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.

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  • The effect of target postgrazing height on sward clover content, herbage yield, and dairy production from grass-white clover pasture

    Phelan, P.; Casey, I.A.; Humphreys, J.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; RSF 07-511 (American Dairy Science Association, 2013-01-18)
    White clover (Trifolium repens) is an important legume for grazed grassland that can increase the profitability and environmental sustainability of milk production. Previous experiments on mown grass-clover plots suggest that low postgrazing heights (PGH) can increase sward clover content and herbage production. However, this has not been tested in actual strip or rotational grazing systems with dairy cows. Furthermore, lowering PGH in grass-only swards (typically perennial ryegrass without white clover) has previously been associated with reduced milk yields per cow. The objective of this experiment was to investigate the effect of PGH by dairy cows on clover content, herbage production, and milk production from strip-grazed grass-white clover swards in Ireland. Three target PGH treatments of 4, 5, and 6 cm were in place for entire grazing seasons (February to November) for 3 consecutive years (2007 to 2009). Each treatment had a mean of 21 Holstein-Friesian dairy cows that strip-grazed a mean annual area of 10.2 ha. Postgrazing height was measured twice a day with a rising plate meter, and cows were moved to the next strip once the target PGH was reached. Annual fertilizer nitrogen input was 90 kg of N/ha for each treatment. The PGH treatment did not significantly affect annual milk yield (6,202 kg/cow), solids-corrected milk yield (6,148 kg/cow), fat, protein, or lactose yields (265, 222, and 289 kg/cow, respectively), cow liveweight (592 kg) or body condition score (3.01). The PGH treatment also had no significant effect on sward white clover content (196 g/kg). However, herbage production of both grass and clover were significantly higher with the 4-cm PGH treatment compared with the 6-cm treatment. Mean annual herbage yields were 11.1, 10.2, and 9.1 t of organic matter (OM)/ha for the 4-, 5-, and 6-cm PGH treatments, respectively. The lower herbage production in the 6-cm PGH treatment resulted in lower annual silage production, greater housing requirements, and a substantially higher net silage deficit (−1,917 kg of OM/cow) compared with the 5- or 4-cm treatments (−868 and −192 kg of OM/cow, respectively). Grazing to a PGH of 4 cm is therefore recommended for grass-white clover swards.
  • 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.
  • The effect of paratuberculosis on milk yield—A systematic review and meta-analysis

    McAloon, Conor G.; Whyte, Paul; More, Simon J.; Green, Martin J.; O’Grady, Luke; Garcia, AnaBelen; Doherty, Michael L.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (American Dairy Science Association, 2015-12-10)
    Bovine paratuberculosis is a disease characterized by chronic granulomatous enteritis causing protein-losing enteropathy. Adverse effects on animal productivity are key drivers in the attempt to control paratuberculosis at the farm level. Economic models require an accurate estimation of the production effects associated with paratuberculosis. The aim of this study was to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis to investigate the effect of paratuberculosis on milk production. A total of 20 effect estimates from 15 studies were included in the final meta-analysis. Substantial between-study heterogeneity was observed. Subgroup analysis by case definition and study design was carried out to investigate heterogeneity. The majority of between-study variation was attributed to studies that defined cases on serology. Calculation of a pooled effect estimate was only appropriate for studies that defined cases by organism detection. A reduction in milk yield, corrected for lactation number and herd of origin of 1.87 kg/d, equivalent to 5.9% of yield, was associated with fecal culture or PCR positivity in individual cows.
  • Low numbers of ovarian follicles ≥3 mm in diameter are associated with low fertility in dairy cows

    Mossa, F.; Walsh, S.W.; Butler, S.T.; Berry, D.P.; Carter, F.; Lonergan, P.; Smith, G.W.; Ireland, J.J.; Evans, A.C.O. (American Dairy Science Association, 2012-05-01)
    The total number of ovarian follicles ≥3 mm in diameter (antral follicle count, AFC) during follicular waves varies among cattle of similar age, but AFC is highly repeatable within individuals. We hypothesized that lower AFC could be associated with reduced fertility in cattle. The AFC was assessed by ultrasonography for 2 d consecutively during the first wave of follicular growth of the estrous cycle, 4.6 ± 1.43 d (mean ± SD) after estrus, in 306 Holstein-Friesian dairy cows approximately 70 d postpartum. Cows were classified into 3 groups based on AFC: low (AFC ≤15), intermediate (AFC = 16 to 24), and high (AFC ≥25). During the cycle in which AFC was assessed and in subsequent cycles, cows were artificially inseminated (AI) following detection of estrus, and pregnancy status was assessed using ultrasonography. Cows with high AFC had 3.34 times greater odds of being pregnant at the end of the breeding season compared with cows with low AFC; the odds of a successful pregnancy at first service were 1.75 times greater in the intermediate compared with the low group. The predicted probability of a successful pregnancy by the end of the breeding period (length of breeding season was 86 ± 16.3 d) was 94, 88, and 84% for the high, intermediate, and low AFC groups, respectively. No difference was evident among groups in 21-d submission rate (proportion of all cows detected in estrus and submitted for AI in the first 21 d of the breeding season), but the interval from calving to conception was shorter in the high (109.5 ± 5.1 d) versus low (117.1 ± 4 d) group, and animals with intermediate AFC received fewer services during the breeding season (2.3 ± 0.1) compared with animals with low AFC (2.7 ± 0.1). Lactating cows with ≤15 ovarian follicles have lower reproductive performance compared with cows with higher numbers of follicles, but the existence of a positive association between high numbers of ovarian follicles and fertility is yet to be established.
  • MicroRNA profiling of the bovine alveolar macrophage response to Mycobacterium bovis infection suggests pathogen survival is enhanced by microRNA regulation of endocytosis and lysosome trafficking

    Vegh, Peter; Magee, David A.; Nalpas, Nicolas C.; Bryan, Kenneth; McCabe, Matthew S.; Browne, John A.; Conlon, Kevin M.; Gordon, Stephen V.; Bradley, Daniel G.; MacHugh, David E.; et al. (Elsevier BV, 2014-11-05)
    Mycobacterium bovis, the causative agent of bovine tuberculosis, a major problem for global agriculture, spreads via an airborne route and is taken up by alveolar macrophages (AM) in the lung. Here, we describe the first next-generation sequencing (RNA-seq) approach to temporally profile miRNA expression in primary bovine AMs post-infection with M. bovis. One, six, and forty miRNAs were identified as significantly differentially expressed at 2, 24 and 48 h post-infection, respectively. The differential expression of three miRNAs (bta-miR-142-5p, bta-miR-146a, and bta-miR-423-3p) was confirmed by RT-qPCR. Pathway analysis of the predicted mRNA targets of differentially expressed miRNAs suggests that these miRNAs preferentially target several pathways that are functionally relevant for mycobacterial pathogenesis, including endocytosis and lysosome trafficking, IL-1 signalling and the TGF-β pathway. Over-expression studies using a bovine macrophage cell-line (Bomac) reveal the targeting of two key genes in the innate immune response to M. bovis, IL-1 receptor-associated kinase 1 (IRAK1) and TGF-β receptor 2 (TGFBR2), by miR-146. Taken together, our study suggests that miRNAs play a key role in tuning the complex interplay between M. bovis survival strategies and the host immune response.
  • Bayesian evaluation of budgets for endemic disease control: An example using management changes to reduce milk somatic cell count early in the first lactation of Irish dairy cows

    Archer, S.C.; Mc Coy, F.; Wapenaar, W.; Green, M.J.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Elsevier BV, 2014-01-01)
    The aim of this research was to determine budgets for specific management interventions to control heifer mastitis in Irish dairy herds as an example of evidence synthesis and 1-step Bayesian micro-simulation in a veterinary context. Budgets were determined for different decision makers based on their willingness to pay. Reducing the prevalence of heifers with a high milk somatic cell count (SCC) early in the first lactation could be achieved through herd level management interventions for pre- and peri-partum heifers, however the cost effectiveness of these interventions is unknown. A synthesis of multiple sources of evidence, accounting for variability and uncertainty in the available data is invaluable to inform decision makers around likely economic outcomes of investing in disease control measures. One analytical approach to this is Bayesian micro-simulation, where the trajectory of different individuals undergoing specific interventions is simulated. The classic micro-simulation framework was extended to encompass synthesis of evidence from 2 separate statistical models and previous research, with the outcome for an individual cow or herd assessed in terms of changes in lifetime milk yield, disposal risk, and likely financial returns conditional on the interventions being simultaneously applied. The 3 interventions tested were storage of bedding inside, decreasing transition yard stocking density, and spreading of bedding evenly in the calving area. Budgets for the interventions were determined based on the minimum expected return on investment, and the probability of the desired outcome. Budgets for interventions to control heifer mastitis were highly dependent on the decision maker's willingness to pay, and hence minimum expected return on investment. Understanding the requirements of decision makers and their rational spending limits would be useful for the development of specific interventions for particular farms to control heifer mastitis, and other endemic diseases.
  • Associations between paratuberculosis ELISA results and test-day records of cows enrolled in the Irish Johne's Disease Control Program

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

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

    Archer, S.C.; Mc Coy, F.; Wapenaar, W.; Green, M.J.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Elsevier for American Dairy Science Association, 2013-05-18)
    Change in lifetime milk yield is an important component of the cost of diseases in dairy cows. Knowledge of the likelihood and scale of potential savings through disease prevention measures is important to evaluate how much expenditure on control measures is rational. The aim of this study was to assess the association between somatic cell count (SCC) at 5 to 30 d in milk during parity 1 (SCC1), and lifetime milk yield for cows in Irish dairy herds. The data set studied included records from 53,652 cows in 5,922 Irish herds. This was split into 2 samples of 2,500 and 3,422 herds at random. Linear models with lifetime milk yield and first-lactation milk yield as the outcomes and random effects to account for variation between herds were fitted to the data for the first sample of herds; data for the second sample were used for cross-validation. The models were developed in a Bayesian framework to include all uncertainty in posterior predictions and parameters were estimated from 10,000 Markov chain Monte Carlo simulations. The final model was a good fit to the data and appeared generalizable to other Irish herds. A unit increase in the natural logarithm of SCC1 was associated with a median decrease in lifetime milk yield of 864 kg, and a median decrease in first-lactation milk yield of 105 kg. To clarify the meaning of the results in context, microsimulation was used to model the trajectory of individual cows, and evaluate the expected outcomes for particular changes in the herdlevel prevalence of cows with SCC1 ≥400,000 cells/mL. Differences in mean lifetime milk yield associated with these changes were multiplied by an estimated gross margin for each cow to give the potential difference in milk revenue. Results were presented as probabilities of savings; for example, a 75% probability of savings of at least €97 or €115/heifer calved into the herd existed if the prevalence of cows with SCC1 ≥400,000 cells/ mL was reduced from ≥20 to <10 or <5%, respectively, and at least €71/heifer calved into the herd if the prevalence of cows with SCC1 ≥400,000 cells/mL was reduced from ≥10 to <5%. The results indicate large differences in lifetime milk yield, depending on SCC early in the first lactation and the findings can be used to assess where specific interventions to control heifer mastitis prepartum are likely to be cost effective.
  • Effect of Pseudomonas fluorescens proteases on the quality of Cheddar cheese

    Paludetti, Lizandra F.; O'Callaghan, Tom F.; Sheehan, Jeremiah J.; Gleeson, David; Kelly, Alan L.; Dairy Research Ireland; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship; MKLS6643; 2015045 (Elsevier, 2020-06-26)
    The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of adding different levels of a thermoresistant protease produced by a Pseudomonas fluorescens strain to milk on the manufacture and quality of Cheddar cheese. Fresh raw milk was collected, standardized, and pasteurized at 72°C for 15 s, and the enzyme was added to give a protease activity of 0.15 or 0.60 U/L (treatments P1 and P4, respectively), while one sample had no enzyme added (control). Milk was stored at 4°C for 48 h and Cheddar cheese was manufactured after 0 and 48 h of storage. Results indicated that the protease was active in milk during 48 h of storage; however, its effect on milk composition was minimal. The protein that was preferentially hydrolyzed by the protease over storage was β-casein, followed by κ-casein. The mean cheese yield and recovery of fat and protein obtained for all cheeses were not affected by protease activity. The protease showed low activity during cheese manufacture, possibly because of unfavorable conditions, including low pH. One of the factors that might have influenced protease activity was the pH of the curd (approximately 6.55 after acidification and 5.35 at milling), which was lower than that at which the enzyme would have optimum activity (pH 7 to 9). Consequently, the composition, pH, patterns of proteolysis, and hardness of all cheeses produced were similar and in accordance with values expected for that type of cheese, independently of the protease activity level. However, slight increases in proteolysis were observed in P4 cheeses and produced using milk stored for 48 h. Both the P1 and P4 cheeses had higher concentrations of free amino acids (FAA) compared with the control, whereas urea-PAGE electrophoretograms indicated a greater breakdown of caseins in the P4 cheese samples, which may be related to possible increases in numbers of proteolytic bacteria in milk during storage. Therefore, the thermoresistant psychrotrophic bacterial protease(s) tested in this study may affect the manufacture or quality of Cheddar cheese during ripening to a relatively limited extent. However, controlling initial levels of proteolytic bacteria in raw milk remains essential, because proteolysis affects the development of flavor and texture in cheese.
  • Cow and herd-level risk factors associated with mobility scores in pasture-based dairy cows

    O' Connor, A.H.; Bokkers, E.A.M.; de Boer, I.J.M.; Hogeveen, H; Sayers, R; Byrne, N; Ruelle, E; Engel, E; Shalloo, L; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; et al. (Elsevier, 2020-06-24)
    Lameness in dairy cows is an area of concern from an economic, environmental and animal welfare point of view. While the potential risk factors associated with suboptimal mobility in non-pasture-based systems are evident throughout the literature, the same information is less abundant for pasture-based systems specifically those coupled with seasonal calving, like those in Ireland. Therefore, the objective of this study was to determine the potential risk factors associated with specific mobility scores (0 = good, 1 = imperfect, 2 = impaired, and 3 = severely impaired mobility) for pasture-based dairy cows. Various cow and herd-level potential risk factors from Irish pasture-based systems were collected and analyzed for their association with suboptimal mobility, whereby a mobility score of 0 refers to cows with optimal mobility and a mobility score ≥ 1 refers to a cow with some form of suboptimal mobility. Combined cow and herd-level statistical models were used to determine the increased or decreased risk for mobility score 1, 2, and 3 (any form of suboptimal mobility) compared to the risk for mobility score 0 (optimal mobility), as the outcome variable and the various potential risk factors at both the cow and herd-level were included as predictor type variables. Cow-level variables included body condition score, milk yield, genetic predicted transmitting ability for ‘lameness’, somatic cell score, calving month and cow breed. Herd-level variables included various environmental and management practices on farm. These analyses have identified several cow-level potential risk factors (including low body condition score, high milk yield, elevated somatic cell count, stage of lactation, calving month, and certain breed types), as well as various herd-level potential risk factors (including the amount of time taken to complete the milking process, claw trimmer training, farm layout factors and foot bathing practices) which are associated with suboptimal mobility. The results of this study should be considered by farm advisors when advising and implementing a cow/herd health program for dairy cows in pasture-based systems.
  • Observed progeny performance validates the benefit of mating genetically elite beef sires to dairy females.

    Berry, D P; Ring, S C; Science Foundation Ireland; Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine; 16/RC/3835 (Elsevier for American Dairy Science Association, 2020-01-13)
    While several studies in cattle have confirmed the improved performance achievable from selection on total merit indexes, these studies have solely been confined to specific-purpose beef or dairy total merit indexes. Validation studies of total merit indexes used to select beef sires for use on dairy females are lacking. The objective here was to fill this void by quantifying the performance of beef × dairy progeny where the sire excels in either a total merit index encompassing calving performance and beef performance traits (dairy-beef index; DBI) or excels in a subindex based solely on calving performance (CLV); for comparative purposes, these beef × dairy progeny were also compared with dairy × dairy progeny. A total of 123,785 calving records from 101,773 dairy cows calving in 3,065 dairy herds were used; of these, 48,875 progeny also had carcass information. The beef sires were stratified into 5 equally sized groups based separately on their DBI or CLV. Linear and threshold mixed models were used to compare calving and carcass performance of all 3 sire genotypes. Of the 415 sires that ranked in the highest of the 5 strata on the CLV subindex, only 52% of them ranked in the highest stratum for the DBI. The percentage of primiparae requiring any assistance at calving was 2 to 3 percentage units greater for the higher DBI sires relative to both the higher CLV beef sires and the dairy sires (not ranked on anything); no difference existed in multiparae. The extent of calving difficulty in primiparae was, however, less in higher DBI beef sires relative to both the higher CLV beef sires and the dairy sires, although the differences were biologically small. Perinatal mortality was greatest in the beef sires relative to the dairy sires, but no difference existed between the high CLV or high DBI beef sires. No difference in progeny gestation length was evident between the high DBI or high CLV beef sires, although both were >2 d longer than progeny from dairy sires. The higher DBI sires produced progeny with heavier, more conformed carcasses relative to the progeny from both high CLV beef sires and dairy sires. No differences existed between the progeny of the beef sires ranked highly on the CLV versus those ranked highly on the DBI for the probability of achieving the specification for carcass weight (between 270 and 380 kg) or fat score; the higher DBI animals, however, had a 4 to 10% greater probability of achieving the minimum carcass conformation required. In all instances, the beef sires had a greater probability of achieving all specifications relative to the progeny from the dairy sires with the difference for conformation being particularly large. Results indicate that more balanced progeny can be generated using a DBI, helping meet the requirements of both dairy and beef producers. Ignoring market failure across sectors, using higher DBI sires could increase dairy herd profit by 3 to 5% over and above the status quo approach to selection in dairy (i.e., CLV subindex).
  • The effect of different precooling rates and cold storage on milk microbiological quality and composition

    Paludetti, Lizandra; Kelly, Alan L.; O'Brien, Bernadette; Jordan, Kieran; Gleeson, David (Elsevier, 2018-01-10)
    The objective of this study was to measure the effect of different milk cooling rates, before entering the bulk tank, on the microbiological load and composition of the milk, as well as on energy usage. Three milk precooling treatments were applied before milk entered 3 identical bulk milk tanks: no plate cooler (NP), single-stage plate cooler (SP), and double-stage plate cooler (DP). These precooling treatments cooled the milk to 32.0 ± 1.4°C, 17.0 ± 2.8°C, and 6.0 ± 1.1°C, respectively. Milk was added to the bulk tank twice daily for 72 h, and the tank refrigeration temperature was set at 3°C. The blend temperature within each bulk tank was reduced after each milking event as the volume of milk at 3°C increased simultaneously. The bacterial counts of the milk volumes precooled at different rates did not differ significantly at 0 h of storage or at 24-h intervals thereafter. After 72 h of storage, the total bacterial count of the NP milk was 3.90 ± 0.09 log10 cfu/mL, whereas that of the precooled milk volumes were 3.77 ± 0.09 (SP) and 3.71 ± 0.09 (DP) log10 cfu/mL. The constant storage temperature (3°C) over 72 h helped to reduce bacterial growth rates in milk; consequently, milk composition was not affected and minimal, if any, proteolysis occurred. The DP treatment had the highest energy consumption (17.6 ± 0.5 Wh/L), followed by the NP (16.8 ± 2.7 Wh/L) and SP (10.6 ± 1.3 Wh/L) treatments. This study suggests that bacterial count and composition of milk are minimally affected when milk is stored at 3°C for 72 h, regardless of whether the milk is precooled; however, milk entering the tank should have good initial microbiological quality. Considering the numerical differences between bacterial counts, however, the use of the SP or DP precooling systems is recommended to maintain low levels of bacterial counts and reduce energy consumption.
  • Six-year longitudinal study of Fasciola hepatica bulk milk antibody ELISA in the dairy dense region of the Republic Ireland

    Munita, Maria P; Rea, Rosemary; Bloemhoff, Yris; Byrne, Nicky; Martinez-Ibeas, Ana M; Sayers, Riona; Irish Dairy Levy (Elsevier, 2016-09-28)
    Completion of the F. hepatica lifecycle is dependent on suitable climatic conditions for development of immature stages of the parasite, and its snail intermediate host. Few investigations have been conducted regarding temporal variations in F. hepatica status in Irish dairy herds. The current study aimed to conduct a longitudinal study examining annual and seasonal trends in bulk milk seropositivity over six years, while also investigating associations with soil temperature, rainfall and flukicide treatment. Monthly bulk milk samples (BTM) were submitted by 28 herds between March 2009 and December 2014. In all, 1337 samples were analysed using a Cathepsin L1 ELISA. Soil temperature, rainfall and management data were obtained for general estimating equation and regression analyses. A general decrease in milk seropositivity was observed over the six year study period and was associated with an increased likelihood of treating for liver fluke (OR range = 2.73–6.96). Annual and seasonal analyses of rainfall and F. hepatica BTM status yielded conflicting results. Higher annual rainfall (>1150 mm) yielded a lower likelihood of being BTM positive than annual rainfall of <1000 mm (OR = 0.47; P = 0.036). This was most likely due to farmers being more proactive in treating for F. hepatica in wetter years, although a ‘wash effect’ by high rainfall of the free living stages and snails cannot be ruled out. Higher seasonal rainfall (>120 mm), however, was associated with increased ELISA S/P% values (Coefficient = 9.63S/P%; P = 0.001). Soil temperature was not found to influence F. hepatica to the same extent as rainfall and may reflect the lack of severe temperature fluctuations in Ireland. Flukicides active against both immature and mature F. hepatica were approximately half as likely to record a positive F. hepatica herd BTM status than a flukicide active against only the mature stage of the parasite (OR ≅ 0.45; P < 0.01). This study highlights the importance of examining both annual and seasonal F. hepatica data, which can vary significantly. Additionally, it highlights the progress that can be achieved in fluke control by application of a continuous BTM monitoring program.
  • Effect of feed allowance at pasture on the lying behaviour of dairy cows

    O’Driscoll, Keelin; Lewis, Eva; Kennedy, Emer (Elsevier, 2019-02-10)
    In temperate climates where cows are primarily managed at pasture shortages of grass could result in nutritional deficits for the cow and may have a variety of behavioural consequences. Lying behaviour is one of the most researched aspects of dairy cow behaviour, and can provide insights into cow welfare and physiological state. This study investigated the effect of daily herbage allowance (DHA) on the lying behaviour of dairy cow during early lactation. Ninety-six cows were randomly assigned to one of eight treatments in a 2 × 4 factorial design; experimental duration (2 week (2 W) or 6 week (6 W)), and nutritional levels (DHA) (60%, 80%, 100% or 120% of intake capacity). Cows were assigned to treatment at 28 ± 8.4 days in milk, and lying behaviour of cows in the 6 W treatments recorded using modified voltage data loggers on 4 occasions; the week prior to the start of the experiment, during week 3 (MID), and week 6 (LATE), and 7 weeks after the study concluded (POST), when the cows were all returned to a feed allowance of 100% intake capacity. Although there was an effect of treatment on daily lying time (P < 0.01), with the 60% cows spending less time lying than the 120% (P < 0.01), cows in all treatments spent at least 9 h lying per day throughout the experiment. Daily lying time increased as the grazing season progressed (P < 0.001). Feed allowance affected both lying bout duration (P < 0.01) and number (P < 0.05), with cows on the highest feed allowance having the highest values for both. There was an effect of feed allowance on the time that cows first lay down after both morning and afternoon milking (P < 0.001), with a similar pattern for both times; the lower the feed allowance, the longer it took. During the POST period, this pattern was no longer evident in the afternoon, but still present in the morning. None of the treatments imposed resulted in daily lying times lower than those reported in other studies at pasture. However, the significant differences in patterns of lying during the day could be reflective of satiety level; the patterns of lying in cows with a low feed allowance compared to those with an allowance aligned with intake capacity are in agreement with previous research. Herd level recording of lying behaviour, relative to time since milking and/or fresh feed allocation, has potential for use as an animal welfare indicator for cows at pasture.
  • Associations between exposure to bovine herpesvirus 1 (BoHV-1) and milk production, reproductive performance, and mortality in Irish dairy herds

    Sayers, Riona; Irish Dairy Levy (Elsevier, 2016-12-09)
    As cost-benefit analyses are required to prioritize and promote disease control and eradication programs within a jurisdiction, national data relating to disease-related production losses are particularly useful. The objectives of the current study were to use Irish bovine herpesvirus 1 (BoHV-1) prevalence data in dairy herds, obtained by bulk milk sampling on 4 occasions over the 2009 lactation, to document associations between milk production, fertility performance, mortality, and BoHV-1 herd status. Bulk milk (n = 305) antibody ELISA was used to classify farms as positive or negative in terms of endemic BoHV-1. Cow-level (milk parameters only) and herd-level performance data were sourced from the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation. Ordinary linear and negative binomial regressions were used to investigate associations between milk, fertility, and mortality performance and herd-level BoHV-1 results (both categorical and continuous variables). Only slight effects on the rates of carryover cows, nonpregnant cows, and total deaths were highlighted with increasing ELISA sample/positive (%) values (incidence rate ratio = 1.001). Multiparous cows in herds BoHV-1 bulk milk antibody positive recorded a reduction in milk yield per cow per year of 250.9 L in the multivariable linear model. Milk fat and protein yields were also affected by herd BoHV-1 status, again highlighting sub-optimal milk production in BoHV-1 bulk milk-positive herds. The current study has highlighted an economical method of investigating losses due to endemic infection using repeated bulk milk sampling over a single lactation. These data can contribute to analyzing the cost-benefit of applying BoHV-1 control strategies both on farm and at a national level.
  • Preface to the special issue of Food and Chemical Toxicology on the outcomes of the MARLON project on veterinary epidemiology of potential health impacts of genetically modified feeds in livestock

    Lawlor, Peadar G; Epstein, Michelle M.; Kleter, Gijs A. (Elsevier, 2018-04-26)
    Preface to the special issue of Food and Chemical Toxicology on the outcomes of the MARLON project.
  • Low numbers of ovarian follicles ≥3 mm in diameter are associated with low fertility in dairy cows

    Mossa, F.; Walsh, Siobhán; Butler, Stephen T.; Berry, Donagh P.; Carter, Fiona; Lonergan, Patrick; Smith, George W.; Ireland, James J.; Evans, Alex C.O. (Elsevier for American Dairy Science Association, 2012-04-24)
    The total number of ovarian follicles ≥3 mm in diameter (antral follicle count, AFC) during follicular waves varies among cattle of similar age, but AFC is highly repeatable within individuals. We hypothesized that lower AFC could be associated with reduced fertility in cattle. The AFC was assessed by ultrasonography for 2 d consecutively during the first wave of follicular growth of the estrous cycle, 4.6 ± 1.43 d (mean ± SD) after estrus, in 306 Holstein-Friesian dairy cows approximately 70 d postpartum. Cows were classified into 3 groups based on AFC: low (AFC ≤15), intermediate (AFC = 16 to 24), and high (AFC ≥25). During the cycle in which AFC was assessed and in subsequent cycles, cows were artificially inseminated (AI) following detection of estrus, and pregnancy status was assessed using ultrasonography. Cows with high AFC had 3.34 times greater odds of being pregnant at the end of the breeding season compared with cows with low AFC; the odds of a successful pregnancy at first service were 1.75 times greater in the intermediate compared with the low group. The predicted probability of a successful pregnancy by the end of the breeding period (length of breeding season was 86 ± 16.3 d) was 94, 88, and 84% for the high, intermediate, and low AFC groups, respectively. No difference was evident among groups in 21-d submission rate (proportion of all cows detected in estrus and submitted for AI in the first 21 d of the breeding season), but the interval from calving to conception was shorter in the high (109.5 ± 5.1 d) versus low (117.1 ± 4 d) group, and animals with intermediate AFC received fewer services during the breeding season (2.3 ± 0.1) compared with animals with low AFC (2.7 ± 0.1). Lactating cows with ≤15 ovarian follicles have lower reproductive performance compared with cows with higher numbers of follicles, but the existence of a positive association between high numbers of ovarian follicles and fertility is yet to be established.
  • The effect of breed and diet type on the global transcriptome of hepatic tissue in beef cattle divergent for feed efficiency

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

    Mallikarjunappa, Sanjay; Adnane, Mounir; Cormican, Paul; Karrow, Niel A; Meade, Kieran G; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Biomed Central, 2019-06-13)
    Background Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP), the etiologic agent of Johne’s disease is spread between cattle via the fecal-oral route, yet the functional changes in the salivary gland associated with infection remain uncharacterized. In this study, we hypothesized that experimental challenge with MAP would induce stable changes in gene expression patterns in the salivary gland that may shed light on the mucosal immune response as well as the regional variation in immune capacity of this extensive gland. Holstein-Friesian cattle were euthanized 33 months’ post oral challenge with MAP strain CIT003 and both the parotid and mandibular salivary glands were collected from healthy control (n = 5) and MAP exposed cattle (n = 5) for histopathological and transcriptomic analysis. Results A total of 205, 21, 61, and 135 genes were significantly differentially expressed between control and MAP exposed cattle in dorsal mandibular (M1), ventral mandibular (M2), dorsal parotid (P1) and ventral parotid salivary glands (P2), respectively. Expression profiles varied between the structurally divergent parotid and mandibular gland sections which was also reflected in the enriched biological pathways identified. Changes in gene expression associated with MAP exposure were detected with significantly elevated expression of BoLA DR-ALPHA, BOLA-DRB3 and complement factors in MAP exposed cattle. In contrast, reduced expression of genes such as polymeric immunoglobin receptor (PIGR), TNFSF13, and the antimicrobial genes lactoferrin (LF) and lactoperoxidase (LPO) was detected in MAP exposed animals. Conclusions This first analysis of the transcriptomic profile of salivary glands in cattle adds an important layer to our understanding of salivary gland immune function. Transcriptomic changes associated with MAP exposure have been identified including reduced LF and LPO. These critical antimicrobial and immunoregulatory proteins are known to be secreted into saliva and their downregulation may contribute to disease susceptibility. Future work will focus on the validation of their expression levels in saliva from additional cattle of known infection status as a potential strategy to augment disease diagnosis.

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