• Quantification of nutrient supply in forage-based diets for beef cattle

      McGee, Mark; Owens, David; O'Kiely, Padraig; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Teagasc, 2009-12-01)
      Introduction Cattle rearing systems in Ireland are predominantly grass-based as 80% of agricultural land is dedicated to grassland (silage, hay and pasture) (CSO, 2007). Feed costs represent the largest single variable cost in beef production in Ireland. Grazed grass is generally the cheapest source of food available for beef (and milk) production provided that the environment and management permit high yields of high quality herbage to be utilised (McGee, 2000). Environmental legislation and the rules of environmental schemes such as the European Union (EU) Rural Environmental Protection Scheme are progressively restricting the application of fertilizer Nitrogen (N), and many grazing systems are becoming more extensive. Over 80% of all farms in Ireland make grass silage (O’Kiely et al., 1998) and it accounts for 87% of total grass conserved (Mayne and O’Kiely, 2005). The deficiencies in nutrient supply to beef cattle from grass silage are usually overcome by supplementing with concentrates (McGee, 2005), which are primarily cereal-based (Drennan et al., 2006). However, diverse types of concentrates containing a variety of feed ingredients, particularly non-cereal by-products are available and frequently fed as supplements to grass silage or as highconcentrate diets. The relatively small amount of information available on feeding these contrasting concentrates to beef cattle is inconsistent. Moreover, there has been an increased use of other ensiled forages such as maize and whole-crop cereals. These forages have high intake potential and can reduce the concentrate feeding level, while maintaining or increasing performance of beef cattle (Keady, 2005). With increasing costs of beef production and increasing constraints of environmental regulations, efficient utilisation of consumed nutrients by cattle is imperative in providing sustainable production and income to farmers. Feed evaluation systems are used to match the dietary nutrient supply with animal requirements for a specific level of production (Dijkstra et al., 2007). These systems are important in order to optimise the efficiency of feed utilisation, to improve animal performance and to reduce nutrient losses to the environment (Dijkstra et al., 2007). Although the reticulo-rumen is central to the profile of nutrients available for absorption, yet quantitative knowledge of the rates of passage and the digestion of nutrients in the rumen is limited compared with that on degradation rates (Dijkstra et al., 2007). There is a lack of information that adequately characterises the supply of nutrients from forages and feedstuffs specific to Ireland, especially for fresh grass-based diets of which, there are very few studies reported in the literature. This shortcoming impedes our ability to capitalise on the merits of evolving feeding systems. This project aimed to: 1. Increase the knowledge and advance the understanding on rumen digestion and nutrient flow from the rumen of the main forages / forage-based diets offered to beef cattle in Ireland. 2. Evaluate strategies for optimal utilization of nutrients consumed by cattle.
    • Ranking of Sire Breeds and Beef Cross Breeding of Dairy and Beef Cows

      Keane, Michael G. (Teagasc, 2011-03-01)
      Summary There is general agreement across countries on the ranking of beef breeds for production and carcass traits. Differences between dairy and early maturing beef breeds in growth and slaughter traits are small, but the latter have lower feed intake and better carcass conformation. Late maturing beef breeds also have lower feed intake and better carcass conformation and in addition, have a higher growth rate, kill-out proportion and carcass muscle proportion. When factors such as age and fatness are accounted for, differences between breeds in meat quality traits are small. Differences amongst breed types in kill-out proportion can be explained by differences in gut contents (consequent on differences in feed intake), differences in the proportions of gastrointestinal tract and metabolic organs, differences in hide proportion, and differences in offal fats. Growth is an allometric, rather than an isometric, process. Some parts, organs and tissues grow relatively more slowly than the animal overall, and so become decreasing proportions over time, while others grow relatively faster and become increasing proportions. With increasing slaughter weight, the proportions of non carcass parts, hind quarter, bone, total muscle and higher value muscle decrease, while the proportions of non carcass and carcass fats, fore quarter and marbling fat all increase. Because of heterosis or hybrid vigour, the productivity of cross-bred cattle is superior to the mean of the parent breeds. While calving difficulty may be slightly higher (probably due to greater birth weight), calf mortality is much reduced in cross-breds. In addition, general robustness and growth rate are increased. There are additive effects of heterosis in the dam and the progeny. When cross-bred cows are mated to a bull of a third breed, >60 % of total heterosis is attributable to the cross-bred cows. The double muscling phenotype in beef cattle is due to the inactivated myostatin gene, but the inactivating mutation is not the same in all breeds and other genes also contribute to muscling. Compared to normal animals, double muscled animals have lower proportions of digestive tract, internal fats and metabolic organs. This explains their superior kill-out proportion. They also have a smaller hind shin that helps accentuate the muscling in the remainder of the 4 limb. There are similar degrees of muscular hypertrophy in both the hind and fore quarters. Muscle to bone ratio is about one third greater in double muscled than in normal carcasses. Piedmontese cattle with none, one or two mutated myostatin alleles were compared with normal Herefords and Limousins. In the absence of any mutated allele, Piedmontese were similar to Herefords, with one mutated allele they were similar to Limousins and with two mutated alleles they were immensely superior to Limousins. In fact, the response to the second mutated allele was about three times that to the first. If progeny approximated to the mean of the parent breeds, crossing a double muscled sire with a dairy or early maturing beef cow would result in cattle of similar characteristics to pure-bred late maturing beef breeds. This does not happen because double muscling is dependent on a homozygous myostatin genotype. The progeny of a common cow breed and normal late maturing, or double muscled, sire breeds have similar production traits.
    • The relationship between various live animal scores/measurements and carcass classification for conformation and fatness with meat yield and distribution, and ultimate carcass value

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

      Keane, Michael G. (Teagasc, 2011-03-01)
      Summary The main objective of the beef breed evaluation programme carried out at Grange Beef Research Centre was to compare the productive characteristics of different beef breed crosses out of Holstein-Friesian cows. In the course of this work much additional information was acquired, particularly on growth patterns of body organs and tissues, and how these affect kill-out proportion and carcass composition. The data were also used to examine relationships between carcass classification variables and carcass composition. Cattle used for beef production in Ireland can be classified into three main biological types: (i) early maturing, (ii) dairy, and (iii) late maturing. Results from an experiment that compared Friesians (dairy), Hereford × Friesians (early maturing) and Charolais × Friesians (late maturing) are used to represent these biological types. The material is organized under the following headings: (i) non carcass parts and kill-out proportion, (ii) carcass composition, (iii) carcass tissue distribution, (iv) muscle chemical composition, (v) gender, (vi) dairy breeds, and (vii)carcass classification and composition. Kill-out proportion increased by about 10 g/kg from Friesians to Hereford × Friesians to Charolais × Friesians. It also increased by about 10 g/kg per 100 kg increase in slaughter weight. Friesians had higher proportions of gastrointestinal tract plus contents than the two beef crosses and also had higher proportions of metabolic organs. Hereford crosses had a higher proportion of hide and offal fats than Charolais crosses. At any carcass weight, early maturing animals had more fat and less bone and muscle than late maturing animals. As carcass weight increased, the proportions of bone and muscle in the carcass decreased, and the proportion of fat increased, but the rates of these changes differed with biological type. Carcass muscle distribution also differed with biological type. Late maturing cattle had a higher proportion of hind quarter and higher value muscle than Friesians and early maturing animals, while Friesians had higher proportions than early maturing animals. Muscle lipid content (marbling) differed with biological type (early maturing > dairy > late maturing) and with carcass joint (highest for flank and ribs, lowest for m. longissimus). Early maturing steers and heifers had similar carcass fat proportions when the heifers were about 60 kg carcass lighter than the steers. Despite having poorer carcass conformation, heifers had a slightly higher proportion of muscle and a considerably higher proportion of higher value muscle than steers. Carcass classification grade was not a reliable indicator of carcass muscle proportion. Carcass fat class was related to both carcass fat and muscle proportions but accounted for less than half the variance in these. Carcass conformation class was not related to carcass fat proportion, carcass muscle proportion or higher value muscle proportion, but it was negatively related to carcass bone proportion.
    • Residual feed intake phenotype and gender affect the expression of key genes of the lipogenesis pathway in subcutaneous adipose tissue of beef cattle

      McKenna, Clare; Porter, Richard K.; Keogh, Kate; Waters, Sinead M.; McGee, Mark; Kenny, David A.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; RMIS: 6092 (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2018-09-20)
      Background Feed accounts for up to 75% of costs in beef production systems, thus any improvement in feed efficiency (FE) will benefit the profitability of this enterprise. Residual feed intake (RFI) is a measure of FE that is independent of level of production. Adipose tissue (AT) is a major endocrine organ and the primary metabolic energy reservoir. It modulates a variety of processes related to FE such as lipid metabolism and glucose homeostasis and thus measures of inter-animal variation in adiposity are frequently included in the calculation of the RFI index. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of phenotypic RFI status and gender on the expression of key candidate genes related to processes involved in energy metabolism within AT. Dry matter intake (DMI) and average daily gain (ADG) were measured over a period of 70 d for 52 purebred Simmental heifers (n = 24) and bulls (n = 28) with an initial BW±SD of 372±39.6 kg and 387±50.6 kg, respectively. Residual feed intake was calculated and animals were ranked within gender by RFI into high (inefficient; n = 9 heifers and n = 8 bulls) and low (efficient; n = 9 heifers and n = 8 bulls) groups. Results Average daily gain ±SD and daily DMI ±SD for heifers and bulls were 1.2±0.4 kg and 9.1±0.5 kg, and 1.8±0.3 kg and 9.5±1 kg respectively. High RFI heifers and bulls consumed 10% and 15% more (P < 0.05) than their low RFI counterparts, respectively. Heifers had a higher expression of all genes measured than bulls (P < 0.05). A gender × RFI interaction was detected for HMGCS2(P < 0.05) in which high RFI bulls tended to have lower expression of HMGCS2 than low RFI bulls (P < 0.1), whereas high RFI heifers had higher expression than low RFI heifers (P < 0.05) and high RFI bulls (P < 0.05). SLC2A4 expression was consistently higher in subcutaneous AT of low RFI animals across gender. Conclusion The findings of this study indicate that low RFI cattle exhibit upregulation of the molecular mechanisms governing glucose metabolism in adipose tissue, in particular, glucose clearance. The decreased expression of SLC2A4 in the inefficient cattle may result in less efficient glucose metabolism in these animals. We conclude that SLC2A4 may be a potential biomarker for RFI in cattle.
    • Residual feed intake phenotype and gender affect the expression of key genes of the lipogenesis pathway in subcutaneous adipose tissue of beef cattle

      McKenna, Clare; Porter, Richard K; Keogh, Kate; Waters, Sinead M.; McGee, Mark; Kenny, David A.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Biomed Central, 2018-09-20)
      Background Feed accounts for up to 75% of costs in beef production systems, thus any improvement in feed efficiency (FE) will benefit the profitability of this enterprise. Residual feed intake (RFI) is a measure of FE that is independent of level of production. Adipose tissue (AT) is a major endocrine organ and the primary metabolic energy reservoir. It modulates a variety of processes related to FE such as lipid metabolism and glucose homeostasis and thus measures of inter-animal variation in adiposity are frequently included in the calculation of the RFI index. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of phenotypic RFI status and gender on the expression of key candidate genes related to processes involved in energy metabolism within AT. Dry matter intake (DMI) and average daily gain (ADG) were measured over a period of 70 d for 52 purebred Simmental heifers (n = 24) and bulls (n = 28) with an initial BW±SD of 372±39.6 kg and 387±50.6 kg, respectively. Residual feed intake was calculated and animals were ranked within gender by RFI into high (inefficient; n = 9 heifers and n = 8 bulls) and low (efficient; n = 9 heifers and n = 8 bulls) groups. Results Average daily gain ±SD and daily DMI ±SD for heifers and bulls were 1.2±0.4 kg and 9.1±0.5 kg, and 1.8±0.3 kg and 9.5±1 kg respectively. High RFI heifers and bulls consumed 10% and 15% more (P < 0.05) than their low RFI counterparts, respectively. Heifers had a higher expression of all genes measured than bulls (P < 0.05). A gender × RFI interaction was detected for HMGCS2(P < 0.05) in which high RFI bulls tended to have lower expression of HMGCS2 than low RFI bulls (P < 0.1), whereas high RFI heifers had higher expression than low RFI heifers (P < 0.05) and high RFI bulls (P < 0.05). SLC2A4 expression was consistently higher in subcutaneous AT of low RFI animals across gender. Conclusion The findings of this study indicate that low RFI cattle exhibit upregulation of the molecular mechanisms governing glucose metabolism in adipose tissue, in particular, glucose clearance. The decreased expression of SLC2A4 in the inefficient cattle may result in less efficient glucose metabolism in these animals. We conclude that SLC2A4 may be a potential biomarker for RFI in cattle.
    • Response to Teladorsagia circumcincta infection in Scottish Blackface lambs with divergent phenotypes for nematode resistance

      McRae, Kathryn M.; Good, Barbara; Hanrahan, James P; Glynn, Assumpta; O'Connell, Mary J.; Keane, Orla M; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Allan and Grace Kay Overseas Scholarship (Elsevier, 2014-10-24)
      The objective of this study was to identify Scottish Blackface lambs that were at the extremes of the spectrum of resistance to gastrointestinal nematodes and characterise their response to an experimental nematode challenge. Lambs (n = 90) were monitored for faecal egg count (FEC) (2 samples from each of 2 independent natural infections). The most resistant (n = 10) and susceptible (n = 10) individuals were selected and challenged with 30,000 Teladorsagia circumcincta larvae (L3) at 9 months of age. Response to infection was monitored by measuring FEC, plasma pepsinogen, serum antibodies against nematode larval antigens and haematology profile, until necropsy at 71 days post infection. Worm burden, worm fecundity and the level of anti-nematode antibodies in abomasal mucosa were determined at necropsy. FEC was consistently higher in susceptible animals (P < 0.05), validating the selection method. Worm fecundity was significantly reduced in resistant animals (P = 0.03). There was also a significant correlation (r = 0.88; P < 0.001) between the number of adult worms and FEC at slaughter. There was no effect of phenotype (resistance/susceptibility) on plasma pepsinogen or on haematology profile. Phenotype had a significant effect on the level of anti-nematode IgA antibodies in serum (P < 0.01), reflecting a higher peak in resistant animals at day 7 post infection. It is concluded that significant variation in the response to gastrointestinal nematode challenge exists within the Scottish Blackface population with resistant animals displaying significantly lower FEC, lower worm fecundity and higher concentration of anti-nematode IgA antibodies in serum.
    • A review of nitrous oxide mitigation by farm nitrogen management in temperate grassland-based agriculture

      Li, Dejun; Watson, C. J.; Yan, Ming Jia; Lalor, Stanley T. J.; Rafique, Rashid; Hyde, Bernard; Lanigan, Gary; Richards, Karl G.; Holden, Nicholas M.; Humphreys, James; et al. (Elsevier, 20/07/2013)
      Nitrous oxide (N2O) emission from grassland-based agriculture is an important source of atmospheric N2O. It is hence crucial to explore various solutions including farm nitrogen (N) management to mitigate N2O emissions without sacrificing farm profitability and food supply. This paper reviews major N management practices to lower N2O emission from grassland-based agriculture. Restricted grazing by reducing grazing time is an effective way to decrease N2O emissions from excreta patches. Balancing the protein-to-energy ratios in the diets of ruminants can also decrease N2O emissions from excreta patches. Among the managements of synthetic fertilizer N application, only adjusting fertilizer N rate and slow-released fertilizers are proven to be effective in lowering N2O emissions. Use of bedding materials may increase N2O emissions from animal houses. Manure storage as slurry, manipulating slurry pH to values lower than 6 and storage as solid manure under anaerobic conditions help to reduce N2O emissions during manure storage stage. For manure land application, N2O emissions can be mitigated by reducing manure N inputs to levels that satisfy grass needs. Use of nitrification inhibitors can substantially lower N2O emissions associated with applications of fertilizers and manures and from urine patches. N2O emissions from legume based grasslands are generally lower than fertilizer-based systems. In conclusion, effective measures should be taken at each step during N flow or combined options should be used in order to mitigate N2O emission at the farm level.
    • Review of potential sources and control of thermoduric bacteria in bulk-tank milk

      Gleeson, David E; O'Connell, Aine; Jordan, Kieran; Irish Dairy Levy Research Trust (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2013)
      Bacteria that contaminate milk include thermoduric bacteria that can survive pasteurisation and subsequently grow in the pasteurised milk or contaminate product. Elimination of thermodurics at milking is not feasible. Therefore, knowledge of their source and strategies for their reduction are important. The major sources of thermodurics in milk are contamination of the teat skin from soil and bedding, and subsequent contamination from deposits that can build up on milking equipment surfaces. Hygiene at milking can reduce the number of bacteria contaminating milk. Teat preparation at milking and a recommended plant cleaning procedure are critical to the prevention of the contamination of milk with thermoduric bacteria.
    • Review of studies on flukicide residues in cows’ milk and their transfer to dairy products

      Power, C.; Sayers, Riona; O'Brien, Bernadette; Furey, A.; Danaher, Martin; Kieran, Jordan; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2013)
      Flukicides are widely used to treat infestations of liver fluke in dairy cattle. This could result in flukicide residues in milk if animals are improperly treated or if withdrawal periods are not properly observed. The purpose of this review is to summarise the results of studies on depletion of flukicides from milk and the transfer of flukicide residues to dairy products, if present in the milk. As the depletion of flukicide residues from milk of animals treated during lactation was relatively slow, the studies support the view that the dry period (when milk is not being used for human consumption) is the most suitable time for flukicide treatment. Migration of residues to product occurred at different rates, depending on the drug in question. Generally, concentration of flukicides occurred in cheese, butter and skim milk powder. Pasteurisation or heat treatment during spray drying had no impact in reducing residues.
    • Risk factors associated with detailed reproductive phenotypes in dairy and beef cows

      Carthy, Tara; Berry, Donagh; Fitzgerald, A. M.; McParland, Sinead; Williams, E. J.; Butler, Stephen; Cromie, A. R.; Ryan, Dan P.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; European Union; et al. (Cambridge University PRess, 2014-04-17)
      The objective of this study was to identify detailed fertility traits in dairy and beef cattle from transrectal ultrasonography records and quantify the associated risk factors. Data were available on 148 947 ultrasound observations of the reproductive tract from 75 949 cows in 843 Irish dairy and beef herds between March 2008 and October 2012. Traits generated included (1) cycling at time of examination, (2) cystic structures, (3) early ovulation, (4) embryo death and (5) uterine score; the latter was measured on a scale of 1 (good) to 4 (poor) characterising the tone of the uterine wall and fluid present in the uterus. After editing, 72 773 records from 44 415 dairy and beef cows in 643 herds remained. Factors associated with the logit of the probability of a positive outcome for each of the binary fertility traits were determined using generalised estimating equations; linear mixed model analysis was used for the analysis of uterine score. The prevalence of cycling, cystic structures, early ovulation and embryo death was 84.75%, 3.87%, 7.47% and 3.84%, respectively. The occurrence of the uterine heath score of 1, 2, 3 and 4 was 70.63%, 19.75%, 8.36% and 1.26%, respectively. Cows in beef herds had a 0.51 odds (95% CI = 0.41 to 0.63, P<0.001) of cycling at the time of examination compared with cows in dairy herds; stage of lactation at the time of examination was the same in both herd types. Furthermore, cows in dairy herds had an inferior uterine score (indicating poorer tone and a greater quantity of uterine fluid present) compared with cows in beef herds. The likelihood of cycling at the time of examination increased with parity and stage of lactation, but was reduced in cows that had experienced dystocia in the previous calving. The presence of cystic structures on the ovaries increased with parity and stage of lactation. The likelihood of embryo/foetal death increased with parity and stage of lactation. Dystocia was not associated with the presence of cystic structures or embryo death. Uterine score improved with parity and stage of lactation, while cows that experienced dystocia in the previous calving had an inferior uterine score. Heterosis was the only factor associated with increased likelihood of early ovulation. The fertility traits identified, and the associated risk factors, provide useful information on the reproductive status of dairy and beef cows.
    • Runs of homozygosity and population history in cattle

      Purfield, Deirdre C; Berry, Donagh; McParland, Sinead; Bradley, Daniel G; Science Foundation Ireland; 09/IN.1/B2642 (Biomed Central, 2012-08-14)
      Background: Runs of homozygosity (ROH) are contiguous lengths of homozygous genotypes that are present in an individual due to parents transmitting identical haplotypes to their offspring. The extent and frequency of ROHs may inform on the ancestry of an individual and its population. Here we use high density (n = 777,962) bi-allelic SNPs in a range of cattle breed samples to correlate ROH with the pedigree-based inbreeding coefficients and to validate subsequent analyses using 54,001 SNP genotypes. This study provides a first testing of the inference drawn from ROH through comparison with estimates of inbreeding from calculations based on the detailed pedigree data available for several breeds. Results: All animals genotyped on the HD panel displayed at least one ROH that was between 1–5 Mb in length with certain regions of the genome more likely to be involved in a ROH than others. Strong correlations (r = 0.75, p < 0.0001) existed between the pedigree-based inbreeding coefficient and a statistic based on sum of ROH of length > 0.5 KB and suggests that in the absence of an animal’s pedigree data, the extent of a genome under ROH may be used to infer aspects of recent population history even from relatively few samples. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that ROH are frequent across all breeds but differing patterns of ROH length and burden illustrate variations in breed origins and recent management.
    • Scientific appraisal of the Irish grass-based milk production system as a sustainable source of premium quality milk and dairy products

      O'Brien, Bernadette; Hennessy, Deirdre (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2017-12-29)
      The Irish dairy industry is critically important to the economy and general well-being of a large section of the Irish population. Its quality, sustainability and maintenance are the key for a vibrant rural society in the future. Two important elements for the future of this industry include (a) the quality, marketing and sale of dairy products on the export market and (b) sustainability from the perspectives of people, planet and profit. This paper provides a short review of current scientific evidence in relation to a number of topics, each of which is important in maintaining and developing dairy product quality and the sustainability of the Irish dairy industry. The topics addressed in the paper are as follows: the parameters of milk composition; milk processing; hygiene quality and safety; farm management practices and the regulations that govern such practices; animal health and welfare; environmental impacts; economic implications for farm families and rural communities; and the overall future sustainability of the family-based dairy farm structure.
    • Screening commercial teat disinfectants against bacteria isolated from bovine milk using disk diffusion

      Fitzpatrick, Sarah Rose; Garvey, Mary; Jordan, Kieran; Flynn, Jim; O'Brien, Bernadette; Gleeson, David; Dairy Research Ireland; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; MKLS0006; 2016054 (Veterinary World, 2019-05-06)
      Background and Aim: Teat disinfection is an important tool in reducing the incidence of bovine mastitis. Identifying the potential mastitis-causing bacterial species in milk can be the first step in choosing the correct teat disinfectant product. The objective of this study was to screen commercial teat disinfectants for inhibition against mastitis-associated bacteria isolated from various types of milk samples. Materials and Methods: Twelve commercially available teat disinfectant products were tested, against 12 mastitis-associated bacteria strains isolated from bulk tank milk samples and bacterial strains isolated from clinical (n=2) and subclinical (n=3) quarter foremilk samples using the disk diffusion method. Results: There was a significant variation (7-30 mm) in bacterial inhibition between teat disinfection products, with products containing a lactic acid combination (with chlorhexidine or salicylic acid) resulting in the greatest levels of bacterial inhibition against all tested bacteria (p<0.05). Conclusion: In this study, combined ingredients in teat disinfection products had greater levels of bacterial inhibition than when the ingredients were used individually. The disk diffusion assay is a suitable screening method to effectively differentiate the bacterial inhibition of different teat disinfectant products.
    • Seasonality of nitrogen uptake, apparent recovery of fertilizer nitrogen and background nitrogen supply in two Irish grassland soils

      Murphy, Paul N. C.; O'Connell, K.; Watson, S.; Watson, C. J.; Humphreys, James; Irish National Development Plan; Irish Dairy Levy Research Trust (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2013)
      Improving fertilizer nitrogen (N) use efficiency is central to sustainable and profitable grassland agriculture. A plot experiment with a control and fertilizer N (calcium ammonium nitrate, 25–50 kg/ha N) applied on nine occasions from February to September 2002 was conducted at two sites in southwest Ireland to assess N uptake and apparent recovery of fertilizer N (ARFN). Apparent recovery of fertilizer N after eight weeks varied from low in February (21%) and March (46%) to high from April to August (69–98%), indicating that high N use efficiency can be achieved in Irish grasslands at these times. Low recovery in spring suggested that N was applied in excess of immediate crop requirements. Note that N uptake and ARFN values from this study are likely to be somewhat conservative, particularly for spring applications. Over the 8 weeks during which growth was monitored, most (70%) of the grass yield and N uptake response to fertilizer N were in weeks 1 to 4 after application; however, a significant (30%) response occurred in weeks 5–8. This suggested that residual N availability following grazing at 4 weeks can be significant and that there may be scope to decrease N application rates in a grazing rotation. This can potentially improve N use efficiency and decrease N surpluses, with associated economic and environmental benefits. Apparent recovery of fertilizer N was closely related to soil temperature, with a 5.8% increase in ARFN with a 1 °C increase in temperature. Background (non-fertilizer) N supply contributed an average of 164 kg/ha per year (49%) taken up by the fertilized sward, highlighting the potential importance of soil N mineralisation to grassland productivity. Note that these results are for one year at two sites and that conditions may vary between years and at other sites and also that the experiment did not reproduce the cumulative effect of repeated fertilizer application over the grazing year.
    • Short communication: Effects of changing teatcup removal and vacuum settings on milking efficiency of an automatic milking system

      Upton, John; Bolona, P. Silva; Reinemann, D. J.; Teagasc Wash Fellowship Programme; University of Wisconsin-Madison; Lely, The Netherlands (Elsevier, 2019-08-22)
      The aim of this experiment was to assess strategies to reduce milking time in a pasture-based automatic milking system (AMS). Milking time is an important factor in automatic milking because any reductions in box time can facilitate more milkings per day and hence higher production levels per AMS. This study evaluated 2 end-of-milking criteria treatments (teatcup removal at 30% and 50% of average milk flowrate at the quarter-level), 2 milking system vacuum treatments (static and dynamic, where the milking system vacuum could change during the peak milk flowrate period), and the interaction of these treatment effects on milking time in a Lely Astronaut A4 AMS (Maassluis, the Netherlands). The experiment was carried out at the research facility at Teagasc Moorepark, Cork, Ireland, and used 77 spring-calved cows, which were managed on a grass-based system. Cows were 179 DIM, with an average parity of 3. No significant differences in milk flowrate, milk yield, box time, milking time, or milking interval were found between treatments in this study on cows milked in an AMS on a pasture-based system. Average and peak milk flowrates of 2.15 kg/min and 3.48 kg/min, respectively, were observed during the experiment. Small increases in maximum milk flowrate were detected (+0.09 kg/min) due to the effect of increasing the system vacuum during the peak milk flow period. These small increases in maximum milk flowrate were not sufficient to deliver a significant reduction in milking time or box time. Furthermore, increasing the removal setting from 30% of the average milk flowrate to 50% of the average milk flowrate was not an effective means of reducing box time, because the resultant increase in removal flowrate of 0.12 kg/min was not enough to deliver practical or statistically significant decreases in milking time or box time. Hence, to make significant reductions in milking time, where cows have an average milk flow of 2 kg/min and yield per milking of 10 kg, end-of-milking criteria above 50% of average milk flowrate at the quarter level would be required.
    • Short Communication: The effect of dry period duration and dietary energy density on the rennet gelation properties of milk in early lactation

      Butler, Stephen; de Feu, M.A.; O'Brien, Bernadette; Guinee, Timothy P.; Murphy, J.J.; National Development Plan (Dublin, Ireland) (American Dairy Science Association and Elsevier Inc., 2010-02)
      This study was carried out to examine the effects of decreasing dry period duration (DP) and altering the energy density of the diet during early lactation on the rheological characteristics of milk. Forty mature Holstein-Friesian cows were used in a completely randomized design with a 2 × 2 factorial arrangement of treatments. Cows were randomly assigned to one of two dry period treatments and one of two nutritional treatments. The dry period treatments were continuous milking (CM) or an 8-week standard dry period (SDP), and the nutritional treatments were a standard energy diet (SE) or a high energy diet (HE). Actual dry period lengths were 6.3 ± 1.7 days and 62.1 ± 1.9 days for cows for the CM and SDP treatments, respectively. Milk samples were collected at 2, 6 and 10 weeks postpartum. The concentration of fat, protein and lactose was determined in each sample. The rennet gelation properties were measured at 31 ° C using dynamic low-amplitude strain oscillatory rheometry. The following parameters were obtained from the resultant elastic shear modulus (G′): gelation time (GT), maximum curd firming rate (CFRmax) and gel strength (GS). Reducing dry period duration from 62 to 6 days resulted in increases in milk protein concentration (31.8 vs. 34.7 g/kg; P < 0.001), CFRmax (2.58 vs. 3.60 Pa/min; P < 0.001) and GS (69.4 vs. 90.5 Pa; P = 0.003). Raising the dietary energy density decreased percentage milk fat (43.1 vs. 37.7 g/kg; P < 0.001) but otherwise had no effect. GS was correlated with CFRmax (r = 0.98; P < 0.001), and both variables were correlated with milk protein concentration (r = 0.71; P < 0.001, and r = 0.73; P < 0.001, respectively). The results indicate that decreasing the duration of DP increased milk protein concentration and improved the rennet gelation properties of milk, but that dietary energy density had little effect.
    • The significance of livestock as a contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions today and in the near future

      O'Mara, Frank P. (Elsevier Inc., 23/06/2011)
      Animal agriculture is responsible for 8–10.8% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as assessed by IPCC accounting and, on the basis of lifecycle analysis, the contribution of livestock is up to 18% of global emissions. Asia is the source of the most enteric CH4 emissions with Latin America, Africa, Western Europe and North America being significant sources. These emissions are dominated by emissions from cattle. When GHG emissions are related to food production, the four most efficient regions are Eastern and Western Europe, North America, and the non-EU former Soviet Union which produced 46.3% of ruminant meat and milk energy and only 25.5% of enteric CH4 emissions in 2005. In comparison, the three least efficient producers (Asia, Africa, Latin America) produced an equivalent amount (47.1%) of ruminant meat and milk energy, and almost 69% of enteric CH4 emissions in 2005. Livestock related emissions will increase as world population and food demand increases; enteric CH4 emissions are projected to grow by over 30% from 2000 to 2020. There are mitigations available now, but it is imperative to develop new mitigations and ways to implement existing technologies more cost effectively.
    • SNP variation in the promoter of the PRKAG3 gene and association with meat quality traits in pig

      Ryan, Marion T; Hamill, Ruth M; O'Halloran, Aisling M; Davey, Grace C; McBryan, Jean; Mullen, Anne Maria; McGee, Chris; Gispert, Marina; Southwood, Olwen I; Sweeney, Torres; et al. (Biomed Central, 25/07/2012)
      Background: The PRKAG3 gene encodes the γ3 subunit of adenosine monophosphate activated protein kinase (AMPK), a protein that plays a key role in energy metabolism in skeletal muscle. Non-synonymous single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in this gene such as I199V are associated with important pork quality traits. The objective of this study was to investigate the relationship between gene expression of the PRKAG3 gene, SNP variation in the PRKAG3 promoter and meat quality phenotypes in pork. Results: PRKAG3 gene expression was found to correlate with a number of traits relating to glycolytic potential (GP) and intramuscular fat (IMF) in three phenotypically diverse F1 crosses comprising of 31 Large White, 23 Duroc and 32 Pietrain sire breeds. The majority of associations were observed in the Large White cross. There was a significant association between genotype at the g.-311A>G locus and PRKAG3 gene expression in the Large White cross. In the same population, ten novel SNPs were identified within a 1.3 kb region spanning the promoter and from this three major haplotypes were inferred. Two tagging SNPs (g.-995A>G and g.-311A>G) characterised the haplotypes within the promoter region being studied. These two SNPs were subsequently genotyped in larger populations consisting of Large White (n = 98), Duroc (n = 99) and Pietrain (n = 98) purebreds. Four major haplotypes including promoter SNP’s g.-995A>G and g.-311A>G and I199V were inferred. In the Large White breed, HAP1 was associated with IMF% in the M. longissmus thoracis et lumborum (LTL) and driploss%. HAP2 was associated with IMFL% GP-influenced traits pH at 24 hr in LTL (pHULT), pH at 45 min in LTL (pH45LT) and pH at 45 min in the M. semimembranosus muscle (pH45SM). HAP3 was associated with driploss%, pHULT pH45LT and b* Minolta. In the Duroc breed, associations were observed between HAP1 and driploss% and pHUSM. No associations were observed with the remaining haplotypes (HAP2, HAP3 and HAP4) in the Duroc breed. The Pietrain breed was monomorphic in the promoter region. The I199V locus was associated with several GP-influenced traits across all three breeds and IMF% in the Large White and Pietrain breed. No significant difference in promoter function was observed for the three main promoter haplotypes when tested in vitro. Conclusion: Gene expression levels of the porcine PRKAG3 are associated with meat quality phenotypes relating to glycolytic potential and IMF% in the Large White breed, while SNP variation in the promoter region of the gene is associated with PRKAG3 gene expression and meat quality phenotypes.
    • Stakeholder involvement in establishing a milk quality sub-index in dairy cow breeding goals: a Delphi approach

      Henchion, Maeve; McCarthy, Mary; Resconi, Virginia C.; Berry, Donagh; McParland, Sinead; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; 11/SF/311 (Cambridge University Press, 17/11/2015)
      The relative weighting on traits within breeding goals are generally determined by bio-economic models or profit functions. While such methods have generally delivered profitability gains to producers, and are being expanded to consider non-market values, current approaches generally do not consider the numerous and diverse stakeholders that affect, or are affected, by such tools. Based on principles of respondent anonymity, iteration, controlled feedback and statistical aggregation of feedback, a Delphi study was undertaken to gauge stakeholder opinion of the importance of detailed milk quality traits within an overall dairy breeding goal for profit, with the aim of assessing its suitability as a complementary, participatory approach to defining breeding goals. The questionnaires used over two survey rounds asked stakeholders: (a) their opinion on incorporating an explicit sub-index for milk quality into a national breeding goal; (b) the importance they would assign to a pre-determined list of milk quality traits and (c) the (relative) weighting they would give such a milk quality sub-index. Results from the survey highlighted a good degree of consensus among stakeholders on the issues raised. Similarly, revelation of the underlying assumptions and knowledge used by stakeholders to make their judgements illustrated their ability to consider a range of perspectives when evaluating traits, and to reconsider their answers based on the responses and rationales given by others, which demonstrated social learning. Finally, while the relative importance assigned by stakeholders in the Delphi survey (4% to 10%) and the results of calculations based on selection index theory of the relative emphasis that should be placed on milk quality to halt any deterioration (16%) are broadly in line, the difference indicates the benefit of considering more than one approach to determining breeding goals. This study thus illustrates the role of the Delphi technique, as a complementary approach to traditional approaches, to defining breeding goals. This has implications for how breeding goals will be defined and in determining who should be involved in the decision-making process.