• 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 (Elsevier, 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.
    • 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.
    • Deriving economic values for national sheep breeding objectives using a bio-economic model

      Bohan, Alan; Shalloo, Laurence; Creighton, Philip; Berry, Donagh; Boland, T. M.; O'Brien, Aine; 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.
    • Detection of presumptive Bacillus cereus in the Irish dairy farm environment

      O'Connell, Aine; Lawton, Elaine M.; Leong, Dara; Cotter, Paul D.; Gleeson, David E; Guinane, Caitriona M.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 30/01/2016)
      The objective of the study was to isolate potential Bacillus cereus sensu lato (B. cereus s.l.) from a range of farm environments. Samples of tap water, milking equipment rinse water, milk sediment filter, grass, soil and bulk tank milk were collected from 63 farms. In addition, milk liners were swabbed at the start and the end of milking, and swabs were taken from cows’ teats prior to milking. The samples were plated on mannitol egg yolk polymyxin agar (MYP) and presumptive B. cereus s.l. colonies were isolated and stored in nutrient broth with 20% glycerol and frozen at -80 °C. These isolates were then plated on chromogenic medium (BACARA) and colonies identified as presumptive B. cereus s.l. on this medium were subjected to 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) sequencing. Of the 507 isolates presumed to be B. cereus s.l. on the basis of growth on MYP, only 177 showed growth typical of B. cereus s.l. on BACARA agar. The use of 16S rRNA sequencing to identify isolates that grew on BACARA confirmed that the majority of isolates belonged to B. cereus s.l. A total of 81 of the 98 isolates sequenced were tentatively identified as presumptive B. cereus s.l. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis was carried out on milk and soil isolates from seven farms that were identified as having presumptive B. cereus s.l. No pulsotype was shared by isolates from soil and milk on the same farm. Presumptive B. cereus s.l. was widely distributed within the dairy farm environment.
    • Detection of selection signatures in dairy and beef cattle using high-density genomic information

      Zhao, Fuping; McParland, Sinead; Kearney, Francis; Du, Lixin; Berry, Donagh; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Agricultural Science and Technology Innovation Program; Natural Science Foundation of China; 11/S/112; ASTIP-IAS-TS-6 (Biomed Central, 2015-06-19)
      Background Artificial selection for economically important traits in cattle is expected to have left distinctive selection signatures on the genome. Access to high-density genotypes facilitates the accurate identification of genomic regions that have undergone positive selection. These findings help to better elucidate the mechanisms of selection and to identify candidate genes of interest to breeding programs. Results Information on 705 243 autosomal single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 3122 dairy and beef male animals from seven cattle breeds (Angus, Belgian Blue, Charolais, Hereford, Holstein-Friesian, Limousin and Simmental) were used to detect selection signatures by applying two complementary methods, integrated haplotype score (iHS) and global fixation index (FST). To control for false positive results, we used false discovery rate (FDR) adjustment to calculate adjusted iHS within each breed and the genome-wide significance level was about 0.003. Using the iHS method, 83, 92, 91, 101, 85, 101 and 86 significant genomic regions were detected for Angus, Belgian Blue, Charolais, Hereford, Holstein-Friesian, Limousin and Simmental cattle, respectively. None of these regions was common to all seven breeds. Using the FST approach, 704 individual SNPs were detected across breeds. Annotation of the regions of the genome that showed selection signatures revealed several interesting candidate genes i.e. DGAT1, ABCG2, MSTN, CAPN3, FABP3, CHCHD7, PLAG1, JAZF1, PRKG2, ACTC1, TBC1D1, GHR, BMP2, TSG1, LYN, KIT and MC1R that play a role in milk production, reproduction, body size, muscle formation or coat color. Fifty-seven common candidate genes were found by both the iHS and global FST methods across the seven breeds. Moreover, many novel genomic regions and genes were detected within the regions that showed selection signatures; for some candidate genes, signatures of positive selection exist in the human genome. Multilevel bioinformatic analyses of the detected candidate genes suggested that the PPAR pathway may have been subjected to positive selection. Conclusions This study provides a high-resolution bovine genomic map of positive selection signatures that are either specific to one breed or common to a subset of the seven breeds analyzed. Our results will contribute to the detection of functional candidate genes that have undergone positive selection in future studies.
    • Development of a benchmarking system for Irish beef farms using data envelopment analysis

      Finneran, Eoghan; Crosson, Paul (2013)
      Agricultural extension trends have involved greater use of collaborative “discussion group” dissemination approaches. These discussion groups involve regular participatory meetings between a consistent cohort of farmers and extension practitioners with occasional input from industry and research stakeholders. In Ireland, policy change, small farm scale and low incomes are some of the factors incentivising beef farmers and industry to seek increased whole-farm income efficiency. Whole-farm comparative analysis may provide a means of identifying and explaining efficiency drivers at farm level. This article describes the development of BEEFMARK, a benchmarking model with potential to act as a tool to facilitate farmer-farmer and farmer-adviser group learning within discussion groups. BEEFMARK utilised Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) to measure beef farm income and scale efficiency and to identify and characterise efficient peer farms which act as benchmarks for similarly structured, but lower efficiency farms. Market derived gross output (€) per livestock unit was positively associated with farm efficiency while greater overhead and concentrate feed expenditure was negatively associated with income and scale efficiency.
    • Development of an efficient milk production profile of the Irish dairy Industry

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

      Purfield, Deirdre C; McParland, Sinead; Wall, E.; Berry, Donagh; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; 11/S/112; 14/S/849 (PLOS, 2017-05-02)
      Domestication and the subsequent selection of animals for either economic or morphological features can leave a variety of imprints on the genome of a population. Genomic regions subjected to high selective pressures often show reduced genetic diversity and frequent runs of homozygosity (ROH). Therefore, the objective of the present study was to use 42,182 autosomal SNPs to identify genomic regions in 3,191 sheep from six commercial breeds subjected to selection pressure and to quantify the genetic diversity within each breed using ROH. In addition, the historical effective population size of each breed was also estimated and, in conjunction with ROH, was used to elucidate the demographic history of the six breeds. ROH were common in the autosomes of animals in the present study, but the observed breed differences in patterns of ROH length and burden suggested differences in breed effective population size and recent management. ROH provided a sufficient predictor of the pedigree inbreeding coefficient, with an estimated correlation between both measures of 0.62. Genomic regions under putative selection were identified using two complementary algorithms; the fixation index and hapFLK. The identified regions under putative selection included candidate genes associated with skin pigmentation, body size and muscle formation; such characteristics are often sought after in modern-day breeding programs. These regions of selection frequently overlapped with high ROH regions both within and across breeds. Multiple yet uncharacterised genes also resided within putative regions of selection. This further substantiates the need for a more comprehensive annotation of the sheep genome as these uncharacterised genes may contribute to traits of interest in the animal sciences. Despite this, the regions identified as under putative selection in the current study provide an insight into the mechanisms leading to breed differentiation and genetic variation in meat production.
    • 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, Joseph P.; Prendiville, Robert; Allen, Paul; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 08/07/2017)
      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.
    • An economic analysis of the Irish milk quota exchange scheme.

      Hennessy, Thia; Lapple, Doris; Shalloo, Laurence; Wallace, Michael (Institute of Agricultural Management, 2012-03)
      In Ireland, the trade of milk quota is subject to regional restrictions and a large variation in quota prices between regions has caused some controversy. This article investigates this issue by analysing the functioning of the Irish milk quota exchange market. For this purpose, the economic value of milk quota is estimated using an optimisation framework. The estimated values are then compared to milk quota prices paid at the exchange market. The analysis reveals that quota is undervalued in the border, midlands and west and south-west regions, while milk quota is overvalued in the east and south regions. This implies that farmers in certain regions overpay for additional quota, while other farmers secure good value for their quota investments. The paper concludes by discussing that the identified regional differences are only partly explained by economic and production factors.
    • The economics of reseeding on a dairy farm

      Shalloo, Laurence; Creighton, Philip; O'Donovan, Michael (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2011)
      Herbage production and utilization on Irish dairy farms is well below its potential. A number of factors influence herbage production and utilization, not least the level of annual reseeding (introduction of a new grass ley) on the farm. The potential farm performance is reduced by old permanent pasture due to the combined effects of reduced out-of-season herbage production and lower overall herbage yield when compared to perennial ryegrass. Based on the sales of grass seed, it is estimated that approximately 2% of the land area on dairy farms in Ireland is reseeded annually. This has created a situation where the overall percentage of perennial ryegrass in sward is low. The objective of the present study was to investigate the economic benefits of reseeding through simulating the consequences of reseeding different proportions of the farm on an annual basis. Four levels of an annual reseeding programme were evaluated: 1%, 5%, 10% and 15% of the farm reseeded annually; evaluated at three milk prices (20 c/L, 27c/L and 33 c/L). Increasing the level of reseeding resulted in an increase in total and seasonal herbage production and, when accompanied by an increased stocking rate, increased herbage utilization. At a milk price of 27 c/L, farm profitability was €20 764, €24 794, €30 073 and €33 515 on a 40 ha farm when 1%, 5%, 10% and 15%, respectively, of the farm was reseeded annually. Irrespective of milk price, increasing the level of reseeding had a positive effect on profitability and the highest gain was achieved at the highest milk price. Sensitivity analysis showed that sward persistency and, to a lesser extent, herbage utilization had significant effects on the benefit from reseeding.
    • Effect of abrupt weaning at housing on leukocyte distribution, functional activity of neutrophils, and acute phase protein response of beef calves

      Lynch, Eilish M; Earley, Bernadette; McGee, Mark; Doyle, Sean; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; John and Pat Hume Scholarship (Biomed Central, 2010-07-22)
      Background: Sixteen, spring-born, single suckled, castrated male calves of Limousin × Holstein-Friesian and Simmental × Holstein-Friesian dams respectively, were used to investigate the effect of weaning on total leukocyte and differential counts, neutrophil functional activity, lymphocyte immunophenotypes, and acute phase protein response. Calves grazed with their dams until the end of the grazing season when they were housed in a slatted floor shed. On the day of housing, calves were assigned to a treatment, (i) abruptly weaned (W: n = 8) or (ii) non-weaned (controls) (C: n = 8). Weaned calves were housed in pens without their dams, whereas non-weaned (control) calves were housed with their dams. Blood was collected on day -7, 0 (housing), 2, 7, and 14 to determine total leukocyte and differential counts and concentration of fibrinogen and haptoglobin. Lymphocyte immunophenotypes were characterised using selected surface antigens (CD4+, CD8+, WC1+ (γδ T cells), MHC Class II+ lymphocytes), and the functional activities of neutrophils (surface expression of L-selectin (CD62L), phagocytic and oxidative burst activity) were investigated using flow cytometry. Results: Treatment × sampling time interactions (P < 0.05) were detected for total leukocyte and neutrophil counts, all lymphocyte subsets, mean fluorescence intensity of CD62L+ neutrophils, and percentage neutrophils performing phagocytosis. On d 2, total leukocyte and neutrophil count increased (P < 0.001), and percentage CD4+ and CD8+ lymphocytes, percentage phagocytic neutrophils, mean fluorescence intensity of CD62L+ neutrophils decreased (P < 0.05) in W compared with baseline (d 0), whereas they were unchanged (P > 0.05) in C. On d 2, percentage WC1+ lymphocytes decreased (P < 0.05), whereas percentage MHC class II+ lymphocytes increased (P < 0.05) in W and C, however the magnitude of change was greater in W than C. There were no treatment × sampling time interactions (P > 0.05) for monocyte, eosinophil, and basophil counts, percentage G1+ neutrophils, or percentage oxidative burst positive neutrophils. Conclusions: Abrupt weaning resulted in increased neutrophil counts and impaired trafficking and phagocytic function. Together with the changes in lymphocyte subsets, the results suggest that there was a greater transitory reduction in immune function at housing in abruptly weaned than non-weaned beef calves.
    • Effect of age and nutrient restriction pre partum on beef suckler cow serum immunoglobulin concentrations, colostrum yield, composition and immunoglobulin concentration and immune status of their progeny

      McGee, Mark; Drennan, Michael J; Caffrey, Patrick J.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2006)
      The effect of cow age (multiparous (MP) v. primiparous (PP)) and nutritional restriction pre partum (grass silage ad libitum v. straw only ad libitum for the last 15 (s.d. 3.3) days of gestation) on cow serum immunoglobulin (Ig) concentration, on colostrum yield, composition and Ig concentration and on calf serum Ig concentrations (at ~8 and 48 h post partum) using spring-calving Limousin Holstein-Friesian cows and their progeny was studied over 3 years. The method of colostrum administration (stomach tube vs. assisted suckling within 1 h post partum) on calf immune status was also investigated. When feeding colostrum the target was to give each calf 50 mL per kg birthweight via stomach tube. Colostrum yield and Ig concentration were measured following administration of oxytocin and hand-milking of half (Experiments 1 and 2) or the complete udder (Experiment 3). Following an 8-h period after birth during which suckling was prevented a further colostrum sample was obtained. There was no significant difference in first milking colostrum Ig subclass concentrations between the within-quarter fractions or between the front and rear quarters of the udder in either MP or PP cows. Colostrum Ig subclass concentrations at second milking were 0.46 to 0.65 of that at first milking. Compared to MP cows offered silage, colostrum yield and the mass of colostrum IgG1, IgG2, IgM, IgA and total Ig produced was lower (P < 0.001) for PP cows and the mass of IgG1, IgM and total Ig produced was lower (P < 0.05) for MP cows offered straw. Calves from PP cows and MP cows offered straw had significantly lower serum IgG1 and total Ig concentrations at 48 h post partum than calves from MP cows offered silage but there was no difference (P > 0.05) between colostrum feeding methods. In conclusion, calves from PP cows and MP cows offered straw had a lower humoral immune status than those from MP cows offered grass silage.
    • Effect of beef sire expected progeny difference for carcass conformation on live animal muscularity scores and ultrasonic muscle and fat depths, and on carcass classification and composition of their progeny

      Drennan, Michael J; McGee, Mark (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2008)
      The objective was to examine the effect of sire expected progeny difference (EPD) for carcass conformation score on the live animal and carcass traits of their progeny. In each of 4 years a Charolais sire of high and one of average EPD for carcass conformation score were mated to spring-calving suckler cows and the bull and heifer progeny were taken to slaughter at 455 (s.d. 25.2) and 607 (s.d. 29.5) days of age in 4 and 3 years, respectively. The difference in EPD between the sire EPD groups for carcass conformation and fat scores (scale 1 to 15), and carcass weight were, 0.45 units, −0.53 units and 9.7 kg, respectively. Muscularity scores were recorded at weaning (7 to 9 months of age) and pre-slaughter, and ultrasound measurements were recorded pre-slaughter. Carcass weight, and conformation and fat scores were recorded at slaughter and an 8-rib pistola from the right side of each carcass was dissected into lean, fat and bone. There was no significant effect of sire EPD group on live weight or carcass weight, but kill-out proportion, ultrasound muscle depth and the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation muscularity scores were greater (P < 0.001) for progeny of the high than the average EPD group. Bull progeny of high EPD sires had better (P < 0.001) Signet muscularity scores and carcass conformation scores than bull progeny from average EPD sires, whereas there was no effect of sire EPD group on heifer progeny. Compared to progeny of the average EPD sire group, those from the high EPD group had a lower weight of kidney and channel fat (P 0.06) and carcass fat score (P < 0.05), lower proportions of fat (P < 0.001) and bone (P < 0.01) in the pistola, and higher weight of pistola, both absolutely (P < 0.01) and relative to carcass weight (P < 0.05), higher proportions of lean and high-value cuts in the pistola and higher carcass value (P < 0.001). Linear regression analysis showed that a 1 unit increase in sire EPD for carcass conformation score increased (P < 0.01) carcass lean proportion by 19.4 g/kg. In conclusion, although sire EPD for carcass conformation score was reflected in the conformation score of intensively-reared bull progeny and not in extensively-reared heifer progeny, carcass lean proportion and carcass value were higher for both genders.
    • The effect of breed and diet type on the global transcriptome of hepatic tissue in beef cattle divergent for feed efficiency

      Higgins, Marc G; Kenny, David A.; Fitzsimons, Claire; Blackshields, Gordon; Coyle, Séan; McKenna, Clare; McGee, Mark; Morris, Derek W; Waters, Sinead M.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; et al. (Biomed Central, 2019-06-26)
      Background Feed efficiency is an important economic and environmental trait in beef production, which can be measured in terms of residual feed intake (RFI). Cattle selected for low-RFI (feed efficient) have similar production levels but decreased feed intake, while also emitting less methane. RFI is difficult and expensive to measure and is not widely adopted in beef production systems. However, development of DNA-based biomarkers for RFI may facilitate its adoption in genomic-assisted breeding programmes. Cattle have been shown to re-rank in terms of RFI across diets and age, while also RFI varies by breed. Therefore, we used RNA-Seq technology to investigate the hepatic transcriptome of RFI-divergent Charolais (CH) and Holstein-Friesian (HF) steers across three dietary phases to identify genes and biological pathways associated with RFI regardless of diet or breed. Results Residual feed intake was measured during a high-concentrate phase, a zero-grazed grass phase and a final high-concentrate phase. In total, 322 and 33 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were identified across all diets for CH and HF steers, respectively. Three genes, GADD45G, HP and MID1IP1, were differentially expressed in CH when both the high-concentrate zero-grazed grass diet were offered. Two canonical pathways were enriched across all diets for CH steers. These canonical pathways were related to immune function. Conclusions The absence of common differentially expressed genes across all dietary phases and breeds in this study supports previous reports of the re-ranking of animals in terms of RFI when offered differing diets over their lifetime. However, we have identified biological processes such as the immune response and lipid metabolism as potentially associated with RFI divergence emphasising the previously reported roles of these biological processes with respect to RFI.
    • The effect of breed and diet type on the global transcriptome of hepatic tissue in beef cattle divergent for feed efficiency

      Higgins, Marc G.; Kenny, David A.; Fitzsimons, Claire; Blackshields, Gordon; Coyle, Séan; McKenna, Clare; McGee, Mark; Morris, Derek W.; Waters, Sinead M.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; et al. (Biomed Central, 2019-06-26)
      Background: Feed efficiency is an important economic and environmental trait in beef production, which can be measured in terms of residual feed intake (RFI). Cattle selected for low-RFI (feed efficient) have similar production levels but decreased feed intake, while also emitting less methane. RFI is difficult and expensive to measure and is not widely adopted in beef production systems. However, development of DNA-based biomarkers for RFI may facilitate its adoption in genomic-assisted breeding programmes. Cattle have been shown to re-rank in terms of RFI across diets and age, while also RFI varies by breed. Therefore, we used RNA-Seq technology to investigate the hepatic transcriptome of RFI-divergent Charolais (CH) and Holstein-Friesian (HF) steers across three dietary phases to identify genes and biological pathways associated with RFI regardless of diet or breed. Results: Residual feed intake was measured during a high-concentrate phase, a zero-grazed grass phase and a final high-concentrate phase. In total, 322 and 33 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were identified across all diets for CH and HF steers, respectively. Three genes, GADD45G, HP and MID1IP1, were differentially expressed in CH when both the high-concentrate zero-grazed grass diet were offered. Two canonical pathways were enriched across all diets for CH steers. These canonical pathways were related to immune function. Conclusions: The absence of common differentially expressed genes across all dietary phases and breeds in this study supports previous reports of the re-ranking of animals in terms of RFI when offered differing diets over their lifetime. However, we have identified biological processes such as the immune response and lipid metabolism as potentially associated with RFI divergence emphasising the previously reported roles of these biological processes with respect to RFI.
    • The effect of cereal type and feeding frequency on intake, rumen fermentation, digestibility, growth and carcass traits of finishing steers offered a grass silage-based diet

      Drennan, Michael J; McGee, Mark; Moloney, Aidan P (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2006)
      The effect of concentrate cereal type (rolled barley-based v. rolled wheat-based) and concentrate feeding frequency (one 6 kg feed v. two 3 kg feeds per day) on intake, rumen fermentation, diet digestibility and performance of finishing steers offered grass silage to appetite was evaluated over four experiments using a total of 154 animals. Not all four feeding treatments were used in each of the four experiments. The duration of the growth measurement period was 152, 112, 111 and 113 days for experiments 1 to 4, respectively, after which all animals were slaughtered. Dietary dry matter (DM) intake and in vivo digestibility, final live weight, kill-out proportion, carcass weight, carcass conformation score, carcass fat score and daily liveweight and estimated carcass gain were not affected (P > 0.05) by cereal type or feeding frequency. Cereal type or feeding frequency had no effect (P > 0.05) on feed conversion efficiency (FCE) expressed as either live-weight or carcass gain per unit DM intake. Neither mean rumen fluid pH or concentrations of ammonia or L-lactate were influenced by cereal type or feeding frequency. The mean molar proportion of propionate was higher and that of butyrate lower (P < 0.05) with wheat than with barley. Estimated carcass weight gain and FCE to carcass were similar for wheat based and barley-based concentrate as a supplement to grass silage offered either as one feed or two equal feeds daily.
    • The Effect of Compositional Changes Due to Seasonal Variation on Milk Density and the Determination of Season-Based Density Conversion Factors for Use in the Dairy Industry

      Parmar, Puneet; Lopez-Villalobos, Nicolas; Tobin, John T.; Murphy, Eoin; McDonagh, Arleen; Crowley, Shane V.; Kelly, Alan L.; Shalloo, Laurence; Enterprise Ireland; Science Foundation Ireland; et al. (MDPI AG, 2020-07-27)
      The objective of this study was to determine the effect of seasonal variation on milk composition and establish an algorithm to predict density based on milk composition to enable the calculation of season-based density conversion calculations. A total of 1035 raw whole milk samples were collected from morning and evening milking of 60 spring-calving individual cows of different genetic groups, namely Jersey, Elite HF (Holstein–Friesian) and National Average HF, once every two weeks for a period of 9 months (March–November, 2018). The average mean and standard deviation for milk compositional traits were 4.72 ± 1.30% fat, 3.85 ± 0.61% protein and 4.69 ± 0.30% lactose and density was estimated at 1.0308 ± 0.002 g/cm3 . The density of the milk samples was evaluated using three methods: a portable density meter, DMA 35; a standard desktop version, DMA 4500M; and an Association of Official Agricultural Chemists (AOAC) method using 100-mL glass pycnometers. Statistical analysis using a linear mixed model showed a significant difference in density of milk samples (p < 0.05) across seasonal and compositional variations adjusted for the effects of days in milk, parity, the feeding treatment, the genetic group and the measurement technique. The mean density values and standard error of mean estimated for milk samples in each season, i.e., spring, summer and autumn were 1.0304 ± 0.00008 g/cm3 , 1.0314 ± 0.00005 g/cm3 and 1.0309 ± 0.00007 g/cm3 , respectively.
    • Effect of concentrate feeding level in winter and turnout date to pasture in spring on biological and economical performance of weanling cattle in suckler beef production systems

      McGee, Mark; Drennan, Michael J; Crosson, Paul (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2014)
      Three experiments were carried out to determine the effects of supplementary concentrate feeding level (Low, LC; High, HC) to grass silage and/or turnout date to pasture in spring (Early, ET; Late, LT) for a second grazing season on performance to slaughter of spring-born, weaned beef calves (n = 188). Experiment 1 comprised of two concentrate levels (0.5 and 1.5 kg/day). Experiment 2 comprised of two turnout dates (19 March, 9 April). Experiment 3 comprised of two concentrate levels (0.5 kg and 2.0 kg/day) and two turnout dates (22 March, 12 April). In Experiment 1, live-weight gain during the indoor winter period was 25 kg higher (P < 0.001) for HC, whereas during the subsequent grazing season it was 17 kg higher (P < 0.05) for LC resulting in similar (P > 0.05) total live-weight gain for both treatments. In Experiment 2, live weight at turnout to pasture was 11 kg lower (P < 0.001) for ET than LT, whereas 8 days after late turnout, it was 15 kg lower (P < 0.01) for LT than ET. This difference in live weight was still evident 28 days later (P < 0.01) but not (P > 0.05), subsequently. In Experiments 1 and 2, live-weight gain during the finishing period and carcass weight, conformation and fat scores did not differ (P > 0.05) between the treatments. In Experiment 3, at turnout to pasture, HC were 35 kg heavier (P < 0.001) than LC, and ET were 12 kg lighter (P < 0.05) than LT, whereas 8 days after late turnout, ET were 13 kg heavier (P < 0.05) than LT. There was a concentrate level × turnout date interaction (P < 0.05) for live weight at the end of the grazing season, whereby the LC, LT treatment were lighter than the other treatments, which did not differ. Live weight at slaughter and carcass weight did not differ (P > 0.05) between the concentrate levels, whereas they were higher (P < 0.05) for ET than LT. Economic and stochastic analysis of Experiment 3 indicated that, in the context of whole-farm systems, (i) feeding HC was dependent on date of sale such that only where progeny were sold at the start of the second grazing season, net farm margin (NFM) was increased, (ii) ET only increased NFM where progeny were retained through to finish and, (iii) taking progeny through to finish was more profitable than selling earlier in the animals’ lifetime. In conclusion, subsequent compensatory growth at pasture diminishes the growth and economic advantage from concentrate supplementation or early turnout to pasture, of young late-maturing cattle.
    • 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.