• Factors affecting body condition score, live weight and reproductive performance in spring-calving suckler cows

      Drennan, Michael J; Berry, Donagh P. (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2006)
      The objective was to identify factors affecting live weight (LW), body condition score (BCS), calving rate and calving interval in spring-calving suckler cows. A total of 925 records on 299 cows from the years 1987 to 1999 were used and the data were analyzed using mixed models and generalised estimating equations. Cows calving early in the year (< day 65 of the year) were significantly heavier at the start of winter, had greater BCS at the subsequent calving but lost most LW in winter. Despite having higher LW gain at pasture, annual LW gain of early-calving cows was lower than that of late-calving cows (> day 90 of the year). Trends in BCS were similar to LW but there was no effect of calving date on annual BCS change. Cows in parity 1, 2, 3 to 7 and >7 had initial LW of 523, 549, 614 and 623 kg, winter LW losses of 61, 52, 65 and 67 kg and LW gains at pasture of 81, 99, 94 and 75 kg, respectively. First parity animals had higher BCS at the start of winter but had greater BCS loss in winter and lower BCS gain at pasture than the other three parity groups. Overall pregnancy rate was 93.6% and was not affected by either previous calving date or cow parity. Mean calving interval was 367 days and was affected by previous calving date but there was no effect of either cow parity or previous calving difficulty. Mean calving interval for cows calving early, mid-season or late were 378, 364 and 353 days, respectively. The results show that good reproduction performance can be achieved in spring-calving suckler cows subjected to low feeding levels during the winter period but grazed on well-managed pasture in summer.
    • Factors associated with selling price of cattle at livestock marts

      McHugh, Noirin; Fahey, A. G.; Evans, R. D.; Berry, Donagh P. (Cambridge University Press, 2010-02)
      The objective of this study was to determine the factors associated with selling price of animals at livestock marts around Ireland. Data consisted of four distinct maturity categories: calves (2 to 84 days of age, n553 838); weanlings (6 to 12 months of age, n519 972); post-weanlings (12 to 36 months of age, n593 081) and cows (.30 months to 12 years of age, n594 839); sold through livestock marts between 2000 and 2008. Factors associated with animal price were determined within each maturity category separately using mixed models; random effects were mart, date of sale nested within mart, and herd of origin nested within year of sale. Mean selling price was h157, h580, h655 and h592 for calves, weanlings, post-weanlings and cows, respectively. The greatest prices were paid for singleton crossbred male calves, weanlings and post-weanlings from older dams. With the exception of the Aberdeen Angus, beef breeds and their crosses consistently received higher prices than their dairy counterparts across all four maturity categories; increased proportion of Belgian Blue and Charolais was associated with greater prices compared with other beef breeds. When live-weight was included in the multiple regression models the association between price and all factors regressed toward zero but most factors remained associated with price. The highest price was recorded in the spring months for calves, post-weanlings and cows, and in the autumn months for weanlings. Results from this study may be used to help farmers make more informed management decisions, as well as provide information for bio-economic models for evaluating alternative production systems or estimating economic values.
    • Factors associated with the financial performance of spring-calving, pasture-based dairy farms

      Ramsbottom, George; Horan, Brendan; Berry, Donagh P.; Roche, J. R. (Elsevier for American Dairy Science Association, 2015-03)
      As land becomes a limiting resource for pasture-based dairy farming, the inclusion of purchased supplementary feeds to increase milk production per cow (through greater dry matter intake) and per hectare (through increased stocking rate) is often proposed as a strategy to increase profitability. Although a plausible proposition, virtually no analysis has been done on the effect of such intensification on the profitability of commercial pasture-based dairy farm businesses. The objective of this study was to characterize the average physical and financial performance of dairy systems differing in the proportion of the cow’s diet coming from grazed pasture versus purchased supplementary feeds over 4 yr, while accounting for any interaction with geographic region. Physical, genetic, and financial performance data from 1,561 seasonal-calving, pasture-based dairy farms in Ireland were available between the years 2008 and 2011; data from some herds were available for more than 1 yr of the 4-yr study period, providing data from 2,759 dairy farm-years. The data set was divided into geographic regions, based on latitude, rainfall, and soil characteristics that relate to drainage; these factors influence the length of the pasture growth season and the timing of turnout to pasture in spring and rehousing in autumn. Farms were also categorized by the quantity of feed purchased; farms in which cows received <10, 11–20, 21–30, or >30% of their annual feed requirements from purchased feed were considered to be categories representative of increasing levels of system intensification. Geographic region was associated with differences in grazing days, pasture harvested per hectare, milk production per cow and per hectare, and farm profitability. Farms in regions with longer grazing seasons harvested a greater amount of pasture [an additional 19 kg of dry matter (DM)/ha per grazing day per hectare], and greater pasture harvested was associated with increased milk component yield per hectare (58.4 kg of fat and 51.4 kg of protein more per tonne of DM pasture harvested/ha) and net profit per hectare (€268/ha more per tonne of DM harvested). Milk yield and yield of milk components per cow and per hectare increased linearly with increased use of purchased feed (additional 30.6 kg of milk fat and 26.7 kg of milk protein per tonne of DM purchased feed per hectare), but, on average, pasture harvested/hectare and net profit/hectare declined (−0.60 t of DM/ha and −€78.2/ha, respectively) with every tonne of DM supplementary feed purchased per hectare. The results indicate an effect of purchased feeds not usually accounted for in marginal economic analyses (e.g., milk to feed price ratio): the decline in pasture harvested/hectare, with the costs of producing the unutilized pasture in addition to the cost of feed resulting in a lower profit. In conclusion, greater milk component yields per cow were associated with increased profit per hectare, and a greater use of purchased feeds was associated with an increase in the yield of milk components. However, on average, increasing yield of milk components through the supply of purchased feeds to pasture-based cows was associated with a decline in pasture harvested per hectare and profitability. The decline in pasture harvested per hectare with increased use of purchased supplements per cow is probably the primary reason for the low milk production response and the failure to capitalize on the potential benefits of purchased supplements, with the associated costs of growing the unutilized pasture, in conjunction with increased nonfeed variable and fixed costs outweighing the increased milk production and revenue from supplementation. Farmers considering intensification through use of purchased supplements to increase the stock-carrying capacity of the farm (i.e., stocking rate) must ensure that they focus on management of pasture and total cost control to capture the potential benefits of supplementary feed use.
    • Factors influencing the conservation characteristics of baled and precision-chop grass silages

      McEniry, Joseph; Forristal, P.D.; O'Kiely, Padraig (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2011)
      The composition of baled silage on Irish farms frequently differs from that of comparable precision-chop silage. This paper concerns a field-scale study designed to investigate: (a) the effects of number of layers (2, 4, 6 or 8) of polyethylene stretch film and the duration of storage (7 vs. 18 months) on the conservation characteristics of baled silage, and (b) the conservation characteristics of baled (4 layers of stretch film) and precision-chop silages. All silages were made following three durations of wilting (0, 24 or 48 h). Wilting restricted silage fermentation, with silage pH being highest (P<0.001) and the concentration of fermentation products lowest (P<0.001) for the 48 h wilt treatment. Wrapping bales in only 2 layers of polyethylene stretch film resulted in extensive visible mould growth, but mould growth was practically eliminated by the application of 4 or more layers of film. Silage fermentation characteristics were generally improved by wilting, and by 4 compared to 2 layers of stretch film. Extending the storage duration of baled silage from 7 to 18 months reduced (P<0.001) the concentration of fermentation products and increased in-silo fresh weight losses (P<0.001) and visible mould growth. Whereas 4 layers of conventional stretch film are normally sufficient, 6 layers may be necessary to prevent mould growth when bales of unwilted silage are stored for a second season. Under good farm-management conditions differences observed between baled and precision-chop silages probably result mainly from differences in the concentration of dry matter in herbage at ensiling.
    • Farm management factors associated with bulk tank somatic cell count in Irish dairy herds

      Kelly, PT; O'Sullivan, K; Berry, Donagh P.; More, Simon J; Meaney, William J; O'Callaghan, Edmond J; O'Brien, Bernadette (Biomed Central, 01/04/2009)
      The relationship between bulk tank somatic cell count (SCC) and farm management and infrastructure was examined using data from 398 randomly selected, yet representative, Irish dairy farms where the basal diet is grazed grass. Median bulk tank SCC for the farms was 282,887 cells/ml ranging from 82,209 to 773,028 cells/ml. Two questionnaires were administered through face-to-face contact with each farmer. Herd-level factors associated with bulk tank SCC were determined using linear models with annual somatic cell score (i.e., arithmetic mean of the natural logarithm of bulk tank SCC) included as the dependent variable. All herd level factors were analysed individually in separate regression models, which included an adjustment for geographical location of the farm; a multiple regression model was subsequently developed. Management practices associated with low SCC included the use of dry cow therapy, participation in a milk recording scheme and the use of teat disinfection post-milking. There was an association between low SCC and an increased level of hygiene and frequency of cleaning of the holding yard, passageways and cubicles. Herd management factors associated with bulk tank SCC in Irish grazing herds are generally in agreement with most previous studies from confinement systems of milk production.
    • Farm management factors associated with bulk tank total bacterial count in Irish dairy herds during 2006/07

      Kelly, PT; O'Sullivan, K; Berry, Donagh P.; More, Simon J; Meaney, William J; O'Callaghan, Edmond J; O'Brien, Bernadette (Biomed Central, 01/01/2009)
      Research has shown that total bacterial count (TBC), which is the bacterial growth per ml of milk over a fixed period of time, can be decreased by good hygiene and farm management practices. The objective of the current study was to quantify the associations between herd management factors and bulk tank TBC in Irish spring calving, grass-based dairy herds. The relationship between bulk tank TBC and farm management and infrastructure was examined using data from 400 randomly selected Irish dairy farms where the basal diet was grazed grass. Herd management factors associated with bulk tank TBC were identified using linear models with herd annual total bacterial score (i.e., arithmetic mean of the natural logarithm of bulk tank TBC) included as the dependent variable. All herd management factors were individually analysed in a separate regression model, that included an adjustment for geographical location of the farm. A multiple stepwise regression model was subsequently developed. Median bulk tank TBC for the sample herds was 18,483 cells/ml ranging from 10,441 to 130,458 cells/ml. Results from the multivariate analysis indicated that the following management practices were associated with low TBC; use of heated water in the milking parlour; participation in a milk recording scheme; and tail clipping of cows at a frequency greater than once per year. Increased level of hygiene of the parlour and cubicles were also associated with lower TBC. Herd management factors associated with bulk tank TBC in Irish grazing herds were generally in agreement with most previous studies from confinement systems of milk production.
    • Farm management factors associated with the Bacillus cereus count in bulk tank milk

      O'Connell, Aine; Ruegg, P.L.; Gleeson, David E; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2013)
      The objective of this study was to determine the on-farm management factors that are associated with the Bacillus cereus count in raw bulk tank milk using a cross sectional study design. Bulk tank milk quality was monitored for B. cereus on 63 dairy farms between July and August 2012. Bulk tank milk samples corresponding with processor milk collection dates were taken over a two week period prior to the farm visit and tested for B. cereus. The four most recent samples taken prior to the on-farm visit were averaged and log transformed to give the outcome variable; mean log10 B. cereus cfu/mL. On-farm data collection included recording observations and providing a questionnaire on basic hygiene, management factors and cow hygiene scoring. All independent variables were analysed individually with the outcome variable using simple linear regression and one-way ANOVA; a multivariable regression model was subsequently developed. Only significant variables were retained in the final model (P < 0.05). The geometric mean B. cereus count for all milk samples was 40 cfu/mL. The start temperature of the cleaning solution wash, dry wiping teats prior to unit application, the feeding of silage and reusing the cleaning solution more than once were all unconditionally associated (P < 0.10) with the B. cereus count in bulk tank milk but did not enter the final multivariable model. B. cereus count was four times greater (201 cfu/mL) when cows had been housed compared to when they were on pasture (50 cfu/mL). The allocation of fresh grass every 12 h (62 cfu/mL) resulted in a decrease in B. cereus count (166cfu/mL every 24 h or greater). The testing of water for bacteriology was associated with an increase in B. cereus count. In conclusion, this study highlights specific management factors associated with the B. cereus count in bulk tank milk.
    • Farm-gate nitrogen balances on intensive dairy farms in the south west of Ireland

      Treacy, M.; Humphreys, James; McNamara, K.; Browne, R.; Watson, C.J.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; European Union; Dairy Levy Research Trust (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2008)
      Nitrogen management and farm-gate N balances were evaluated on 21 intensive dairy farms in the south west of Ireland for each of four years (2003 to 2006). The mean annual stocking density was equivalent to 202 kg/ha (s.d. 29.6) of N excreted by livestock on the farm. The mean annual farm-gate N surplus (imports – exports) declined between 2003 and 2006 (277 to 232 kg/ha, s.e. 6.8; P < 0.001) due to a decline in annual N imports (fertilizer, feed and imported manures; 335 to 288 kg/ha, s.e. 6.9; P < 0.001). Overall annual fertilizer N use on the farms decreased during the study period (266 to 223 kg/ha, s.e. 6.5; P < 0.001) mainly due to lower inputs for the first application in spring and for the production of first-cut silage. These decreases were partly offset by applying more slurry in spring for early grazing and for first-cut silage. The introduction of white clover resulted in lower N imports on four farms. Export of N from farms was unaffected by reductions in N imports. The mean efficiency of N use tended to increase over time (0.18 in 2003 to 0.20 in 2006). The large variation in quantities of fertilizer N applied on farms with similar stocking densities suggests potential for further improvements in the efficiency of N use. In terms of fertilizer N use, complying with S.I. No. 378 of 2006 did not require major changes in the N management practiceson 19 of the farms.
    • Fate of Transgenic DNA from Orally Administered Bt MON810 Maize and Effects on Immune Response and Growth in Pigs

      Walsh, Maria C.; Buzoianu, Stefan G.; Gardiner, Gillian E.; Rea, Mary C.; Gelencser, Eva; Janosi, Anna; Epstein, Michelle M.; Ross, R Paul; Lawlor, Peadar G; European Union; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; 211820 (PLOS, 2011-11-23)
      We assessed the effect of short-term feeding of genetically modified (GM: Bt MON810) maize on immune responses and growth in weanling pigs and determined the fate of the transgenic DNA and protein in-vivo. Pigs were fed a diet containing 38.9% GM or non-GM isogenic parent line maize for 31 days. We observed that IL-12 and IFNγ production from mitogenic stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells decreased (P<0.10) following 31 days of GM maize exposure. While Cry1Ab-specific IgG and IgA were not detected in the plasma of GM maize-fed pigs, the detection of the cry1Ab gene and protein was limited to the gastrointestinal digesta and was not found in the kidneys, liver, spleen, muscle, heart or blood. Feeding GM maize to weanling pigs had no effect on growth performance or body weight. IL-6 and IL-4 production from isolated splenocytes were increased (P<0.05) in response to feeding GM maize while the proportion of CD4+ T cells in the spleen decreased. In the ileum, the proportion of B cells and macrophages decreased while the proportion of CD4+ T cells increased in GM maize-fed pigs. IL-8 and IL-4 production from isolated intraepithelial and lamina propria lymphocytes were also increased (P<0.05) in response to feeding GM maize. In conclusion, there was no evidence of cry1Ab gene or protein translocation to the organs and blood of weaning pigs. The growth of pigs was not affected by feeding GM maize. Alterations in immune responses were detected; however, their biologic relevance is questionable.
    • The fatty acid profile and stable isotope ratios of C and N of muscle from cattle that grazed grass or grass/clover pastures before slaughter and their discriminatory potential

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

      Cummins, B.; O'Kiely, Padraig; Keane, Michael G.; Kenny, David A.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2009)
      Two experiments were undertaken. In Experiment 1, behaviour, intake pattern and blood metabolites, were recorded for steers offered total mixed rations (TMR) based on grass silage and concentrates, and constituted either at ensiling (E-TMR) or feedout (F-TMR). Fourteen continental crossbred steers (mean starting weight 505 (s.d. 41.5) kg) were assigned to each of the following eight treatments: grass silage offered ad libitum (SO), E-TMR diets constituted in approximate dry matter (DM) ratios of grass:concentrates of 75:25 (EL), 50:50 (EM) and 25:75 (EH), F-TMR diets constituted in approximate DM ratios of grass silage:concentrates of 75:25 (FL), 50:50 (FM) and 25:75 (FH), and finally concentrates ad libitum (AL). Total DM intake increased linearly (P < 0.001) and the time spent eating and ruminating decreased linearly (P < 0.001) with increasing concentrate proportion. Animals on the F-TMR diets had higher total DM intakes (P < 0.05) and plasma glucose (P < 0.05) and urea (P < 0.001) concentrations than animals on the corresponding E-TMR diets. No effect of method of feed preparation on intake pattern or behaviour was recorded. In Experiment 2, four ruminally cannulated Holstein-Friesian steers of mean initial live weight 630 (s.d. 23.2) kg were used to evaluate rumen characteristics for four of the above diets (FL, EL, FH and EH) in a 4 × 4 latin square design. Higher concentrate diets resulted in lower rumen pH (P < 0.05), higher lactic acid (P < 0.001) and ammonia (P < 0.05) concentrations and lower acetate:propionate (P < 0.05). F-TMR was associated with a higher (P < 0.05) rumen volatile fatty acid concentration but no difference in other rumen fermentation characteristics compared to E-TMR. Concentrate proportion and method of feed preparation had no effect (P > 0.05) on rumen pool sizes but animals consuming the high concentrate diet had a faster (P < 0.05) rumen passage rate of NDF than animals on the low concentrate diet.
    • Feeding Techniques To Increase Calf Growth In The First Two Months Of Life

      Fallon, R.J.; Morrison, S.; Dawson, L.; Twigge, J. (Teagasc, 2008-01-01)
      Data from Cornell University and the University of Illinois in the USA suggested that average daily liveweight gains of 900 to 1000 g/calf/day could be achieved from birth to weaning provided the calf milk replacer (CMR) is formulated to meet the calf’s amino acid requirements for such a rate of gain. Their findings suggested a daily milk replacer DM allowance of 1250 to 1500 g/d with a crude protein content of 26 to 30%. A series of studies were undertaken, at ARINI with home born dairy calves and at Grange Beef Research Centre with purchased dairy calves, to determine the effect of increasing the daily milk replacer DM allowance and or increasing the crude protein content of the CMR on calf performance.The main outcomes of these studies were  There was no growth or intake response in any of the studies to increasing the crude protein content of the CMP from 23% to 28%.  Calf growth rates responded to increasing the dailymilk replacer allowance from 600 to 1200 g/day for both home bred and purchased calves. However, the effect was not significant post-weaning in any of the studies.  In all of the studies (for both home reared and purchased calves) feeding a high level of CMRdecreased concentrate DM intake. However, the calves concentrate intakes were similar post-weaning.  The home bred calves with free access to the milk replacer feeders failed to consume their 1200 g/day allowance. Calves offered 600 or 1200 g of CMR/day had average consumption of 554 and 944 g/d, respectively, in the milk feeding period.  Feeding a high (1200 g/d) compared to a low level (600 g/d) CMRdiet for the first 56 days had no significant effect on carcass weight or carcass characteristics when purchased male calves were slaughtered off an ad libitum concentrate diet after 388 days. The final carcass weights were 231 and 240 kg for the respective 600 and 1200 g/d CMR.  Reducing the fat content of the CMRfrom 18% to 12% did not have any effect on concentrate intake or liveweight gain.
    • Finishing pigs that are divergent in feed efficiency show small differences in intestinal functionality and structure

      Metzler-Zebeli, Barbara U.; Lawlor, Peadar G; Magowan, Elizabeth; McCormack, Ursula M.; Curiao, Tania; Hollmann, Manfred; Ertl, Reinhardt; Aschenbach, Jorg R.; Zebeli, Qendrim; European Union; 311794 (PLOS, 2017-04-05)
      Controversial information is available regarding the feed efficiency-related variation in intestinal size, structure and functionality in pigs. The present objective was therefore to investigate the differences in visceral organ size, intestinal morphology, mucosal enzyme activity, intestinal integrity and related gene expression in low and high RFI pigs which were reared at three different geographical locations (Austria, AT; Northern Ireland, NI; Republic of Ireland, ROI) using similar protocols. Pigs (n = 369) were ranked for their RFI between days 42 and 91 postweaning and low and high RFI pigs (n = 16 from AT, n = 24 from NI, and n = 60 from ROI) were selected. Pigs were sacrificed and sampled on ~day 110 of life. In general, RFI-related variation in intestinal size, structure and function was small. Some energy saving mechanisms and enhanced digestive and absorptive capacity were indicated in low versus high RFI pigs by shorter crypts, higher duodenal lactase and maltase activity and greater mucosal permeability (P < 0.05), but differences were mainly seen in pigs from AT and to a lesser degree in pigs from ROI. Additionally, low RFI pigs from AT had more goblet cells in duodenum but fewer in jejunum compared to high RFI pigs (P < 0.05). Together with the lower expression of TLR4 and TNFA in low versus high RFI pigs from AT and ROI (P < 0.05), these results might indicate differences in the innate immune response between low and high RFI pigs. Results demonstrated that the variation in the size of visceral organs and intestinal structure and functionality was greater between geographic location (local environmental factors) than between RFI ranks of pigs. In conclusion, present results support previous findings that the intestinal size, structure and functionality do not significantly contribute to variation in RFI of pigs.
    • Follicle stimulating hormone isoforms and plasma concentrations of estradiol and inhibin A in dairy cows with ovulatory and non-ovulatory follicles during the first postpartum follicle wave

      Butler, Stephen T.; Pelton, Susanne H.; Knight, Phillip G.; Butler, W.R. (Elsevier Science Inc., 2008-07)
      Following parturition, all cows display a wave of ovarian follicular growth, but a large proportion fail to generate a preovulatory rise in estradiol, and hence fail to ovulate. Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) exists as multiple isoforms in the circulation depending on the type and extent of glycosylation, and this has pronounced effects on its biological properties. This study examined differences in plasma FSH, estradiol, and inhibin A concentrations, and the distribution of FSH isoforms in cows with ovulatory or atretic dominant follicles during the first postpartum follicle wave. Plasma FSH isoform distribution was examined in both groups during the period of final development of the dominant follicle by liquid phase isoelectric focusing. Cows with an ovulatory follicle had higher circulating estradiol and inhibin A concentrations, and lower plasma FSH concentrations. The distribution of FSH isoforms displayed a marked shift toward the less acidic isoforms in cows with ovulatory follicles. A higher proportion of the FSH isoforms had a pI >5.0 in cows with ovulatory follicles compared to those with atretic follicles. In addition, cows with ovulatory follicles had greater dry matter intake, superior energy balance, elevated circulating concentrations of insulin and insulin-like growth factor-I, and lower plasma nonesterified fatty acids. The shift in FSH isoforms toward a greater abundance of the less acidic isoforms appears to be a key component in determining the capability for producing a preovulatory rise in estradiol, and this shift in FSH isoforms was associated with more favorable bioenergetic and metabolic status.
    • Gastrointestinal nematode control practices on lowland sheep farms in Ireland with reference to selection for anthelmintic resistance

      Patten, Thomas; Good, Barbara; Hanrahan, James P; Mulcahy, Grace; de Waal, Theo (Biomed Central, 2011-03-31)
      Gastrointestinal parasitism is a widely recognised problem in sheep production, particularly for lambs. While anthelmintics have a pivotal role in controlling the effects of parasites, there is a paucity of data on how farmers use anthelmintics. A representative sample of Irish lowland farmers were surveyed regarding their parasite control practices and risk factors that may contribute to the development of anthelmintic resistance. Questionnaires were distributed to 166 lowland Irish sheep producers. The vast majority of respondents treated their sheep with anthelmintics. Lambs were the cohort treated most frequently, the majority of farmers followed a set programme as opposed to treating at sign of disease. A substantial proportion (61%) administered four or more treatments to lambs in a 'normal' year. Departures from best practice in anthelmintic administration that would encourage the development of anthelmintic resistance were observed. In conclusion, in the light of anthelmintic resistance, there is a need for a greater awareness of the principles that underpin the sustainable use of anthelmintics and practices that preserve anthelmintic efficacy should be given a very high priority in the design of helminth control programmes on each farm. To this end, given that veterinary practitioners and agricultural advisors were considered to be the farmer's most popular information resource, the capacity of these professions to communicate information relating to best practice in parasite control should be targeted.
    • Gastrointestinal tract size, total-tract digestibility, and rumen microflora in different dairy cow genotypes

      Beecher, Marion; Buckley, Frank; Waters, Sinead M.; Boland, T. M.; Enriquez-Hidalgo, D.; Deighton, M. H.; O'Donovan, Michael; Lewis, Eva (Elsevier Inc and American Dairy Science Association, 2014-04-03)
      The superior milk production efficiency of Jersey (JE) and Jersey × Holstein-Friesian (JE × HF) cows compared with Holstein-Friesian (HF) has been widely published. The biological differences among dairy cow genotypes, which could contribute to the milk production efficiency differences, have not been as widely studied however. A series of component studies were conducted using cows sourced from a longer-term genotype comparison study (JE, JE × HF, and HF). The objectives were to (1) determine if differences exist among genotypes regarding gastrointestinal tract (GIT) weight, (2) assess and quantify whether the genotypes tested differ in their ability to digest perennial ryegrass, and (3) examine the relative abundance of specific rumen microbial populations potentially relating to feed digestibility. Over 3 yr, the GIT weight was obtained from 33 HF, 35 JE, and 27 JE × HF nonlactating cows postslaughter. During the dry period the cows were offered a perennial ryegrass silage diet at maintenance level. The unadjusted GIT weight was heavier for the HF than for JE and JE × HF. When expressed as a proportion of body weight (BW), JE and JE × HF had a heavier GIT weight than HF. In vivo digestibility was evaluated on 16 each of JE, JE × HF, and HF lactating dairy cows. Cows were individually stalled, allowing for the total collection of feces and were offered freshly cut grass twice daily. During this time, daily milk yield, BW, and dry matter intake (DMI) were greater for HF and JE × HF than for JE; milk fat and protein concentration ranked oppositely. Daily milk solids yield did not differ among the 3 genotypes. Intake capacity, expressed as DMI per BW, tended to be different among treatments, with JE having the greatest DMI per BW, HF the lowest, and JE × HF being intermediate. Production efficiency, expressed as milk solids per DMI, was higher for JE than HF and JE × HF. Digestive efficiency, expressed as digestibility of dry matter, organic matter, N, neutral detergent fiber, and acid detergent fiber, was higher for JE than HF. In grazing cows (n = 15 per genotype) samples of rumen fluid, collected using a transesophageal sampling device, were analyzed to determine the relative abundance of rumen microbial populations of cellulolytic bacteria, protozoa, and fungi. These are critically important for fermentation of feed into short-chain fatty acids. A decrease was observed in the relative abundance of Ruminococcus flavefaciens in the JE rumen compared with HF and JE × HF. We can deduce from this study that the JE genotype has greater digestibility and a different rumen microbial population than HF. Jersey and JE × HF cows had a proportionally greater GIT weight than HF. These differences are likely to contribute to the production efficiency differences among genotypes previously reported.
    • Genetic analysis of atypical progesterone profiles in Holstein-Friesian cows from experimental research herds

      Nyman, S.; Johanssen, K.; de Koning, D. J.; Berry, Donagh P.; Veerkamp, R. F.; Wall, E.; Beeglund, B. (Elsevier for American Dairy Science Association, 2014-11)
      The objective of this study was to quantify the genetic variation in normal and atypical progesterone profiles and investigate if this information could be useful in an improved genetic evaluation for fertility for dairy cows. The phenotypes derived from normal profiles included cycle length traits, including commencement of luteal activity (C-LA), interluteal interval, luteal phase length. and interovulatory interval. In total, 44,977 progesterone test-day records were available from 1,612 lactations on 1,122 primiparous and multiparous Holstein-Friesian cows from Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. The atypical progesterone profiles studied were delayed cyclicity, prolonged luteal phase, and cessation of cyclicity. Variance components for the atypical progesterone profiles were estimated using a sire linear mixed model, whereas an animal linear mixed model was used to estimate variance components for the cycle length traits. Heritability was moderate for delayed cyclicity (0.24 ± 0.05) and C-LA (0.18 ± 0.04) but low for prolonged luteal phase (0.02 ± 0.04), luteal phase length (0.08 ± 0.05), interluteal interval (0.08 ± 0.14), and interovulatory interval (0.03 ± 0.04). No genetic variation was detected for cessation of cyclicity. Commencement of luteal activity, luteal phase length, and interovulatory interval were moderately to strongly genetically correlated with days from calving to first service (0.35 ± 0.12, 0.25 ± 0.14, and 0.76 ± 0.24, respectively). Delayed cyclicity and C-LA are traits that can be important in both genetic evaluations and management of fertility to detect (earlier) cows at risk of compromised fertility. Delayed cyclicity and C-LA were both strongly genetically correlated with milk yield in early lactation (0.57 ± 0.14 and 0.45 ± 0.09, respectively), which may imply deterioration in these traits with selection for greater milk yield without cognizance of other traits.
    • Genetic basis of benzimidazole resistance in Teladorsagia circumcincta in Ireland

      Keegan, Jason D; Good, Barbara; de Waal, Theo; Fanning, June; Keane, Orla M (Biomed Central, 2017-02-13)
      Resistance to benzimidazole (BZ) anthelmintics is common in ovine nematodes of economic importance. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) at three positions in the isotype 1 β– tubulin gene have been associated with BZ resistance and molecular tests for the detection of BZ resistance have been developed. In order to determine if such tests are practicable in Ireland the polymorphisms associated with BZ resistance must be identified. To this end, BZ-resistant nematodes were recovered from four farms in Ireland. Resistant Teladorsagia circumcincta, Cooperia curticei and Trichostrongylus colubriformis were recovered, with resistant T. circumcincta the most common and the only species studied further. Sequencing of the isotype 1 β–tubulin gene from resistant T. circumcincta identified a T - A transition, resulting in an F200Y substitution known to be responsible for BZ-resistance, on three of the farms. However, on the fourth farm the frequency of the resistant A allele was only 0.33 indicating another BZ resistance mechanism may be present on this farm. An additional polymorphism resulting in a substitution of glutamate for leucine (E198L) was also found on this farm at low frequency (0.17). No polymorphisms at position 167 were identified on any farm. Therefore, molecular tests to detect BZ resistance in T. circumcincta in Ireland could prove useful; however, they may result in some instances of resistance remaining undetected.
    • Genetic merit for fertility traits in Holstein cows: I. Production characteristics and reproductive efficiency in a pasture-based system

      Cummins, S.B.; Lonergan, P.; Evans, A.C.O.; Berry, Donagh P.; Evans, Ross D; Butler, Stephen T. (American Dairy Science Association and Elsevier Inc., 2012-03)
      The objective of the present study was to characterize the phenotypic performance of cows with similar proportions of Holstein genetics, similar genetic merit for milk production traits, but with good (Fert+) or poor (Fert−) genetic merit for fertility traits. Specifically, we tested the hypothesis that cows with a negative estimated breeding value for calving interval would have superior fertility performance and would have detectable differences in body reserve mobilization and circulating concentrations of metabolic hormones and metabolites compared with cows that had a positive estimated breeding value for calving interval. For the duration of the study, cows were managed identically as a single herd in a typical grass-based, spring-calving production system. A total of 80 lactation records were available from 26 Fert+ and 26 Fert− cows over 2 consecutive years (2008 and 2009). During yr 1, cows were monitored during a 20-wk breeding season to evaluate reproductive performance. Milk production, body condition score (scale 1 to 5), body weight, grass dry matter intake, energy balance, and metabolic hormone and metabolite data were collected during both years. The Fert+ cows had greater daily milk yield (19.5 vs. 18.7 kg/d), shorter interval from calving to conception (85.6 vs. 113.8 d), and fewer services per cow (1.78 vs. 2.83). No difference between groups in grass dry matter intake, energy balance, or body weight was observed. The Fert+ cows maintained greater BCS during mid (2.84 vs. 2.74 units) and late lactation (2.82 vs. 2.73 units). Circulating concentrations of insulin-like growth factor-I were greater throughout the gestation-lactation cycle in Fert+ cows (148.3 vs. 128.2 ng/mL). The Fert+ cows also had greater circulating concentrations of insulin during the first 4 wk of lactation (1.71 vs. 1.24 μIU/mL). Analysis of records from national herd data verified the association between genetic merit for fertility traits and phenotypic reproductive performance; Fert+ cows (n = 2,436) required 11.1 d less to recalve than did Fert− cows (n = 1,388), and the percentage of cows that successfully calved for the second time within 365 and 400 d of the first calving was 8 and 13% greater for Fert+ compared with Fert− cows, respectively. These results demonstrate that genetic merit for fertility traits had a pronounced effect on reproductive efficiency, BCS profiles, and circulating concentrations of insulin-like growth factor-I.
    • Genetic merit for fertility traits in Holstein cows: II. Ovarian follicular and corpus luteum dynamics, reproductive hormones and estrus behaviour

      Cummins, Sean B; Lonergan, P.; Evans, A.C.O.; Butler, Stephen T. (American Dairy Science Association and Elsevier Inc., 2012-07)
      The objective of this study was to characterize the estrous cycle of cows with similar proportions of Holstein genetics, similar genetic merit for milk production traits, but with good (Fert+) or poor (Fert-) genetic merit for fertility traits. A total of 37 lactating cows were enrolled on an 8-d CIDR-based protocol to synchronise estrus. 19 Fert+ and 12 Fert- cows that successfully ovulated a dominant follicle and established a corpus luteum underwent daily transrectal ultrasonography. Blood sampling was carried at 8 h intervals from d 0 to d 6 and from d 15 to ovulation, and once daily from d 7 to d 15. Blood samples were analysed for progesterone, estradiol, follicle stimulating hormone and luteinising hormone. Estrus behaviour was recorded using neck activity collars and mounting pads. Fert+ cows tended to have fewer (P = 0.07) follicular waves (2.2 vs. 2.7 waves) and had a shorter (P < 0.05) estrous cycle (21.0 vs. 25.1 d) than Fert- cows. There was no effect of genotype on day of first wave emergence or day of first wave dominant follicle peak diameter (all P > 0.05) but the peak diameter of the first wave dominant follicle tended to be larger (P = 0.08) in Fert- cows. During the first 13 d of the cycle, Fert+ cows developed a corpus luteum that was 16% larger (P = 0.08) than Fert- cows. Circulating progesterone concentrations were 34% greater (P < 0.001) in Fert+ than Fert- cows (5.15 vs. 3.84 ng/ml, respectively) from d 5 to d 13. During the final follicular wave, the interval from preovulatory follicle emergence to ovulation and the interval from preovulatory follicle dominance to ovulation were similar (P >0.05) in both genotypes. Maximum preovulatory follicle diameter was larger (P < 0.05) in Fert+ than Fert- cows (17.9 vs. 16.8 mm, respectively); however, circulating concentrations of oestradiol were not different (all P > 0.05) between genotypes. A greater proportion (P < 0.05) of Fert- cows ovulated to a silent heat than Fert+ cows (22% vs. 2%, respectively). Of cows that showed behavioural estrus Fert+ cows had 41% greater (P < 0.01) mean activity count; however, no difference (P > 0.05) was seen in mounting behaviour between genotypes. These results demonstrate for the first time that genetic merit for fertility has pronounced effects on corpus luteum development, progesterone concentration, preovulatory follicle diameter and behavioural estrus.