• The eating quality of beef from young dairy bulls derived from two breed types at three ages from two different production systems

      Nian, Yingqun; Kerry, J. P.; Prendiville, Robert; Allen, Paul; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 08/07/2017)
      Expansion of the Irish dairy herd has led to more dairy breed male calves being available for beef production. This study investigated the physico-chemical and sensory characteristics of beef from Holstein-Friesian (HF) and Jersey × HF (JEX) young bulls fed pasture grass only or pasture grass plus 2 kg concentrate during their first grazing season and slaughtered at 15, 19 or 22 mo of age. Longissimus thoracis (LT) muscles were collected from 67 carcasses. Postmortem pH, ultimate pH (pHu), meat colour, chemical composition, collagen content and solubility were evaluated. After ageing for 21 d, Warner-Bratzler shear force and cooking loss were determined, and assessments by a trained sensory panel were conducted. Meat from older animals was darker. The pHu, moisture and ash contents decreased, while residual roast beef flavour length increased with age. However, increasing age to slaughter did not negatively influence tenderness. JEX beef had lower cooking loss, was darker and redder, in addition to having higher sensory scores for initial tenderness and fattiness than HF beef. Warner-Bratzler variables were positively correlated with cooking loss and chewiness and were negatively correlated with intramuscular fat (IMF) content, soluble collagen and initial tenderness. In summary, most young dairy bull beef samples were acceptably tender after 21 d of ageing and half of them had acceptable IMF content. Slaughter age affected beef colour, pHu, chemical composition and flavour length. The eating quality of meat from the JEX breed type was considered to be superior to that of the HF breed type. Diet during the first season had no effect on meat quality traits.
    • An economic analysis of the Irish milk quota exchange scheme.

      Hennessy, Thia; Lapple, Doris; Shalloo, Laurence; Wallace, Michael (Institute of Agricultural Management, 2012-03)
      In Ireland, the trade of milk quota is subject to regional restrictions and a large variation in quota prices between regions has caused some controversy. This article investigates this issue by analysing the functioning of the Irish milk quota exchange market. For this purpose, the economic value of milk quota is estimated using an optimisation framework. The estimated values are then compared to milk quota prices paid at the exchange market. The analysis reveals that quota is undervalued in the border, midlands and west and south-west regions, while milk quota is overvalued in the east and south regions. This implies that farmers in certain regions overpay for additional quota, while other farmers secure good value for their quota investments. The paper concludes by discussing that the identified regional differences are only partly explained by economic and production factors.
    • The economics of reseeding on a dairy farm

      Shalloo, Laurence; Creighton, P.; O'Donovan, Michael (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2011)
      Herbage production and utilization on Irish dairy farms is well below its potential. A number of factors influence herbage production and utilization, not least the level of annual reseeding (introduction of a new grass ley) on the farm. The potential farm performance is reduced by old permanent pasture due to the combined effects of reduced out-of-season herbage production and lower overall herbage yield when compared to perennial ryegrass. Based on the sales of grass seed, it is estimated that approximately 2% of the land area on dairy farms in Ireland is reseeded annually. This has created a situation where the overall percentage of perennial ryegrass in sward is low. The objective of the present study was to investigate the economic benefits of reseeding through simulating the consequences of reseeding different proportions of the farm on an annual basis. Four levels of an annual reseeding programme were evaluated: 1%, 5%, 10% and 15% of the farm reseeded annually; evaluated at three milk prices (20 c/L, 27c/L and 33 c/L). Increasing the level of reseeding resulted in an increase in total and seasonal herbage production and, when accompanied by an increased stocking rate, increased herbage utilization. At a milk price of 27 c/L, farm profitability was €20 764, €24 794, €30 073 and €33 515 on a 40 ha farm when 1%, 5%, 10% and 15%, respectively, of the farm was reseeded annually. Irrespective of milk price, increasing the level of reseeding had a positive effect on profitability and the highest gain was achieved at the highest milk price. Sensitivity analysis showed that sward persistency and, to a lesser extent, herbage utilization had significant effects on the benefit from reseeding.
    • Effect of abrupt weaning at housing on leukocyte distribution, functional activity of neutrophils, and acute phase protein response of beef calves

      Lynch, Eilish M; Earley, Bernadette; McGee, Mark; Doyle, Sean; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; John and Pat Hume Scholarship (Biomed Central, 2010-07-22)
      Background: Sixteen, spring-born, single suckled, castrated male calves of Limousin × Holstein-Friesian and Simmental × Holstein-Friesian dams respectively, were used to investigate the effect of weaning on total leukocyte and differential counts, neutrophil functional activity, lymphocyte immunophenotypes, and acute phase protein response. Calves grazed with their dams until the end of the grazing season when they were housed in a slatted floor shed. On the day of housing, calves were assigned to a treatment, (i) abruptly weaned (W: n = 8) or (ii) non-weaned (controls) (C: n = 8). Weaned calves were housed in pens without their dams, whereas non-weaned (control) calves were housed with their dams. Blood was collected on day -7, 0 (housing), 2, 7, and 14 to determine total leukocyte and differential counts and concentration of fibrinogen and haptoglobin. Lymphocyte immunophenotypes were characterised using selected surface antigens (CD4+, CD8+, WC1+ (γδ T cells), MHC Class II+ lymphocytes), and the functional activities of neutrophils (surface expression of L-selectin (CD62L), phagocytic and oxidative burst activity) were investigated using flow cytometry. Results: Treatment × sampling time interactions (P < 0.05) were detected for total leukocyte and neutrophil counts, all lymphocyte subsets, mean fluorescence intensity of CD62L+ neutrophils, and percentage neutrophils performing phagocytosis. On d 2, total leukocyte and neutrophil count increased (P < 0.001), and percentage CD4+ and CD8+ lymphocytes, percentage phagocytic neutrophils, mean fluorescence intensity of CD62L+ neutrophils decreased (P < 0.05) in W compared with baseline (d 0), whereas they were unchanged (P > 0.05) in C. On d 2, percentage WC1+ lymphocytes decreased (P < 0.05), whereas percentage MHC class II+ lymphocytes increased (P < 0.05) in W and C, however the magnitude of change was greater in W than C. There were no treatment × sampling time interactions (P > 0.05) for monocyte, eosinophil, and basophil counts, percentage G1+ neutrophils, or percentage oxidative burst positive neutrophils. Conclusions: Abrupt weaning resulted in increased neutrophil counts and impaired trafficking and phagocytic function. Together with the changes in lymphocyte subsets, the results suggest that there was a greater transitory reduction in immune function at housing in abruptly weaned than non-weaned beef calves.
    • The effect of abrupt weaning of suckler calves on the plasma concentrations of cortisol, catecholamines, leukocyte, acute-phase proteins and in vitro interferon-gamma production

      Hickey, Mary-Clare; Drennan, Michael J; Earley, Bernadette; European Union (Teagasc, 2005-12-01)
      The objective of this study was to examine the effect of abrupt weaning (inclusive of social group disruption and maternal separation) on the physiological mediators of stress and measures of immune function. Thirty-eight male and 38 female continental calves were habituated to handling for two weeks prior to bleeding. Calves were blocked on sex, weight and breed of dam and randomly assigned, within block, to either a control (cows remain with calves) or abruptly weaned group (calves removed from cows). Animals were separated into the respective treatment groups at weaning (0 h). Calves were bled at – 168 h, 6 h (males only), 24 h, 48 h and 168 h post weaning. At each sampling time an observer scored the behavioural reaction of calves to sampling. Blood samples were analysed for cortisol, catecholamine concentrations (not sampled at –168 h) and in vitro interferon-gamma production, neutrophil :lymphocyte ratio and acute phase protein concentrations. All continuous data were analysed using a split-plot ANOVA, except that collected at 6 h, which was analysed using a single factor ANOVA model. The effects of weaning, calf sex and time and respective interactions were described. Disruption of the established social groups at 0 h, increased (p<0.001) the plasma cortisol concentration and neutrophil: lymphocyte ratio and reduced the leukocyte concentration (p<0.001) and the in vitro interferon-gamma response to the mitogen concanavalin-A (p<0.001) and keyhole limpet haemocyanin (p<0.001) for weaned and control animals, when compared with –168h. Plasma adrenaline and noradrenaline concentrations were not affected by group disruption. There was no effect of weaning or sex on calf behavioural reaction to handling during blood sampling. Plasma cortisol and adrenaline concentrations were not affected by weaning or sex. Plasma noradrenaline concentration was influenced by weaning x sex (p<0.05) and time x sex (p<0.05). The response increased for male calves with weaning and increased with each sampling time post weaning. For heifers the response was not affected by weaning and plasma concentrations decreased at 168 h post weaning. There was no effect of weaning or sex on leukocyte concentration. The neutrophils : lymphocyte ration increased post weaning (p<0.01) and was affected by sex (p<0.05). Weaning decreased (p<0.05) the in vitro interferon-gamma response to the antigen KLH. There was a time x weaning x sex (p<0.05) interaction for fibrinogen concentration but no effect of treatment on haptoglobin concentration. Abrupt weaning increased plasma cortisol and nor-adrenaline concentrations, which was accompanied by attenuation of in vitro interferon gamma production to novel mitogen and antigen complexes up to 7 days post weaning.
    • The effect of abrupt weaning of suckler calves on the plasma concentrations of cortisol, catecholamines, leukocyte, acute-phase proteins and in vitro interferon-gamma production.

      Hickey, Mary-Clare; Drennan, Michael J; Earley, Bernadette; European Union (Teagasc, 2005-12-01)
      The objective of this study was to examine the effect of abrupt weaning (inclusive of social group disruption and maternal separation) on the physiological mediators of stress and measures of immune function. Thirty-eight male and 38 female continental calves were habituated to handling for two weeks prior to bleeding. Calves were blocked on sex, weight and breed of dam and randomly assigned, within block, to either a control (cows remain with calves) or abruptly weaned group (calves removed from cows). Animals were separated into the respective treatment groups at weaning (0 h). Calves were bled at – 168 h, 6 h (males only), 24 h, 48 h and 168 h post weaning. At each sampling time an observer scored the behavioural reaction of calves to sampling. Blood samples were analysed for cortisol, catecholamine concentrations (not sampled at –168 h) and in vitro interferon-gamma production, neutrophil :lymphocyte ratio and acute phase protein concentrations. All continuous data were analysed using a split-plot ANOVA, except that collected at 6 h, which was analysed using a single factor ANOVA model. The effects of weaning, calf sex and time and respective interactions were described. Disruption of the established social groups at 0 h, increased (p<0.001) the plasma cortisol concentration and neutrophil: lymphocyte ratio and reduced the leukocyte concentration (p<0.001) and the in vitro interferon-gamma response to the mitogen concanavalin-A (p<0.001) and keyhole limpet haemocyanin (p<0.001) for weaned and control animals, when compared with –168h. Plasma adrenaline and noradrenaline concentrations were not affected by group disruption. There was no effect of weaning or sex on calf behavioural reaction to handling during blood sampling. Plasma cortisol and adrenaline concentrations were not affected by weaning or sex. Plasma noradrenaline concentration was influenced by weaning x sex (p<0.05) and time x sex (p<0.05). The response increased for male calves with weaning and increased with each sampling time post weaning. For heifers the response was not affected by weaning and plasma concentrations decreased at 168 h post weaning. There was no effect of weaning or sex on leukocyte concentration. The neutrophils : lymphocyte ration increased post weaning (p<0.01) and was affected by sex (p<0.05). Weaning decreased (p<0.05) the in vitro interferon-gamma response to the antigen KLH. There was a time x weaning x sex (p<0.05) interaction for fibrinogen concentration but no effect of treatment on haptoglobin concentration. Abrupt weaning increased plasma cortisol and nor-adrenaline concentrations, which was accompanied by attenuation of in vitro interferon gamma production to novel mitogen and antigen complexes up to 7 days post weaning.
    • Effect of age and nutrient restriction pre partum on beef suckler cow serum immunoglobulin concentrations, colostrum yield, composition and immunoglobulin concentration and immune status of their progeny

      McGee, Mark; Drennan, Michael J; Caffrey, Patrick J.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2006)
      The effect of cow age (multiparous (MP) v. primiparous (PP)) and nutritional restriction pre partum (grass silage ad libitum v. straw only ad libitum for the last 15 (s.d. 3.3) days of gestation) on cow serum immunoglobulin (Ig) concentration, on colostrum yield, composition and Ig concentration and on calf serum Ig concentrations (at ~8 and 48 h post partum) using spring-calving Limousin Holstein-Friesian cows and their progeny was studied over 3 years. The method of colostrum administration (stomach tube vs. assisted suckling within 1 h post partum) on calf immune status was also investigated. When feeding colostrum the target was to give each calf 50 mL per kg birthweight via stomach tube. Colostrum yield and Ig concentration were measured following administration of oxytocin and hand-milking of half (Experiments 1 and 2) or the complete udder (Experiment 3). Following an 8-h period after birth during which suckling was prevented a further colostrum sample was obtained. There was no significant difference in first milking colostrum Ig subclass concentrations between the within-quarter fractions or between the front and rear quarters of the udder in either MP or PP cows. Colostrum Ig subclass concentrations at second milking were 0.46 to 0.65 of that at first milking. Compared to MP cows offered silage, colostrum yield and the mass of colostrum IgG1, IgG2, IgM, IgA and total Ig produced was lower (P < 0.001) for PP cows and the mass of IgG1, IgM and total Ig produced was lower (P < 0.05) for MP cows offered straw. Calves from PP cows and MP cows offered straw had significantly lower serum IgG1 and total Ig concentrations at 48 h post partum than calves from MP cows offered silage but there was no difference (P > 0.05) between colostrum feeding methods. In conclusion, calves from PP cows and MP cows offered straw had a lower humoral immune status than those from MP cows offered grass silage.
    • Effect of autumn/spring nitrogen application date and level on dry matter production and nitrogen efficiency in perennial ryegrass swards

      O'Donovan, Michael; Delaby, L; Stakelum, G; Dillon, Pat; National Development Plan 2000–2006 (Teagasc, 2004)
      The influence of autumn/spring N-application date and level on grass dry matter (DM) production in spring and on N uptake, recovery and efficiency were examined over 3 years (1998, 1999 and 2000, identified as Year 1, 2 and 3, respectively). Seven N-application dates were investigated in years 2 and 3 while four application dates were investigated in Year 1. The application dates were 21 October (T1), 11 November (T2), 2 December (T3), 23 December (T4), 12 January (T5), 3 February (T6) and 23 February (T7). Three N-application rates (kg N/ha) were used: 30 (N30), 60 (N60) and 90 (N90) plus a zero-N control (N0). Herbage DM yields were determined on: 18 March (H1) and 8 April (H2). Two herbage masses (HM) (40 mm above ground level) at initial Napplication date were investigated: a high HM (HHM) of 500 kg DM/ha and a low HM (LHM) of 100 kg DM/ha. The HM at initial N-application date in Year 1 was HHM, in Year 2 LHM and in Year 3 both HHM and LHM. There was a significant effect of Year (P<0.001), HM (P<0.001), N-application date (P<0.001) and N level (P<0.001) on DM production at both H1 and H2. At H1 there was a significant interaction between N-application date and level for DM production. N-application date had a significant (P<0.001) effect on N recovery at both H1 and H2. The highest N recovery rate at the two harvest dates was at T5, while the lowest was at T1 and T2. At H1 and H2 there was a significant effect (P<0.001) of application date on response to applied N. The responses were 7.5, 8.0, 8.3, 12.0, 15.7, 7.3 and 5.6 (kg DM/kg N) (s.e. 1.88) for T1 to T7,respectively, at H1, while the corresponding values at H2 were 10.3, 8.7, 6.1, 15.2, 17.6,11.4 and 15.1 (s.e. 1.88). At H2 the response to applied N was 15.6, 11.5 and 9.1 (kg DM/kg N) for N30, N60 and N90, respectively (P<0.05). Regression analysis indicated that highest DM production was achieved with T5 for both H1 and H2 harvest dates, while the lowest responses were associated with T1, T2 and T3 application dates.
    • Effect of beef sire expected progeny difference for carcass conformation on live animal muscularity scores and ultrasonic muscle and fat depths, and on carcass classification and composition of their progeny

      Drennan, Michael J; McGee, Mark (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2008)
      The objective was to examine the effect of sire expected progeny difference (EPD) for carcass conformation score on the live animal and carcass traits of their progeny. In each of 4 years a Charolais sire of high and one of average EPD for carcass conformation score were mated to spring-calving suckler cows and the bull and heifer progeny were taken to slaughter at 455 (s.d. 25.2) and 607 (s.d. 29.5) days of age in 4 and 3 years, respectively. The difference in EPD between the sire EPD groups for carcass conformation and fat scores (scale 1 to 15), and carcass weight were, 0.45 units, −0.53 units and 9.7 kg, respectively. Muscularity scores were recorded at weaning (7 to 9 months of age) and pre-slaughter, and ultrasound measurements were recorded pre-slaughter. Carcass weight, and conformation and fat scores were recorded at slaughter and an 8-rib pistola from the right side of each carcass was dissected into lean, fat and bone. There was no significant effect of sire EPD group on live weight or carcass weight, but kill-out proportion, ultrasound muscle depth and the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation muscularity scores were greater (P < 0.001) for progeny of the high than the average EPD group. Bull progeny of high EPD sires had better (P < 0.001) Signet muscularity scores and carcass conformation scores than bull progeny from average EPD sires, whereas there was no effect of sire EPD group on heifer progeny. Compared to progeny of the average EPD sire group, those from the high EPD group had a lower weight of kidney and channel fat (P 0.06) and carcass fat score (P < 0.05), lower proportions of fat (P < 0.001) and bone (P < 0.01) in the pistola, and higher weight of pistola, both absolutely (P < 0.01) and relative to carcass weight (P < 0.05), higher proportions of lean and high-value cuts in the pistola and higher carcass value (P < 0.001). Linear regression analysis showed that a 1 unit increase in sire EPD for carcass conformation score increased (P < 0.01) carcass lean proportion by 19.4 g/kg. In conclusion, although sire EPD for carcass conformation score was reflected in the conformation score of intensively-reared bull progeny and not in extensively-reared heifer progeny, carcass lean proportion and carcass value were higher for both genders.
    • The effect of cereal type and feeding frequency on intake, rumen fermentation, digestibility, growth and carcass traits of finishing steers offered a grass silage-based diet

      Drennan, Michael J; McGee, Mark; Moloney, Aidan P (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2006)
      The effect of concentrate cereal type (rolled barley-based v. rolled wheat-based) and concentrate feeding frequency (one 6 kg feed v. two 3 kg feeds per day) on intake, rumen fermentation, diet digestibility and performance of finishing steers offered grass silage to appetite was evaluated over four experiments using a total of 154 animals. Not all four feeding treatments were used in each of the four experiments. The duration of the growth measurement period was 152, 112, 111 and 113 days for experiments 1 to 4, respectively, after which all animals were slaughtered. Dietary dry matter (DM) intake and in vivo digestibility, final live weight, kill-out proportion, carcass weight, carcass conformation score, carcass fat score and daily liveweight and estimated carcass gain were not affected (P > 0.05) by cereal type or feeding frequency. Cereal type or feeding frequency had no effect (P > 0.05) on feed conversion efficiency (FCE) expressed as either live-weight or carcass gain per unit DM intake. Neither mean rumen fluid pH or concentrations of ammonia or L-lactate were influenced by cereal type or feeding frequency. The mean molar proportion of propionate was higher and that of butyrate lower (P < 0.05) with wheat than with barley. Estimated carcass weight gain and FCE to carcass were similar for wheat based and barley-based concentrate as a supplement to grass silage offered either as one feed or two equal feeds daily.
    • Effect of concentrate feeding level in winter and turnout date to pasture in spring on biological and economical performance of weanling cattle in suckler beef production systems

      McGee, Mark; Drennan, Michael J; Crosson, Paul (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2014)
      Three experiments were carried out to determine the effects of supplementary concentrate feeding level (Low, LC; High, HC) to grass silage and/or turnout date to pasture in spring (Early, ET; Late, LT) for a second grazing season on performance to slaughter of spring-born, weaned beef calves (n = 188). Experiment 1 comprised of two concentrate levels (0.5 and 1.5 kg/day). Experiment 2 comprised of two turnout dates (19 March, 9 April). Experiment 3 comprised of two concentrate levels (0.5 kg and 2.0 kg/day) and two turnout dates (22 March, 12 April). In Experiment 1, live-weight gain during the indoor winter period was 25 kg higher (P < 0.001) for HC, whereas during the subsequent grazing season it was 17 kg higher (P < 0.05) for LC resulting in similar (P > 0.05) total live-weight gain for both treatments. In Experiment 2, live weight at turnout to pasture was 11 kg lower (P < 0.001) for ET than LT, whereas 8 days after late turnout, it was 15 kg lower (P < 0.01) for LT than ET. This difference in live weight was still evident 28 days later (P < 0.01) but not (P > 0.05), subsequently. In Experiments 1 and 2, live-weight gain during the finishing period and carcass weight, conformation and fat scores did not differ (P > 0.05) between the treatments. In Experiment 3, at turnout to pasture, HC were 35 kg heavier (P < 0.001) than LC, and ET were 12 kg lighter (P < 0.05) than LT, whereas 8 days after late turnout, ET were 13 kg heavier (P < 0.05) than LT. There was a concentrate level × turnout date interaction (P < 0.05) for live weight at the end of the grazing season, whereby the LC, LT treatment were lighter than the other treatments, which did not differ. Live weight at slaughter and carcass weight did not differ (P > 0.05) between the concentrate levels, whereas they were higher (P < 0.05) for ET than LT. Economic and stochastic analysis of Experiment 3 indicated that, in the context of whole-farm systems, (i) feeding HC was dependent on date of sale such that only where progeny were sold at the start of the second grazing season, net farm margin (NFM) was increased, (ii) ET only increased NFM where progeny were retained through to finish and, (iii) taking progeny through to finish was more profitable than selling earlier in the animals’ lifetime. In conclusion, subsequent compensatory growth at pasture diminishes the growth and economic advantage from concentrate supplementation or early turnout to pasture, of young late-maturing cattle.
    • Effect of concrete slats, three mat types and out-wintering pads on performance and welfare of finishing beef steers

      Earley, Bernadette; McNamara, John D; Jerrams, Stephen J; O’Riordan, Edward G. (Springer Nature, 2017-05-30)
      Background The objective was to investigate the effect of placing mats on concrete slatted floors on performance, behaviour, hoof condition, dirt scores, physiological and immunological variables of beef steers, and to compare responses with animals on out-wintering pads. Continental crossbred beef steers [n = 360; mean (±SD) initial live weight 539 kg (42.2)] were blocked by breed and live weight and randomly assigned to one of five treatments; (1) Concrete slats alone, (2) Mat 1 (Natural Rubber structure) (Durapak Rubber Products), (3) Mat 2 (Natural rubber structure) (EasyFix), (4) Mat 3 (modified ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) foam structure) and (5) Out-wintering pads (OWP’s). Results Animals on the OWPs had a greater (P < 0.05) live weight gain (P < 0.05) compared with the slat and Mat 2 treatments: results for Mat 1 and Mat 3 were the same (P > 0.05) as the other treatments. Animals on the OWPs had reduced lying percentage time compared with all the other treatments. Dry matter (DM) intake was greater for animals on the OWPs compared with all the other treatments. Carcass weight, kill out proportion, carcass fat score, carcass composition score, FCR and physiological responses were similar (P > 0.05) among treatments. No incidence of laminitis was observed among treatments. The number of hoof lesions was greater on all mat types (P < 0.05) compared with concrete slats and OWP treatments. Dirt scores were greater (P < 0.05) for animals on OWPs when measured on days 42, 84, 105, 126 and 150 compared with animals on slats. Conclusions Under the conditions adopted for the present study, there was no evidence to suggest that animals housed on bare concrete slats were disadvantaged in respect of animal welfare compared with animals housed on other floor types. It is concluded that the welfare of steers was not adversely affected by slats compared with different mat types or OWPs.
    • Effect of creep feeding, dietary fumaric acid and level of dairy product in the diet on post-weaning pig performance

      Lawlor, Peadar G; Lynch, P Brendan; Caffrey, Patrick J. (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2005)
      Fumaric acid (FA), level of dairy product in the diet and creep feeding were evaluated in three experiments using individually fed pigs (weaned at ca. 21 days and weighing about 6 kg). They were assigned at random to treatments. In Experiment 1, the treatments were: (1) no pre-weaning creep and no FA post-weaning, (2) no pre-weaning creep and 20 g/kg FA post-weaning, (3) pre-weaning creep and no FA post-weaning, and (4) pre-weaning creep and 20 g/kg FA post-weaning. In Experiment 2, the treatments were: (1) 50 g/kg dried whey, (2) 50 g/kg whey with 20 g/kg FA, (3) 50 g/kg whey with 30 g/kg FA, (4) 200 g/kg whey, (5) 200 g/kg whey with 20 g/kg FA, (6) 200 g/kg whey with 30 g/kg FA. In Experiment 3, the treatments were: (1) high dairy product (whey plus skim milk powder) diet, (2) high dairy product diet with 20 g/kg FA, (3) low dairy product diet, (4) low dairy product diet with 20 g/kg FA. The number of pigs per treatment in Experiments 1, 2 and 3 was 16, 10 and 10, respectively. All diets contained barley, wheat, herring meal and full-fat soybean meal. In Experiment 1, FA inclusion increased intake (518 ν. 466, s.e.d. 21.5 g/day, P < 0.05), daily gain (339 ν. 280, s.e.d. 18.1 g/day, P < 0.01) and improved feed conversion rate (1.55 ν. 1.70, s.e.d. 0.06, P < 0.05) in the first 3 weeks post-weaning. In Experiment 2, there was no effect of treatment. In Experiment 3, increasing the level of dairy product in the diet increased feed intake (P = 0.06) and daily gain (P < 0.05) and improved feed conversion rate (P < 0.01). The conclusions are that FA improved post-weaning performance and that increasing the level of dairy products in postweaning diets also improved performance.
    • Effect of dietary restriction and subsequent re-alimentation on the transcriptional profile of bovine ruminal epithelium

      Keogh, Kate; Waters, Sinead M.; Cormican, Paul; Kelly, Alan K.; O'Shea, Emma; Kenny, David A.; Science Foundation Ireland; RFP/GEN2447 (PLOS, 2017-05-17)
      Compensatory growth (CG) is utilised worldwide in beef production systems as a management approach to reduce feed costs. However the underlying biology regulating the expression of CG remains to be fully elucidated. The objective of this study was to examine the effect of dietary restriction and subsequent re-alimentation induced CG on the global gene expression profile of ruminal epithelial papillae. Holstein Friesian bulls (n = 60) were assigned to one of two groups: restricted feed allowance (RES; n = 30) for 125 days (Period 1) followed by ad libitum access to feed for 55 days (Period 2) or (ii) ad libitum access to feed throughout (ADLIB; n = 30). At the end of each period, 15 animals from each treatment were slaughtered and rumen papillae harvested. mRNA was isolated from all papillae samples collected. cDNA libraries were then prepared and sequenced. Resultant reads were subsequently analysed bioinformatically and differentially expressed genes (DEGs) are defined as having a Benjamini-Hochberg P value of <0.05. During re-alimentation in Period 2, RES animals displayed CG, growing at 1.8 times the rate of their ADLIB contemporary animals in Period 2 (P < 0.001). At the end of Period 1, 64 DEGs were identified between RES and ADLIB, with only one DEG identified at the end of Period 2. When analysed within RES treatment (RES, Period 2 v Period 1), 411 DEGs were evident. Genes identified as differentially expressed in response to both dietary restriction and subsequent CG included those involved in processes such as cellular interactions and transport, protein folding and gene expression, as well as immune response. This study provides an insight into the molecular mechanisms underlying the expression of CG in rumen papillae of cattle; however the results suggest that the role of the ruminal epithelium in supporting overall animal CG may have declined by day 55 of re-alimentation.
    • Effect of Dietary Restriction and Subsequent Re-Alimentation on the Transcriptional Profile of Bovine Skeletal Muscle

      Keogh, Kate; Kenny, David A.; Cormican, Paul; McCabe, Matthew S.; Kelly, Alan; Waters, Sinead M.; Science Foundation Ireland; 09/RFP/GEN/2447 (PLOS, 2016-02-12)
      Compensatory growth (CG), an accelerated growth phenomenon which occurs following a period of dietary restriction is exploited worldwide in animal production systems as a method to lower feed costs. However the molecular mechanisms regulated CG expression remain to be elucidated fully. This study aimed to uncover the underlying biology regulating CG in cattle, through an examination of skeletal muscle transcriptional profiles utilising next generation mRNA sequencing technology. Twenty Holstein Friesian bulls were fed either a restricted diet for 125 days, with a target growth rate of 0.6 kg/day (Period 1), following which they were allowed feed ad libitum for a further 55 days (Period 2) or fed ad libitum for the entirety of the trial. M. longissimus dorsi biopsies were harvested from all bulls on days 120 and 15 of periods 1 and 2 respectively and RNAseq analysis was performed. During realimentation in Period 2, previously restricted animals displayed CG, growing at 1.8 times the rate of the ad libitum control animals. Compensating animals were also more feed efficient during re-alimentation and compensated for 48% of their previous dietary restriction. 1,430 and 940 genes were identified as significantly differentially expressed (Benjamini Hochberg adjusted P < 0.1) in periods 1 and 2 respectively. Additionally, 2,237 genes were differentially expressed in animals undergoing CG relative to dietary restriction. Dietary restriction in Period 1 was associated with altered expression of genes involved in lipid metabolism and energy production. CG expression in Period 2 occurred in association with greater expression of genes involved in cellular function and organisation. This study highlights some of the molecular mechanisms regulating CG in cattle. Differentially expressed genes identified are potential candidate genes for the identification of biomarkers for CG and feed efficiency, which may be incorporated into future breeding programmes
    • Effect of dietary restriction and subsequent re-alimentation on the transcriptional profile of hepatic tissue in cattle

      Keogh, Kate; Kenny, David A; Cormican, Paul; Kelly, Alan K; Waters, Sinead M.; Science Foundation Ireland; 09/RFP/GEN2447 (Biomed Central, 2016-03-17)
      Background Compensatory growth (CG) is an accelerated growth phenomenon observed in animals upon re-alimentation following a period of dietary restriction. It is typically utilised in livestock systems to reduce feed costs during periods of reduced feed availability. The biochemical mechanisms controlling this phenomenon, however, are yet to be elucidated. This study aimed to uncover the molecular mechanisms regulating the hepatic expression of CG in cattle, utilising RNAseq. RNAseq was performed on hepatic tissue of bulls following 125 days of dietary restriction (RES) and again following 55 days of subsequent re-alimentation during which the animals exhibited significant CG. The data were compared with those of control animals offered the same diet on an ad libitum basis throughout (ADLIB). Elucidation of the molecular control of CG may yield critical information on genes and pathways which could be targeted as putative molecular biomarkers for the selection of animals with improved CG potential. Results Following a period of differential feeding, body-weight and liver weight were 161 and 4 kg higher, respectively, for ADLIB compared with RES animals. At this time RNAseq analysis of liver tissue revealed 1352 significantly differentially expressed genes (DEG) between the two treatments. DEGs indicated down-regulation of processes including nutrient transport, cell division and proliferation in RES. In addition, protein synthesis genes were up-regulated in RES following a period of restricted feeding. The subsequent 55 days of ad libitum feeding for both groups resulted in the body-weight difference reduced to 84 kg, with no difference in liver weight between treatment groups. At the end of 55 days of unrestricted feeding, 49 genes were differentially expressed between animals undergoing CG and their continuously fed counterparts. In particular, hepatic expression of cell proliferation and growth genes were greater in animals undergoing CG. Conclusions Greater expression of cell cycle and cell proliferation genes during CG was associated with a 100 % recovery of liver weight during re-alimentation. Additionally, an apparent up-regulation in capacity for cellular protein synthesis during restricted feeding may contribute to and sustain CG during re-alimentation. DEGs identified are potential candidate genes for the identification of biomarkers for CG, which may be incorporated into future breeding programmes.
    • The Effect of Dietary Supplementation with Spent Cider Yeast on the Swine Distal Gut Microbiome

      Upadrasta, Aditya; O'Sulivan, Lisa; O'Sullivan, Orla; Sexton, Noel; Lawlor, Peadar G; Hill, Colin; Fitzgerald, Gerald F.; Stanton, Catherine; Ross, R Paul; Enterprise Ireland; European Union; Science Foundation Ireland; National Development Plan; CFTD/05/117 (PLOS, 09/10/2013)
      Background: There is an increasing need for alternatives to antibiotics for promoting animal health, given the increasing problems associated with antibiotic resistance. In this regard, we evaluated spent cider yeast as a potential probiotic for modifying the gut microbiota in weanling pigs using pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA gene libraries. Methodology and Principal Findings: Piglets aged 24–26 days were assigned to one of two study groups; control (n = 12) and treatment (n = 12). The control animals were fed with a basal diet and the treatment animals were fed with basal diet in combination with cider yeast supplement (500 ml cider yeast containing ,7.6 log CFU/ml) for 21 days. Faecal samples were collected for 16s rRNA gene compositional analysis. 16S rRNA compositional sequencing analysis of the faecal samples collected from day 0 and day 21 revealed marked differences in microbial diversity at both the phylum and genus levels between the control and treatment groups. This analysis confirmed that levels of Salmonella and Escherichia were significantly decreased in the treatment group, compared with the control (P,0.001). This data suggest a positive influence of dietary supplementation with live cider yeast on the microbial diversity of the pig distal gut. Conclusions/Significance: The effect of dietary cider yeast on porcine gut microbial communities was characterized for the first time using 16S rRNA gene compositional sequencing. Dietary cider yeast can potentially alter the gut microbiota, however such changes depend on their endogenous microbiota that causes a divergence in relative response to that given diet.
    • The effect of different levels of spring grass supply and stocking rate on the performance and intake of cows in early lactation

      O'Donovan, Michael; McEvoy, Mary; Kennedy, Emer; Delaby, Luc; Murphy, John (Teagasc, 2008-11-01)
      Grazed herbage can supply nutrients to dairy cows at a lower cost than alternative feeds (Shalloo et al., 2004). Therefore, the objective of pasture-based systems must be to maximize the proportion of grazed grass in the diet of the dairy cow (Dillon et al., 2005). The extension of the grazing season into the early spring period can be facilitated by ceasing grazing of pastures earlier in autumn which allows grass to accumulate, thereby ensuring an adequate herbage supply in early spring when animal demand exceeds grass growth/supply (O’Donovan, 2000). Grazing pastures in early spring has previously been shown to increase herbage utilization and condition swards for subsequent grazing rotations (O’Donovan et al., 2004; Kennedy et al., 2006).
    • The effect of dry period duration and dietary energy density on milk production, bioenergetic status and postpartum ovarian function in Holstein-Friesian dairy cows

      de Feu, M.A.; Evans, A.C.O.; Lonergan, P.; Butler, Stephen T.; National Development Plan (American Dairy Science Association and Elsevier Inc., 2009-12)
      Following parturition, it is typical for dairy cows to enter a period of negative energy balance (NEB) and body condition loss to support mammary milk synthesis, and this is associated with compromised reproductive performance. Alternative management strategies during the prepartum (dry) and early post partum periods may ameliorate this. Forty mature Holstein-Friesian cows were assigned to one of two dry period treatments (standard 8 week dry period (SDP) or no planned dry period (NDP)) and one of two dietary energy density treatments (standard TMR (STMR) or high quality TMR (HTMR)). Milk yield during weeks 1 to 12 postpartum was reduced (P = 0.01) in cows assigned to the NDP treatment. Energy balance (P < 0.001) and body condition score (P = 0.07) during weeks 1 to 4 postpartum were increased in cows assigned to the NDP treatment compared to the cows assigned to the SDP, and BCS increased (P<0.001) from weeks 5 to 12 postpartum in the NDP cows compared to the SDP cows. During the first 12 weeks postpartum, cows assigned to the HTMR had greater (P = 0.02) milk yields and reduced (P < 0.001) milk fat concentration compared to the cows assigned the STMR diet. BCS was greater (P = 0.01) from weeks 5 to 12 postpartum in HTMR cows compared to STMR cows. During the period from weeks -3 to +3 relative to parturition, circulating concentrations of insulin (P = 0.001), glucose (P < 0.001) and IGF-I (P = 0.004) were greater in cows on the NDP treatment compared to cows on the SDP treatment. Cows assigned to the HTMR had greater circulating insulin (P = 0.04) and glucose (P = 0.001) concentrations compared to the STMR cows from weeks -3 to +3 relative to parturition. The first postpartum ovulation occurred earlier for cows on the NDP treatment compared to cows on the SDP treatment (16.9 vs. 24.8 days postpartum; P = 0.02). Cows assigned to the STMR tended to have a higher conception rate to first service (P = 0.07) compared to cows assigned to the HTMR. Energy balance and metabolic status can be improved by either eliminating the dry period or by feeding a higher energy diet, but effects on the reproductive axis appear to be different.
    • Effect of early calf-hood nutrition on the transcriptomic profile of subcutaneous adipose tissue in Holstein-Friesian bulls

      English, Anne-Marie; Waters, Sinead M.; Cormican, Paul; Byrne, Colin J; Fair, Seán; Kenny, David A; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; Irish Research Council; 11/S/116; GOIPG/2013/1391 (Biomed Central, 2018-04-24)
      Background Adipose tissue is a major endocrine organ and is thought to play a central role in the metabolic control of reproductive function in cattle. Plane of nutrition during early life has been shown to influence the timing of puberty in both male and female cattle, though the exact biological mechanisms involved are currently unknown. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of early calf-hood nutrition on the transcriptomic profile of subcutaneous adipose tissue in Holstein-Friesian bulls to identify possible downstream effects on reproductive physiology. Results Holstein-Friesian bull calves with a mean (±S.D.) age and bodyweight of 19 (±8.2) days and 47.5 (±5.3) kg, respectively, were assigned to either a high (n = 10) or low (n = 10) plane of nutrition. Calves were fed in order to achieve an overall growth rate of 1.08 and 0.57 kg/day for the high and low plane of nutrition treatments, respectively. At 126 days of age, the bulls were euthanized, subcutaneous adipose tissue samples were harvested and RNAseq analysis was performed. There were 674 genes differentially expressed in adipose tissue of calves on the low compared with the high plane of nutrition (P < 0.05; FDR < 0.05; fold change > 2.0). High plane of nutrition positively altered the expression of genes across an array of putative biological processes but the most dominant cellular processes affected were cellular energy production and branched chain amino acid degradation. A high plane of nutrition caused upregulation of genes such as leptin (LEP) and adiponectin (ADIPOQ), which are known to directly affect reproductive function. Conclusions These results provide an insight into the effect of augmenting the plane of nutrition of Holstein-Friesian bull calves in the prepubertal period on the transcriptome of adipose tissue.