish of Irish cull cows and to investigate the usefulness of live animal measurements for the prediction beef breeds (albeit with a moderate R2 value compared to the carcass weight prediction) using objective, non-intrusive and easily measured live animal measurements, should be of benefit to farmers finishing cull cows in Ireland. of cull cow carcass characteristics. Live weight (LW) and body condition score (BCS) were recorded on cows entering an Irish commercial slaughter facility between September and November, 2005. Data pertaining to sire breed, age and carcass characteristics were collected and subsequently collated for each cow. For analysis, cows (n = 2163) were subdivided into three breed categories: dairy breed sired by Holstein/ Friesian (FR), sired by early-maturing beef breeds (EM) and sired by late-maturing beef breeds (LM). The proportion of cows slaughtered at the desired (TARGET) carcass standard (cold carcass weight ≥ 272 kg, carcass conformation class ≥ P+ and carcass fat class ≥ 3) was low (on average 0.30), but did differ (P < 0.001) between the dairy and beef breed categories (0.22, 0.47 and 0.53 for FR, EM and LM categories, respectively). Regression procedures were used to develop equations to predict cold carcass weight, carcass conformation score, carcass fat score and proportion in the TARGET category from LW and BCS. Equations predicting cold carcass weight had high R2 values for all breed categories (0.81, 0.85 and 0.79 for the FR, EM and LM, respectively). Equations predicting carcass fatness had moderate R2 values for the beef breed categories (0.65 and 0.59 for the EM and LM, respectively). Equations predicting carcass conformation and the TARGET category yielded lower R2 values. The successful prediction of carcass weight for all breed categories and of carcass fatness for the
    • Conservation characteristics of baled grass silages differing in duration of wilting, bale density and number of layers of plastic stretch-film

      Keles, G.; O'Kiely, Padraig; Lenehan, J.J.; Forristal, P.D. (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2009)
      The effects of duration of wilting, bale density and number of layers of plastic stretchfilm used to wrap bales on the conservation characteristics of baled grass silage was investigated. Grass from the primary growth of a Lolium perenne dominant sward was wilted for 24, 48 or 72 h. For each duration of wilting, 54 cylindrical bales (1.2 m nominal diameter) were made with the baler at a high or low density setting for alternate bales. Bales were wrapped with 2, 4 or 6 layers of plastic stretch-film and stored outdoors for 295 days. Two layers of plastic stretch-film resulted in inferior preservation, lower digestibility and extensive mould growth and deteriorated silage. Substantial improvement occurred to each of these characteristics from applying four layers of stretch-film (P<0.05), while six layers of stretch-film brought little further improvement. When four or six layers of stretch-film were used, extensive wilting restricted fermentation and improved the standard of preservation with the apparently difficult-to-preserve herbage used in this experiment. However, under the anaerobic conditions provided by four or six layers of stretch-film neither progressive wilting nor bale density had a major effect on digestibility, or the extent of surface mould growth or deteriorated silage. It can be concluded that a minimum of four layers of conventional black plastic stretch-film were required to achieve suitably anaerobic conditions, and that the additional benefits from six layers were small. Once anaerobic conditions were achieved, extensive wilting improved the conservation characteristics of baled grass silage made from a difficult-to-preserve crop, whereas bale density had little impact.
    • Effect of genetic group and feed system on locomotion score, clinical lameness and hoof disorders of pasture-based Holstein–Friesian cows

      Olmos, G.; Boyle, Laura; Horan, Brendan; Berry, Donagh; O'Connor, Paula M.; Mee, John F; Hanlon, A. (Cambridge University Press, 2009-01)
      The aim of the present study was to determine the effect of the genetic group of the Holstein–Friesian (HF) and pasture-based feeding system (3 × 2 factorial arrangement) on locomotion score (six gait aspects scored from one to five), clinical lameness and hoof disorders within a seasonal calving milk production system. The three genetic groups compared had an average Economic Breeding Index (EBI) value of 40, 70 and 80: representing the Irish national average genetic merit (LOW-NA), high EBI genetic merit of North American ancestry (HIGH-NA) and high EBI genetic merit of New Zealand ancestry (HIGH-NZ), respectively. Two feed systems were compared: a high grass allowance, low-concentrate system typical of spring-calving herds in Ireland (control) and a high-concentrate system. Data from 126 cows collected across a complete lactation period were analysed using generalised estimating equations and survival analysis. Genetic group of HF had a significant effect on locomotion score, clinical lameness and hoof disorders. Higher EBI cows (HIGH-NA and HIGH-NZ) had lower hazard of poor locomotion score in some gait aspects (e.g. spine curvature) and lower odds of clinical lameness in the first 200 days post-calving (Odds ratios 0.08 and 0.24, respectively, relative to the LOW-NA) and some hoof disorders (e.g. traumatic lesions) compared with LOW-NA cows. The high-concentrate feed system showed a higher incidence and severity of digital dermatitis (P < 0.01). Thus, high EBI cows have better locomotion, fewer cases of clinical lameness and less-severe hoof disorders (i.e. digital dermatitis, white line disease and traumatic lesions) than low EBI cows. These findings have important implications for cow welfare and productivity.
    • Effect of Holstein–Friesian genetic group on peripartum and early lactation haematological and acute phase proteins profiles, health and fertility

      Olmos, G.; Boyle, Laura; Horan, Brendan; Berry, Donagh; Sayers, Riona; Hanlon, A.; Mee, John F (Cambridge University Press, 2009-07)
      Pasture-based Holstein–Friesian cows from three genetic groups differing in the Irish ‘Economic Breeding Index’ (EBI) value and genetic background, namely North-American (NA) national average EBI genetic merit (LOW-NA, n542), North-American high EBI genetic merit (HIGH-NA, n542) and New Zealand (NZ) high EBI genetic merit (HIGH-NZ, n542), were studied. These genetic groups have been selected in different environments: pasture for NZ and confinement for NA. The objective was to determine the effect of genetic group on haematological and acute phase proteins profiles (white blood cell (WBC) counts, red blood cell (RBC) counts, acute phase proteins: serum amyloid A (SAA) and haptoglobin), health (rectal temperature (RT), clinical mastitis (CM) and somatic cell score), calving performance (stillbirth, calving assistance) and post-partum reproductive parameters (endometritis and ovarian cyclicity). Blood sampling and data recording took place 3 weeks pre-calving up to 7 weeks post-calving. Linear mixed models, logistic regression and generalised estimating equations were used for data analysis. HIGH-NZ animals had the highest ( P,0.05) RBC mean corpuscular volume (50.0 fl), exhibited a different WBC distribution pattern ( P,0.05) and had the lowest ( P,0.05) mean RT (38.48C) for the first 10 days post-calving. These findings suggest enhanced reticulocyte turnover, peripartum response mechanisms and thermoregulation in the HIGH-NZ compared to the other two genetic groups. LOW-NA animals had the highest SAA peak throughout the peripartum period (55.12 mg/l, P,0.05) and a tendency for higher somatic cell scores ( P,0.10) in early lactation. The HIGH-NA animals had the lowest incidence of udder quarter milk sample bacteria at calving, suggesting better udder health when commencing lactation. No differences were detected between genetic groups in calving performance, post-partum reproductive parameters or CM in the first 42 days post-calving. These results suggest that while inherited peripartum adaptation strategies have been developed by the different genetic groups selected in different environments (pasture5NZ v. confinement5NA), such differences have minimal impact on peripartum clinical health.
    • A note on the evaluation of the acid-insoluble ash technique as a method for determining apparent diet digestibility in beef cattle.

      McGeough, E.J.; O'Kiely, Padraig; Kenny, David A.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; RSF 05 224 (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2010)
      The objective was to determine if the acid-insoluble ash (AIA) method provided accurate estimates of in vivo apparent digestibility compared with the standard total faecal collection (TFC) method. Twelve steers, mean live weight 328 (s.d. 27.3) kg, were offered one of three diets based on whole-crop wheat (WCW) or a grass silage (GS) diet in a 4 × 4 latin square design. Apparent dietary digestibility was determined simultaneously using AIA and TFC methods. Agreement between the two methods depended on diet type, with acceptable agreement (a difference between the methods of 0.06), observed with the WCW-based diets. However, the strength of the agreement was weakened with the inclusion of GS. Agreement statistics were found to be a useful tool for assessing the relationship between the two methods of measurement.