• Calf health from birth to weaning. I. General aspects of disease prevention

      Lorenz, Ingrid; Mee, John F; Earley, Bernadette; More, Simon J (Biomed Central, 2011-09-16)
      Calfhood diseases have a major impact on the economic viability of cattle operations. This is the first in a three part review series on calf health from birth to weaning, focusing on preventive measures. The review considers both pre- and periparturient management factors influencing calf health, colostrum management in beef and dairy calves and further nutrition and weaning in dairy calves.
    • Calf health from birth to weaning. III. Housing and management of calf pneumonia

      Lorenz, Ingrid; Earley, Bernadette; Gilmore, John; Hogan, Ian; Kennedy, Emer; More, Simon J (Biomed Central, 2011-10-21)
      Calfhood diseases have a major impact on the economic viability of cattle operations. A three part review series has been developed focusing on calf health from birth to weaning. In this paper, the last of the three part series, we review disease prevention and management with particular reference to pneumonia, focusing primarily on the pre-weaned calf. Pneumonia in recently weaned suckler calves is also considered, where the key risk factors are related to the time of weaning. Weaning of the suckler calf is often combined with additional stressors including a change in nutrition, environmental change, transport and painful husbandry procedures (castration, dehorning). The reduction of the cumulative effects of these multiple stressors around the time of weaning together with vaccination programmes (preconditioning) can reduce subsequent morbidity and mortality in the feedlot. In most studies, calves housed individually and calves housed outdoors with shelter, are associated with decreased risk of disease. Even though it poses greater management challenges, successful group housing of calves is possible. Special emphasis should be given to equal age groups and to keeping groups stable once they are formed. The management of pneumonia in calves is reliant on a sound understanding of aetiology, relevant risk factors, and of effective approaches to diagnosis and treatment. Early signs of pneumonia include increased respiratory rate and fever, followed by depression. The single most important factor determining the success of therapy in calves with pneumonia is early onset of treatment, and subsequent adequate duration of treatment. The efficacy and economical viability of vaccination against respiratory disease in calves remains unclear.
    • Capturing the economic benefit of Lolium perenne cultivar performance

      McEvoy, M.; O'Donovan, Michael; Shalloo, Laurence; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2011)
      Economic values were calculated for grass traits of economic importance in Irish grass-based ruminant production systems. Traits considered were those that had the greatest potential to influence the profitability of a grazing system. These were: grass dry matter (DM) yield in spring, mid-season and autumn, grass quality (dry matter digestibility; DMD), 1st and 2nd cut silage DM yield and sward persistency. The Moorepark Dairy Systems Model was used to simulate a dairy farm. Economic values were calculated by simulating the effect of a unit change in the trait of interest while holding all other traits constant. The base scenario involved a fixed herd size and land area (40 ha), and an annual DM yield of 13 t/ha. The economic values generated under the base scenario were: € 0.152/kg for DM yield in spring, € 0.030/kg for DM yield in mid-season and € 0.103/kg for DM yield in autumn; € 0.001, € 0.008, € 0.010, € 0.009, € 0.008 and € 0.006 per 1 g/kg change in DMD for the months of April to September, respectively; € 0.03/kg for 1st cut silage DM yield, € 0.02/kg for 2nd cut silage DM yield; and − € 4.961 for a 1 percent reduction in persistency. Alternative scenarios were examined to determine the sensitivity of the economic values to changes in annual DM yield, sward utilisation and a scenario where silage production was the focus of the system. The economic values were used to calculate a total merit index for each of 20 perennial ryegrass cultivars based on production data from a 3 year plot study. The rank correlation between the merit index values for the cultivars under the base scenario and the scenario involving a reduction in herbage utilisation was 1.0, while that with the scenario involving reduced annual DM yield was 0.94. It is concluded that the total merit index can be used to identify cultivars that can generate the greatest economic contribution to a grass-based production system, regardless of system or intensity of grass production.
    • A case of bovine raw milk contamination with Listeria monocytogenes

      Hunt, Karen; Drummond, Niall; Murphy, Mary; Butler, Francis; Buckley, Jim; Jordan, Kieran; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; European Union (Biomed Central, 06/07/2012)
      During routine sampling of bulk raw milk on a dairy farm, the pathogenic bacteria Listeria monocytogenes was found to be a contaminant, at numbers < 100 cfu/ml. A strain with an indistinguishable pulsed-field gel electrophoresis pattern was isolated from the bulk milk two months later. Environmental swabs taken at the dairy environment were negative for the presence of L. monocytogenes, indicating a possible case of excretion of the L. monocytogenes directly into the milk. Milk samples were collected from the individual cows and analysed, resulting in the identification of L. monocytogenes excretion (at 280 cfu/ml) from one of the 4 mammary quarters of one dairy cow out of 180. When the infected cow was isolated from the herd, no L. monocytogenes was detected from the remaining herd. The pulsed-field gel electrophoresis pattern of the strain from the individual cow was indistinguishable from that originally isolated from the bulk milk. The infected cow did not show any clinical signs of disease, nor did the appearance of the milk have any physical abnormalities. Antibiotic treatment of the infected mammary quarter was found to be ineffective. This study shows that there can be risks associated with direct contamination of raw milk with L. monocytogenes.
    • A catalogue of validated single nucleotide polymorphisms in bovine orthologs of mammalian imprinted genes and associations with beef production traits

      Magee, D. A.; Berkowicz, Erik W; Sikora, K. M.; Berry, Donagh P.; Park, S. D. E.; Kelly, A. K.; Sweeney, T.; Kenny, David A.; Evans, R. D.; Wickham, B. W.; et al. (Cambridge University Press, 2010-06)
      Genetic (or ‘genomic’) imprinting, a feature of approximately 100 mammalian genes, results in monoallelic expression from one of the two parentally inherited chromosomes. To date, most studies have been directed on imprinted genes in murine or human models; however, there is burgeoning interest in the effects of imprinted genes in domestic livestock species. In particular, attention has focused on imprinted genes that influence foetal growth and development and that are associated with several economically important production traits in cattle, sheep and pigs. We have re-sequenced regions in 20 candidate bovine imprinted genes in order to validate single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that may influence important production traits in cattle. Putative SNPs detected via re-sequencing were subsequently re-formatted for high-throughput SNP genotyping in 185 cattle samples comprising 138 performance-tested European Bos taurus (all Limousin bulls), 29 African B. taurus and 18 Indian B. indicus samples. Analysis of the resulting genotypic data identified 117 validated SNPs. Preliminary genotype–phenotype association analyses using 83 SNPs that were polymorphic in the Limousin samples with minor allele frequencies >0.05 revealed significant associations between two candidate bovine imprinted genes and a range of important beef production traits: average daily gain, average feed intake, live weight, feed conversion ratio, residual feed intake and residual gain. These genes were the Ras proteinspecific guanine nucleotide releasing factor gene ( RASGRF1) and the zinc finger, imprinted 2 gene ( ZIM2). Despite the relatively small sample size used in these analyses, the observed associations with production traits are supported by the purported biological function of the RASGRF1 and ZIM2 gene products. These results support the hypothesis that imprinted genes contribute significantly to important complex production traits in cattle. Furthermore, these SNPs may be usefully incorporated into future marker-assisted and genomic selection breeding schemes.
    • Changes in yield and composition of barley, wheat and triticale grains harvested during advancing stages of ripening

      Stacey, P.; O'Kiely, Padraig; Hackett, Richard; Rice, B.; O'Mara, Frank P.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2006)
      This study involved an evaluation of the changes in grain yield, nutritive value, ensilability and harvesting losses of intensively managed winter cereals harvested during the advancing stages of ripening. Five cereal crops (barley cv. Regina and wheat cv. Madrigal in 2001; barley cv. Regina, wheat cv. Falstaff and triticale cv. Fidelio in 2002) were assessed. Twenty plots per crop were arranged in a randomised complete block design, with five times of harvest (four for barley in 2002) and four replicate blocks per harvest. Dry matter (DM) yields changed relatively little between harvest dates, but fresh yields declined (P < 0.001) over time due to the moisture loss associated with ripening. Time-course changes in indices of nutritive value, such as concentrations of crude protein, starch and ash, and organic matter digestibility, were relatively small and did not follow a consistent pattern. Ensilability indices, such as DM and watersoluble carbohydrate concentrations and buffering capacity, indicated that satisfactory fermentations were likely if such crops were ensiled; buffering capacity, generally declining with advancing maturity. Harvesting losses were not clearly related to growth stage at harvest. It is concluded that winter cereal grain (barley, wheat and triticale) DM yields and quality were relatively constant as ripening progressed from DM concentrations of around 550 to >800 g/kg.
    • Characterisation and expression profile of the bovine cathelicidin gene repertoire in mammary tissue

      Whelehan, Cormac J; Barry-Reidy, Anne; Meade, Kieran G; Eckersall, P David; Chapwanya, Aspinas; Narciandi, Fernando; Lloyd, Andrew T; O'Farrelly, Cliona; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Biomed Central, 2014-02-13)
      Abstract Background Cathelicidins comprise a major group of host-defence peptides. Conserved across a wide range of species, they have several functions related to host defence. Only one cathelicidin has been found in humans but several cathelicidin genes occur in the bovine genome. We propose that these molecules may have a protective role against mastitis. The aim of this study was to characterise the cathelicidin gene-cluster in the bovine genome and to identify sites of expression in the bovine mammary gland. Results Bioinformatic analysis of the bovine genome (BosTau7) revealed seven protein-coding cathelicidin genes, CATHL1-7, including two identical copies of CATHL4, as well as three additional putative cathelicidin genes, all clustered on the long arm of chromosome 22. Six of the seven protein-coding genes were expressed in leukocytes extracted from milk of high somatic cell count (SCC) cows. CATHL5 was expressed across several sites in the mammary gland, but did not increase in response to Staphylococcus aureus infection. Conclusions Here, we characterise the bovine cathelicidin gene cluster and reconcile inconsistencies in the datasets of previous studies. Constitutive cathelicidin expression in the mammary gland suggests a possible role for these host defence peptides its protection. Background Cathelicidins comprise a major group of host-defence peptides. Conserved across a wide range of species, they have several functions related to host defence. Only one cathelicidin has been found in humans but several cathelicidin genes occur in the bovine genome. We propose that these molecules may have a protective role against mastitis. The aim of this study was to characterise the cathelicidin gene-cluster in the bovine genome and to identify sites of expression in the bovine mammary gland. Results Bioinformatic analysis of the bovine genome (BosTau7) revealed seven protein-coding cathelicidin genes, CATHL1-7, including two identical copies of CATHL4, as well as three additional putative cathelicidin genes, all clustered on the long arm of chromosome 22. Six of the seven protein-coding genes were expressed in leukocytes extracted from milk of high somatic cell count (SCC) cows. CATHL5 was expressed across several sites in the mammary gland, but did not increase in response to Staphylococcus aureus infection. Conclusions Here, we characterise the bovine cathelicidin gene cluster and reconcile inconsistencies in the datasets of previous studies. Constitutive cathelicidin expression in the mammary gland suggests a possible role for these host defence peptides its protection.
    • Characterisation of dairy soiled water in a survey of 60 Irish dairy farms

      Minogue, Denis; French, Padraig; Bolger, T.; Murphy, P. N. C. (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2016-01-13)
      Dairy farming in Ireland generates an effluent known as dairy soiled water (DSW), which consists of a relatively dilute mixture of cow faeces, urine, spilt milk and detergents that is typically applied to grassland. However, relatively little is known about the volumes generated, nutrient content and management factors that influence volume and concentration. Sixty dairy farms that had a separate storage tank for storing DSW were selected for this study. The spatial distribution of the farms reflected the spatial distribution of dairy cows across the 26 counties of the Republic of Ireland, with each farm representing between 10,000 and 20,000 dairy cows. Samples were analysed for biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), ammonium N (NH4-N), total nitrogen (TN), potassium (K), phosphorus (molybdate-reactive and total) (MRP and TP) and dry matter (DM) content. Management characteristics and parlour properties were quantified. Factors influencing volume and concentration of DSW were determined using mixed model multiple regression analysis. On average, 9784 l (standard error 209 l) of DSW, including rainfall, was produced cow−1 year−1 and this contained significant quantities of total N, P and K (587, 80 and 568 mg l−1, respectively). A typical Irish dairy farm stocked at 1.9 cows ha−1 could therefore supply approximately 13, 2 and 12 kg ha−1 of total N, P and K, respectively, across the farm, annually to meet some of the nutrient requirements for herbage production and potentially replace some of the synthetic fertilizer use. Seventy one percent of samples were within the regulated concentration limits of soiled water for BOD (<2500 mg l−1), rising to 87% during the closed period for slurry spreading (mid October to mid-late January), while 81% were within the concentration limits for DM (<1% DM), rising to 94% during the closed period. The efficiency of a milking parlour (cows per unit, time taken) plays a key role in determining the volume of DSW generated. This, in turn, also influences the concentration of nutrients and other chemicals. Large variability was found in nutrient concentrations and this presents a challenge for effective nutrient management to maximise the fertilizer replacement value of DSW.
    • Characterisation of physiological and immunological responses in beef cows to abrupt weaning and subsequent housing

      Lynch, Eilish M; Earley, Bernadette; McGee, Mark; Doyle, Sean; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; John Hume Scholarship (Biomed Central, 2010-07-20)
      Background: Weaning involves the permanent separation of the calf from the dam and has been shown to be stressful for both. The objectives of this study were to characterise the effect of i) abrupt weaning and ii) subsequent housing on the extended physiological and immunological responses of beef cows. At weaning (day (d) 0, mean age of calf (s.d.) 212 (24.5) d), cows were abruptly separated from their calves and returned to the grazing area. After 35 d at pasture, cows were housed in a slatted floor shed and offered grass silage ad libitum plus a mineral-vitamin supplement daily. Rectal body temperature was recorded and blood samples were obtained on i) d 0 (weaning), 2, 7, 14, 21, 28, 35 and subsequently on ii) d 0 (housing), 2, 7, 14 and 21 for physiological, haematological and immunological measurements. Results: Post-weaning, concentration of cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone were unchanged (P > 0.05). Rectal body temperature, neutrophil number and neutrophil: lymphocyte ratio increased (P < 0.01) on d 2 compared with pre-weaning baseline. Lymphocyte and neutrophil number decreased (P < 0.05) on d 2 to 7 and d 7 to 21, respectively, compared with pre-weaning baseline. Interferon-γ production decreased (P < 0.05) on d 2 compared with pre-weaning baseline. An increase (P < 0.05) in acute phase proteins, fibrinogen and haptoglobin was evident on d 2 to 35 compared with pre-weaning baseline. Concentration of glucose increased on d 2 to 28, whereas non-esterified fatty acid decreased on d 2 to 35 compared with pre-weaning baseline. Post-housing, concentrations of cortisol, rectal body temperature, total leukocyte number, and glucose were unchanged (P > 0.05). On d 2 post-housing, neutrophil number and neutrophil: lymphocyte ratio increased (P < 0.05), whereas lymphocyte number and concentrations of dehydroepiandrosterone, fibrinogen and non-esterified fatty acid decreased (P < 0.05) compared with pre-housing baseline. Concentration of haptoglobin increased (P < 0.05) on d 14 to 21 post-housing. Conclusions: A transitory increase in neutrophil number and decrease in lymphocyte number, increased neutrophil:lymphocyte ratio coupled with decreased interferon-γ production, and increased concentration of acute phase proteins indicate a stress response in cows post-weaning, whereas post-housing, changes were less marked.
    • Characterisation of the Whole Blood mRNA Transcriptome in Holstein-Friesian and Jersey Calves in Response to Gradual Weaning

      Johnston, D.; Earley, Bernadette; Cormican, Paul; Kenny, David A.; McCabe, Matthew; Kelly, A. K.; McGee, Mark; Waters, Sinead M.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; European Union; et al. (PLOS, 2016-08-01)
      Weaning of dairy calves is an early life husbandry management practice which involves the changeover from a liquid to a solid feed based diet. The objectives of the study were to use RNA-seq technology to examine the effect of (i) breed and (ii) gradual weaning, on the whole blood mRNA transcriptome of artificially reared Holstein-Friesian and Jersey calves. The calves were gradually weaned over 14 days (day (d) -13 to d 0) and mRNA transcription was examined one day before gradual weaning was initiated (d -14), one day after weaning (d 1), and 8 days after weaning (d 8). On d -14, 550 genes were differentially expressed between Holstein-Friesian and Jersey calves, while there were 490 differentially expressed genes (DEG) identified on d 1, and 411 DEG detected eight days after weaning (P < 0.05; FDR < 0.1). No genes were differentially expressed within breed, in response to gradual weaning (P > 0.05). The pathways, gene ontology terms, and biological functions consistently over-represented among the DEG between Holstein-Friesian and Jersey were associated with the immune response and immune cell signalling, specifically chemotaxis. Decreased transcription of several cytokines, chemokines, immunoglobulin-like genes, phagocytosis-promoting receptors and g-protein coupled receptors suggests decreased monocyte, natural killer cell, and T lymphocyte, chemotaxis and activation in Jersey compared to Holstein-Friesian calves. Knowledge of breed-specific immune responses could facilitate health management practices better tailored towards specific disease sensitivities of Holstein-Friesian and Jersey calves. Gradual weaning did not compromise the welfare of artificially-reared dairy calves, evidenced by the lack of alterations in the expression of any genes in response to gradual weaning.
    • Characteristics of feed efficiency within and across lactation in dairy cows and the effect of genetic selection

      Hurley, A. M.; Lopez-Villalobos, N.; McParland, Sinead; Lewis, Eva; Kennedy, Emer; O'Donovan, Michael; Burke, J.L.; Berry, Donagh P.; Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; European Union (Elsevier, 2017-11-23)
      The objective of the present study was to investigate the phenotypic inter- and intra-relationships within and among alternative feed efficiency metrics across different stages of lactation and parities; the expected effect of genetic selection for feed efficiency on the resulting phenotypic lactation profiles was also quantified. A total of 8,199 net energy intake (NEI) test-day records from 2,505 lactations on 1,290 cows were used. Derived efficiency traits were either ratio based or residual based; the latter were derived from least squares regression models. Residual energy intake (REI) was defined as NEI minus predicted energy requirements based on lactation performance; residual energy production (REP) was defined as net energy for lactation minus predicted energy requirements based on lactation performance. Energy conversion efficiency was defined as net energy for lactation divided by NEI. Pearson phenotypic correlations among traits were computed across lactation stages and parities, and the significance of the differences was determined using the Fisher r-to-z transformation. Sources of variation in the feed efficiency metrics were investigated using linear mixed models, which included the fixed effects of contemporary group, breed, parity, stage of lactation, and the 2-way interaction of parity by stage of lactation. With the exception of REI, parity was associated with all efficiency and production traits. Stage of lactation, as well as the 2-way interaction of parity by stage of lactation, were associated with all efficiency and production traits. Phenotypic correlations among the efficiency and production traits differed not only by stage of lactation but also by parity. For example, the strong phenotypic correlation between REI and energy balance (EB; 0.89) for cows in parity 3 or greater and early lactation was weaker for parity 1 cows at the same lactation stage (0.81), suggesting primiparous cows use the ingested energy for both milk production and growth. Nonetheless, these strong phenotypic correlations between REI and EB suggested negative REI animals (i.e., more efficient) are also in more negative EB. These correlations were further supported when assessing the effect on phenotypic performance of animals genetically divergent for feed intake and efficiency based on parental average. Animals genetically selected to have lower REI resulted in cows who consumed less NEI but were also in negative EB throughout the entire lactation. Nonetheless, such repercussions of negative EB do not imply that selection for negative REI (as defined here) should not be practiced, but instead should be undertaken within the framework of a balanced breeding objective, which includes traits such as reproduction and health.
    • Characterization of anogenital distance and its relationship to fertility in lactating Holstein cows

      Gobikrushanth, M.; Bruinjé, T. C.; Colazo, M. G.; Butler, Stephen T.; Ambrose, D. J.; Growing Forward 2; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; # DA7642064 (Elsevier, 2017-09-21)
      Anogenital distance (AGD) serves as a marker for prenatal androgenization, reproductive development, and fertility in humans and rodents. The primary objectives of this observational study in lactating dairy cows were to (1) characterize the distribution and variability of AGD, (2) determine the relationship among AGD and potential postnatal AGD determinants of age and height, and (3) evaluate the associations between AGD and pregnancy to first artificial insemination (P/AI) and cumulative pregnancy by 250 d in milk (DIM) within parity groups (first, second, and third+ parities). The secondary objective was to evaluate the association between AGD and testosterone concentrations. The AGD (mm), age (yr), and height at hip (cm) at the time of AGD determination, and aforesaid reproductive outcomes were determined in 921 Holstein cows (first, second, and third+ parity; n = 360, 256, and 305, respectively). Plasma concentrations of testosterone were determined in a subset of 93 cows. Overall, AGD had a normal distribution and high variability [mean (±standard deviation); 131.0 ± 12.2 mm], was weakly associated with cow age and height (coefficient of determination = 0.09 and 0.04, respectively), and had an inverse relationship with P/AI in first- and second-parity cows, but not in third+ parity cows. For every 1 mm increase in AGD, the odds of P/AI decreased by 3.4 and 2.4% for first- and second-parity cows, respectively. The optimal AGD threshold to predict probability of P/AI was 127.1 mm for both first- (sensitivity: 66.4; specificity: 56.6%) and second-parity cows (sensitivity: 46.0; specificity: 70.4%). Accordingly, first- and second-parity cows were categorized into either short or long AGD (≤ or >127.1 mm), and associations with reproductive outcomes were evaluated. First-parity cows with long AGD had lower P/AI (30.9 vs. 53.6%) and decreased likelihood (hazard ratio: 0.68) of pregnancy by 250 DIM than those with short AGD. Similarly, second-parity cows with long AGD had reduced P/AI (28.3 vs. 44.4%) and a tendency for decreased likelihood (hazard ratio: 0.76) of pregnancy by 250 DIM than in cows with short AGD. The association between AGD and testosterone was weak and nonsignificant. In summary, AGD in Holstein cows was normally distributed, highly variable, and weakly associated with age and height. Besides, AGD had an inverse relationship with P/AI and cumulative pregnancy by 250 DIM in first- and second-parity cows; however, such a relationship was not evident in older (third+ parity) cows.
    • Characterization of best linear unbiased estimates generated from national genetic evaluations of reproductive performance, survival, and milk yield in dairy cows

      Dunne, F. L.; Kelleher, M. M.; Walsh, S.W.; Berry, Donagh P.; MultiRepro project; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Elsevier, 2018-05-16)
      Genetic evaluations decompose an observed phenotype into its genetic and nongenetic components; the former are termed BLUP with the solutions for the systematic environmental effects in the statistical model termed best linear unbiased estimates (BLUE). Geneticists predominantly focus on the BLUP and rarely consider the BLUE. The objective of this study, however, was to define and quantify the association between 8 herd-level characteristics and BLUE for 6 traits in dairy herds, namely (1) age at first calving, (2) calving to first service interval (CFS), (3) number of services, (4) calving interval (CIV), (5) survival, and (6) milk yield. Phenotypic data along with the fixed and random effects solutions were generated from the Irish national multi-breed dairy cow fertility genetic evaluations on 3,445,557 cows; BLUE for individual contemporary groups were collapsed into mean herd-year estimates. Data from 5,707 spring-calving herds between the years 2007 and 2016 inclusive were retained; association analyses were undertaken using linear mixed multiple regression models. Pearson coefficient correlations were used to quantify the relationships among individual trait herd-year BLUE, and transition matrices were used to understand the dynamics of mean herd BLUE estimates over years. Based on the mean annual trends in raw, BLUP, and BLUE, it was estimated that BLUE were associated with at least two-thirds of the improvement in CIV and milk production over the past 10 yr. Milk recording herds calved heifers for the first time on average 15 d younger, had an almost 2 d longer CFS but 2.3 d shorter CIV than non-milk-recording herds. Larger herd sizes were associated with worse BLUE for both CFS and CIV. Expanding herds and herds that had the highest proportion of cows born on the farm itself, on average, calved heifers younger and had shorter CIV. By separating the raw performance of a selection of herds into their respective BLUE and BLUP, it was possible to identify herds with inferior management practices that were being compensated by superior genetics; similarly, herds were identified with superior BLUE, but because of their inferior genetic merit, were not reaching their full potential. This suggests that BLUE could have a pivotal role in a tailored decision support tool that would enable producers to focus on the most limiting factor hindering them from achieving their maximum performance.
    • Colour of subcutaneous adipose tissue and muscle of Irish beef carcasses destined for the Italian market.

      Dunne, Peter G.; O'Mara, Frank P.; Monahan, Frank J; Moloney, Aidan P; National Development Plan, 2000–2006; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2004)
      The purposes of this study were (i) to objectively measure the colour of carcass fat and muscle of heifers that had been previously selected, subjectively, for the Italian market and (ii) to define instrumental colour values which would describe the required fat colour for that market. On one day during each of 5 months (11 April, 13 June, 10 October, 10 November and 19 December) the ‘b’ (yellowness) value of carcass fat was measured at two positions (proximal pelvic limb area and the area between 9th rib and 4th lumbar vertebra) and the ‘L’ (lightness) and ‘a’ (redness) values of two muscles (M. longissimus dorsi (LD) and M. rhomboideus thoracis (RT)) were measured using a Minolta chromameter. Measurement date had a significant effect (P < 0.05) on ‘b’ values of fat at both positions, with carcasses displaying the most yellow fat on 13 June (P < 0.05). The LD was palest and most red on 11 April (P < 0.05) and the RT tended to be palest on 13 June but most red (P < 0.05) on 11 April. The ‘L’ value differed between muscles on 11 April (P < 0.01) and 19 December (P < 0.05) and the ‘a’ value differed between muscles on all dates except 13 June. The majority of carcasses on each date fell between muscle ‘L’ values of 31 and 35, regardless of muscle, and between muscle ‘a’ values of 18 and 22. It is concluded that application of a “cut-off” value to muscle colour would be futile but as 81% of accepted carcasses had fat ‘b’ values below 14.2, regardless of position, that this could be used as a threshold of acceptable yellowness.
    • Comparative genomic identification and validation of β-defensin genes in the Ovis aries genome

      Hall, T. J; McQuillan, C.; Finlay, E. K; O’Farrelly, C.; Fair, S.; Meade, Kieran G.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 11/S/104 (Biomed Central, 2017-04-04)
      Background β-defensins are small, cationic, antimicrobial peptides found in species across the plant and animal kingdoms. In addition to microbiocidal activity, roles in immunity as well as reproduction have more recently been documented. β-defensin genes in Ovis aries (domestic sheep) have been poorly annotated, having been identified only by automatic gene prediction algorithms. The objective of this study was to use a comparative genomics approach to identify and characterise the β-defensin gene repertoire in sheep using the bovine genome as the primary reference. Results All 57 currently predicted bovine β-defensin genes were used to find orthologous sequences in the most recent version of the sheep genome (OAR v4.0). Forty three genes were found to have close genomic matches (>70% similarity) between sheep and cattle. The orthologous genes were located in four clusters across the genome, with 4 genes on chromosome 2, 19 genes on chromosome 13, 5 genes on chromosome 20 and 15 genes on chromosome 26. Conserved gene order for the β-defensin genes was apparent in the two smaller clusters, although gene order was reversed on chromosome 2, suggesting an inversion between sheep and cattle. Complete conservation of gene order was also observed for chromosome 13 β-defensin orthologs. More structural differences were apparent between chromosome 26 genes and the orthologous region in the bovine reference genome, which is known to be copy-number variable. In this cluster, the Defensin-beta 1 (DEFB1) gene matched to eleven Bovine Neutrophil beta-Defensin (BNBD) genes on chromosome 27 with almost uniform similarity, as well as to tracheal, enteric and lingual anti-microbial peptides (TAP, EAP and LAP), suggesting that annotation of the bovine reference sequence is still incomplete. qPCR was used to profile the expression of 34 β-defensin genes, representing each of the four clusters, in the ram reproductive tract. Distinct site-specific and differential expression profiles were detected across the reproductive tract of mature rams with preferential β-defensin gene expression in the epididymis, recapitulating observations for orthologous genes in other species. Conclusions This is the first comprehensive analysis of β-defensin genes encoded by the ovine reference sequence, and the first report of an expanded repertoire of β-defensin genes in this species. The preferential expression of these genes in the epididymis suggests a role in fertility, possibly providing immunoprotection for sperm within the female reproductive tract.
    • Comparative growth and management of white and red clovers

      Black, Alistair D; Laidlaw, A.S.; Moot, D.J.; O'Kiely, Padraig (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2009)
      The aim of this paper is to provide the underpinning scientific basis for the optimum management of white and red clovers. Critical morphological and canopy characteristics which influence the yield and persistence of white and red clover in swards, and how management factors (choice of cultivar, defoliation and nitrogen (N) fertilizer) modify these are considered. Canopy development is vitally important as it determines the extent to which a) light is intercepted for photosynthesis needed for growth and b) the base of the sward is deprived of the red component in daylight, inhibiting branching of stolons and crowns in white and red clover, respectively. The role of cultivar, defoliation and N fertilizer in determining yield and persistence of the two legumes, mainly in mixtures with grass, are discussed principally in terms of morphological development and exploitation of light. It is concluded that optimum management for grass/white clover places emphasis on building up stolons and maximising contribution of clover leaf area to the upper layers of the mixed canopy and, while red clover is more competitive to grass than white clover, that benefit is lost when a grass/red clover sward is grazed.
    • Comparative performance and economic appraisal of Holstein-Friesian, Jersey and Jersey×Holstein-Friesian cows under seasonal pasture-based management

      Prendiville, R.; Shalloo, Laurence; Pierce, K.M.; Buckley, Frank; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; RSF-06-353 (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2011)
      The objective of this study was to provide comparative performance data for Holstein- Friesian (HF), Jersey (J) and Jersey×Holstein-Friesian (F1) cows under a seasonal pasture-based management system and to simulate the effect of cow breed on farm profitability. Data for a total of 329 lactations, from 162 (65 HF, 48 J and 49 F1) cows, were available. Milk yield was highest for HF, intermediate for F1 and lowest for J, while milk fat and protein concentrations were highest for J, intermediate for F1 and lowest for HF. Yield of fat plus protein was highest for F1, intermediate for HF and lowest for J. Mean bodyweight was 523, 387 and 466 kg for HF, J and F1, respectively. Body condition score was greater for the J and F1 compared to HF. Reproductive efficiency was similar for the HF and J but superior for the F1. The Moorepark Dairy Systems Model was used to simulate a 40 ha farm integrating biological data for each breed group. Milk output was highest for systems based on HF cows. Total sales of milk solids and, consequently, milk receipts were higher with J and F1 compared to HF. Total costs were lowest with F1 cows, intermediate with HF and highest with J. Overall farm profitability was highest with F1 cows, intermediate with HF and lowest with J. Sensitivity analysis of milk price, fat to protein price ratio and differences in cost of replacement heifers showed no re-ranking of the breed groups for farm profit.
    • Comparing the immune response to a novel intranasal nanoparticle PLGA vaccine and a commercial BPI3V vaccine in dairy calves

      Mansoor, Fawad; Earley, Bernadette; Cassidy, Joseph P; Markey, Bryan; Doherty, Simon; Welsh, Michael D; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Biomed Central, 2015-08-21)
      Background There is a need to improve vaccination against respiratory pathogens in calves by stimulation of local immunity at the site of pathogen entry at an early stage in life. Ideally such a vaccine preparation would not be inhibited by the maternally derived antibodies. Additionally, localized immune response at the site of infection is also crucial to control infection at the site of entry of virus. The present study investigated the response to an intranasal bovine parainfluenza 3 virus (BPI3V) antigen preparation encapsulated in PLGA (poly dl-lactic-co-glycolide) nanoparticles in the presence of pre-existing anti-BPI3V antibodies in young calves and comparing it to a commercially available BPI3V respiratory vaccine. Results There was a significant (P < 0.05) increase in BPI3V-specific IgA in the nasal mucus of the BPI3V nanoparticle vaccine group alone. Following administration of the nanoparticle vaccine an early immune response was induced that continued to grow until the end of study and was not observed in the other treatment groups. Virus specific serum IgG response to both the nanoparticle vaccine and commercial live attenuated vaccine showed a significant (P < 0.05) rise over the period of study. However, the cell mediated immune response observed didn’t show any significant rise in any of the treatment groups. Conclusion Calves administered the intranasal nanoparticle vaccine induced significantly greater mucosal IgA responses, compared to the other treatment groups. This suggests an enhanced, sustained mucosal-based immunological response to the BPI3V nanoparticle vaccine in the face of pre-existing antibodies to BPI3V, which are encouraging and potentially useful characteristics of a candidate vaccine. However, ability of nanoparticle vaccine in eliciting cell mediated immune response needs further investigation. More sustained local mucosal immunity induced by nanoparticle vaccine has obvious potential if it translates into enhanced protective immunity in the face of virus outbreak.
    • A comparison of 4 predictive models of calving assistance and difficulty in dairy heifers and cows

      Fenlon, Caroline; O'Grady, Luke; Mee, John F; Butler, Stephen T.; Doherty, Michael L; Dunnion, John; Dairy Research Ireland (Elsevier, 2017-09-21)
      The aim of this study was to build and compare predictive models of calving difficulty in dairy heifers and cows for the purpose of decision support and simulation modeling. Models to predict 3 levels of calving difficulty (unassisted, slight assistance, and considerable or veterinary assistance) were created using 4 machine learning techniques: multinomial regression, decision trees, random forests, and neural networks. The data used were sourced from 2,076 calving records in 10 Irish dairy herds. In total, 19.9 and 5.9% of calving events required slight assistance and considerable or veterinary assistance, respectively. Variables related to parity, genetics, BCS, breed, previous calving, and reproductive events and the calf were included in the analysis. Based on a stepwise regression modeling process, the variables included in the models were the dam's direct and maternal calving difficulty predicted transmitting abilities (PTA), BCS at calving, parity; calving assistance or difficulty at the previous calving; proportion of Holstein breed; sire breed; sire direct calving difficulty PTA; twinning; and 2-way interactions between calving BCS and previous calving difficulty and the direct calving difficulty PTA of dam and sire. The models were built using bootstrapping procedures on 70% of the data set. The held-back 30% of the data was used to evaluate the predictive performance of the models in terms of discrimination and calibration. The decision tree and random forest models omitted the effect of twinning and included only subsets of sire breeds. Only multinomial regression and neural networks explicitly included the modeled interactions. Calving BCS, calving difficulty PTA, and previous calving assistance ranked as highly important variables for all 4 models. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (ranging from 0.64 to 0.79) indicates that all of the models had good overall discriminatory power. The neural network and multinomial regression models performed best, correctly classifying 75% of calving cases and showing superior calibration, with an average error in predicted probability of 3.7 and 4.5%, respectively. The neural network and multinomial regression models developed are both suitable for use in decision-support and simulation modeling.
    • A comparison of 4 predictive models of calving assistance and difficulty in dairy heifers and cows

      Fenlon, Caroline; O'Grady, Luke; Mee, John F; Butler, Stephen T.; Doherty, Michael L.; Dunnion, John; Dairy Research Ireland (Elsevier, 21/09/2017)
      The aim of this study was to build and compare predictive models of calving difficulty in dairy heifers and cows for the purpose of decision support and simulation modeling. Models to predict 3 levels of calving difficulty (unassisted, slight assistance, and considerable or veterinary assistance) were created using 4 machine learning techniques: multinomial regression, decision trees, random forests, and neural networks. The data used were sourced from 2,076 calving records in 10 Irish dairy herds. In total, 19.9 and 5.9% of calving events required slight assistance and considerable or veterinary assistance, respectively. Variables related to parity, genetics, BCS, breed, previous calving, and reproductive events and the calf were included in the analysis. Based on a stepwise regression modeling process, the variables included in the models were the dam's direct and maternal calving difficulty predicted transmitting abilities (PTA), BCS at calving, parity; calving assistance or difficulty at the previous calving; proportion of Holstein breed; sire breed; sire direct calving difficulty PTA; twinning; and 2-way interactions between calving BCS and previous calving difficulty and the direct calving difficulty PTA of dam and sire. The models were built using bootstrapping procedures on 70% of the data set. The held-back 30% of the data was used to evaluate the predictive performance of the models in terms of discrimination and calibration. The decision tree and random forest models omitted the effect of twinning and included only subsets of sire breeds. Only multinomial regression and neural networks explicitly included the modeled interactions. Calving BCS, calving difficulty PTA, and previous calving assistance ranked as highly important variables for all 4 models. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (ranging from 0.64 to 0.79) indicates that all of the models had good overall discriminatory power. The neural network and multinomial regression models performed best, correctly classifying 75% of calving cases and showing superior calibration, with an average error in predicted probability of 3.7 and 4.5%, respectively. The neural network and multinomial regression models developed are both suitable for use in decision-support and simulation modeling.