• N leaching to groundwater from dairy production involving grazing over the winter on a clay-loam soil

      Necpalova, Magdalena; Fenton, Owen; Casey, Imelda A.; Humphreys, James; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; RSF07-511 (Elsevier B. V., 15/08/2012)
      This study investigated concentrations of various N species in shallow groundwater (< 2.2 m below ground level) and N losses from dairy production involving grazing over the winter period on a clay loam soil with a high natural attenuation capacity in southern Ireland (52˚51’N, 08˚21’W) over a two year period. A dense network of shallow groundwater piezometers was installed to determine groundwater flow direction and N spatial and temporal variation. Estimated vertical travel times through the unsaturated zone (<0.5 yr, time lag) allowed the correlation of management with groundwater N within a short space of time. There was a two way interaction of the system and sampling date (P < 0.05) on concentrations of DON, oxidised N and NO3--N. In contrast, concentrations of NH4+-N and NO2--N were unaffected by the dairy system. Grazing over the winter had no effect on N losses to groundwater. Mean concentrations of DON, NH4+-N, NO2--N and NO3--N were 2.16, 0.35, 0.01 and 0.37 mg L-1 respectively. Soil attenuation processes such as denitrification and DNRA resulted in increased NH4+-N levels. For this reason, DON and NH4+-N represented the highest proportion of N losses from the site. Some of the spatial and temporal variation of N concentrations was explained by correlations with selected chemical and hydro-topographical parameters (NO3--N/Cl- ratio, distance of the sampling point from the closest receptor, watertable depth, depth of sampling piezometer, DOC concentration). A high explanatory power of NO3--N/Cl- ratio and the distance of the sampling point from the closest receptor indicated the influence of point sources and groundwater-surface water interactions.
    • A national methodology to quantify the diet of grazing dairy cows

      OBrien, Donal; Moran, Brian; Shalloo, Laurence (Elsevier, 2018-07-04)
      The unique rumen of dairy cows allows them to digest fibrous forages and feedstuffs. Surprisingly, to date few attempts have been made to develop national methods to gain an understanding on the make-up of a dairy cow's diet, despite the importance of milk production. Consumer interest is growing in purchasing milk based on the composition of the cows' diet and the time they spend grazing. The goal of this research was to develop such a methodology using the national farm survey of Ireland as a data source. The analysis was completed for a 3-yr period from 2013 to 2015 on a nationally representative sample of 275 to 318 dairy farms. Trained auditors carried out economic surveys on farms 3 to 4 times per annum. The auditors collected important additional information necessary to estimate the diet of cows including the length of the grazing season, monthly concentrate feeding, type of forage(s) conserved, and milk production. Annual cow intakes were calculated to meet net energy requirements for production, maintenance, activity, pregnancy, growth, and live weight change using survey data and published literature. Our analysis showed that the average annual cow feed intake on a fresh matter basis ranged from 22.7 t in 2013 to 24.8 t in 2015 and from 4.8 to 5 t on a dry matter basis for the same period. Forage, particularly pasture, was the largest component of the Irish cow diet, typically accounting for 96% of the diet on a fresh matter basis and 82% of dry matter intake over the 3 yr. Within the cows' forage diet, grazed pasture was the dominant component and on average contributed 74 to 77% to the average annual cow fresh matter diet over the period. The proportion of pasture in the annual cow diet as fed was also identified as a good indicator of the time cows spend grazing (e.g., coefficient of determination = 0.85). Monthly, forage was typically the main component of the cow diet, but the average contribution of concentrate was substantial for the early spring months of January and February (30 to 35% of dry matter intake). Grazed pasture was the dominant source of forage from March to October and usually contributed 95 to 97% of the diet as fed in the summer period. Overall, the national farm survey from 2013 to 2015 shows that Irish dairy farms are very reliant on forage, particularly pasture, regardless of whether it is reported on a dry matter basis or as fed. There is potential to replicate this methodology in any regions or nations where representative farm surveys are conducted.
    • A national methodology to quantify the diet of grazing dairy cows

      OBrien, Donal; Moran, Brian; Shalloo, Laurence (Elsevier, 2018-07-04)
      The unique rumen of dairy cows allows them to digest fibrous forages and feedstuffs. Surprisingly, to date few attempts have been made to develop national methods to gain an understanding on the make-up of a dairy cow's diet, despite the importance of milk production. Consumer interest is growing in purchasing milk based on the composition of the cows' diet and the time they spend grazing. The goal of this research was to develop such a methodology using the national farm survey of Ireland as a data source. The analysis was completed for a 3-yr period from 2013 to 2015 on a nationally representative sample of 275 to 318 dairy farms. Trained auditors carried out economic surveys on farms 3 to 4 times per annum. The auditors collected important additional information necessary to estimate the diet of cows including the length of the grazing season, monthly concentrate feeding, type of forage(s) conserved, and milk production. Annual cow intakes were calculated to meet net energy requirements for production, maintenance, activity, pregnancy, growth, and live weight change using survey data and published literature. Our analysis showed that the average annual cow feed intake on a fresh matter basis ranged from 22.7 t in 2013 to 24.8 t in 2015 and from 4.8 to 5 t on a dry matter basis for the same period. Forage, particularly pasture, was the largest component of the Irish cow diet, typically accounting for 96% of the diet on a fresh matter basis and 82% of dry matter intake over the 3 yr. Within the cows' forage diet, grazed pasture was the dominant component and on average contributed 74 to 77% to the average annual cow fresh matter diet over the period. The proportion of pasture in the annual cow diet as fed was also identified as a good indicator of the time cows spend grazing (e.g., coefficient of determination = 0.85). Monthly, forage was typically the main component of the cow diet, but the average contribution of concentrate was substantial for the early spring months of January and February (30 to 35% of dry matter intake). Grazed pasture was the dominant source of forage from March to October and usually contributed 95 to 97% of the diet as fed in the summer period. Overall, the national farm survey from 2013 to 2015 shows that Irish dairy farms are very reliant on forage, particularly pasture, regardless of whether it is reported on a dry matter basis or as fed. There is potential to replicate this methodology in any regions or nations where representative farm surveys are conducted.
    • 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; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (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.
    • Non-carcass parts and carcass composition of high dairy genetic merit Holstein, standard dairy genetic merit Friesian and Charolais × Holstein-Friesian steers

      McGee, Mark; Keane, Michael G.; Neilan, R.; Moloney, Aidan P; Caffrey, Patrick J. (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2008)
      The increased use of Holstein genetic material in the dairy herd has consequences for beef production. A total of 24 spring-born calves comprising 8 Holsteins (HO), 8 Friesians (FR) and 8 Charolais × Holstein-Friesians (CH) were reared from calfhood to slaughter. At the end of the second grazing season they were assigned to a 3 (breeds; HO, FR and CH) × 2 (slaughter weights; 620 and 730 kg) factorial experiment and fin¬ished indoors. After slaughter carcasses were classified for conformation and fatness, all organs and non-carcass parts were weighed, and the right side of each carcass was dissected into fat, bone and muscle. Non-carcass parts, carcass weight, kill-out propor¬tion, carcass conformation score and m. longissimus area were 405, 398 and 368 (s.e. 8.31) g/kg empty body weight, 355, 344 and 383 (s.e. 9.4) kg, 509, 520 and 545 (s.e. 8.99) g/kg, 1.0, 2.0 and 3.1 (s.e. 0.16), 7616, 7096 and 9286 (s.e. 223.4) mm2 for HO, FR and CH, respectively. Corresponding proportions of carcass muscle and fat were 631, 614 and 656 (s.e. 8.4), and 165, 200 and 165 (s.e. 10.5) g/kg. Increasing slaughter weight increased the proportion of total non-carcass parts, carcass weight, carcass fat score and fat proportion, and reduced carcass muscle and bone proportions. It is concluded that differences in kill-out proportion between the two dairy breeds was primarily due to the lower proportion of gastrointestinal tract (GIT) in FR, and the higher kill-out proportion of CH was mainly due to lower proportions of GIT, internal organs and internal fat. In terms of beef production, HO and FR were broadly comparable for most traits except carcass conformation score and carcass fat proportion, which were lower for HO. CH was superior to the dairy breeds in all important production traits.
    • A note on the design and testing of single teatcups for automatic milking systems

      O'Callaghan, Edmond J; Berry, Donagh (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2008)
      In automatic milking units single independent teatcups or shell/liner combinations are required. The milking characteristics of three designs of single-teatcup milking units were compared with a conventional milking unit in a pipeline milking system. The combined weight of each single-teatcup shell and liner used in the single-teatcup units was 0.18 kg, 0.38 kg or 0.56 kg. The conventional milking cluster had a claw volume of 150 mL and a weight of 3.16 kg. The single sets of teatcups were applied manually and removed automatically when milk flow from the four teatcups reached 0.2 kg/min. The experiment involved a latin square design with four groups of Friesian cows (10 cows/group), four 2-day periods and four treatments. At a flow rate of 4 L/min during simulated milking the mean vacuum level at the teat-end (artificial teat) during the “bphase” of pulsation was 43.8 kPa with the conventional milking unit and 33 kPa for the three single-teatcup units. The corresponding mean and minimum teat-end vacuum in the “d-phase” were 38.46 kPa and 29.54 kPa, respectively, for the conventional system and 24.95 kPa and 17.59 kPa, respectively, for the single-teatcup configuration. The light teatcup (weight 0.18 kg) gave longer time to milk letdown, longer milking time and both lower peak and average milk flow than the conventional cluster.
    • A note on the effects of test-end vacuum on milking characteristics

      O'Callaghan, Edmond J; Gleeson, David E; European Union (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2004)
      The magnitude of vacuum applied to the teat end can have a major effect on milking characteristics. While milking vacuum is usually measured in the milk pipeline, the teat-end vacuum during milk flow depends on the configuration of the milking unit. The objective was to establish the effect of teat-end vacuum, recorded during flow simulation, on actual milking time, milk yield, and both mean and peak milk-flow rates. Four configurations of milking units were set up to give vacuum levels of 35, 38, 40 and 42 kPa at the apex of an artificial teat during simulated milking. The experiment involved a latin square design with four groups of Friesian cows (14/group), four 2-day periods and four treatments (vacuum level). Altering the vacuum level had no significant effect on milk yield. There were no differences in milking characteristics between vacuum levels of 38 and 40 kPa. A vacuum level of 42 kPa gave a shorter milking time (P < 0.001), higher average milk-flow rate (P < 0.01) and higher peak milk-flow rate (P < 0.001) than the three lower vacuum levels. Milking time was significantly longer (P < 0.001) and peak milk-flow rate lower (P < 0.001) with a vacuum of 35 kPa compared to other vacuum levels.
    • Nutrient management on intensive dairy farms in the southwest of Ireland

      Humphreys, James; Treacy, Mark; McNamara, Kevin (Teagasc, 2006-08-01)
      Intensive grass-based dairy farming relies on high inputs of nutrients that are now regulated under SI 378, 2006 (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters). This project studied nutrient management practices on twenty-one intensive dairy farms in the south-west of Ireland between 2003 and 2006. Mean stocking rate was 202 kg organic-N/ha deposited by grazing livestock. Overall fertiliser-N use on the farms decreased from 266 to 223 kg N/ha/yr during the study, with the rate of fertiliser-N in the first application each year decreasing from 49 to 33 kg N/ha, while the rate of fertiliser-N applied for first cut silage production also fell from 106 to 96 kg N/ha. These decreases were partly achieved by applying more slurry in springtime and by the introduction of white clover on five of the farms. While the limits on fertiliser-N use under SI 378 were exceeded on ten farms in 2003, the limits were exceeded on only two farms in 2006. Fertiliser-P usage declined from 12.0 to 10.2 kg P/ha/yr, and complied with the limits of SI 378 on thirteen of the farms in 2006. Mean Morgan’s extractable soil P concentration (STP) exceeded 10 mg/l on five farms, while the mean concentration exceeded 8 mg/l on ten farms. Phosphorus management, therefore, was close to that required by SI 378 on most farms. Slurry storage capacity met or exceeded the minimum requirements of SI 378 on eight farms; substantial investment in slurry storage facilities was necessary on thirteen farms. The mean N surplus on the farms declined from 277 to 232 kg N/ha/yr during the study due to a decline in total N input from 335 to 288 kg N/ha/yr over the same period. The mean efficiency of N-use increased from 17.9 to 20.2 %. The large variation in rates of fertiliser-N applied on farms with similar stocking rates suggests potential for further improvements in N use efficiency on some farms. Decreases in nutrient input levels can be partly attributed to increased farmer awareness, due to advice and record keeping from this study and the introduction of SI 378, and the increasing cost of nutrient inputs relative to output prices. In terms of fertiliser N and P use and soil P concentrations, complying with the limits in SI 378 does not require major changes in nutrient management practices on the majority of these intensive dairy farms.
    • An observational study on passive immunity in Irish suckler beef and dairy calves: Tests for failure of passive transfer of immunity and associations with health and performance

      Todd, C. G.; McGee, Mark; Tiernan, Katie; Crosson, Paul; O’Riordan, Edward G.; McClure, J.; Lorenz, Ingrid; Earley, Bernadette; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 11/S/131 (Elsevier, 2018-07-25)
      The study objectives were to: 1) evaluate the diagnostic performance of passive immunity tests for classification of failure of passive transfer (FPT) risk, based on their relationships with calf health and performance, and 2) describe the epidemiology of morbidity and mortality in suckler beef and dairy calves under Irish conditions. A total of 1392 suckler beef calves (n = 111 farms) and 2090 dairy calves (84 farms) were included in this observational study. Blood samples were collected by jugular venipuncture. Serum samples were analysed for total IgG concentration using an ELISA assay, total protein concentration by clinical analyser (TP – CA), globulin concentration, zinc sulphate turbidity (ZST) units, total solids percentage by Brix refractometer (TS – BRIX), and total protein concentration by digital refractometer (TP – DR). Crude and cause-specific morbidity, all-cause mortality, and standardised 205-day body weight (BW) were determined. Generalised linear mixed models were used to evaluate associations between suckler beef and dairy calves for morbidity, mortality, growth and passive immunity. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were constructed to determine optimal test cut-offs for classification of health and growth outcomes. Overall, 20% of suckler beef and 30% of dairy calves were treated for at least one disease event by 6 mo. of age. Suckler beef calves had greater odds of bovine respiratory disease (BRD; odds ratio (OR), 95% confidence interval (CI): 2.8, 1.2–6.5, P = 0.01), navel infection (5.1, 1.9–13.2, P < 0.001), and joint infection/lameness (3.2, 1.3–7.8, P = 0.01) during the first 6 mo. of life than dairy calves. In addition, from birth to 6 mo. of age, suckler beef calves had greater rates of navel infection (incidence rate ratio (IRR), 95% CI: 3.3, 1.3–8.4, P = 0.01), but decreased rates of diarrhoea (0.9, 0.2–0.9, P = 0.03) compared to dairy calves. Optimal test cut-offs for classification of morbidity and mortality outcomes in suckler beef calves ranged from 8 to 9 mg/ml ELISA, 56 to 61 g/l TP – CA, 26 to 40 g/l globulin, 12 to 18 ZST units, 8.4% TS – BRIX, and 5.3 to 6.3 g/dl TP – DR. Optimal test cut-offs for classification of morbidity and growth outcomes in dairy calves ranged from 10 to 12 mg/ml ELISA, 57 to 60 g/l TP – CA, 29 to 34 g/l globulin, 19 ZST units, 7.8 to 8.4% TS – BRIX, and 5.7 to 5.9 g/dl TP – DR.
    • An on-farm investigation of beef suckler herds using an animal welfare index (AWI)

      Mazurek, Mickael; Prendiville, Daniel J.; Crowe, Mark A; Veissier, Isabelle; Earley, Bernadette (Biomed Central, 2010-12-13)
      Background: Beef suckler farms (194 farms throughout 13 counties) were assessed once with housed cattle and once with cattle at grass using an animal welfare index (AWI). Twenty-three of the 194 farms were revisited a year later and re-evaluated using the AWI and the Tier-Gerechtheits-Index 35L/2000 (TGI35L/2000). Thirty-three indicators were collected in five categories: locomotion (5 indicators); social interactions (between animals) (7), flooring (5), environment (7) and Stockpersonship (9). Three indicators relating to the size of the farm were also collected. Improving animal welfare is an increasingly important aspect of livestock production systems predominantly due to increased consumer concern about the source of animal products. The objectives were (i) to evaluate animal welfare of Irish beef suckler herds using an animal welfare index (AWI), (ii) to examine correlations between parameters, how they influence the AWI and investigate the applicability of the parameters used, (iii) to investigate the impact of the activity of the farmer (full-time or part-time), the interest of the farmer and the number of animals on the AWI. Results: The mean AWI was 65% and ranged from 54% to 83%. The grazing period represented 16.5% of the total points of the AWI. Seventy percent of the farms were rated as "Very Good" or "Excellent". There was no difference (P > 0.05) in AWI between full-time and part-time farmers. Part-time farmers had greater (P = 0.01) "social interactions": calving (P = 0.03) and weaning (P < 0.001) scores. Full-time farmers had cleaner animals (P = 0.03) and their animals had less lameness (P = 0.01). The number of animals on-farm and the interest of the Stockperson were negatively and positively correlated (P = 0.001), respectively, with the AWI. A hierarchical classification was performed to examine how the indicators influenced the AWI. Conclusion: The AWI was easily applicable for an on-farm evaluation of welfare. The Stockpersonship was an important factor in determining the AWI (11% of the total variation) more specifically, the interest of the farmer. Part and full-time farming did not differ (P > 0.05) in AWI scores. This method could, with further development, be used in countries with both intensive and/or extensive production systems and would require substantially less resources than animal-based methods.
    • Optimal system of contract matings for use in a commercial dairy population

      McParland, Sinead; Kearney, K. F.; Lopez-Villalobos, N.; Berry, Donagh (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2009)
      Managing the contribution of prominent animals to the pedigree of livestock populations is a topic of increasing importance worldwide. The aim of this study was to evaluate methods of controlling the accumulation of inbreeding in the Irish Holstein-Friesian population through the methodology used to arrange contract matings. Two non-random mating systems were investigated, linear programming (LP) and sequential programming (SEQ); these were compared with random mating (RAN) and mating of the best sires to the best dams (TOP). All mating systems were compared across a range of objectives: to maximise genetic merit for the economic breeding index (EBI) used in Ireland, to minimise population coancestry with breeding females (R-value), and a dual objective of simultaneously maximising EBI and minimising coancestry with breeding females. Algorithms were developed to identify elite dams and sires from the national herd for use in the contract mating programme. One thousand contract matings were generated using each selection method, with the aim of producing 83 test sires (the number of bulls which it is feasible to test annually in Ireland) for use in a progeny testing scheme. The top 1,000 matings, as selected by the LP and SEQ methods, performed similarly when maximising the dual objective (average progeny EBI of €145 and an average coancestry of the progeny to the population of breeding females of 0.93%). The TOP and RAN methods both selected phantom progeny with higher coancestry with the breeding female population (1.21% and 1.34%, respectively) than the LP and SEQ methods. However the matings from the TOP method generated progeny of higher genetic merit (EBI = €199), whilst the progeny generated from the RAN method had lower genetic merit (EBI = €127) than those selected by the LP or SEQ methods.
    • 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.
    • PastureBase Ireland: A grassland decision support system and national database

      Hanrahan, Liam; Geoghegan, Anne; O'Donovan, Michael; Griffith, Vincent; Ruelle, Elodie; Wallace, Michael; Shalloo, Laurence (Elsevier BV, 2017-04-15)
      PastureBase Ireland (PBI) is a web-based grassland management application incorporating a dual function of grassland decision support and a centralized national database to collate commercial farm grassland data. This database facilitates the collection and storage of vast quantities of grassland data from grassland farmers. The database spans across ruminant grassland enterprises – dairy, beef and sheep. To help farmers determine appropriate actions around grassland management, we have developed this data informed decision support tool to function at the paddock level. Individual farmers enter data through the completion of regular pasture cover estimations across the farm, allowing the performance of individual paddocks to be evaluated within and across years. To evaluate the PBI system, we compared actual pasture cut experimental data (Etesia cuts) to PBI calculated outputs. We examined three comparisons, comparing PBI outputs to actual pasture cut data, for individual DM yields at defoliation (Comparison 1), for cumulative annual DM yields including silage data (Comparison 2) and, for cumulative annual DM yields excluding silage data (Comparison 3). We found an acceptable accuracy between PBI outputs and pasture cut data when statistically analyzed using relative prediction error and concordance correlation coefficients for the measurement of total annual DM yield (Comparison 2), with a relative prediction error of 15.4% and a concordance correlation coefficient of 0.85. We demonstrated an application of the PBI system through analysis of commercial farm data across two years (2014–2015) for 75 commercial farms who actively use the system. The analysis showed there was a significant increase in DM yield from 2014 to 2015. The results indicated a greater variation in pasture growth across paddocks within farms than across farms.
    • Performance and feed intake of five beef suckler cow genotypes and pre-weaning growth of their progeny

      Murphy, B.M.; Drennan, Michael J; O'Mara, Frank P.; McGee, Mark; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2008)
      The effect of beef suckler cow genotype on feed intake, performance, milk yield and on pre-weaning growth of their progeny was determined over four lactations. The five cow genotypes examined were Limousin (L), Charolais (C), Limousin × Holstein-Friesian (LF), Limousin × (Limousin × Holstein-Friesian) (LLF) and Simmental × (Limousin × Holstein-Friesian) (SLF). The herd calved in spring and the progeny spent from April until weaning (October/ November) at pasture with their dams. Live weight (kg) at the start of the indoor winter period was greater (P < 0.001) for C (702) than L (616) cows who in turn were heavier than LF (552) and LLF (574), with SLF (582) being intermediate. Silage dry matter (DM) intake (kg /day) was greater (P < 0.01) for C and SLF cows than L and LLF, whereas LF were inter-mediate. Dry matter intake (kg/day) of zero-grazed grass did not differ (P > 0.05) between the genotypes but followed a similar trend to grass silage intake. The decrease in live weight over the indoor winter period was greater (P < 0.01) for L and C cows than for LLF and SLF, whereas LF were intermediate. The increase in live weight during the grazing season was greater (P < 0.01) for C cows than all except L, which were intermediate. Calving difficulty score was greater (P < 0.01) for C cows than LLF, L and SLF, whereas LF were intermediate. Birth weight of calves from LF cows was lower (P < 0.001) than C with L being intermediate, but greater than LLF, with SLF being intermediate. Milk yield (kg/day) was higher (P < 0.001) for LF (9.7) and SLF (8.7) cows than the other genotypes (5.5 to 7.0), which did not differ significantly. Pre-weaning live-weight gain was greater (P < 0.001) for progeny of LF cows than all other genotypes except SLF, which in turn were greater than L and C, with LLF being intermediate. In conclusion, calf pre-weaning growth was higher for cow genotypes with higher milk yield, which was also associated with higher cow DM intake.
    • Phosphorus and nitrogen losses from temperate permanent grassland on clay-loam soil after the installation of artificial mole and gravel mole drainage

      Valbuena-Parralejo, N.; Fenton, Owen; Tuohy, Patrick; Williams, M.; Lanigan, Gary; Humphreys, James; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Department of Agriculture, Food and the MArine; RSF11152 (Elsevier, 2018-12-14)
      Mole (M) and gravel-mole (GM) drainage systems improve the permeability of soils with high clay contents. They collect and carry away infiltrating water during episodic rainfall events. Characterisation of nutrient fluxes (concentration and flows) in overland flow (OF) and in mole drain flow (MF) across sequential rainfall events is important for environmental assessment of such drainage systems. The objective of this study is to assess the impact of drainage systems on soil nutrient losses. Three treatments were imposed on grazed permanent grassland on a clay loam soil in Ireland (52°30′N, 08°12′W) slope 1.48%: undrained control (C), mole drainage (M) and gravel mole drainage (GM). Plots (100 m × 15 m) were arranged in a randomized complete block design with four replicated blocks. Nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) concentrations in OF, MF and groundwater (GW) were measured from each plot over 15 consecutive rainfall events. The results showed that M and GM (P < 0.05) deepened the watertable depth and decreased OF. M and GM increased losses of nitrate-N (22%) and ammonium-N (14%) in GW. Nitrate-N concentrations from all the flow pathways (mean and standard error (s.e.): 0.99 s.e. 0.10 mg L−1) were well below the 11.3 mg L−1 threshold for drinking water. Ammonium-N concentrations from all the flow pathways (mean: 0.64 s.e. 0.14 mg L−1) exceeded drinking water quality standards. On the other hand M and GM lowered total P losses (mean annual losses from C, M and GM: 918, 755 and 853 s.e. 14.1 g ha−1 year−1) by enhancing soil P sorption. Hence M and GM can be implemented on farms under similar management to that described in the present study with a minor impact on N (increased concentration on averaged 18% to GW) and P (reduced by on avenged 114 g ha−1 year−1).
    • Pig Farmers' Conference 2012: Proceedings from the Teagasc National Pig Conferences

      Lawlor, Peadar G; McKeon, Michael; Quinn, Amy; Norris, David; Owens, David; Boyle, Laura; McCutcheon, Gerard; Clarke, Seamas (Teagasc, 2012-10)
      Proceedings from the Teagasc National Pig Conferences which took place on 23 October in the Horse and Jockey Hotel, Tipperary and the 24 October in the Cavan Crystal Hotel, Cavan
    • Post-weaning growth, ultrasound and skeletal measurements, muscularity scores and carcass traits and composition of progeny of five beef suckler cow genotypes

      Murphy, B.M.; Drennan, Michael J; O'Mara, Frank P.; McGee, Mark; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2008)
      Post-weaning growth, ultrasound and skeletal measurements, muscularity scores, and carcass traits and composition of the progeny of spring-calving Limousin (L), Charolais (C), Limousin × Holstein-Friesian (LF), Limousin × (Limousin × Holstein-Friesian) (LLF) and Simmental × (Limousin × Holstein-Friesian) (SLF) cow genotypes was determined over 3 years. Bull and heifer progeny were slaughtered at ~460 and ~610 days of age, respectively. Post-weaning growth did not differ significantly between the genotypes. Progeny from LF and SLF cows had the highest (P<0.001) carcass gain per day of age, whereas progeny from L and C cows had the highest (P < 0.01) carcass conformation score and lowest (P < 0.001) fat score. The proportion of meat in the car¬cass was higher (P < 0.001) and bone lower (P < 0.001), and meat to bone ratio higher (P < 0.001) for the progeny of L cows than all other genotypes, which were similar. Carcass fat proportion was similar for progeny of L and C cows and lower (P < 0.001) than LLF and SLF, with LF being intermediate. The progeny from L cows tended to have the greatest proportion of hind-quarter in the carcass. Genotype effects were mini¬mal when the proportion of high-value cuts was expressed relative to weight of meat in the carcass and hind-quarter. In conclusion, there was no effect of cow genotype on the performance of their progeny from weaning to slaughter. However, crossbred cows with good maternal (milk) traits produced progeny with a higher carcass weight per day of age, whereas the purebred continental cows produced progeny with superior carcass classification traits.
    • Post-weaning performance and carcass characteristics of steer progency from different suckler cow breed types

      Drennan, Michael J; McGee, Mark; Keane, Michael G. (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2005-04)
      In two experiments a total of 44 steer progeny of spring-calving Charolais (C) and Hereford × Friesian (HF) suckler cows and C sires were slaughtered at approximately 2 years of age. Following weaning they were offered silage and 1 kg of concentrate per head daily during a 5 month winter after which they spent 7 months at pasture. In Experiment 1, animals were given a silage/concentrate diet during a finishing period of either 95 or 152 days. In Experiment 2, steers were offered either a daily diet of silage plus 6 kg of concentrates or concentrates to appetite plus 5 kg of silage (fresh weight) during the final 140-day finishing period. Following slaughter, an 8-rib pistola from each animal was dissected. For the two experiments combined C and HF progeny had carcass weights of 372 and 385 (s.e. 6.1) kg, proportions of carcass as pistola of 467 and 454 (s.e. 2.8) g/kg and pistola meat proportions of 676 and 642 (s.e. 5.1) g/kg, respectively. All fat traits were lower for the C than HF progeny but there was no difference in carcass conformation score. Increasing slaughter weight increased carcass weight (P < 0.001), kidney plus channel fat weight (P < 0.001), and pistola fat proportion (P < 0.001) and decreased the proportions of carcass as pistola (P < 0.05), pistola meat (P < 0.01), and bone (P < 0.05). In conclusion, breed type had no effect on carcass growth but the C progeny had higher meat yield than the HF. Increasing slaughter weight increased fatness and reduced meat yield.
    • Post-weaning performance and carcass characteristics of steer progeny from different suckler cow breed types

      Drennan, Michael J; McGee, Mark; Keane, Michael G. (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2005)
      In two experiments a total of 44 steer progeny of spring-calving Charolais (C) and Hereford × Friesian (HF) suckler cows and C sires were slaughtered at approximately 2 years of age. Following weaning they were offered silage and 1 kg of concentrate per head daily during a 5 month winter after which they spent 7 months at pasture. In Experiment 1, animals were given a silage/concentrate diet during a finishing period of either 95 or 152 days. In Experiment 2, steers were offered either a daily diet of silage plus 6 kg of concentrates or concentrates to appetite plus 5 kg of silage(fresh weight)during the final 140-day finishing period. Following slaughter, an 8-rib pistola from each animal was dissected. For the two experiments combined C and HF progeny had carcass weights of 372 and 385 (s.e. 6.1) kg, proportions of carcass as pistola of 467 and 454 (s.e. 2.8) g/kg and pistola meat proportions of 676 and 642 (s.e. 5.1) g/kg, respectively. All fat traits were lower for the C than HF progeny but there was no difference in carcass conformation score. Increasing slaughter weight increased carcass weight (P < 0.001), kidney plus channel fat weight (P < 0.001), and pistola fat proportion(P < 0.001) and decreased the proportions of carcass as pistola (P < 0.05), pistola meat (P < 0.01), and bone (P < 0.05). In conclusion, breed type had no effect on carcass growth but the C progeny had higher meat yield than the HF. Increasing slaughter weight increased fatness and reduced meat yield.
    • Predicting beef carcass meat, fat and bone proportions from carcass conformation and fat scores or hindquarter dissection

      Conroy, S.B.; Drennan, Michael J; McGee, Mark; Keane, Michael G.; Kenny, David A.; Berry, Donagh (Cambridge University Press, 2009-10)
      Equations for predicting the meat, fat and bone proportions in beef carcasses using the European Union carcass classification scores for conformation and fatness, and hindquarter composition were developed and their accuracy was tested using data from 662 cattle. The animals included bulls, steers and heifers, and comprised of Holstein–Friesian, early- and late-maturing breeds x Holstein–Friesian, early-maturing X early-maturing, late-maturing X early-maturing and genotypes with 0.75 or greater late-maturing ancestry. Bulls, heifers and steers were slaughtered at 15, 20 and 24 months of age, respectively. The diet offered before slaughter includes grass silage only, grass or maize silage plus supplementary concentrates, or concentrates offered ad libitum plus 1 kg of roughage dry matter per head daily. Following the slaughter, carcasses were classified mechanically for conformation and fatness (scale 1 to 15), and the right side of each carcass was dissected into meat, fat and bone. Carcass conformation score ranged from 4.7 to 14.4, 5.4 to 10.9 and 2.0 to 12.0 for bulls, heifers and steers, respectively; the corresponding ranges for fat score were 2.7 to 11.5, 3.2 to 11.3 and 2.8 to 13.3. Prediction equations for carcass meat, fat and bone proportions were developed using multiple regression, with carcass conformation and fat score both included as continuous independent variables. In a separate series of analyses, the independent variable in the model was the proportion of the trait under investigation (meat, fat or bone) in the hindquarter. In both analyses, interactions between the independent variables and gender were tested. The predictive ability of the developed equations was assed using cross-validation on all 662 animals. Carcass classification scores accounted for 0.73, 0.67 and 0.71 of the total variation in carcass meat, fat and bone proportions, respectively, across all 662 animals. The corresponding values using hindquarter meat, fat and bone in the model were 0.93, 0.87 and 0.89, respectively. The bias of the prediction equations when applied across all animals was not different from zero, but bias did exist among some of the genotypes of animals present. In conclusion, carcass classification scores and hindquarter composition are accurate and efficient predictors of carcass meat, fat and bone proportions.