• Adding value to cull cow beef

      O'Donovan, Michael; Minchin, William; Buckley, Frank; Kenny, David A.; Shalloo, Laurence (Teagasc, 01/08/2009)
      This project addressed the prospects of increasing the value of cull cow beef and examined the potential of a number of different management and dietary strategies. In Ireland, the national cow herd contributes 350,000 animals to total beef production annually, which represents 22% of all cattle slaughtered (DAF, 2007). A dominant feature of beef production in Ireland is the disposal of cows from the dairy and beef industries, the time of year at which culling occurs influences the number of cows available for slaughter. Suitability of a cow for slaughter is generally not a consideration for dairy or beef farmers.
    • 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, 01/08/2008)
      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.
    • An Analysis of Abatement Potential of Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Irish Agriculture 2021-2030

      Lanigan, Gary; Donnellan, Trevor; Hanrahan, Kevin; Carsten, Paul; Shalloo, Laurence; Krol, Dominika J.; Forrestal, Patrick J.; Farrelly, Niall; O’Brien, Donal; Ryan, Mary; et al. (Teagasc, 2018-06-10)
      This report has been prepared by the Teagasc Working Group on GHG Emissions, which brings together and integrates the extensive and diverse range of organisational expertise on agricultural greenhouse gases. The previous Teagasc GHG MACC was published in 2012 in response to both the EU Climate and Energy Package and related Effort Sharing Decision and in the context of the establishment of the Food Harvest 2020 production targets.
    • Animal performance and economic implications of alternative production systems for dairy bulls slaughtered at 15 months of age

      Murphy, B.M.; Crosson, Paul; Kelly, Alan K; Prendiville, Robert; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; 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.
    • Application of data envelopment analysis to measure technical efficiency on a sample of Irish dairy farms

      Kelly, Eoin; Shalloo, Laurence; Geary, Una; Kinsella, Anne; Wallace, Michael (Teagasc, 2012-12)
      The aim of this study was to determine the levels of technical efficiency on a sample of Irish dairy farms utilizing Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) and to identify key management and production factors that differ between producers indentified as efficient and inefficient. DEA was used in this study to generate technical efficiency scores under assumptions of both constant returns to scale (CRS) and variable returns to scale (VRS). The average technical efficiency score was 0.785 under CRS and 0.833 under VRS. Key production characteristics of efficient and inefficient producers were compared using an analysis of variance. More technically efficient producers used less input per unit of output, had higher production per cow and per hectare and had a longer grazing season, a higher milk quality standard, were more likely to have participated in milk recording and had greater land quality compared to the inefficient producers.
    • Are some teat disinfectant formulations more effective against specific bacteria isolated on teat skin than others?

      Fitzpatrick, Sarah R; Garvey, Mary; Flynn, Jim; Jordan, Kieran; Gleeson, David E; Dairy Research Ireland; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; 2016054 (Biomed Central, 2019-04-25)
      The use of pre- and post-milking teat disinfectants can reduce teat bacterial load and aid in the collection of high-quality milk. The objective of this study was to compare the reduction in bacteria populations on teat skin after the application of different commercial teat disinfectant products. Ten teat disinfectant products were applied to the teats of 10 Holstein–Friesian cows. One cow received one teat disinfectant product at each sampling point before cluster application for milking. A composite swab sample was taken of the 4 teats of each cow before and after teat disinfectant application. Swab samples were placed on three different selective agars to enumerate bacterial counts of staphylococcal, streptococcal and coliforms isolates on teat skin. Staphylococcal isolates were the most prominent bacterial group recovered on teat swabs (49%), followed by streptococcal (36%) and coliform (15%) isolates before the application of disinfectant. The average bacterial reductions on teat skin were shown to be 76%, 73% and 60% for staphylococcal, streptococcal and coliform isolates, respectively. All of the teat disinfectant products tested reduced teat bacterial load for all three bacterial groups. Product 4 containing 0.6% w/w diamine was the most effective against bacterial populations of staphylococcal and streptococcal isolates on teat skin with a reduction of 90% and 94%, respectively. Whereas product 10, which contained 0.5% w/w iodine, resulted in the highest reduction in coliforms on teat skin with a reduction of 91%. Results from this study suggest that specific bacterial population loads on teats can be reduced using different teat disinfectant formulations.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Associating cow characteristics with mobility scores in pasture-based dairy cows

      O'Connor, A.H.; Bokkers, E.A.M.; de Boer, I.J.M.; Hogeveen, H.; Sayers, Riona; Byrne, Nicky; Ruelle, Elodie; Shalloo, Laurence; Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Elsevier for American Dairy Science Association, 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.
    • The association between herd- and cow-level factors and somatic cell count of Irish dairy cows

      McParland, Sinead; O'Brien, Bernadette; McCarthy, J.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 10/RD/AAQUALITYMILK/TMFRC713 (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2013)
      Somatic cell count (SCC) is an indicator of both udder health and milk quality and is measured at an animal level through national milk recording schemes. The objective of this study was to assess the animal and herd factors contributing to elevated SCC (i.e. poorer milk quality). Test day records (n = 2,658,928) from 519,456 cow lactations obtained between 2007 and 2011 were included in the analyses. Herd factors tested included the geographical region of the herd and production system operated (spring calving or mixed calving system). Animal factors tested included breed, parity and age nested within parity. Four definitions of normalised SCC (i.e. SCS) were considered: 1) average test-day SCS within a 24 hour period (TD_SCS), 2) maximum SCS (peak_SCS), 3) minimum SCS (min_SCS), and 4) average SCS (avg_SCS) recorded across cow lactation; in addition, the proportion of test day records with an SCC count >200,000 (prop_200) or >250,000 (prop_250) within cow lactation were included. Following adjustment for fixed effects, average TD_SCS was 179,308 cells per mL while avg_SCS, and average min_SCS and peak_SCS were 119,481, 50,992 and 298,813 cells per mL, respectively. All animal and herd factors had a significant effect on SCC. Older animals, animals which were younger at calving than contemporaries and Holstein animals had higher SCC than younger alternative breed animals who calved at the median age. In addition, mixed calving production systems and herds in Connaught had higher SCC than spring calving herds in the other regions of Ireland.
    • Association of season and herd size with somatic cell count for cows in Irish, English, and Welsh dairy herds

      Archer, Simon C.; Mc Coy, Finola; Wapenaar, Wendela; Green, Martin J.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Elsevier BV, 2013-06-03)
      The aims of this study were to describe associations of time of year, and herd size with cow somatic cell count (SCC) for Irish, English, and Welsh dairy herds. Random samples of 497 and 493 Irish herds, and two samples of 200 English and Welsh (UK) herds were selected. Random effects models for the natural logarithm of individual cow test day SCC were developed using data from herds in one sub-dataset from each country. Data from the second sub-datasets were used for cross validation. Baseline model results showed that geometric mean cow SCC (GSCC) in Irish herds was highest from February to August, and ranged from 111,000 cells/mL in May to 61,000 cells/mL in October. For cows in UK herds, GSCC ranged from 84,000 cells/mL in February and June, to 66,000 cells/mL in October. The results highlight the importance of monitoring cow SCC during spring and summer despite low bulk milk SCC at this time for Irish herds. GSCC was lowest in Irish herds of up to 130 cows (63,000 cells/mL), and increased for larger herds, reaching 68,000 cells/mL in herds of up to 300 cows. GSCC in UK herds was lowest for herds of 130–180 cows (60,000 cells/mL) and increased to 63,000 cells/mL in herds of 30 cows, and 68,000 cells/mL in herds of 300 cows. Importantly, these results suggest expansion may be associated with increased cow SCC, highlighting the importance of appropriate management, to benefit from potential economies of scale, in terms of udder health.
    • Associations between paratuberculosis ELISA results and test-day records of cows enrolled in the Irish Johne's Disease Control Program

      Botaro, Bruno G.; Ruelle, Elodie; More, Simon J; Strain, Sam; Graham, David A.; O'Flaherty, Joe; Shalloo, Laurence; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Elsevier, 2017-07-12)
      The effect of the Mycobacterium avium ssp. paratuberculosis (MAP) ELISA status on test-day milk performance of cows from Irish herds enrolled in the pilot national voluntary Johne's disease control program during 2013 to 2015 was estimated. A data set comprising 92,854 cows and 592,623 complete test-day records distributed across 1,700 herds was used in this study. The resulting ELISA outcome (negative, inconclusive, and positive) of each cow within each year of the program was used to allocate the cow into different scenarios representing the MAP status. At MAPscenario1, all cows testing ELISA nonnegative (i.e., inconclusive and positive) were assigned a MAP-positive status; at MAPscenario2 only cows testing ELISA-positive were assigned a MAP-positive status; at MAPscenario3 only cows testing ELISA nonnegative (inconclusive or positive) and gathered exclusively from herds where at least 2 further ELISA nonnegative (inconclusive or positive) cows were found were assigned a MAP-positive status; at MAPscenario4 only cows testing ELISA-positive that were gathered exclusively from herds where at least 2 further ELISA-positive cows were found were assigned a MAP-positive status. Milk outputs based on test-day records were standardized for fat and protein contents (SMY) and the effect of MAP ELISA status on the SMY was estimated by a linear mixed effects model structure. The SMY mean difference recorded at test day between cows with a MAP-positive status and those with a MAP-negative status within MAPscenario1 was estimated at −0.182 kg/test day; the mean difference was −0.297 kg/test day for MAPscenario2; for MAPscenario3 mean difference between MAP-positive status and MAP test-negative cows was −0.209 kg/test day, and for MAPscenario4, the difference was −0.326 kg/test day.
    • Associations between paratuberculosis ELISA results and test-day records of cows enrolled in the Irish Johne's Disease Control Program

      Botaro, Bruno G.; Ruelle, Elodie; More, Simon J.; Strain, Sam; Graham, David A.; O'Flaherty, Joe; Shalloo, Laurence; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Elsevier for American Dairy Science Association, 2017-07-12)
      The effect of the Mycobacterium avium ssp. paratuberculosis (MAP) ELISA status on test-day milk performance of cows from Irish herds enrolled in the pilot national voluntary Johne’s disease control program during 2013 to 2015 was estimated. A data set comprising 92,854 cows and 592,623 complete test-day records distributed across 1,700 herds was used in this study. The resulting ELISA outcome (negative, inconclusive, and positive) of each cow within each year of the program was used to allocate the cow into different scenarios representing the MAP status. At MAPscenario1, all cows testing ELISA nonnegative (i.e., inconclusive and positive) were assigned a MAP-positive status; at MAPscenario2 only cows testing ELISA-positive were assigned a MAP-positive status; at MAPscenario3 only cows testing ELISA nonnegative (inconclusive or positive) and gathered exclusively from herds where at least 2 further ELISA nonnegative (inconclusive or positive) cows were found were assigned a MAP-positive status; at MAPscenario4 only cows testing ELISA-positive that were gathered exclusively from herds where at least 2 further ELISA-positive cows were found were assigned a MAP-positive status. Milk outputs based on test-day records were standardized for fat and protein contents (SMY) and the effect of MAP ELISA status on the SMY was estimated by a linear mixed effects model structure. The SMY mean difference recorded at test day between cows with a MAP-positive status and those with a MAP-negative status within MAPscenario1 was estimated at −0.182 kg/test day; the mean difference was −0.297 kg/test day for MAPscenario2; for MAPscenario3 mean difference between MAP-positive status and MAP test-negative cows was −0.209 kg/test day, and for MAPscenario4, the difference was −0.326 kg/ test day
    • Associations between paratuberculosis ELISA results and test-day records of cows enrolled in the Irish Johne's Disease Control Program

      Botaro, Bruno G.; Ruelle, Elodie; More, Simon J; Strain, Sam; Graham, David A.; O'Flaherty, Joe; Shalloo, Laurence; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Elsevier, 2017-07-12)
      The effect of the Mycobacterium avium ssp. paratuberculosis (MAP) ELISA status on test-day milk performance of cows from Irish herds enrolled in the pilot national voluntary Johne's disease control program during 2013 to 2015 was estimated. A data set comprising 92,854 cows and 592,623 complete test-day records distributed across 1,700 herds was used in this study. The resulting ELISA outcome (negative, inconclusive, and positive) of each cow within each year of the program was used to allocate the cow into different scenarios representing the MAP status. At MAPscenario1, all cows testing ELISA nonnegative (i.e., inconclusive and positive) were assigned a MAP-positive status; at MAPscenario2 only cows testing ELISA-positive were assigned a MAP-positive status; at MAPscenario3 only cows testing ELISA nonnegative (inconclusive or positive) and gathered exclusively from herds where at least 2 further ELISA nonnegative (inconclusive or positive) cows were found were assigned a MAP-positive status; at MAPscenario4 only cows testing ELISA-positive that were gathered exclusively from herds where at least 2 further ELISA-positive cows were found were assigned a MAP-positive status. Milk outputs based on test-day records were standardized for fat and protein contents (SMY) and the effect of MAP ELISA status on the SMY was estimated by a linear mixed effects model structure. The SMY mean difference recorded at test day between cows with a MAP-positive status and those with a MAP-negative status within MAPscenario1 was estimated at −0.182 kg/test day; the mean difference was −0.297 kg/test day for MAPscenario2; for MAPscenario3 mean difference between MAP-positive status and MAP test-negative cows was −0.209 kg/test day, and for MAPscenario4, the difference was −0.326 kg/test day.
    • Beef Cross Breeding of Dairy and Beef Cows

      Keane, Michael G. (Teagasc, 2011-03-01)
      Summary The rationale for crossing dairy cows with beef bulls is to increase the beef productivity and value of the progeny. The proportion of dairy cows available for beef crossing is determined by the dairy herd replacement rate. The performance of cross-bred cattle is generally superior to the mean of the parent breeds because of heterosis. This is most pronounced for reproduction, maternal and calf survival traits. Crossing dairy cows with early maturing beef breeds (e.g. Angus, Hereford) has little effect on growth but improves carcass conformation and reduces feed intake. Crossing with most late maturing beef breeds also improves carcass conformation and reduces feed intake, but in addition, growth rate, kill-out proportion and carcass muscle proportion are increased. Cross breeding can have small negative effects on dam milk production, and subsequent reproduction can be impaired following a long gestation or difficult calving. There is little advantage in crossing with double muscled sire breeds (e.g. Belgian Blue, Piedmontese) compared with the larger conventional late maturing breeds (e.g. Charolais, Blonde d'Aquitaine). There are few effects of sire breed on meat quality.
    • 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 C.; Drennan, Michael J; Forristal, Dermot; et al. (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.
    • Bioeconomic modelling of male Holstein-Friesian dairy calf-to-beef production systems on Irish farms

      Ashfield, A.; Wallace, Michael; Prendiville, Robert; Crosson, Paul (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2014)
      With the abolition of milk quota in 2015 and increase in the use of Holstein-Friesian sires in recent years there is predicted to be an increase in the number of male Holstein-Friesian animals available for beef production. In broad terms, farmers have two options for finishing these animals; as bulls or steers. In either case, Irish beef cattle systems are based on maximising lifetime live-weight gain from grass-based diets. Managing the relationship between the supply and demand for grazed grass is complicated in these pasture-based systems due to the seasonal variability in grass growth. The Grange Dairy Beef Systems Model (GDBSM) was used to simulate the relationship between grazed grass supply and demand and then determine the profitability of Holstein-Friesian male animals finished as bulls at 16 (B16), 19 (B19) and 22 (B22) months of age and steers at 24 (S24) months of age. Combinations of these cattle finishing options were also evaluated. The most profitable system was S24. All systems were very sensitive to variations in beef and concentrate prices and less sensitive to calf price changes with fertiliser price changes having very little effect. Bull systems were more sensitive than the steer system to variation in beef, calf and concentrate prices. There was no advantage of combination systems in terms of utilisation of grass grown or net margin.
    • Body and carcass measurements, carcass conformation and tissue distribution of high dairy genetic merit Holstein, standard dairy genetic merit Friesian and Charolais x Holstein-Friesian male cattle

      McGee, Mark; Keane, Michael G.; Neilan, R.; Moloney, Aidan P; Caffrey, Patrick J. (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2007)
      The increased proportion of Holstein genes in the dairy herd may have undesirable consequences for beef production in Ireland. A total of 72 spring-born calves, (24 Holstein (HO), 24 Friesian (FR) and 24 Charolais X Holstein-Friesian (CH)) were reared from calfhood to slaughter. Calves were artificially reared indoors and spent their first summer at pasture following which they were assigned to a 3 breeds (HO, FR and CH) 2 production systems (intensive 19-month bull beef and extensive 25-month steer beef) 2 slaughter weights (560 and 650 kg) factorial experiment. Body measurements of all animals were recorded at the same time before the earliest slaughter date. After slaughter, carcasses were graded and measured and the pistola hind-quarter was separated into fat, bone and muscle. HO had significantly higher values for withers height, pelvic height and chest depth than FR, which in turn had higher values than CH. HO had a longer back and a narrower chest than either FR or CH, which were not significantly different. Carcass length and depth, pistola length, and leg length were 139.2, 134.4 and 132.0 (s.e. 0.81), 52.1, 51.3 and 47.7 (s.e. 0.38), 114.4, 109.0 and 107.0 (s.e. 0.65) and 76.7, 71.9 and 71.4 (s.e. 0.44) cm for HO, FR and CH, respectively. Breed differences in pistola tissue distribution between the joints were small and confined to the distal pelvic limb and ribs. There were relatively small breed differences in the distribution of pistola muscle weight between individual muscles. Body measurements were significantly greater for animals on the intensive system (bulls) than the extensive system (steers) in absolute terms, but the opposite was so when they were expressed relative to live weight. The only significant difference in relative carcass measurements between the production systems was for carcass depth, which was lower for the intensive compared with the extensive system. Increasing slaughter weight significantly increased all carcass measurements in absolute terms but reduced them relative to weight. It is concluded that there were large differences between the breed types in body and carcass measurements, and hence in carcass shape and compactness but differences in tissue distribution were small.
    • Capturing the economic benefit of Lolium perenne cultivar performance

      McEvoy, Mary; O'Donovan, Michael; Shalloo, Laurence; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2011)
      Economic values were calculated for grass traits of economic importance in Irish grass-based ruminant production systems. Traits considered were those that had the greatest potential to influence the profitability of a grazing system. These were: grass dry matter (DM) yield in spring, mid-season and autumn, grass quality (dry matter digestibility; DMD), 1st and 2nd cut silage DM yield and sward persistency. The Moorepark Dairy Systems Model was used to simulate a dairy farm. Economic values were calculated by simulating the effect of a unit change in the trait of interest while holding all other traits constant. The base scenario involved a fixed herd size and land area (40 ha), and an annual DM yield of 13 t/ha. The economic values generated under the base scenario were: € 0.152/kg for DM yield in spring, € 0.030/kg for DM yield in mid-season and € 0.103/kg for DM yield in autumn; € 0.001, € 0.008, € 0.010, € 0.009, € 0.008 and € 0.006 per 1 g/kg change in DMD for the months of April to September, respectively; € 0.03/kg for 1st cut silage DM yield, € 0.02/kg for 2nd cut silage DM yield; and − € 4.961 for a 1 percent reduction in persistency. Alternative scenarios were examined to determine the sensitivity of the economic values to changes in annual DM yield, sward utilisation and a scenario where silage production was the focus of the system. The economic values were used to calculate a total merit index for each of 20 perennial ryegrass cultivars based on production data from a 3 year plot study. The rank correlation between the merit index values for the cultivars under the base scenario and the scenario involving a reduction in herbage utilisation was 1.0, while that with the scenario involving reduced annual DM yield was 0.94. It is concluded that the total merit index can be used to identify cultivars that can generate the greatest economic contribution to a grass-based production system, regardless of system or intensity of grass production.
    • 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.