Moorepark is one of the world's leading dairy research centres and specialises in pasture based systems of milk production.Research at Moorepark endeavours to anticipate the production needs of a rapidly changing industry and develop sustainable systems of milk production that will advance the competitive edge of Irish dairy farmers on the global market. Grange Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre is the national Beef Research Centre which provides research information on all aspects of beef production in Ireland. Research at Grange supports the efficient production of safe, quality, healthy produce, in profitable production systems that meet stringent environmental and animal welfare standards. The Athenry Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, located in Co. Galway,provides national research services in sheep production and animal reproduction.

Recent Submissions

  • Investigating the role of stocking rate and prolificacy potential on profitability of grass based sheep production systems

    Bohan, A.; Creighton, P.; Boland, T.M.; Shalloo, Laurence; Earle, Elizabeth; McHugh, Noirin; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 15/S/696 (Elsevier BV, 2018-02-21)
    The objective of this study was to simulate and compare the profitability of a grass based sheep production system under three stocking rates and two prolificacy rates. Analysis was conducted using the Teagasc Lamb Production Model (TLPM), a stochastic budgetary simulation model of a sheep farm. Experimental data from the Teagasc Athenry Research Demonstration Flock was used to parameterise the model at three stocking rates (10, 12 and 14 ewes/ha) and two prolificacy potentials (1.5 and 1.8 lambs weaned per ewe joined to the ram). The TLPM assessed the performance of the key factors affecting profitability and was also used to evaluate the spread in profitability associated with some stochastic variables included in the analysis. The number of lambs weaned per hectare increased with stocking rate and prolificacy potential from 16 lambs/ha to 27 lambs/ha resulting in carcass weight produced per hectare ranging from 272 kg/ha to 474 kg/ha. Increasing stocking rates resulted in lower individual lamb performance from grass and milk, thereby increasing the proportion of lambs which required concentrate for finishing, which resulted in higher input costs on a per animal basis. As the number of lambs weaned per hectare increased, net profit increased from €361/ha to €802/ha. Across all stocking rates, increasing weaning rate from 1.5 to 1.8 lambs weaned per ewe joined increased net profit, on average, by €336/ha. Increasing stocking rate, at 1.5 lambs weaned per ewe joined, increased net profit on average by €15/ha while increasing stocking rate, at 1.8 lambs weaned per ewe joined increased net profit on average by €87/ha. Risk analysis showed that across all stocking rates the high prolificacy scenarios achieved greater profits across the variation in input variables. Results from this study indicate that lambs weaned per hectare linked with grass growth and utilisations are the key drivers of profitability on Irish grass based sheep production systems.
  • The effect of dairy cow breed on milk production, cow traffic and milking characteristics in a pasture-based automatic milking system

    Shortall, J.; Foley, Cathriona; Sleator, Roy D.; O'Brien, Bernadette; European Union; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; SME-2012-2-314879; 2012015 (Elsevier BV, 2018-01-05)
    Despite the increasing frequency of integrated automatic milking (AM) and pasture-based systems, there is limited knowledge available on the suitability of different dairy cow breeds to these systems. Thus, the objective of this experiment was to establish the performance of three breeds in a pasture-based AM system with respect to milk production, cow traffic and milking characteristics. The breeds examined were Holstein Friesian (HF), Jersey x HF (JEX) and Norwegian Red x HF (NRX), all of which have been previously identified as being compatible with conventional milking pasture-based systems. The experiment was conducted in mid-lactation and variables measured included milking frequency, -interval, -outcome and -characteristics, milk yield/milking and per day, wait time/visit and per day, return time/visit and the daily distribution of milking events. Data were statistically analysed using least squares means mixed procedure models, while the proportion of different milking events were analysed using the logistics procedure. While there were no significant differences between breeds for milking frequency, or milk production, significant differences did exist for proportion of successful and failed milkings events, with NRX cows recording the highest and lowest proportions, respectively. JEX also recorded a significantly shorter dead time/quarter at 17.6 s/milking compared to the HF and NRX breeds at 28.5 and 27.7 s/milking, respectively. Significant differences also existed with regard to cow traffic, with the NRX breed returning from pasture more quickly and waiting a shorter time both per visit and per day in the pre-milking yard. The distribution of milking events differed between the breeds examined, with the JEX cows recording less milkings in the hour after the pre-selection gate changes of 0000 h and 1600 h. JEX also recorded a significantly greater proportion of milkings than the NRX and HF cows during the hours at which the lowest proportion of total milking events were recorded (0400–0600 h). For the optimisation of the AM system it is important to have an even distribution of milkings throughout the day. Based on the evidence from the current experiment, this may be best achieved by a mixed breed herd rather than a single breed herd. However, the performance of the examined breeds should also be analysed in the context of the whole AM farm system, over an entire lactation, taking into consideration the range of variables that contribute to a profitable farm system.
  • 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.
  • An examination of the effects of labor efficiency on the profitability of grass-based, seasonal-calving dairy farms

    Deming, J.; Kinsella, Jim; O'Brien, Bernadette; Shalloo, Laurence; Dairy Research Ireland; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Elsevier, 2019-06-27)
    The seasonality of grass-based, seasonal-calving dairy systems results in disproportionately higher labor demands during the spring, when cows are calving, than in the remaining seasons. This study aimed to (1) examine the relationship between labor efficiency and profitability; (2) investigate strategies to reduce the hours worked per day by the farmer, family, and farm staff in the spring by having certain tasks outsourced; and (3) quantify the economic implications of those strategies. Data from an existing labor efficiency study on Irish dairy farms were used in conjunction with economic performance data from the farms. Tasks that required the highest level of farm labor per day in the spring were identified and hypothetical strategies to reduce the farm hours worked per day were examined. A stochastic budgetary simulation model was then used to examine the economic implications of employing these strategies and the effects of their use in conjunction with a proportionate increase in cow numbers that would leave the hours worked per day unchanged. The strategies were to use contractors to perform calf rearing, machinery work, or milking. Contracting out milking resulted in the greatest reduction in hours worked per day (5.6 h/d) followed by calf rearing (2.7 h/d) and machinery work (2 h/d). Reducing the hours worked per day by removing those tasks had slight (i.e., <5%) negative effects on profitability; however, maintaining the farm hours worked per day while utilizing the same strategies and increasing herd sizes resulted in profitable options. The most profitable scenario was for farms to increase herd size while contracting out milking.
  • Associating cow characteristics with mobility scores in pasture-based dairy cows

    O'Connor, Aisling; Bokkers, Eddie A.M.; de Boer, Imke J. M.; Hogeveen, Henk; Sayers, Riona; Byrne, Nicky; Ruelle, Elodie; Shalloo, Laurence; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; et al. (Elsevier, 2019-07-10)
    The quality of dairy cow mobility can have significant welfare, economic, and environmental consequences that have yet to be extensively quantified for pasture-based systems. The objective of this study was to characterize mobility quality by examining associations between specific mobility scores, claw disorders (both the type and severity), body condition score (BCS), and cow parity. Data were collected for 6,927 cows from 52 pasture-based dairy herds, including mobility score (0 = optimal mobility; 1, 2, or 3 = increasing severities of suboptimal mobility), claw disorder type and severity, BCS, and cow parity. Multinomial logistic regression was used for analysis. The outcome variable was mobility score, and the predictor variables were BCS, type and severity of claw disorders, and cow parity. Three models were run, each with 1 reference category (mobility score 0, 1, or 2). Each model also included claw disorders (overgrown claw, sole hemorrhage, white line disease, sole ulcer, and digital dermatitis), BCS, and cow parity as predictor variables. The presence of most types of claw disorders had odds ratios >1, indicating an increased likelihood of a cow having suboptimal mobility. Low BCS (BCS <3.00) was associated with an increased risk of a cow having suboptimal mobility, and relatively higher parity was also associated with an increased risk of suboptimal mobility. These results confirm an association between claw disorders, BCS, cow parity, and dairy cow mobility score. Therefore, mobility score should be routinely practiced to identify cows with slight deviations from the optimal mobility pattern and to take preventive measures to keep the problem from worsening.
  • Linkage between predictive transmitting ability of a genetic index, potential milk production, and a dynamic model

    Ruelle, Elodie; Delaby, Luc; Shalloo, Laurence; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 11/S/132 (Elsevier, 2019-01-26)
    With the increased use of information and communication technology–based tools and devices across traditional desktop computers and smartphones, models and decision-support systems are becoming more accessible for farmers to improve the decision-making process at the farm level. However, despite the focus of research and industry providers to develop tools that are easy to adopt by the end user, milk-production prediction models require substantial parameterization information for accurate milk production simulations. For these models to be useful at an individual animal level, they require the potential milk yield of the individual animals (and possibly potential fat and protein yields) to be captured and parameterized within the model to allow accurate simulations of the interaction of the animal with the system. The focus of this study was to link 3 predicted transmitting ability (PTA) traits from the Economic Breeding Index (PTA for milk yield, fat, and protein) with potential index parameters for milk, fat, and protein required as inputs to a herd-based dynamic milk model. We compiled a data set of 1,904 lactations that included different experiments conducted at 2 closed sites during a 14-yr period (2003–2016). The treatments implied different stocking rates, concentrate supplementation levels, calving dates, and genetic potential. The first step, using 75% of the data randomly selected, was to link the milk, fat, and protein yields achieved within each lactation to their respective PTA value, stocking rate, parity, and concentrate supplementation level. The equations generated were transformed to correspond to inputs to the pasture-based herd dynamic milk model. The equations created were used in conjunction with the model to predict milk, fat, and protein production. Then, using the remaining 25% data of the data set, the simulations were compared against the actual milk produced during the experiments. When the model was tested, it was capable of predicting the lactation milk, fat, and protein yield with a relative prediction error of <10% at the herd level and <13% at the individual animal level.
  • Improving Farm Sustainability: Practical Tools for Farmers

    Teagasc (Teagasc, 2019-05-03)
    Irish agriculture rightly has a global reputation for high environmental standards. However, these standards continue to become more stringent, and the expansion in dairying since milk quota removal is adding further pressure. Early action is key to meeting the environmental challenges of reducing greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions, increasing carbon capture, improving water quality, protecting and improving biodiversity. There are a range of farm practices that dairy farmers can implement easily on their farms that can combine profitability gains while contributing to meeting these sustainability challenges. Some of these are outlined in this practical guide of what you can do on your farm to help meet the environmental challenges.
  • Teagasc Hill Sheep Conference 2017 Programme

    Boyle, Gerry; Kirby, Tim; O'Sullivan, Kevin; Byrne, Declan; Keena, Catherine; Maguire, Fergal; Sheridan, Helen; Gorman, Monica; McLaren, Ann; Lambe, Nicola; et al. (Teagasc, 2017-02-08)
    Proceedings of the Teagasc Hill Sheep Conference 2017 which took place on the 8th of February 2017 in the The Malton Hotel, Killarney, Co. Kerry.
  • Effect of using internal teat sealant with or without antibiotic therapy at dry-off on subsequent somatic cell count and milk production

    McParland, Sinead; Dillon, Pat; Flynn, James; Ryan, N.; Arkins, S.; Kennedy, A.; Dairy Research Ireland Dairy Levy Trust (Elsevier, 2019-03-14)
    The objective of this study was to assess the effect of treating cows with teat sealant only compared with antibiotic plus teat sealant at drying off on weekly somatic cell count, potential intramammary infection, and milk production across the entire subsequent lactation. In 3 research herds in the south of Ireland, cows with SCC that did not exceed 200,000 cells/mL in the previous lactation (LowSCC) were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 treatments at drying off: internal teat sealant alone (ITS) or antibiotic plus teat sealant (AB+ITS). Cows with SCC that exceeded 200,000 cells/mL in the previous lactation were treated with AB+ITS and included in the analyses as a separate group (HighSCC). Weekly individual animal composite SCC records were available for 654 cow lactations and were transformed to somatic cell scores (SCS) for the purpose of analysis. Data were divided into 3 data sets to represent records obtained (1) up to 35 DIM, (2) up to 120 DIM, and (3) across the lactation. Foremilk secretions were taken from all quarters at drying off, at calving, 2 wk after calving, and in mid-lactation and were cultured to detect the presence of bacteria. The LowSCC cows treated with ITS alone had higher daily milk yield (0.67 kg/d) across lactation compared with LowSCC cows treated with AB+ITS. The LowSCC cows treated with ITS alone had higher SCS in early, up to mid, and across lactation compared with LowSCC cows treated with AB+ITS. We detected no difference in weekly SCS of LowSCC cows treated with ITS alone and SCS of HighSCC cows. The least squares means back-transformed SCC across lactation of the LowSCC cows treated with ITS alone, LowSCC cows treated with AB+ITS, and HighSCC cows were 41,523, 34,001, and 38,939 cells/mL respectively. The odds of LowSCC cows treated with ITS alone having bacteria present in their foremilk across lactation was 2.7 (95% confidence interval: 1.91 to 3.85) and 1.6 (1.22 to 2.03) times the odds of LowSCC cows treated with AB+ITS and of HighSCC cows treated with AB+ITS, respectively. In this study, Staphylococcus aureus was the most prevalent pathogen isolated from the population. Recategorizing the threshold for LowSCC cows as ≤150,000 cells/mL or ≤100,000 cells/mL in the previous lactation had no effect on the results. The results indicate that herds with good mastitis control programs may use ITS alone at dry-off in cows with SCC <200,000 cells/mL across lactation with only a small effect on herd SCC.
  • Preface to the special issue of Food and Chemical Toxicology on the outcomes of the MARLON project on veterinary epidemiology of potential health impacts of genetically modified feeds in livestock

    Lawlor, Peadar G; Epstein, Michelle M.; Kleter, Gijs A. (Elsevier, 2018-04-26)
    This special issue is a collection of articles dedicated to the impact of genetically modified (GM) animal feeds on the health of livestock. It features the outcomes of the research project titled “Monitoring of Animals for Feed-related Risks in the Long Term (MARLON)”.
  • Multiple linear regression modelling of on-farm direct water and electricity consumption on pasture based dairy farms

    Shine, Philip; Scully, Ted; Upton, John; Murphy, Michael D.; Institutes of Technology Ireland; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (Elsevier, 2018-03-05)
    An analysis into the impact of milk production, stock numbers, infrastructural equipment, managerial procedures and environmental conditions on dairy farm electricity and water consumption using multiple linear regression (MLR) modelling was carried out. Electricity and water consumption data were attained through the utilisation of a remote monitoring system installed on a study sample of 58 pasture-based, Irish commercial dairy farms between 2014 and 2016. In total, 15 and 20 dairy farm variables were analysed on their ability to predict monthly electricity and water consumption, respectively. The subsets of variables that had the greatest prediction accuracy on unseen electricity and water consumption data were selected by applying a univariate variable selection technique, all subsets regression and 10-fold cross validation. Overall, electricity consumption was more accurately predicted than water consumption with relative prediction error values of 26% and 49% for electricity and water, respectively. Milk production and the total number of dairy cows had the largest impact on electricity consumption while milk production, automatic parlour washing and whether winter building troughs were reported to be leaking had the largest impact on water consumption. A standardised regression analysis found that utilising ground water for pre-cooling milk increased electricity consumption by 0.11 standard deviations, while increasing water consumption by 0.06 standard deviations when recycled in an open loop system. Milk production had a large influence on model overprediction with large negative correlations of −0.90 and −0.82 between milk production and mean percentage error for electricity and water prediction, respectively. This suggested that overprediction was inflated when milk production was low and vice versa. Governing bodies, farmers and/or policy makers may use the developed MLR models to calculate the impact of Irish dairy farming on natural resources or as decision support tools to calculate potential impacts of on-farm mitigation practises.
  • Evaluation of the RumiWatchSystem for measuring grazing behaviour of cows

    Werner, J.; Leso, L.; Umstatter, C.; Niederhauser, J.; Kennedy, Emer; Geoghegan, Anne; Shalloo, Laurence; Schick, M.; O’Brien, Bernadette; Science Foundation Ireland; et al. (Elsevier, 2017-08-24)
    Feeding behaviour is an important parameter of animal performance, health and welfare, as well as reflecting levels and quality of feed available. Previously, sensors were only used for measuring animal feeding behaviour in indoor housing systems. However, sensors such as the RumiWatchSystem can also monitor such behaviour continuously in pasture-based environments. Therefore, the aim of this study was to validate the RumiWatchSystem to record cow activity and feeding behaviour in a pasture-based system. The RumiWatchSystem was evaluated against visual observation across two different experiments. The time duration per hour at grazing, rumination, walking, standing and lying recorded by the RumiWatchSystem was compared to the visual observation data in Experiment 1. Concordance Correlation Coefficient (CCC) values of CCC = 0.96 for grazing, CCC = 0.99 for rumination, CCC = 1.00 for standing and lying and CCC = 0.92 for walking were obtained. The number of grazing and rumination bouts within one hour were also analysed resulting in Cohen‘s Kappa (κ) = 0.62 and κ = 0.86 for grazing and rumination bouts, respectively. Experiment 2 focused on the validation of grazing bites and rumination chews. The accordance between visual observation and automated measurement by the RumiWatchSystem was high with CCC = 0.78 and CCC = 0.94 for grazing bites and rumination chews, respectively. These results indicate that the RumiWatchSystem is a reliable sensor technology for observing cow activity and feeding behaviour in a pasture based milk production system, and may be used for research purposes in a grazing environment.
  • Energy demand on dairy farms in Ireland

    Upton, John; Humphreys, James; Groot Koerkamp, Peter W. G.; French, Padraig; Dillon, Pat; de Boer, Imke J. M.; INTERREG IVB North-West Europe (Elsevier, 2013-08-01)
    Reducing electricity consumption in Irish milk production is a topical issue for 2 reasons. First, the introduction of a dynamic electricity pricing system, with peak and off-peak prices, will be a reality for 80% of electricity consumers by 2020. The proposed pricing schedule intends to discourage energy consumption during peak periods (i.e., when electricity demand on the national grid is high) and to incentivize energy consumption during off-peak periods. If farmers, for example, carry out their evening milking during the peak period, energy costs may increase, which would affect farm profitability. Second, electricity consumption is identified in contributing to about 25% of energy use along the life cycle of pasture-based milk. The objectives of this study, therefore, were to document electricity use per kilogram of milk sold and to identify strategies that reduce its overall use while maximizing its use in off-peak periods (currently from 0000 to 0900h). We assessed, therefore, average daily and seasonal trends in electricity consumption on 22 Irish dairy farms, through detailed auditing of electricity-consuming processes. To determine the potential of identified strategies to save energy, we also assessed total energy use of Irish milk, which is the sum of the direct (i.e., energy use on farm) and indirect energy use (i.e., energy needed to produce farm inputs). On average, a total of 31.73 MJ was required to produce 1kg of milk solids, of which 20% was direct and 80% was indirect energy use. Electricity accounted for 60% of the direct energy use, and mainly resulted from milk cooling (31%), water heating (23%), and milking (20%). Analysis of trends in electricity consumption revealed that 62% of daily electricity was used at peak periods. Electricity use on Irish dairy farms, therefore, is substantial and centered around milk harvesting. To improve the competitiveness of milk production in a dynamic electricity pricing environment, therefore, management changes and technologies are required that decouple energy use during milking processes from peak periods.
  • Deriving economic values for national sheep breeding objectives using a bio-economic model

    Bohan, Alan; Shalloo, Laurence; Creighton, P.; Berry, Donagh P.; Boland, T. M.; O'Brien, A. C.; Pabiou, Thierry; Wall, E.; McDermott, Kevin; McHugh, Noirin; et al. (Elsevier, 2019-05-27)
    The economic value of a trait in a breeding objective can be defined as the value of a unit change in an individual trait, while keeping all other traits constant and are widely used in the development of breeding objectives internationally. The objective of this study was to provide a description of the development of economic values for the pertinent traits included in the Irish national sheep breeding objectives using a whole farm system bio-economic model. A total of fourteen traits of economic importance representing maternal, lambing, production and health characteristics were calculated within a whole farm bio-economic model. The model was parameterised to represent an average Irish flock of 107 ewes with a mean lambing date in early March, stocked at 7.5 ewes per hectare and weaning 1.5 lambs per ewe joined to the ram. The economic values (units in parenthesis) calculated for maternal traits were: €39.76 for number of lambs born (per lamb), €0.12 for ewe mature weight cull value (per kg), −€0.57 for ewe mature weight maintenance value (per kg), −€0.09 for ewe mature weight replacement value (per kg) and −€0.84 for ewe replacement rate (per%). The economic values calculated for lambing traits were: €54.84 for lamb surviving at birth (per lamb), −€0.27 and −€0.30 for direct lambing difficulty in single and multiple-bearing ewes, respectively (per%); the corresponding values for maternal single and multiple lambing difficulty (per%) were −€0.25 and −€0.27, respectively. The calculated economic values for production traits were: −€0.25 for days to slaughter (per day), €3.70 for carcass Conformation (per EUROP grade) and −€0.84 for carcass fat (per fat score). The economic values for health traits were: −€0.24 for ewe lameness (per%), −€0.08 for lamb lameness (per%), −€0.25 for mastitis (per%), −€0.34 for dag score (per dag score) and −€0.08 for faecal egg count (per 50 eggs/g). Within the two Irish breeding objectives, the terminal and replacement breeding objective, the greatest emphasis was placed on production traits across both the terminal (62.56%) and replacement (41.65%) breeding objectives. The maternal and lambing traits accounted for the 34.19% and 23.45% of the emphasis within the replacement breeding objective, respectively. Results from this study will enable the implementation of new economic values within the national terminal and replacement Irish sheep breeding objectives which highlights the traits of importance for increasing overall farm profitability.
  • Extending the Grazing Period for Bulls, Prior to Finishing on a Concentrate Ration: Composition, Collagen Structure and Organoleptic Characteristics of Beef.

    Mezgebo, Gebrehawerya B; Monahan, Frank J; McGee, Mark; O'Riordan, Edward G; Marren, Declan; Listrat, Anne; Picard, Brigitte; Richardson, R Ian; Moloney, Aidan P; Teagasc (2019-07-23)
    The biochemical and organoleptic characteristics of the longissimus thoracis muscle from suckler bulls (n = 56) finished on a concentrate-based system (C) or raised in a pasture-based system (P) incorporating 99 (P99), 162 (P162) or 231 days (P231) of grazing prior to indoor finishing on the concentrate-based diet were investigated. Age at slaughter increased with increasing period at pasture. Intramuscular fat concentration was lower (p < 0.001) for P99 than for C, P162 and P231 bulls, which did not differ. Soluble collagen proportion was lower (p < 0.01) for P162 and P231 than for P99 and C bulls. Collagen cross-link content was higher (p < 0.05) for P231 than for P99 and C bulls and for P162 than for C bulls. The proportion of type I muscle fibres was higher (p < 0.01) for P231 and P162 than for P99 and C bulls. Sensory tenderness was higher (p < 0.001) for C and P162 than for P99 and P231 bulls and overall liking was higher (p < 0.01) for C than for P99 and P231 bulls but similar to P162 bulls. Extending the grazing period to 162 days did not negatively influence the sensory qualities of beef compared to the intensive concentrate-based system.
  • Invited review: Nitrogen in ruminant nutrition: A review of measurement techniques

    Hristov, A.N.; Bannink, A.; Crompton, L.A.; Huhtanen, P.; Kreuzer, M.; McGee, M.; Nozière, P.; Reynolds, C.K.; Bayat, A.R.; Yáñez-Ruiz, D.R.; et al. (American Dairy Science Association, 2019-04-25)
    Nitrogen is a component of essential nutrients critical for the productivity of ruminants. If excreted in excess, N is also an important environmental pollutant contributing to acid deposition, eutrophication, human respiratory problems, and climate change. The complex microbial metabolic activity in the rumen and the effect on subsequent processes in the intestines and body tissues make the study of N metabolism in ruminants challenging compared with nonruminants. Therefore, using accurate and precise measurement techniques is imperative for obtaining reliable experimental results on N utilization by ruminants and evaluating the environmental impacts of N emission mitigation techniques. Changeover design experiments are as suitable as continuous ones for studying protein metabolism in ruminant animals, except when changes in body weight or carryover effects due to treatment are expected. Adaptation following a dietary change should be allowed for at least 2 (preferably 3) wk, and extended adaptation periods may be required if body pools can temporarily supply the nutrients studied. Dietary protein degradability in the rumen and intestines are feed characteristics determining the primary AA available to the host animal. They can be estimated using in situ, in vitro, or in vivo techniques with each having inherent advantages and disadvantages. Accurate, precise, and inexpensive laboratory assays for feed protein availability are still needed. Techniques used for direct determination of rumen microbial protein synthesis are laborious and expensive, and data variability can be unacceptably large; indirect approaches have not shown the level of accuracy required for widespread adoption. Techniques for studying postruminal digestion and absorption of nitrogenous compounds, urea recycling, and mammary AA metabolism are also laborious, expensive (especially the methods that use isotopes), and results can be variable, especially the methods based on measurements of digesta or blood flow. Volatile loss of N from feces and particularly urine can be substantial during collection, processing, and analysis of excreta, compromising the accuracy of measurements of total-tract N digestion and body N balance. In studying ruminant N metabolism, nutritionists should consider the longer term fate of manure N as well. Various techniques used to determine the effects of animal nutrition on total N, ammonia- or nitrous oxide-emitting potentials, as well as plant fertilizer value, of manure are available. Overall, methods to study ruminant N metabolism have been developed over 150 yr of animal nutrition research, but many of them are laborious and impractical for application on a large number of animals. The increasing environmental concerns associated with livestock production systems necessitate more accurate and reliable methods to determine manure N emissions in the context of feed composition and ruminant N metabolism.
  • Daily and seasonal trends of electricity and water use on pasture-based automatic milking dairy farms

    Shortall, John; O'Brien, Bernadette; Sleator, Roy D.; Upton, John; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship programme; European Union; 2012015; SME-2012-2-314879 (American Dairy Science Association, 2017-11-15)
    The objective of this study was to identify the major electricity and water-consuming components of a pasture-based automatic milking (AM) system and to establish the daily and seasonal consumption trends. Electricity and water meters were installed on 7 seasonal calving pasture-based AM farms across Ireland. Electricity-consuming processes and equipment that were metered for consumption included milk cooling components, air compressors, AM unit(s), auxiliary water heaters, water pumps, lights, sockets, automatic manure scrapers, and so on. On-farm direct water-consuming processes and equipment were metered and included AM unit(s), auxiliary water heaters, tubular coolers, wash-down water pumps, livestock drinking water supply, and miscellaneous water taps. Data were collected and analyzed for the 12-mo period of 2015. The average AM farm examined had 114 cows, milking with 1.85 robots, performing a total of 105 milkings/AM unit per day. Total electricity consumption and costs were 62.6 Wh/L of milk produced and 0.91 cents/L, respectively. Milking (vacuum and milk pumping, within-AM unit water heating) had the largest electrical consumption at 33%, followed by air compressing (26%), milk cooling (18%), auxiliary water heating (8%), water pumping (4%), and other electricity-consuming processes (11%). Electricity costs followed a similar trend to that of consumption, with the milking process and water pumping accounting for the highest and lowest cost, respectively. The pattern of daily electricity consumption was similar across the lactation periods, with peak consumption occurring at 0100, 0800, and between 1300 and 1600 h. The trends in seasonal electricity consumption followed the seasonal milk production curve. Total water consumption was 3.7 L of water/L of milk produced. Water consumption associated with the dairy herd at the milking shed represented 42% of total water consumed on the farm. Daily water consumption trends indicated consumption to be lowest in the early morning period (0300–0600 h), followed by spikes in consumption between 1100 and 1400 h. Seasonal water trends followed the seasonal milk production curve, except for the month of May, when water consumption was reduced due to above-average rainfall. This study provides a useful insight into the consumption of electricity and water on a pasture-based AM farms, while also facilitating the development of future strategies and technologies likely to increase the sustainability of AM systems.
  • Suckler Bulls Slaughtered at 15 Months of Age: Effect of Different Production Systems on the Fatty Acid Profile and Selected Quality Characteristics of Longissimus Thoracis

    Moran, Lara; Wilson, Shannon S.; McElhinney, Cormac K.; Monahan, Frank J.; McGee, Mark; O'Sullivan, Maurice G.; O'Riordan, Edward G.; Kerry, Joseph P.; Molomey, Aidan P.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; et al. (MDPI AG, 2019-07-18)
    The objective was to compare the quality of beef from bulls reared in typical Irish indoor systems or in novel grass-based systems. Bulls were assigned to one of the following systems: (a) grass silage plus barley-based concentrate ad libitum (CON); (b) grass silage ad libitum plus 5 kg of concentrate (SC); (c) grazed grass without supplementation (G0); (d) grazed grass plus 0.5 kg of the dietary dry matter intake as concentrate (GC) for (100 days) until slaughter (14.99 months). Carcass characteristics and pH decline were recorded. Longissimus thoracis was collected for analytical and sensory analysis. Lower carcass weight, conformation and fatness scores were found for grazing compared to CON and SC groups. CON bulls had highest intramuscular fat and lighter meat colour compared with grazing bulls. The SC meat (14 days aged) was rated higher for tenderness, texture, flavour and acceptability compared with grazing groups. CON saturated and monounsaturated fatty acid (FA) concentration was highest, conversely, omega-3 FA concentration was higher for GC compared with CON, while no differences were found in polyunsaturated FA. In conclusion, while market fatness specification was not reached by grazed grass treatments, beef eating quality was not detrimentally affected and nutritional quality was improved.
  • Teagasc Profit Monitor Analysis - Dairy Farms 2016

    Teagasc Specialist Service (Teagasc, 2017-05-10)
    The analyses in this publication are based on data provided by Teagasc dairy farmer clients relating to the production year 2016 and entered onto the PM system prior to 27th February 2017. In all, 1,505 farms are represented; 1,352 of these are engaged in spring milk production with the balance (153) engaged in winter/ liquid milk production. In addition, a matched sample analysis of 276 farmers who have completed PM analysis for each year in the period 2008 to 2016 is included. A summary of the key figures are included in the main tables and a more detailed breakdown of costs contained in the later tables. Where ‘Top 25%’ results are presented, the dataset was initially ranked on the basis of net profit per hectare. For the first time in the Dairy PM publication, the author has included an own labour charge (for the farmer’s own and unpaid family labour). This is a welcome development as it recognises that farmer’s labour input (and that of other unpaid family members) is required and rewarded for the milk produced. The labour adjustment is made following the calculation of the enterprise net profit and the adjusted net profit is an estimated return to management, owned land and owned capital.
  • A case study of the carbon footprint of milk from high-performing confinement and grass-based dairy farms

    O’Brien, Donal; Judith Louise, Capper; Garnsworthy, Phil; Grainger, Chris; Shalloo, Laurence; European Union; FP7-244983 (Elsevier, 2014-01-17)
    Life-cycle assessment (LCA) is the preferred methodology to assess carbon footprint per unit of milk. The objective of this case study was to apply an LCA method to compare carbon footprints of high-performance confinement and grass-based dairy farms. Physical performance data from research herds were used to quantify carbon footprints of a high-performance Irish grass-based dairy system and a top-performing United Kingdom (UK) confinement dairy system. For the US confinement dairy system, data from the top 5% of herds of a national database were used. Life-cycle assessment was applied using the same dairy farm greenhouse gas (GHG) model for all dairy systems. The model estimated all on- and off-farm GHG sources associated with dairy production until milk is sold from the farm in kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2-eq) and allocated emissions between milk and meat. The carbon footprint of milk was calculated by expressing GHG emissions attributed to milk per tonne of energy-corrected milk (ECM). The comparison showed that when GHG emissions were only attributed to milk, the carbon footprint of milk from the Irish grass-based system (837 kg of CO2-eq/t of ECM) was 5% lower than the UK confinement system (884 kg of CO2-eq/t of ECM) and 7% lower than the US confinement system (898 kg of CO2-eq/t of ECM). However, without grassland carbon sequestration, the grass-based and confinement dairy systems had similar carbon footprints per tonne of ECM. Emission algorithms and allocation of GHG emissions between milk and meat also affected the relative difference and order of dairy system carbon footprints. For instance, depending on the method chosen to allocate emissions between milk and meat, the relative difference between the carbon footprints of grass-based and confinement dairy systems varied by 3 to 22%. This indicates that further harmonization of several aspects of the LCA methodology is required to compare carbon footprints of contrasting dairy systems. In comparison to recent reports that assess the carbon footprint of milk from average Irish, UK, and US dairy systems, this case study indicates that top-performing herds of the respective nations have carbon footprints 27 to 32% lower than average dairy systems. Although differences between studies are partly explained by methodological inconsistency, the comparison suggests that potential exists to reduce the carbon footprint of milk in each of the nations by implementing practices that improve productivity.

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