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

  • The eating quality of beef from young dairy bulls derived from two breed types at three ages from two different production systems

    Nian, Yingqun; Kerry, J. P.; Prendiville, Robert; Allen, Paul; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2017-07-08)
    Expansion of the Irish dairy herd has led to more dairy breed male calves being available for beef production. This study investigated the physico-chemical and sensory characteristics of beef from Holstein-Friesian (HF) and Jersey × HF (JEX) young bulls fed pasture grass only or pasture grass plus 2 kg concentrate during their first grazing season and slaughtered at 15, 19 or 22 mo of age. Longissimus thoracis (LT) muscles were collected from 67 carcasses. Postmortem pH, ultimate pH (pHu), meat colour, chemical composition, collagen content and solubility were evaluated. After ageing for 21 d, Warner-Bratzler shear force and cooking loss were determined, and assessments by a trained sensory panel were conducted. Meat from older animals was darker. The pHu, moisture and ash contents decreased, while residual roast beef flavour length increased with age. However, increasing age to slaughter did not negatively influence tenderness. JEX beef had lower cooking loss, was darker and redder, in addition to having higher sensory scores for initial tenderness and fattiness than HF beef. Warner-Bratzler variables were positively correlated with cooking loss and chewiness and were negatively correlated with intramuscular fat (IMF) content, soluble collagen and initial tenderness. In summary, most young dairy bull beef samples were acceptably tender after 21 d of ageing and half of them had acceptable IMF content. Slaughter age affected beef colour, pHu, chemical composition and flavour length. The eating quality of meat from the JEX breed type was considered to be superior to that of the HF breed type. Diet during the first season had no effect on meat quality traits.
  • Animal performance and economic implications of alternative production systems for dairy bulls slaughtered at 15 months of age

    Murphy, B.; Crosson, Paul; Kelly, A. K.; Prendiville, Robert; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 11/SF/322 (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2017-10-26)
    The objectives of this experiment were to investigate (i) the influence of varying levels of concentrate supplementation during the grazing season, (ii) alternative finishing strategies for dairy bulls slaughtered at 15 mo of age and (iii) economic implications of these management strategies. Bulls were assigned to a 2 (level of concentrate supplementation during the grazing season: 1 kg [LA] and 2 kg [HA] dry matter [DM]/head daily) × 2 (finishing strategies: concentrates ad libitum group [AL] or grass silage ad libitum plus 5 kg DM of concentrates/head daily group [SC]) factorial arrangement of treatments. Average daily gain (ADG) during the grazing season was greater (P < 0.01) for HA than for LA. Consequently, HA bulls were 16 kg heavier at housing: 214 and 230 kg, respectively (P < 0.05). During the finishing period, ADG tended (P = 0.09) to be greater for LA than for HA. Carcass weight tended (P = 0.08) to be greater for HA than for LA. Fat score was greater for HA. Live weight at slaughter (P < 0.001) and carcass weight (P < 0.001) were 41 and 23 kg greater for AL than for SC, respectively. Conformation (P < 0.05) and fat score (P < 0.05) were greater for AL than for SC. The Grange Dairy Beef Systems Model simulated whole-farm system effects of the production systems. Net margin/head was greater for LA than for HA and greater for SC than for AL. Sensitivity analysis of finishing concentrate price, calf purchase price and beef price showed no re-ranking of the systems on a net margin basis. Although greater animal performance was observed from the higher plane of nutrition, overall profitability was lower.
  • Effect of pre-milking teat disinfection on new mastitis infection rates of dairy cows

    Gleeson, David; Flynn, Jimmy; O'Brien, Bernadette (Biomed Central, 2018-04-18)
    Background The practise of teat disinfection prior to cluster attachment for milking is being adopted by farmers in Ireland, particularly where there are herd issues with new infection rates. Pre-milking teat disinfection has been shown to reduce bacterial numbers on teat skin and to be most effective against environmental bacteria such as Escherichia coli and Streptococcus uberis. A split udder design experiment was undertaken on two research herds (A = 96 cows: B = 168 cows) to test the benefit of pre-milking teat disinfection on new mastitis infection levels. The disinfectant was applied to the left front and right hind teats of all cows in each herd and the right front and left hind teats received no disinfectant treatment prior to milking over a complete lactation. Individual quarter foremilk samples were taken on 5 occasions during the lactation and all clinical cases were recorded. The presence and number of staphylococcus and streptococcus bacteria on teat skin of a random sample of experimental cows (n = 20) was measured on 3 occasions during lactation (April, June, and October). Results Pre-milking teat disinfection had no significant impact on quarter SCC and new infection rates (P > 0.05). The median SCC was 169 (95% CI = 144–198) × 103 cells/mL and 170 (95% CI = 145–199) × 103 cells/mL for disinfected teats and non-disinfected teats, respectively. There were no differences in SCC observed between herds (A = 161 (95% CI = 127–205) × 103 cells/mL; B = 169 (95% CI = 144–198) × 103 cells/mL) over the complete lactation. Bacterial levels on teat skin were reduced significantly with pre-milking teat disinfection compared to teats receiving no disinfectant (P < 0.001). Total infections (clinical and sub-clinical) were similar for disinfected teats (n = 36) and not disinfected teats (n = 40), respectively. Staphylococcus aureus (n = 47) and Strep. uberis (n = 9) were identified as the predominant bacteria in quarter foremilk samples with both clinical and sub-clinical infections. Conclusion SCC and new infection rates were similar in non-disinfected teats and disinfected (pre-milking) teats. The routine application of pre-milking teat disinfectant in pasture-grazed herds is unlikely to be of benefit where herd SCC is below 200 × 103 cells/mL.
  • A Comparison of the Productivity of Suckler Cows of Different Breed Composition

    Drennan, Michael J; Murphy, B. (Teagasc, 2006-01-01)
    The findings obtained in a comparison of 5 suckler dam breed types {Limousin x Friesian (LF), Limousin x (Limousin x Friesian) (LLF), Limousin (L), Charolais (C) and Simmental x (Limousin x Friesian) (SLF)} and their progeny through to slaughter
  • Grazing and ensiling of energy-rich grasses with elevated sugar contents for the sustainable production of ruminant livestock (Acronym: SweetGrass)

    O'Kiely, Padraig; Conaghan, Patrick; Howard, Hilda; Moloney, Aidan P; Black, Alistair D (Teagasc, 2005-09-01)
    Permanent grassland dominates the Irish landscape and for many decades perennial ryegrasses have been the main constituent in seed mixtures for grassland.
  • Labour efficiency on-farm

    O'Brien, Bernadette; Gleeson, David E; O’Donovan, K.; Ruane, D.; Kinsella, J.; Mee, John F; Boyle, Laura; McNamara, John (Teagasc, 2007-01-01)
    Improvements in milking efficiency have a greater influence than any other aspect of the dairy farmers work on overall farm labour inputs (Whipp, 1992). In order to facilitate the examination of milking process labour inputs, the milking process may be divided into the following three components: herding pre and post milking (transfer of cows to and from the milking parlour); milking (milking tasks / work routines within the parlour); and washing (washing of milking machine and yard). Meanwhile, within milking specifically, the number of cows milked per operator per hour is the best measure of both the performance of the operator and the milking installation (Clough, 1978). This is affected by the following three factors: the milking times of the cows, the number and arrangement of the milking units, and the operator’s work routine (Whipp, 1992). The addition of extra milking units will only increase milking performance if the operator has idle time during milking (Hansen, 1999).
  • Erratum to: ‘Integrated analysis of the local and systemic changes preceding the development of post-partum cytological endometritis’

    Foley, Cathriona; Chapwanya, Aspinas; Callanan, John J; Whiston, Ronan; Miranda-CasoLuengo, Raúl; Lu, Junnan; Meijer, Wim G; Lynn, David J; O’Farrelly, Cliona; Meade, Kieran G (Biomed Central, 2015-12-10)
    Erratum to: ‘Integrated analysis of the local and systemic changes preceding the development of post-partum cytological endometritis’ -http://hdl.handle.net/11019/908
  • Integrated analysis of the local and systemic changes preceding the development of post-partum cytological endometritis

    Foley, Cathriona; Chapwanya, Aspinas; Callanan, John J; Whiston, Ronan; Miranda-CasoLuengo, Raúl; Lu, Junnan; Meijer, Wim G; Lynn, David J; O’ Farrelly, Cliona; Meade, Kieran G (Biomed Central, 2015-10-19)
    Background The regulation of endometrial inflammation has important consequences for the resumption of bovine fertility postpartum. All cows experience bacterial influx into the uterus after calving; however a significant proportion fail to clear infection leading to the development of cytological endometritis (CE) and compromised fertility. We hypothesised that early immunological changes could not only act as potential prognostic biomarkers for the subsequent development of disease but also shed light on the pathogenesis of endometritis in the postpartum dairy cow. Methods Endometrial biopsy RNA was extracted from 15 cows at 7 and 21 days postpartum (DPP), using the Qiagen RNeasy® Plus Mini kit and quality determined using an Agilent 2100 bioanalyser. Disease status was determined by histpathology based on inflammatory cell infiltrate. RNA-seq of both mRNA and miRNA libraries were performed on an Illumina® HiSeq™ 2000. Paired reads were aligned to the bovine genome with Bowtie2 and differentially expressed genes were identified using EdgeR. Significantly over-represented Gene Ontology terms were identified using GO-seq, and pathway analysis was performed using KEGG. Quanititative real-time PCR was also performed for validation (ABI 7500 fast). Haematology was assessed using an automated ADVIA 2120 analyser. Serum proteins were evaluated by ELISA and metabolite analysis was performed using a Beckman Coulter AU 400 clinical analyser. Terminal-restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) was used to obtain fingerprints of the microbial communities present. Results Next-generation sequencing from endometrial biopsies taken at 7 DPP identified significant induction of inflammatory gene expression in all cows. Despite the common inflammatory profile and enrichment of the Toll-like receptor and NFκB pathways, 73 genes and 31 miRNAs were significantly differentially expressed between healthy cows (HC, n = 9) and cows which subsequently developed CE at 7 DPP (n = 6, FDR < 0.1). While significant differential expression of 4197 genes in the transcriptome of healthy cows between 7 and 21 DPP showed the transition from a proinflammatory to tissue profliferation and repair, only 31 genes were differentially expressed in cows with CE (FDR < 0.1), indicating the arrest of such a transition. A link betwene the dysregulated inflammatory response and the composition of the uterine microbial communities was suggested by the presence of significant differences in uterine bacterial tRFLP profiles between HC and CE groups. Furthermore, inflammatory activity was not confined to the uterus; decreased circulating granulocytes and increased Acute Phase Protein (SAA and HP) expression levels were detected in plasma at 7 DPP in cows that developed CE. Conclusion Our data suggests that the IL1 and IL17 inflammatory cascade activated early postpartum is resolved thereby restoring homeostasis in healthy cows by 21 DPP, but this transition fails to occur in cows which develop CE. Despite a common early inflammatory profile, elevated and differential expression of specific immune genes may identify cows at risk of prolonged inflammation and the development of CE postpartum.
  • Integrated analysis of the local and systemic changes preceding the development of post-partum cytological endometritis

    Foley, Cathriona; Chapwanya, Aspinas; Callanan, John J; Whiston, Ronan; Miranda-CasoLuengo, Raul; Lu, Junnan; Meijer, Wim G; Lynn, David J; O’ Farrelly, Cliona; Meade, Kieran G (Biomed Central, 2015-10-19)
    Background The regulation of endometrial inflammation has important consequences for the resumption of bovine fertility postpartum. All cows experience bacterial influx into the uterus after calving; however a significant proportion fail to clear infection leading to the development of cytological endometritis (CE) and compromised fertility. We hypothesised that early immunological changes could not only act as potential prognostic biomarkers for the subsequent development of disease but also shed light on the pathogenesis of endometritis in the postpartum dairy cow. Methods Endometrial biopsy RNA was extracted from 15 cows at 7 and 21 days postpartum (DPP), using the Qiagen RNeasy® Plus Mini kit and quality determined using an Agilent 2100 bioanalyser. Disease status was determined by histpathology based on inflammatory cell infiltrate. RNA-seq of both mRNA and miRNA libraries were performed on an Illumina® HiSeq™ 2000. Paired reads were aligned to the bovine genome with Bowtie2 and differentially expressed genes were identified using EdgeR. Significantly over-represented Gene Ontology terms were identified using GO-seq, and pathway analysis was performed using KEGG. Quanititative real-time PCR was also performed for validation (ABI 7500 fast). Haematology was assessed using an automated ADVIA 2120 analyser. Serum proteins were evaluated by ELISA and metabolite analysis was performed using a Beckman Coulter AU 400 clinical analyser. Terminal-restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) was used to obtain fingerprints of the microbial communities present. Results Next-generation sequencing from endometrial biopsies taken at 7 DPP identified significant induction of inflammatory gene expression in all cows. Despite the common inflammatory profile and enrichment of the Toll-like receptor and NFκB pathways, 73 genes and 31 miRNAs were significantly differentially expressed between healthy cows (HC, n = 9) and cows which subsequently developed CE at 7 DPP (n = 6, FDR < 0.1). While significant differential expression of 4197 genes in the transcriptome of healthy cows between 7 and 21 DPP showed the transition from a proinflammatory to tissue profliferation and repair, only 31 genes were differentially expressed in cows with CE (FDR < 0.1), indicating the arrest of such a transition. A link betwene the dysregulated inflammatory response and the composition of the uterine microbial communities was suggested by the presence of significant differences in uterine bacterial tRFLP profiles between HC and CE groups. Furthermore, inflammatory activity was not confined to the uterus; decreased circulating granulocytes and increased Acute Phase Protein (SAA and HP) expression levels were detected in plasma at 7 DPP in cows that developed CE. Conclusion Our data suggests that the IL1 and IL17 inflammatory cascade activated early postpartum is resolved thereby restoring homeostasis in healthy cows by 21 DPP, but this transition fails to occur in cows which develop CE. Despite a common early inflammatory profile, elevated and differential expression of specific immune genes may identify cows at risk of prolonged inflammation and the development of CE postpartum.
  • Beef production from feedstuffs conserved using new technologies to reduce negative environmental impacts

    O’Kiely, Padraig; Crosson, Paul; Hamilton, William J.; Little, Enda; Stacey, Pamela; Walsh, Karl; Black, Alistair D; Crowley, James; Drennan, Michael J; Forristal, Dermot; Hackett, Richard; McGee, Mark; Moloney, Aidan P; O’Brien, Martin; O’Riordan, Edward G.; Rice, B.; Schulte, Rogier P.; O’Mara, Frank P.; Wallace, Michael; Nolan, William; Buttimer, Anne; Keane, George P.; Boland, Tommy; Rotz, C. Alan (Teagasc, 2007-12-01)
    Most (ca. 86%) Irish farms make some silage. Besides directly providing feed for livestock, the provision of grass silage within integrated grassland systems makes an important positive contribution to effective grazing management and improved forage utilisation by grazing animals, and to effective feed budgeting by farmers. It can also contribute to maintaining the content of desirable species in pastures, and to livestock not succumbing to parasites at sensitive times of the year. Furthermore, the optimal recycling of nutrients collected from housed livestock can often be best achieved by spreading the manures on the land used for producing the conserved feed. On most Irish farms, grass silage will remain the main conserved forage for feeding to livestock during winter for the foreseeable future. However, on some farms high yields of whole-crop (i.e. grain + straw) cereals such as wheat, barley and triticale, and of forage maize, will be an alternative option provided that losses during harvesting, storage and feedout are minimised and that input costs are restrained. These alternative forages have the potential to reliably support high levels of animal performance while avoiding the production of effluent. Their production and use however will need to advantageously integrate into ruminant production systems. A range of technologies can be employed for crop production and conservation, and for beef production, and the optimal options need to be identified. Beef cattle being finished indoors are offered concentrate feedstuffs at rates that range from modest inputs through to ad libitum access. Such concentrates frequently contain high levels of cereals such as barley or wheat. These cereals are generally between 14% to 18% moisture content and tend to be rolled shortly before being included in coarse rations or are more finely processed prior to pelleting. Farmers thinking of using ‘high-moisture grain’ techniques for preserving and processing cereal grains destined for feeding to beef cattle need to know how the yield, conservation efficiency and feeding value of such grains compares with grains conserved using more conventional techniques. European Union policy strongly encourages a sustainable and multifunctional agriculture. Therefore, in addition to providing European consumers with quality food produced within approved systems, agriculture must also contribute positively to the conservation of natural resources and the upkeep of the rural landscape. Plastics are widely used in agriculture and their post-use fate on farms must not harm the environment - they must be managed to support the enduring sustainability of farming systems. There is an absence of information on the efficacy of some new options for covering and sealing silage with plastic sheeting and tyres, and an absence of an inventory of the use, re-use and post-use fate of plastic film on farms. Irish cattle farmers operate a large number of beef production systems, half of which use dairy bred calves. In the current, continuously changing production and market conditions, new beef systems must be considered. A computer package is required that will allow the rapid, repeatable simulation and assessment of alternate beef production systems using appropriate, standardised procedures. There is thus a need to construct, evaluate and utilise computer models of components of beef production systems and to develop mathematical relationships to link system components into a network that would support their integration into an optimal system model. This will provide a framework to integrate physical and financial on-farm conditions with models for estimating feed supply and animal growth patterns. Cash flow and profit/loss results will be developed. This will help identify optimal systems, indicate the cause of failure of imperfect systems and identify areas where applied research data are currently lacking, or more basic research is required.
  • Feeding Techniques To Increase Calf Growth In The First Two Months Of Life

    Fallon, R.J.; Morrison, S.; Dawson, L.; Twigge, J. (Teagasc, 2008-01-01)
    Data from Cornell University and the University of Illinois in the USA suggested that average daily liveweight gains of 900 to 1000 g/calf/day could be achieved from birth to weaning provided the calf milk replacer (CMR) is formulated to meet the calf’s amino acid requirements for such a rate of gain. Their findings suggested a daily milk replacer DM allowance of 1250 to 1500 g/d with a crude protein content of 26 to 30%. A series of studies were undertaken, at ARINI with home born dairy calves and at Grange Beef Research Centre with purchased dairy calves, to determine the effect of increasing the daily milk replacer DM allowance and or increasing the crude protein content of the CMR on calf performance.The main outcomes of these studies were  There was no growth or intake response in any of the studies to increasing the crude protein content of the CMP from 23% to 28%.  Calf growth rates responded to increasing the dailymilk replacer allowance from 600 to 1200 g/day for both home bred and purchased calves. However, the effect was not significant post-weaning in any of the studies.  In all of the studies (for both home reared and purchased calves) feeding a high level of CMRdecreased concentrate DM intake. However, the calves concentrate intakes were similar post-weaning.  The home bred calves with free access to the milk replacer feeders failed to consume their 1200 g/day allowance. Calves offered 600 or 1200 g of CMR/day had average consumption of 554 and 944 g/d, respectively, in the milk feeding period.  Feeding a high (1200 g/d) compared to a low level (600 g/d) CMRdiet for the first 56 days had no significant effect on carcass weight or carcass characteristics when purchased male calves were slaughtered off an ad libitum concentrate diet after 388 days. The final carcass weights were 231 and 240 kg for the respective 600 and 1200 g/d CMR.  Reducing the fat content of the CMRfrom 18% to 12% did not have any effect on concentrate intake or liveweight gain.
  • Optimising The Response To Supplementary Concentrates By Beef Cattle In Winter

    Keane, Michael G.; Drennan, Michael J; Moloney, Aidan P (Teagasc, 2008-01-01)
    Concentrates are a major component of feed costs in winter finishing of beef cattle. Two separate experiments were carried out to evaluate the response to increasing supplementary concentrate level with grass silage and the effects of feeding the silage and concentrates separately or as a total mixed ration (TMR). In experiment 1, a total of 117 finishing steers (initial live weight 538 kg, s.d. 35.5) were assigned to a preexperimental slaughter group of 9 animals and to 6 feeding treatments of 18 animals each. The feeding treatments were: 1) silage (SO) only offered ad libitum, 2) SO plus a low level of concentrates offered separately (LS), 3) SO plus a low level of concentrates offered as a TMR (LM), 4) SO plus a medium level of concentrates offered separately (MS), 5) SO plus a medium level of concentrates offered as a TMR (MM), and 6) concentrates ad libitum plus a restricted silage allowance (AL). Low and medium target concentrate levels were 3 and 6 kg dry matter (DM) per head daily. When silage and concentrates were fed separately, the daily concentrate allowance was given in one morning feed. The animals were individually fed for a mean period of 132 days. After slaughter, carcasses were weighed and graded and the ribs joint was dissected into its component tissues. Silage DM intake decreased but total DM intake increased with increasing concentrate level. Live weight gains for SO, LS, LM, MS, MM and AL were 0.34, 0.86, 0.86, 1.02, 1.00 and 1.12 (s.e. 0.064) kg/day, respectively. Corresponding carcass weight gains were 0.25, 0.58, 0.58, 0.71, 0.68 and 0.82 (s.e. 0.028) kg/day. All measures of fatness increased, ribs joint bone proportion decreased, and muscle proportion was not significantly affected by dietary concentrate level. There were no significant interactions between concentrate level and method of feeding. Compared with offering the feeds separately, feeding a TMR increased silage DM intake by proportionately 0.06 and total DM intake by proportionately 0.04. Otherwise, method of feeding had no significant effect on performance, slaughter or carcass traits. Mean rumen pH decreased while ammonia concentration tended to increase with increasing concentrate level. Total volatile fatty acids and the acetate to propionate ratio were lowest for SO. Method of feeding had no significant effect on rumen fermentation.
  • Nematode control in suckler beef cattle over their first two grazing seasons using a targeted selective treatment approach

    O’Shaughnessy, James; Earley, Bernadette; Mee, John F; Doherty, Michael L; Crosson, Paul; Barrett, Damien; de Waal, Theo (Biomed Central, 2015-06-18)
    Background With concerns over the development of anthelmintic resistance in cattle nematode populations, we must re-examine our approach to nematode control in cattle. Targeted selective treatments (TST), whereby individual animals are treated instead of entire groups, are being investigated as an alternative. The study objective was to determine if anthelmintic usage could be reduced using a TST-based approach to nematode control in spring-born suckler beef cattle over their first and second grazing seasons (SGS) without affecting performance. In the first grazing season (FGS), 99 calves with an initial mean (s.d.) calf age and live weight on day 0 (June 28th 2012) of 107 (23.1) days and 160 (32.5) kg, respectively, were used. The study commenced on day 0 when calves were randomised and allocated to one of two treatments; 1), standard treatment (control) and 2), TST. Control calves were treated subcutaneously with ivermectin on days 0, 41 and 82 in the FGS. All calves were treated with ivermectin on day 124 and housed on day 133. In the SGS, only heifer calves from the FGS were used and control heifers were treated with ivermectin on day 393. Animals were weighed, blood and faecal sampled every three weeks. The TST animals were treated with ivermectin if thresholds based on a combination of plasma pepsinogen concentrations, faecal egg count and/or the presence of Dictyocaulus viviparus larvae in faeces (FGS only) were reached. Results No TST calves reached the treatment threshold criteria in the FGS. The FGS average daily live weight gain (ADG ± s.e.m.) for control and TST group calves was 0.89 ± 0.02 kg and 0.94 ± 0.02 kg day−1, respectively (P = 0.17). In the SGS, all heifers were treated with ivermectin on day 431 due to clinical signs of respiratory disease. The ADG for control and TST heifers from turnout on day 321 to day 431 was 0.90 ± 0.04 and 0.80 ± 0.04 kg day−1, respectively (P = 0.03). Conclusions Spring-born FGS suckler beef calves require minimal anthelmintic treatment to maintain performance. In contrast, clinical parasitic disease may develop in the SGS unless appropriate anthelmintic treatment is provided.
  • Validation and Improvement of the Beef Production Sub-index in Ireland for Beef Cattle

    Drennan, Michael J; McGee, Mark; Clarke, A. M.; Kenny, D.A.; Evans, R.D.; Berry, Donagh P. (Teagasc, 2009-12-01)
    The objectives of the following study were to: a. Quantify the effect of sire genetic merit for BCI on: 1. feed intake, growth and carcass traits of progeny managed under bull or steer beef production systems. 2. live animal scores, carcass composition and plasma hormone and metabolite concentrations in their progeny. b. Compare the progeny of : 1. Late-maturing beef with dairy breeds and 2. Charolais (CH), Limousin (LM), Simmental (SM) and Belgian Blue (BB) sires bred to beef suckler dams, for feed intake, blood hormones and metabolites, live animal measurements, carcass traits and carcass value in bull and steer production systems.
  • The relationship between various live animal scores/measurements and carcass classification for conformation and fatness with meat yield and distribution, and ultimate carcass value

    Drennan, Michael J; McGee, Mark; Conroy, S. B.; Keane, Michael G.; Kenny, D.A.; Berry, Donagh P. (Teagasc, 2009-12-01)
    Accordingly, the primary objectives of the following study were to: (1) determine the relationship of live animal muscular and skeletal scores, ultrasonically scanned muscle and fat depth measurements of the m. longissimus dorsi, and carcass conformation and fat scores with kill-out proportion, carcass composition and value. (2) Specifically develop and test the accuracy of prediction equations for carcass meat, fat and bone proportions, derived from carcass conformation and fat scores, and develop prediction equations for total carcass composition from hind-quarter composition.
  • Evaluation and development of animal breeding in Ireland

    McParland, Sinead; Shalloo, Laurence; Berry, Donagh P. (Teagasc, 2008-11-01)
    The primary objectives of this study were: 1) to annually evaluate the pertinence of the Irish dairy cattle breeding index, the Economic Breeding Index (EBI) and where necessary modify, 2) to evaluate the potential of do-it-yourself milk recording as an alternative to current supervised methods of milk recording, and 3) to estimate the level and rate of accumulation of inbreeding in Irish dairy and beef cattle, to quantify its effects on traits of economic importance, and to develop remedial measures to minimise the future accumulation of inbreeding in Ireland.
  • A study of the somatic cell count (SCC) of Irish milk from herd management and environmental perspectives

    O'Brien, Bernadette; Berry, Donagh P.; Kelly, Philip M.; Meaney, William J; O'Callaghan, Edmond J (Teagasc, 2009-12-01)
    The objective of this study was to investigate the herd management practices associated with somatic cell count (SCC) and total bacteria count (TBC), to geographically analyse SCC on a national basis, to investigate cow factors associated with SCC and to estimate the milk loss associated with high SCC across parities. From the 400 farms surveyed during farm visits throughout spring and winter, a profile of herd management was developed and the associations between management practices and milk SCC and TBC were established. Management practices associated with low SCC included the use of dry cow therapy, participation in a milk recording scheme, the use of teat disinfection post-milking, a higher frequency of cleaning and increased farm hygiene. Management practices associated with low TBC included the use of heated water in the milking parlour, participation in a milk recording scheme, tail clipping of cows at a frequency greater than once per year and increased farm hygiene. The spatial analysis showed that the south of the country had the greatest density of milk-recording herds. Approximately 60% of all herds in the study were from four counties (Cork, Kerry, Limerick and Tipperary). Average bulk tank SCC increased from 110,264 cells/mL in 2003 to 118,782 cells/mL in 2005, followed by a decrease to 108,454 cells/mL in 2007. Spatial clustering of high SCC scores was not observed (i.e., SCC on one farm was not related to SCC on other farms), which is consistent with mastitis being a herd problem as opposed to an area-based problem. SCC increased with parity from 97,000 cells/mL in parity 1 to 199,000 cell/mL in parity 6. SCC decreased between the period 5 to 35 days in milk (DIM) and 36 to 65 DIM, and increased thereafter. Cows calving in the months of January and September were associated with lower average 305 day SCC. The rate of increase in SCC from mid to late lactation was greatest in older parity animals. There was a test day milk loss of 1.43, 2.08, 2.59, 2.56 and 2.62 litres (parities 1 to 5, respectively) associated with an increase of SCC category from <51,000 to >400,000 cells/mL. When SCC was adjusted (test day SCC/dilution estimate, and test day SCC + (-ß)(test day milk yield)) to account for milk yield, similar trends in milk loss were observed. Alternatively, adjusting SCC (SCC*test day milk yield/mean test day milk yield) to account for milk yield showed an increase in test day milk with increasing SCC category. The results from this study highlight that adherence to best milking/farming practice will help reduce SCC and TBC on farms. The results contribute to the knowledge relating to SCC through increasing the accuracy of milk loss due to SCC and management practices associated with SCC. The results in the study can also be used in the development of strategies to reduce SCC on farms.
  • Adding value to milk by increasing its protein and CLA contents

    Murphy, J.J.; Stanton, Catherine; O'Donovan, Michael; Kavanagh, S.; Maher, J.; Patton, Joe; Mohammed, Riaz (Teagasc, 2008-08-01)
    The mid-summer milk protein study was undertaken on 34 commercial dairy farms in 2005 to evaluate the influence of dietary and management variables on milk protein content in mid-season. Data on grass composition, genetic merit of the herds and milk protein content were collected and analysed by multiple regression. Both calving date and genetic merit for milk protein content were significantly associated with milk protein content and were used as adjustment factors when evaluating the association between measures of grass quality and milk protein content. Milk protein content was associated with grass OMD (P = 0.04) and NDF content (P = 0.02) but not with CP content (P = 0.80). It is concluded that herds calving earlier, with a greater genetic merit for milk protein content and consuming better quality pasture would have greater milk protein contents in mid-season.
  • 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 P.; Arkins, S.; Alonso Gómez, M.; Mee, John F (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.
  • Evaluation of on-farm labour saving strategies for optimisation of herd size that could be managed by one operator

    O’Brien, Bernadette; Gleeson, David E; Shalloo, Laurence (Teagasc, 2009-06-01)
    Alternative milking frequencies Once a day (OAD) milking throughout lactation of a herd (over 2 years, incorporating 24% heifers) resulted in loss in milk solids (MS) production of 17% per cow.  Milking cows OAD in their 1st lactation does not adversely impact on milk production in the second lactation, when changed to twice a day (TAD) milking but may lead to a higher mastitis incidence.  Changeover in milking frequency in mid lactation resulted in a similar yield of MS per cow for TAD milking for the full lactation (474 kg) and the TAD OAD group (TAD for the first 110 days and OAD for the remainder of the lactation) (469 kg).  Thirteen times weekly milking in late lactation (omitting the Sunday evening milking) compared to twice daily milking every day had no effect on milk yield or composition and maximum SCC observed during the trial was 270x103 cells/ml.  Once daily milking did not adversely affect the processability of milk.  Once daily milking did not significantly increase milk SCC levels. Alternative calf rearing systems  The improved efficiency increased herd size may be due to less use of buckets for calf feeding together with more frequent use of teat feeding from a container, automatic feeders and ad libitum feeding  A study on OAD calf feeding (whole milk) demonstrated that calves can be reared with a OAD milk feeding system and weaned early (42 days) without adversely affecting performance  There was no difference in the live-weight gain of calves on once daily feeding, twice daily feeding or once daily feeding going outdoors after 28 days  Calf liveweight gain was greater with once daily feeding with milk replacer compared to once daily feeding with whole milk or once daily feeding with milk replacer going outdoors after 28 days Economic analysis of alternative milking systems  When deciding on the type, size and level of technology in the milking parlour, the trade-off between labour requirement and cost and the initial capital investment requirement should be key in making the decision.

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