The aim of the Teagasc Animal and Grassland Research & Innovation Programme is to increase the profitability, competitiveness and sustainability of Irish livestock production through research and innovation.

Collections in this community

Recent Submissions

  • The fatty acid profile and stable isotope ratios of C and N of muscle from cattle that grazed grass or grass/clover pastures before slaughter and their discriminatory potential

    Moloney, Aidan; O'Riordan, Edward; Schmidt, O.; Monahan, F. J. (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2018-11-09)
    Consumption of grazed pasture compared to concentrates results in higher concentrations, in beef muscle, of fatty acids considered to be beneficial to human health. Little information is available on the influence of the type of grazed forage. Our objectives were to determine 1) the effect of inclusion of white clover in a grazing sward on the fatty acid profile of beef muscle and 2) the potential of the fatty acid profile and stable isotope ratios of C and N to discriminate between beef from cattle that grazed grass-only or grass/clover swards before slaughter. A total of 28 spring-born Charolais steers grazed from March until slaughter in October, either on a perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) sward that received approximately 220 kg N/ha or a perennial ryegrass–white clover (Trifolium repens L.) sward that received 50 kg N/ha. The longissimus muscle from cattle finished on grass/clover had a higher (P < 0.05) proportion of C18:2 and C18:3 but a lower (P < 0.05) proportion of conjugated linoleic acid and δ15N value than animals finished on the grass-only sward. Discriminant analysis using the fatty acid data showed that, after cross-validation, 80.7% of grass/clover and 86.1% of grass-only muscle samples were correctly classified. Discriminant analysis using the stable isotope data showed that, after cross-validation, 95.7% of grass/clover and 86.5% of grass-only muscle samples were correctly classified. Inclusion of white clover in pasture is likely to have little effect on healthiness of meat for consumers. However, changes in fatty acids and stable isotopes can be used to distinguish between grass/clover-fed and grass-only-fed beef.
  • 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.
  • The Structural and Functional Capacity of Ruminal and Cecal Microbiota in Growing Cattle Was Unaffected by Dietary Supplementation of Linseed Oil and Nitrate

    Popova, Milka; McGovern, Emily; McCabe, Matthew; Martin, Cécile; Doreau, Michel; Arbre, Marie; Meale, Sarah J.; Morgavi, Diego P.; Waters, Sinead M.; INRA; French ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development; French ministry of National Education, Higher Education, and Research; FACCE-JPI (Frontiers, 2017-05-24)
    Microorganisms in the digestive tract of ruminants differ in their functionality and ability to use feed constituents. While cecal microbiota play an important role in post-rumen fermentation of residual substrates undigested in the rumen, limited knowledge exists regarding its structure and function. In this trial we investigated the effect of dietary supplementation with linseed oil and nitrate on methane emissions and on the structure of ruminal and cecal microbiota of growing bulls. Animals were allocated to either a CTL (control) or LINNIT (CTL supplemented with 1.9% linseed and 1.0% nitrates) diet. Methane emissions were measured using the GreenFeed system. Microbial diversity was assessed using amplicon sequencing of microbial genomic DNA. Additionally, total RNA was extracted from ruminal contents and functional mcrA and mtt genes were targeted in amplicon sequencing approach to explore the diversity of functional gene expression in methanogens. LINNIT had no effect on methane yield (g/kg DMI) even though it decreased methane production by 9% (g/day; P < 0.05). Methanobrevibacter- and Methanomassiliicoccaceae-related OTUs were more abundant in cecum (72 and 24%) compared to rumen (60 and 11%) irrespective of the diet (P < 0.05). Feeding LINNIT reduced the relative abundance of Methanomassiliicoccaceae mcrA cDNA reads in the rumen. Principal component analysis revealed significant differences in taxonomic composition and abundance of bacterial communities between rumen and cecum. Treatment decreased the relative abundance of a few Ruminococcaceae genera, without affecting global bacterial community structure. Our research confirms a high level of heterogeneity in species composition of microbial consortia in the main gastrointestinal compartments where feed is fermented in ruminants. There was a parallel between the lack of effect of LINNIT on ruminal and cecal microbial community structure and functions on one side and methane emission changes on the other. These results suggest that the sequencing strategy used here to study microbial diversity and function accurately reflected the absence of effect on methane phenotypes in bulls treated with linseed plus nitrate.
  • Grazing of dairy cows on pasture versus indoor feeding on total mixed ration: Effects on low-moisture part-skim Mozzarella cheese yield and quality characteristics in mid and late lactation

    Gulati, Arunima; Galvin, Norann; Hennessy, Deirdre; McAuliffe, Stephen; O’Donovan, Michael; McManus, Jennifer J.; Fenelon, Mark; Guinee, Timothy P.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; Dairy Levy Research Trust; 11/sf/309 (Elsevier for American Dairy Science Association, 2018-08-16)
    This study investigated the effects of 3 dairy cow feeding systems on the composition, yield, and biochemical and physical properties of low-moisture part-skim Mozzarella cheese in mid (ML; May–June) and late (LL; October–November) lactation. Sixty spring-calving cows were assigned to 3 herds, each consisting of 20 cows, and balanced on parity, calving date, and pre-experimental milk yield and milk solids yield. Each herd was allocated to 1 of the following feeding systems: grazing on perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) pasture (GRO), grazing on perennial ryegrass and white clover (Trifolium repens L.) pasture (GRC), or housed indoors and offered total mixed ration (TMR). Mozzarella cheese was manufactured on 3 separate occasions in ML and 4 in LL in 2016. Feeding system had significant effects on milk composition, cheese yield, the elemental composition of cheese, cheese color (green to red and blue to yellow color coordinates), the extent of flow on heating, and the fluidity of the melted cheese. Compared with TMR milk, GRO and GRC milks had higher concentrations of protein and casein and lower concentrations of I, Cu, and Se, higher cheese-yielding capacity, and produced cheese with lower concentrations of the trace elements I, Cu, and Se and higher yellowness value. Cheese from GRO milk had higher heat-induced flow and fluidity than cheese from TMR milk. These effects were observed over the entire lactation period (ML + LL), but varied somewhat in ML and LL. Feeding system had little, or no, effect on gross composition of the cheese, the proportions of milk protein or fat lost to cheese whey, the texture of the unheated cheese, or the energy required to extend the molten cheese. The differences in color and melt characteristics of cheeses obtained from milks with the different feeding systems may provide a basis for creating points of differentiation suited to different markets.
  • Blood parameters as biomarkers in a Salmonella spp. disease model of weaning piglets

    Barba-Vidal, Emili; Buttow Roll, Victor Fernando; Garcia Manzanilla, Edgar; Torrente, Carlos; Moreno Muñoz, Jose Antonio; PeÂrez, Jose Francisco; Martin-Orue, Susana Maria; Spanish Ministry of Education and Science; Laboratorios Ordesa S.L.; CNPQ Brazil; AGL 2012-31924 (PLOS, 2017-10-26)
    Background The weaning pig is used as an experimental model to assess the impact of diet on intestinal health. Blood parameters (BP) are considered a useful tool in humans, but there is very scarce information of such indicators in the weaning pig. The objective of the present study is to evaluate the use of different BP as indicators in an experimental model of salmonellosis. Methodology Seventy-two 28-day-old piglets were divided into four groups in a 2x2 factorial arrangement, with animals receiving or not a probiotic combination based on B. infantis IM1® and B. lactis BPL6 (109 colony forming units (cfu)/d) and orally challenged or not a week later with Salmonella Typhimurium (5x108 cfu). Blood samples of one animal per pen (N = 24) were taken four days post-inoculation for the evaluation of different BP using an I-stat® System and of plasmatic concentrations of zinc, iron and copper. Principal findings Results reported marginal deficiencies of zinc in piglets at weaning. Moreover, plasmatic zinc, copper and iron presented good correlations with weight gain (r 0.57, r -0.67, r 0.54 respectively; P < 0.01). Blood electrolytes (Na+, Cl- and K+) decreased (P < 0.01) only when the performance of the animals was seriously compromised and clinical symptoms were more apparent. Acid-base balance parameters such as HCO3-, TCO2 and BEecf significantly correlated with weight gain, but only in the challenged animals (r -0.54, r -0.55, and r -0.51, respectively; P < 0.05), suggesting metabolic acidosis depending on Salmonella infection. Glucose was affected by the challenge (P = 0.040), while Htc and Hgb increased with the challenge and decreased with the probiotic (P < 0.05). Furthermore, correlations of Glu, Htc and Hgb with weight gain were observed (P < 0.05). Overall, BP could be regarded as simple, useful indexes to assess performance and health of weaning piglets.
  • Genetic variability in the humoral immune response to bovine herpesvirus-1 infection in dairy cattle and genetic correlations with performance traits

    Ring, S. C.; Graham, D. A.; Sayers, Riona; Byrne, N.; Kelleher, M. M.; Doherty, M. L.; Berry, Donagh P.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Elsevier for American Dairy Science Association, 2018-04-26)
    Bovine herpesvirus-1 (BoHV-1) is a viral pathogen of global significance that is known to instigate several diseases in cattle, the most notable of which include infectious bovine rhinotracheitis and bovine respiratory disease. The genetic variability in the humoral immune response to BoHV-1 has, to our knowledge, not ever been quantified. Therefore, the objectives of the present study were to estimate the genetic parameters for the humoral immune response to BoHV-1 in Irish female dairy cattle, as well as to investigate the genetic relationship between the humoral immune response to BoHV-1 with milk production performance, fertility performance, and animal mortality. Information on antibody response to BoHV-1 was available to the present study from 2 BoHV-1 sero-prevalence research studies conducted between the years 2010 to 2015, inclusive; after edits, BoHV-1 antibody test results were available on a total of 7,501 female cattle from 58 dairy herds. National records of milk production (i.e., 305-d milk yield, fat yield, protein yield, and somatic cell score; n = 1,211,905 milk-recorded cows), fertility performance (i.e., calving performance, pregnancy diagnosis, and insemination data; n = 2,365,657 cows) together with animal mortality data (i.e., birth, farm movement, death, slaughter, and export events; n = 12,853,257 animals) were also available. Animal linear mixed models were used to quantify variance components for BoHV-1 as well as to estimate genetic correlations among traits. The estimated genetic parameters for the humoral immune response to BoHV-1 in the present study (i.e., heritability range: 0.09 to 0.16) were similar to estimates previously reported for clinical signs of bovine respiratory disease in dairy and beef cattle (i.e., heritability range: 0.05 to 0.11). Results from the present study suggest that breeding for resistance to BoHV-1 infection could reduce the incidence of respiratory disease in cattle while having little or no effect on genetic selection for milk yield or milk constituents (i.e., genetic correlations ranged from −0.13 to 0.17). Moreover, even though standard errors were large, results also suggest that breeding for resistance to BoHV-1 infection may indirectly improve fertility performance while also reducing the incidence of mortality in older animals (i.e., animals >182 d of age). Results can be used to inform breeding programs of potential genetic gains achievable for resistance to BoHV-1 infection in cattle.
  • Perinatal immuno/inflammatory responses in the presence or absence of bovine fetal infection

    Jawor, Paulina; Mee, John F; Stefaniak, Tadeusz; The National Centre for Research and Development; PBS2/A8/20/2013 (Biomed Central, 2018-11-01)
    Background It is known that the bovine fetus can mount an immune and inflammatory reaction to infection, but it is not known whether there is a contemporaneous maternal response. Nor is it known whether the response of calves which die perinatally, with or without infection, differs from that of live perinates. Hence, the objective of this study was to determine if acute phase reactant and immunoglobulin concentrations differed between calves (and their dams) in three groups: live calves (CC; n = 21) and dead calves with (PM INF+; n = 22) or without (PM INF-; n = 89) in utero infection. In calf plasma, serum amyloid A, haptoglobin, immunoglobulins M, G1 and G2 and interleukin-6 were measured. In dam serum, SAA and Hp was measured and in amniotic and abomasal fluid, IL-6 was measured. Results Live calves had higher plasma concentrations of SAA and IL-6 than dead calves with (PM INF+) or without (PM INF-) in utero infection. Calves in the PM INF-, but not PM INF+ group, had higher Hp concentrations than calves in the CC group. Calves in the PM INF+ group had higher IgG1 concentrations than calves in the PM INF- and CC groups. Except for higher IgG1 and IgG2 concentrations, biomarker values did not differ significantly between dead calves with or without in utero infection. Live calves had higher IL-6 concentrations in abomasal fluid compared to PM INF- calves. There were no significant differences in blood biomarker concentrations between dams of the three groups of calves. Amniotic fluid IL-6 concentrations were higher from the dams of control calves than the dams of uninfected calves. Conclusions Differences in biomarkers (higher Hp and IgG1; lower SAA and IL-6) between perinatal mortalities and live perinates probably reflect differences between these two groups in age at sampling (SAA and IL-6) and in utero infection (IgG1). Out of the six analytes measured in calves, only IgG1 and IgG2 were biomarkers of (chronic) in utero infection.
  • RNA-seq of muscle from pigs divergent in feed efficiency and product quality identifies differences in immune response, growth, and macronutrient and connective tissue metabolism

    Horodyska, Justyna; Wimmers, Klaus; Reyer, Henry; Trakooljul, Nares; Mullen, Anne Maria; Lawlor, Peadar G; Hamill, Ruth M; European Union; 311794 (Biomed Central, 2018-11-01)
    Background Feed efficiency (FE) is an indicator of efficiency in converting energy and nutrients from feed into a tissue that is of major environmental and economic significance. The molecular mechanisms contributing to differences in FE are not fully elucidated, therefore the objective of this study was to profile the porcine Longissimus thoracis et lumborum (LTL) muscle transcriptome, examine the product quality from pigs divergent in FE and investigate the functional networks underpinning the potential relationship between product quality and FE. Results RNA-Seq (n = 16) and product quality (n = 40) analysis were carried out in the LTL of pigs differing in FE status. A total of 272 annotated genes were differentially expressed with a P < 0.01. Functional annotation revealed a number of biological events related to immune response, growth, carbohydrate & lipid metabolism and connective tissue indicating that these might be the key mechanisms governing differences in FE. Five most significant bio-functions altered in FE groups were ‘haematological system development & function’, ‘lymphoid tissue structure & development’, ‘tissue morphology’, ‘cellular movement’ and ‘immune cell trafficking’. Top significant canonical pathways represented among the differentially expressed genes included ‘IL-8 signalling’, ‘leukocyte extravasation signalling, ‘sphingosine-1-phosphate signalling’, ‘PKCθ signalling in T lymphocytes’ and ‘fMLP signalling in neutrophils’. A minor impairment in the quality of meat, in relation to texture and water-holding capacity, produced by high-FE pigs was observed. High-FE pigs also had reduced intramuscular fat content and improved nutritional profile in terms of fatty acid composition. Conclusions Ontology analysis revealed enhanced activity of adaptive immunity and phagocytes in high-FE pigs suggesting more efficient conserving of resources, which can be utilised for other important biological processes. Shifts in carbohydrate conversion into glucose in FE-divergent muscle may underpin the divergent evolution of pH profile in meat from the FE-groups. Moreover, altered amino acid metabolism and increased mobilisation & flux of calcium may influence growth in FE-divergent muscle. Furthermore, decreased degradation of fibroblasts in FE-divergent muscle could impact on collagen turnover and alter tenderness of meat, whilst enhanced lipid degradation in high-FE pigs may potentially underlie a more efficient fat metabolism in these animals.
  • Intestinal microbiota profiles associated with low and high residual feed intake in chickens across two geographical locations

    Siegerstetter, Sina-Catherine; Schmitz-Esser, Stephan; Magowan, Elizabeth; Wetzels, Stefanie Urimare; Zebeli, Qendrim; Lawlor, Peadar G; O'Connell, Niamh E.; Metzler-Zebeli, Barbara U.; European Union; 311794 (PLOS, 2017-11-15)
    Intestinal microbe-host interactions can affect the feed efficiency (FE) of chickens. As inconsistent findings for FE-associated bacterial taxa were reported across studies, the present objective was to identify whether bacterial profiles and predicted metabolic functions that were associated with residual feed intake (RFI) and performance traits in female and male chickens were consistent across two different geographical locations. At six weeks of life, the microbiota in ileal, cecal and fecal samples of low (n = 34) and high (n = 35) RFI chickens were investigated by sequencing the V3-5 region of the 16S rRNA gene. Location-associated differences in α-diversity and relative abundances of several phyla and genera were detected. RFI-associated bacterial abundances were found at the phylum and genus level, but differed among the three intestinal sites and between males and females. Correlation analysis confirmed that, of the taxonomically classifiable bacteria, Lactobacillus (5% relative abundance) and two Lactobacillus crispatus-OTUs in feces were indicative for high RFI in females (P < 0.05). In males, Ruminococcus in cecal digesta (3.1% relative abundance) and Dorea in feces (<0.1% relative abundance) were best indicative for low RFI, whereas Acinetobacter in feces (<1.5% relative abundance) related to high RFI (P < 0.05). Predicted metabolic functions in feces of males confirmed compositional relationships as functions related to amino acid, fatty acid and vitamin metabolism correlated with low RFI, whereas an increasing abundance of bacterial signaling and interaction (i.e. cellular antigens) genes correlated with high RFI (P < 0.05). In conclusion, RFI-associated bacterial profiles could be identified across different geographical locations. Results indicated that consortia of low- abundance taxa in the ileum, ceca and feces may play a role for FE in chickens, whereby only bacterial FE-associations found in ileal and cecal digesta may serve as useful targets for dietary strategies.
  • CowPI: A Rumen Microbiome Focussed Version of the PICRUSt Functional Inference Software

    Wilkinson, Toby J.; Huws, Sharon A.; Edwards, Joan E.; Kingston-Smith, Alison H.; Siu-Ting, Karen; Hughes, Martin; Rubino, Francesco; Friedersdorff, Maximillian; Creevey, Christopher J.; Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council; BBSRC Institute Strategic Programme; Irish Research Council; BBS/OS/GC/000011B; BB/E/W/10964A01; ELEVATEPD/2014/69 (Frontiers, 2018-05-25)
    Metataxonomic 16S rDNA based studies are a commonplace and useful tool in the research of the microbiome, but they do not provide the full investigative power of metagenomics and metatranscriptomics for revealing the functional potential of microbial communities. However, the use of metagenomic and metatranscriptomic technologies is hindered by high costs and skills barrier necessary to generate and interpret the data. To address this, a tool for Phylogenetic Investigation of Communities by Reconstruction of Unobserved States (PICRUSt) was developed for inferring the functional potential of an observed microbiome profile, based on 16S data. This allows functional inferences to be made from metataxonomic 16S rDNA studies with little extra work or cost, but its accuracy relies on the availability of completely sequenced genomes of representative organisms from the community being investigated. The rumen microbiome is an example of a community traditionally underrepresented in genome and sequence databases, but recent efforts by projects such as the Global Rumen Census and Hungate 1000 have resulted in a wide sampling of 16S rDNA profiles and almost 500 fully sequenced microbial genomes from this environment. Using this information, we have developed “CowPI,” a focused version of the PICRUSt tool provided for use by the wider scientific community in the study of the rumen microbiome. We evaluated the accuracy of CowPI and PICRUSt using two 16S datasets from the rumen microbiome: one generated from rDNA and the other from rRNA where corresponding metagenomic and metatranscriptomic data was also available. We show that the functional profiles predicted by CowPI better match estimates for both the meta-genomic and transcriptomic datasets than PICRUSt, and capture the higher degree of genetic variation and larger pangenomes of rumen organisms. Nonetheless, whilst being closer in terms of predictive power for the rumen microbiome, there were differences when compared to both the metagenomic and metatranscriptome data and so we recommend, where possible, functional inferences from 16S data should not replace metagenomic and metatranscriptomic approaches. The tool can be accessed at http://www.cowpi.org and is provided to the wider scientific community for use in the study of the rumen microbiome.
  • Cross-Fostering Implications for Pig Mortality, Welfare and Performance

    Calderón Díaz, Julia A.; García Manzanilla, Edgar; Diana, Alessia; Boyle, Laura; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; 14/S/832 (Frontiers, 2018-06-06)
    This study aimed to (1) identify cross-fostering (CF) practices employed on a commercial farm; (2) characterize CF pigs according to litter of origin traits, and (3) investigate the implications of CF practices on pig mortality, performance and welfare. This was an observational study whereby pigs were managed according to normal farming practice. Pigs (n = 1,016) born within 1 week were classified as non-CF (NCF); CF during the first (CFW1) and second or third (CFW2+) weeks of lactation. Pigs were individually weighed and inspected for the presence of tail (TL), ear (EL) and body lesions (BL) at weaning (7.03 ± 1.61 kg) and at the end of the first (12.9 ± 3.03 kg) and second (31.9 ± 5.50 kg) weaner and grower (66.3 ± 9.12 kg) stages. Mortality was recorded through to slaughter (c. 115 kg). At slaughter, TL were scored and carcass characteristics, presence of pleurisy, enzootic pneumonia, pericarditis and heart condemnations were recorded. 40.8% of CF pigs were CFW1; ANOVA tests revealed these were born to sows with a higher number of piglets born alive than NCF pigs (14.6 ± 2.61 and 12.8 ± 2.68, respectively). The remaining 59.2% of CF pigs were CFW2+; these were, on average, 0.14 kg lighter at birth than NCF pigs. Therefore, a nested case control design was retrospectively applied whereby pigs with complete records to slaughter, were matched for these variables to investigate associations between CF weeks, welfare and performance traits. Growth performance did not differ between CF week (P > 0.05); however, CFW2+ carcasses were 4.9 kg lighter (P < 0.05) compared with NCF and CFW1 pigs. EL were more likely in CFW1 compared to NCF and CFW2+ (P < 0.05) pigs. To investigate the effect of CF week on the risk of mortality, all 1,016 pigs were used. CF pigs were at higher risk of death (P < 0.05) with similar odds in CFW1 and CFW2+ pigs compared with NCF pigs, although other underlying factors could contribute to this result. Performance and health traits were similar between CF weeks. Early cross-fostering appeared to influence the presence of ear lesions but the mechanism is likely indirect and difficult to explain.
  • Evaluating Established Methods for Rumen 16S rRNA Amplicon Sequencing With Mock Microbial Populations

    McGovern, Emily; Waters, Sinead M.; Blackshields, Gordon; McCabe, Matthew S.; FACCE-JPI; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; 2014231 (Frontiers, 2018-06-25)
    The rumen microbiome scientific community has utilized amplicon sequencing as an aid in identifying potential community compositional trends that could be used as an estimation of various production and performance traits including methane emission, animal protein production efficiency, and ruminant health status. In order to translate rumen microbiome studies into executable application, there is a need for experimental and analytical concordance within the community. The objective of this study was to assess these factors in relation to selected currently established methods for 16S phylogenetic community analysis on a microbial community standard (MC) and a DNA standard (DS; ZymoBIOMICSTM). DNA was extracted from MC using the RBBC method commonly used for microbial DNA extraction from rumen digesta samples. 16S rRNA amplicon libraries were generated for the MC and DS using primers routinely used for rumen bacterial and archaeal community analysis. The primers targeted the V4 and V3–V4 region of the 16S rRNA gene and samples were subjected to both 20 and 28 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) cycles under identical cycle conditions. Sequencing was conducted using the Illumina MiSeq platform. As the bacteria contained in the microbial mock community were well-classified species, and for ease of explanation, we used the results of the Basic Local Alignment Search Tool classification to assess the DNA, PCR cycle number, and primer type. Sequence classification methodology was assessed independently. Spearman’s correlation analysis indicated that utilizing the repeated bead beating and column method for DNA extraction in combination with primers targeting the 16S rRNA gene using 20 first-round PCR cycles was sufficient for amplicon sequencing to generate a relatively accurate depiction of the bacterial communities present in rumen samples. These results also emphasize the requirement to develop and utilize positive mock community controls for all rumen microbiomic studies in order to discern errors which may arise at any step during a next-generation sequencing protocol.
  • Improved detection of biomarkers in cervico-vaginal mucus (CVM) from postpartum cattle

    Adnane, Mounir; Kelly, Paul; Chapwanya, Aspinas; Meade, Kieran G; O’Farrelly, Cliona; The Algerian Ministry for High Education and Scientific Research; University of Tiaret, Algeria; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; ofarrecl-HRB-HRA_POR/2012/37; 13/S/472 (Biomed Central, 2018-09-29)
    Background In the postpartum cow, early diagnosis of uterine disease is currently problematic due to the lack of reliable, non-invasive diagnostic methods. Cervico-vaginal mucus (CVM) is an easy to collect potentially informative source of biomarkers for the diagnosis and prognosis of uterine disease in cows. Here, we report an improved method for processing CVM from postpartum dairy cows for the measurement of immune biomarkers. CVM samples were collected from the vagina using gloved hand during the first two weeks postpartum and processed with buffer alone or buffer containing different concentrations of the reducing agents recommended in standard protocols: Dithiothriotol (DTT) or N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (NAC). Total protein was measured using the bicinchoninic acid (BCA) assay; interleukin 6 (IL-6), IL-8 and α1-acid glycoprotein (AGP) were measured by ELISA. Results We found that use of reducing agents to liquefy CVM affects protein yield and the accuracy of biomarker detection. Our improved protocol results in lower protein yields but improved detection of cytokines and chemokines. Using our modified method to measure AGP in CVM we found raised levels of AGP at seven days postpartum in CVM from cows that went on to develop endometritis. Conclusion We conclude that processing CVM without reducing agents improves detection of biomarkers that reflect uterine health in cattle. We propose that measurement of AGP in CVM during the first week postpartum may identify cows at risk of developing clinical endometritis.
  • Spatial patterns of Fasciola hepatica and Calicophoron daubneyi infections in ruminants in Ireland and modelling of C. daubneyi infection

    Naranjo-Lucena, Amalia; Munita Corbalán, María P; Martínez-Ibeas, Ana M; McGrath, Guy; Murray, Gerard; Casey, Mícheál; Good, Barbara; Sayers, Riona; Mulcahy, Grace; Zintl, Annetta; European Union; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; 635408); 13/S/405 (Biomed Central, 2018-09-29)
    Background Fasciola hepatica has always represented a threat to Irish livestock because the Irish climate is highly suitable for the main local intermediate host of the parasite, the snail Galba truncatula. The recent clinical emergence of infections due to Calicophoron daubneyi has raised the question of whether the two parasites, which share a niche during part of their life-cycles, interact in some way. Here, we used geographical information systems (GIS) to analyse the distribution of both parasites in cattle and sheep. We also developed the first predictive model of paramphistomosis in Ireland. Results Our results indicated that, in cattle, liver fluke infection is less common than rumen fluke infection and does not exhibit the same seasonal fluctuations. Overall, we found that cattle had a higher likelihood of being infected with rumen fluke than sheep (OR = 3.134, P < 0.01). In addition, infection with one parasite increased the odds of infection with the other in both host species. Rumen fluke in cattle showed the highest spatial density of infection. Environmental variables such as soil drainage, land cover and habitat appeared to be the most important risk factors for C. daubneyi infection, followed by rainfall and vegetation. Overall the risk of infection with this parasite was predicted to be higher in the west of the country. Conclusions This study shows differences between the infection rates and spatial patterns of bovine and ovine infections with F. hepatica and C. daubneyi in Ireland. Whether the reasons for this are due to susceptibility, exposure and/or management factors is yet to be determined. Furthermore, the rumen fluke model indicates distinct risk factors and predicted distribution to those of F. hepatica, suggesting potential biological differences between both parasite species.
  • 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; Keogh, Kate; Waters, Sinead M.; McGee, Mark; Kenny, David; 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.
  • Culicoides species composition and abundance on Irish cattle farms: implications for arboviral disease transmission

    Collins, Áine B; Mee, John F; Doherty, Michael L; Barrett, Damien J; England, Marion E; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Biomed Central, 2018-08-17)
    Background Following the emergence of Schmallenberg virus (SBV) in Ireland in 2012, a sentinel herd surveillance program was established in the south of Ireland with the primary aim of investigating the species composition and abundance of Culicoides on livestock farms in the region. Methods Ultraviolet-light trapping for Culicoides was carried out on 10 sentinel farms. Each site was sampled fortnightly over 16 weeks (21st July to 5th November 2014). One Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute UV light trap was run overnight at each site and catches were transferred immediately into 70% ethanol. Culicoides were morphologically identified to species level. Collection site habitats were characterised using the Phase 1 habitat survey technique (Joint Nature Conservation Committee). Results A total of 23,929 individual Culicoides from 20 species was identified, including one species identified in Ireland for the first time, Culicoides cameroni. The most abundant species identified were Culicoides obsoletus/Culicoides scoticus (38%), Culicoides dewulfi (36%), Culicoides pulicaris (9%), Culicoides chiopterus (5%) and Culicoides punctatus (5%), comprising 93% of all Culicoides specimens identified. Collection site habitats were dominated by improved grassland and a combination of broadleaf woodland and native woodland species. Conclusions The most abundant species of Culicoides identified were the putative vectors of bluetongue virus (BTV) and SBV in northern Europe. Their presence and abundance demonstrates the potential for future transmission of arboviruses among livestock in this region.
  • Effect of feeding colostrum at different volumes and subsequent number of transition milk feeds on the serum immunoglobulin G concentration and health status of dairy calves

    Conneely, Muireann; Berry, Donagh P.; Murphy, J. P.; Lorenz, I.; Doherty, M. L.; Kennedy, Emer (Elsevier for American Dairy Science Association, 2014-09)
    Transfer of sufficient IgG to the newborn calf via colostrum is vital to provide it with adequate immunological protection and resistance to disease. The objectives of the present study were to compare serum IgG concentration and health parameters of calves (1) fed different volumes of colostrum [7, 8.5, or 10% of body weight (BW)] within 2 h of birth and (2) given 0, 2, or 4 subsequent feedings of transition milk (i.e., milkings 2 to 6 postcalving). Ninety-nine dairy calves were fed 7, 8.5, or 10% of BW in colostrum within 2 h of birth and given 0, 2, or 4 subsequent feedings of transition milk. The concentration of IgG in the serum of calves was measured at 24, 48, 72, and 642 h of age by an ELISA. The apparent efficiency of absorption for IgG was determined. Health scores were assigned to calves twice per week and all episodes of disease were recorded. The effect of experimental treatment on calf serum IgG concentration differed by the age of the calf. Calves fed 8.5% of BW in colostrum had a greater mean serum IgG concentration than calves fed 7 or 10% of BW at 24, 48, and 72 h of age. At 642 h of age, serum IgG concentrations of calves fed 8.5% of BW (24.2 g/L) and calves fed 10% of BW (21.6 g/L) did not differ, although the serum IgG concentration of calves fed 8.5% of BW was still greater than that of calves fed 7% of BW (20.7 g/L). No difference in serum IgG concentration existed between calves fed 7% of BW and those fed 10% of BW at any age. No significant effect of number of subsequent feedings of transition milk on calf serum IgG concentration was detected. The apparent efficiency of absorption of calves fed 8.5% of BW in colostrum (38%) was greater than calves fed 7% of BW in colostrum (26%) and tended to be greater than in calves fed 10% of BW (29%). Calves fed further feedings of transition milk after the initial feeding of colostrum had a lower odds (0.62; 95% confidence interval: 0.41 to 0.93) of being assigned a worse eye/ear score (i.e., a more copious ocular discharge or pronounced ear droop) and a lower odds (0.5; 95% confidence interval: 0.32 to 0.79) of being assigned a worse nasal score (i.e., a more copious and purulent nasal discharge) during the study period relative to calves that received no further feedings of transition milk. In conclusion, calves fed 8.5% of BW in colostrum within 2 h of birth achieved a greater concentration of IgG in serum in the first 3 d of life than calves fed either 7 or 10% of BW. Feeding calves transition milk subsequently reduced their odds of being assigned a worse eye/ear and nasal score.
  • Meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies for cattle stature identifies common genes that regulate body size in mammals

    Bouwman, Aniek C.; et al; Purfiled, Deirdre C; Berry, Donagh P.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; Science Foundation Ireland; German Federal Ministry of Education and Research; Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft; Breed4Food; European Commission; Dairy Futures Cooperative Research Centre; Genome Canada project; 11/S/112; 14/IA/2576; 0315527B; PA 2789/1-1; BO-22.04-011-001-ASG-LR; 317697 (Nature Publishing Group, 2018-02-19)
    Stature is affected by many polymorphisms of small effect in humans1. In contrast, variation in dogs, even within breeds, has been suggested to be largely due to variants in a small number of genes2,3. Here we use data from cattle to compare the genetic architecture of stature to those in humans and dogs. We conducted a meta-analysis for stature using 58,265 cattle from 17 populations with 25.4 million imputed whole-genome sequence variants. Results showed that the genetic architecture of stature in cattle is similar to that in humans, as the lead variants in 163 significantly associated genomic regions (P < 5 × 10−8) explained at most 13.8% of the phenotypic variance. Most of these variants were noncoding, including variants that were also expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) and in ChIP–seq peaks. There was significant overlap in loci for stature with humans and dogs, suggesting that a set of common genes regulates body size in mammals.
  • Whole genome association study identifies regions of the bovine genome and biological pathways involved in carcass trait performance in Holstein-Friesian cattle

    Doran, Anthony G.; Berry, Donagh P.; Creevy, Christopher J.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Science Foundation Ireland; Irish Cattle Breeding Federation; RSF-06-0353; 11/S/112; 2009183; 07/SK/B1236A (Biomed Central, 2014-10)
    Background Four traits related to carcass performance have been identified as economically important in beef production: carcass weight, carcass fat, carcass conformation of progeny and cull cow carcass weight. Although Holstein-Friesian cattle are primarily utilized for milk production, they are also an important source of meat for beef production and export. Because of this, there is great interest in understanding the underlying genomic structure influencing these traits. Several genome-wide association studies have identified regions of the bovine genome associated with growth or carcass traits, however, little is known about the mechanisms or underlying biological pathways involved. This study aims to detect regions of the bovine genome associated with carcass performance traits (employing a panel of 54,001 SNPs) using measures of genetic merit (as predicted transmitting abilities) for 5,705 Irish Holstein-Friesian animals. Candidate genes and biological pathways were then identified for each trait under investigation. Results Following adjustment for false discovery (q-value < 0.05), 479 quantitative trait loci (QTL) were associated with at least one of the four carcass traits using a single SNP regression approach. Using a Bayesian approach, 46 QTL were associated (posterior probability > 0.5) with at least one of the four traits. In total, 557 unique bovine genes, which mapped to 426 human orthologs, were within 500kbs of QTL found associated with a trait using the Bayesian approach. Using this information, 24 significantly over-represented pathways were identified across all traits. The most significantly over-represented biological pathway was the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) signaling pathway. Conclusions A large number of genomic regions putatively associated with bovine carcass traits were detected using two different statistical approaches. Notably, several significant associations were detected in close proximity to genes with a known role in animal growth such as glucagon and leptin. Several biological pathways, including PPAR signaling, were shown to be involved in various aspects of bovine carcass performance. These core genes and biological processes may form the foundation for further investigation to identify causative mutations involved in each trait. Results reported here support previous findings suggesting conservation of key biological processes involved in growth and metabolism.
  • Mid-infrared spectrometry of milk as a predictor of energy intake and efficiency in lactating dairy cows

    McParland, Sinead; Lewis, Eva; Kennedy, Emer; Moore, S. G.; McCarthy, B.; O'Donovan, Michael; Butler, Stephen T.; Pryce, J. E.; Berry, Donagh P.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; Marie Curie project International Research Staff Exchange Scheme SEQSEL; 13/S4/96 (Elsevier for American Dairy Science Association, 2014-09)
    Interest is increasing in the feed intake complex of individual dairy cows, both for management and animal breeding. However, energy intake data on an individual-cow basis are not routinely available. The objective of the present study was to quantify the ability of routinely undertaken mid-infrared (MIR) spectroscopy analysis of individual cow milk samples to predict individual cow energy intake and efficiency. Feed efficiency in the present study was described by residual feed intake (RFI), which is the difference between actual energy intake and energy used (e.g., milk production, maintenance, and body tissue anabolism) or supplied from body tissue mobilization. A total of 1,535 records for energy intake, RFI, and milk MIR spectral data were available from an Irish research herd across 36 different test days from 535 lactations on 378 cows. Partial least squares regression analyses were used to relate the milk MIR spectral data to either energy intake or efficiency. The coefficient of correlation (REX) of models to predict RFI across lactation ranged from 0.48 to 0.60 in an external validation data set; the predictive ability was, however, strongest (REX = 0.65) in early lactation (<60 d in milk). The inclusion of milk yield as a predictor variable improved the accuracy of predicting energy intake across lactation (REX = 0.70). The correlation between measured RFI and measured energy balance across lactation was 0.85, whereas the correlation between RFI and energy balance, both predicted from the MIR spectrum, was 0.65. Milk MIR spectral data are routinely generated for individual cows throughout lactation and, therefore, the prediction equations developed in the present study can be immediately (and retrospectively where MIR spectral data have been stored) applied to predict energy intake and efficiency to aid in management and breeding decisions.

View more