• The association between herd- and cow-level factors and somatic cell count of Irish dairy cows

      McParland, Sinead; O'Brien, Bernadette; McCarthy, J.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 10/RD/AAQUALITYMILK/TMFRC713 (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2013)
      Somatic cell count (SCC) is an indicator of both udder health and milk quality and is measured at an animal level through national milk recording schemes. The objective of this study was to assess the animal and herd factors contributing to elevated SCC (i.e. poorer milk quality). Test day records (n = 2,658,928) from 519,456 cow lactations obtained between 2007 and 2011 were included in the analyses. Herd factors tested included the geographical region of the herd and production system operated (spring calving or mixed calving system). Animal factors tested included breed, parity and age nested within parity. Four definitions of normalised SCC (i.e. SCS) were considered: 1) average test-day SCS within a 24 hour period (TD_SCS), 2) maximum SCS (peak_SCS), 3) minimum SCS (min_SCS), and 4) average SCS (avg_SCS) recorded across cow lactation; in addition, the proportion of test day records with an SCC count >200,000 (prop_200) or >250,000 (prop_250) within cow lactation were included. Following adjustment for fixed effects, average TD_SCS was 179,308 cells per mL while avg_SCS, and average min_SCS and peak_SCS were 119,481, 50,992 and 298,813 cells per mL, respectively. All animal and herd factors had a significant effect on SCC. Older animals, animals which were younger at calving than contemporaries and Holstein animals had higher SCC than younger alternative breed animals who calved at the median age. In addition, mixed calving production systems and herds in Connaught had higher SCC than spring calving herds in the other regions of Ireland.
    • Cow welfare in grass based milk production systems

      Boyle, Laura; Olmos, G.; Llamas Moya, S.; Palmer, M.A.; Gleeson, David E; O'Brien, Bernadette; Horan, Brendan; Berry, Donagh; Arkins, S.; Alonso Gómez, M.; et al. (Teagasc, 2008-08-01)
      Under this project, aspects of pasture based milk production systems, namely different milking frequency and feeding strategies as well as genetic selection for improved fitness using the Irish Economic Breeding Index (EBI) were evaluated in terms of dairy cow behaviour, health, immune function and reproductive performance. Additionally, a typical Irish pasture based system was compared to one in which cows were kept indoors in cubicles and fed a total mixed ration for the duration of lactation in order to elucidate the perceived benefits of pasture based systems for dairy cow welfare.
    • Daily and seasonal trends of electricity and water use on pasture-based automatic milking dairy farms

      Shortall, John; O'Brien, Bernadette; Sleator, Roy D.; Upton, John; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; European Union; 2012015; SME-2012-2-314879 (Elsevier, 2017-11-15)
      The objective of this study was to identify the major electricity and water-consuming components of a pasture-based automatic milking (AM) system and to establish the daily and seasonal consumption trends. Electricity and water meters were installed on 7 seasonal calving pasture-based AM farms across Ireland. Electricity-consuming processes and equipment that were metered for consumption included milk cooling components, air compressors, AM unit(s), auxiliary water heaters, water pumps, lights, sockets, automatic manure scrapers, and so on. On-farm direct water-consuming processes and equipment were metered and included AM unit(s), auxiliary water heaters, tubular coolers, wash-down water pumps, livestock drinking water supply, and miscellaneous water taps. Data were collected and analyzed for the 12-mo period of 2015. The average AM farm examined had 114 cows, milking with 1.85 robots, performing a total of 105 milkings/AM unit per day. Total electricity consumption and costs were 62.6 Wh/L of milk produced and 0.91 cents/L, respectively. Milking (vacuum and milk pumping, within-AM unit water heating) had the largest electrical consumption at 33%, followed by air compressing (26%), milk cooling (18%), auxiliary water heating (8%), water pumping (4%), and other electricity-consuming processes (11%). Electricity costs followed a similar trend to that of consumption, with the milking process and water pumping accounting for the highest and lowest cost, respectively. The pattern of daily electricity consumption was similar across the lactation periods, with peak consumption occurring at 0100, 0800, and between 1300 and 1600 h. The trends in seasonal electricity consumption followed the seasonal milk production curve. Total water consumption was 3.7 L of water/L of milk produced. Water consumption associated with the dairy herd at the milking shed represented 42% of total water consumed on the farm. Daily water consumption trends indicated consumption to be lowest in the early morning period (0300–0600 h), followed by spikes in consumption between 1100 and 1400 h. Seasonal water trends followed the seasonal milk production curve, except for the month of May, when water consumption was reduced due to above-average rainfall. This study provides a useful insight into the consumption of electricity and water on a pasture-based AM farms, while also facilitating the development of future strategies and technologies likely to increase the sustainability of AM systems.
    • Daily and seasonal trends of electricity and water use on pasture-based automatic milking dairy farms

      Shortall, John; O'Brien, Bernadette; Sleator, Roy D.; Upton, John; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship programme; European Union; 2012015; SME-2012-2-314879 (American Dairy Science Association, 2017-11-15)
      The objective of this study was to identify the major electricity and water-consuming components of a pasture-based automatic milking (AM) system and to establish the daily and seasonal consumption trends. Electricity and water meters were installed on 7 seasonal calving pasture-based AM farms across Ireland. Electricity-consuming processes and equipment that were metered for consumption included milk cooling components, air compressors, AM unit(s), auxiliary water heaters, water pumps, lights, sockets, automatic manure scrapers, and so on. On-farm direct water-consuming processes and equipment were metered and included AM unit(s), auxiliary water heaters, tubular coolers, wash-down water pumps, livestock drinking water supply, and miscellaneous water taps. Data were collected and analyzed for the 12-mo period of 2015. The average AM farm examined had 114 cows, milking with 1.85 robots, performing a total of 105 milkings/AM unit per day. Total electricity consumption and costs were 62.6 Wh/L of milk produced and 0.91 cents/L, respectively. Milking (vacuum and milk pumping, within-AM unit water heating) had the largest electrical consumption at 33%, followed by air compressing (26%), milk cooling (18%), auxiliary water heating (8%), water pumping (4%), and other electricity-consuming processes (11%). Electricity costs followed a similar trend to that of consumption, with the milking process and water pumping accounting for the highest and lowest cost, respectively. The pattern of daily electricity consumption was similar across the lactation periods, with peak consumption occurring at 0100, 0800, and between 1300 and 1600 h. The trends in seasonal electricity consumption followed the seasonal milk production curve. Total water consumption was 3.7 L of water/L of milk produced. Water consumption associated with the dairy herd at the milking shed represented 42% of total water consumed on the farm. Daily water consumption trends indicated consumption to be lowest in the early morning period (0300–0600 h), followed by spikes in consumption between 1100 and 1400 h. Seasonal water trends followed the seasonal milk production curve, except for the month of May, when water consumption was reduced due to above-average rainfall. This study provides a useful insight into the consumption of electricity and water on a pasture-based AM farms, while also facilitating the development of future strategies and technologies likely to increase the sustainability of AM systems.
    • The effect of dairy cow breed on milk production, cow traffic and milking characteristics in a pasture-based automatic milking system

      Shortall, J.; Foley, Cathriona; Sleator, Roy D.; O'Brien, Bernadette; European Union; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; SME-2012-2-314879; 2012015 (Elsevier BV, 2018-01-05)
      Despite the increasing frequency of integrated automatic milking (AM) and pasture-based systems, there is limited knowledge available on the suitability of different dairy cow breeds to these systems. Thus, the objective of this experiment was to establish the performance of three breeds in a pasture-based AM system with respect to milk production, cow traffic and milking characteristics. The breeds examined were Holstein Friesian (HF), Jersey x HF (JEX) and Norwegian Red x HF (NRX), all of which have been previously identified as being compatible with conventional milking pasture-based systems. The experiment was conducted in mid-lactation and variables measured included milking frequency, -interval, -outcome and -characteristics, milk yield/milking and per day, wait time/visit and per day, return time/visit and the daily distribution of milking events. Data were statistically analysed using least squares means mixed procedure models, while the proportion of different milking events were analysed using the logistics procedure. While there were no significant differences between breeds for milking frequency, or milk production, significant differences did exist for proportion of successful and failed milkings events, with NRX cows recording the highest and lowest proportions, respectively. JEX also recorded a significantly shorter dead time/quarter at 17.6 s/milking compared to the HF and NRX breeds at 28.5 and 27.7 s/milking, respectively. Significant differences also existed with regard to cow traffic, with the NRX breed returning from pasture more quickly and waiting a shorter time both per visit and per day in the pre-milking yard. The distribution of milking events differed between the breeds examined, with the JEX cows recording less milkings in the hour after the pre-selection gate changes of 0000 h and 1600 h. JEX also recorded a significantly greater proportion of milkings than the NRX and HF cows during the hours at which the lowest proportion of total milking events were recorded (0400–0600 h). For the optimisation of the AM system it is important to have an even distribution of milkings throughout the day. Based on the evidence from the current experiment, this may be best achieved by a mixed breed herd rather than a single breed herd. However, the performance of the examined breeds should also be analysed in the context of the whole AM farm system, over an entire lactation, taking into consideration the range of variables that contribute to a profitable farm system.
    • The effect of different precooling rates and cold storage on milk microbiological quality and composition

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

      Paludetti, L.F.; Kelly, Alan L.; O'Brien, Bernadette; Jordan, Kieran; Gleeson, David E (Elsevier, 2018-01-10)
      The objective of this study was to measure the effect of different milk cooling rates, before entering the bulk tank, on the microbiological load and composition of the milk, as well as on energy usage. Three milk precooling treatments were applied before milk entered 3 identical bulk milk tanks: no plate cooler (NP), single-stage plate cooler (SP), and double-stage plate cooler (DP). These precooling treatments cooled the milk to 32.0 ± 1.4°C, 17.0 ± 2.8°C, and 6.0 ± 1.1°C, respectively. Milk was added to the bulk tank twice daily for 72 h, and the tank refrigeration temperature was set at 3°C. The blend temperature within each bulk tank was reduced after each milking event as the volume of milk at 3°C increased simultaneously. The bacterial counts of the milk volumes precooled at different rates did not differ significantly at 0 h of storage or at 24-h intervals thereafter. After 72 h of storage, the total bacterial count of the NP milk was 3.90 ± 0.09 log10 cfu/mL, whereas that of the precooled milk volumes were 3.77 ± 0.09 (SP) and 3.71 ± 0.09 (DP) log10 cfu/mL. The constant storage temperature (3°C) over 72 h helped to reduce bacterial growth rates in milk; consequently, milk composition was not affected and minimal, if any, proteolysis occurred. The DP treatment had the highest energy consumption (17.6 ± 0.5 Wh/L), followed by the NP (16.8 ± 2.7 Wh/L) and SP (10.6 ± 1.3 Wh/L) treatments. This study suggests that bacterial count and composition of milk are minimally affected when milk is stored at 3°C for 72 h, regardless of whether the milk is precooled; however, milk entering the tank should have good initial microbiological quality. Considering the numerical differences between bacterial counts, however, the use of the SP or DP precooling systems is recommended to maintain low levels of bacterial counts and reduce energy consumption.
    • Effect of milk feed source, frequency of feeding and age at turnout on calf performance, live-weight at mating and 1st lactation milk production

      Gleeson, David E; O'Brien, Bernadette (Biomed Central, 2012-10-18)
      Female calves (n = 108) were assigned to 6 cold milk feeding treatments in two experiments for a 70-day period. Live-weight (LW) was measured weekly, with an additional LW taken at day 410 and post-calving for animals in experiment 1. In Experiment 1, the effect of feeding frequency and age of turnout to pasture on calf performance and 1st lactation milk yields were evaluated. The whole milk (WM) feeding treatments applied were (i) once daily feeding (OD), (ii) twice daily feeding (TD), (iii) OD feeding, outdoors at 38 days (ODO). In Experiment 2, the effects of feeding milk replacer (MR) as opposed to WM and age of turnout to pasture on calf performance were evaluated. The treatments applied were (i) OD feeding with WM (OD), (ii) OD feeding with milk replacer (MR) (ODMR), (iii) OD feeding with MR, outdoors at 38 days (ODMRO). Experiment 1: There were no differences (P > 0.05) in LW or average daily gain between TD and OD calves at day 80 or 410. ODO calves had lower LW at day 80 as compared to OD or TD (P < 0.001). Calf LW at day 80 was 86, 89 and 85 kg and at day 410 was 304, 309 and 316 kg for OD, TD and ODO, respectively. Milk feeding frequency or time of calf turnout had no effect on LW post calving, milk composition or 1st lactation milk yields. Experiment 2: Total LW at day 80 was higher (P < 0.05) for ODMR compared to OD or ODMRO calves. Calf LW was 87, 95, and 88 kg for OD, ODMR and ODMRO, respectively. However, LW at day 410 did not differ between treatments.This study showed that while some differences were observed in calf LW at day 80, these differences had no effect on LW at day 410 or 1st lactation milk yield. It can be concluded that calves can be successfully reared when fed OD with WM or MR, indoors and when turned out to pasture at 38 days of age.
    • Effect of omitting teat preparation on bacterial levels in bulk tank milk

      Gleeson, David E; Edwards, Paul; O'Brien, Bernadette; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2016-12)
      The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of omitting teat preparation prior to milking on the bacterial levels in milk directly after milking and after a period of milk storage. Eighty Holstein–Friesian dairy cows were assigned to two pre-milking teat preparation treatments: (i) washing of teats and drawing of foremilk, followed by drying with paper towels and (ii) no teat preparation. Individual cow measurements included individual quarter somatic cell count (SCC) and teat swabs for the presence of Bacillus cereus sensu lato. On seven monthly occasions, all milk produced over a 24 h period from each treatment group was segregated into a separate tank and sampled. Sub-samples of this milk were stored at 4 °C for 0, 24, 48 and 72 h, and the milk was analysed for total bacterial count (TBC), thermoduric bacterial count and the presence of B. cereus s. I. Individual quarter SCCs were numerically higher for unprepared teats (159,000 cells/mL) compared with those for prepared teats (133,000 cells/mL; P < 0.09). A similar trend was observed for bulk tank SCC, with the unprepared teat treatment tending to have a higher SCC (155,857 cells/mL) compared to the prepared teat treatment (102,286 cells/mL; P< 0.09). The TBC was not significantly higher from unprepared teats (3,152 cfu/ mL) compared with milk from prepared teats (1,678 cfu/mL) (P< 0.10). Milk TBC was significantly higher after storage for 72 h compared with that after 0, 24 and 48 h (P< 0.01). The results of this study indicate that under good hygienic conditions in an outdoor grazing situation, the omission of pre-milking teat preparation has a minimal effect on TBC and SCC.
    • Effect of pre-milking teat disinfection on new mastitis infection rates of dairy cows

      Gleeson, David E; Flynn, James; O'Brien, Bernadette (Biomed Central, 2018-04-18)
      Background The practise of teat disinfection prior to cluster attachment for milking is being adopted by farmers in Ireland, particularly where there are herd issues with new infection rates. Pre-milking teat disinfection has been shown to reduce bacterial numbers on teat skin and to be most effective against environmental bacteria such as Escherichia coli and Streptococcus uberis. A split udder design experiment was undertaken on two research herds (A = 96 cows: B = 168 cows) to test the benefit of pre-milking teat disinfection on new mastitis infection levels. The disinfectant was applied to the left front and right hind teats of all cows in each herd and the right front and left hind teats received no disinfectant treatment prior to milking over a complete lactation. Individual quarter foremilk samples were taken on 5 occasions during the lactation and all clinical cases were recorded. The presence and number of staphylococcus and streptococcus bacteria on teat skin of a random sample of experimental cows (n = 20) was measured on 3 occasions during lactation (April, June, and October). Results Pre-milking teat disinfection had no significant impact on quarter SCC and new infection rates (P > 0.05). The median SCC was 169 (95% CI = 144–198) × 103 cells/mL and 170 (95% CI = 145–199) × 103 cells/mL for disinfected teats and non-disinfected teats, respectively. There were no differences in SCC observed between herds (A = 161 (95% CI = 127–205) × 103 cells/mL; B = 169 (95% CI = 144–198) × 103 cells/mL) over the complete lactation. Bacterial levels on teat skin were reduced significantly with pre-milking teat disinfection compared to teats receiving no disinfectant (P < 0.001). Total infections (clinical and sub-clinical) were similar for disinfected teats (n = 36) and not disinfected teats (n = 40), respectively. Staphylococcus aureus (n = 47) and Strep. uberis (n = 9) were identified as the predominant bacteria in quarter foremilk samples with both clinical and sub-clinical infections. Conclusion SCC and new infection rates were similar in non-disinfected teats and disinfected (pre-milking) teats. The routine application of pre-milking teat disinfectant in pasture-grazed herds is unlikely to be of benefit where herd SCC is below 200 × 103 cells/mL.
    • Effect of pre-milking teat preparation procedures on the microbial count on teats prior to cluster application

      Gleeson, David E; O'Brien, Bernadette; Flynn, James; O'Callaghan, Edmond J; Galli, F (Biomed Central, 2009-07-01)
      A study was carried out to investigate the effect of six pre-milking teat preparation procedures on lowering the staphylococal, streptococcal and coliform microbial count on teat skin prior to cluster application. The teat preparations included 'Iodine', 'Chlorhexidine' teat foam, 'Washing and drying' with paper, 'No preparation', 'Chlorine' teat foam, and disinfectant 'Wipes'. Teat preparations were applied for five days to 10 cows for each treatment during two herd management periods (indoors and outdoors). Teats were swabbed on day four and five before teat preparation and repeated after teat preparation. The swabs were plated on three selective agars: Baird Parker (Staphylococcus spp.), Edwards (Streptococcus spp.), and MacConkey (coliform). Following incubation, microbial counts for each pathogen type were manually counted and assigned to one of six categories depending on the microbial counts measured. The results were analysed by logistic regression using SAS 28. The main analysis was conducted on binary improvement scores for the swabbing outcomes. There were no differences for staphylococcal, streptococcal and coliform bacterial counts between treatments, measured 'before' teat preparation. Treatments containing 'Chlorhexidine' teat foam (OR = 4.46) and 'Wipes' (OR = 4.46) resulted in a significant reduction (P < 0.01) in the staphylococcal count on teats compared to 'Washing and drying' or 'No preparation'. 'Chlorine' teat foam (OR = 3.45) and 'Wipes' (3.45) had the highest probability (P < 0.01) of reducing streptococcal counts compared to 'Washing and drying' or 'No preparation'. There was no statistical difference between any of the disinfectant treatments applied in reducing coliforms. Thus, the use of some disinfectant products for pre-milking teat preparation can have beneficial effects on reducing the levels of staphylococcal and streptococcal pathogens on teat skin.
    • Effect of restricting silage feeding prepartum on time of calving, dystocia and stillbirth in Holstein-Friesian cows

      Gleeson, David E; O'Brien, Bernadette; Mee, John F; Irish Dairy Levy Research Trust (Biomed Central, 2007-11-01)
      A study was carried out to investigate the effect of restricting silage feeding on time of calving and calving performance in Holstein-Friesian cows. In the treatment group (n = 1,248 cows, 12 herds) silage feeding commenced in the evening (17:00 to 20:00 h), after a period of restricted access (2 to 10 h) while in the control group ad-libitum access to silage was provided over the 24 h period (n = 1,193 cows, 12 herds). Daytime and nighttime calvings were defined as calvings occurring between the hours of 06:30 and 00:29 and between 00:30 and 06:29, respectively. Restricting access to silage resulted in less calvings at night compared to cows with ad-libitum access to silage (18 vs 22%, P < 0.05). Cows with restricted access to silage had a higher percentage of difficult calvings (11 vs 7%, P < 0.001) and stillbirths (7 vs 5%, P < 0.05) compared to cows in the control group. The percentage of calvings at night was lower (13%) when access to silage was restricted for 10 h compared to 2, 4 or 6 h (22, 18, 25%, respectively) (P < 0.001). Calf sire breed, calf gender or cow parity did not influence time of calving. In conclusion, offering silage to pregnant Holstein-Friesian cows in the evening, after a period of restricted access, reduced the incidence of nighttime calvings, but increased the incidence of dystocia and stillbirth.
    • Evaluating the effectiveness of commercial teat disinfectant products sold in Ireland using the disc diffusion method

      Fitzpatrick, S.R.; Garvey, M.; Flynn, J.; O'Brien, Bernadette; Gleeson, David; Teagasc Walsh Scholarship Programme; 2016054 (Teagasc, 2021-06-04)
      Evaluation of teat disinfectant products for their effectiveness against the most prevalent mastitis-causing bacteria is important to identify the most effective ingredients against specific bacterial strains. Ninety-six commercially available teat disinfectant products were tested against three bacterial strains associated with mastitis in Ireland (Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus uberis and Escherichia coli) using the disc diffusion method. Products were reclassified by active ingredients (n = 9) for analysis. These ingredient groups included: chlorhexidine (n = 25), chlorine dioxide (n = 5), diamine (n = 1), iodine (n = 13), iodine combined with lactic acid (n = 5), lactic acid (n = 15), lactic acid combined with chlorhexidine (n = 21), lactic acid combined with hydrogen peroxide (n = 1) and lactic acid combined with salicylic acid (n = 10). The ingredient group chlorine dioxide resulted in the greatest zones of inhibition for all three bacterial strains. An individual product containing a combination of lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide resulted in the greatest zone of inhibition for Sta. aureus and Str. uberis, whereas a specific product within the chlorine dioxide group resulted in the greatest zones of inhibition for E. coli. High concentrations of active ingredient did not necessarily increase the effectiveness for the majority of teat disinfectant products. It is possible to use the disc diffusion method to evaluate/screen a large number of teat disinfectant products prior to conducting field trials to establish the products’ ability to reduce intramammary infections (IMI).
    • Evaluation of on-farm labour saving strategies for optimisation of herd size that could be managed by one operator

      O'Brien, Bernadette; Gleeson, David E; Shalloo, Laurence (Teagasc, 2009-06-01)
      Alternative milking frequencies Once a day (OAD) milking throughout lactation of a herd (over 2 years, incorporating 24% heifers) resulted in loss in milk solids (MS) production of 17% per cow.  Milking cows OAD in their 1st lactation does not adversely impact on milk production in the second lactation, when changed to twice a day (TAD) milking but may lead to a higher mastitis incidence.  Changeover in milking frequency in mid lactation resulted in a similar yield of MS per cow for TAD milking for the full lactation (474 kg) and the TAD OAD group (TAD for the first 110 days and OAD for the remainder of the lactation) (469 kg).  Thirteen times weekly milking in late lactation (omitting the Sunday evening milking) compared to twice daily milking every day had no effect on milk yield or composition and maximum SCC observed during the trial was 270x103 cells/ml.  Once daily milking did not adversely affect the processability of milk.  Once daily milking did not significantly increase milk SCC levels. Alternative calf rearing systems  The improved efficiency increased herd size may be due to less use of buckets for calf feeding together with more frequent use of teat feeding from a container, automatic feeders and ad libitum feeding  A study on OAD calf feeding (whole milk) demonstrated that calves can be reared with a OAD milk feeding system and weaned early (42 days) without adversely affecting performance  There was no difference in the live-weight gain of calves on once daily feeding, twice daily feeding or once daily feeding going outdoors after 28 days  Calf liveweight gain was greater with once daily feeding with milk replacer compared to once daily feeding with whole milk or once daily feeding with milk replacer going outdoors after 28 days Economic analysis of alternative milking systems  When deciding on the type, size and level of technology in the milking parlour, the trade-off between labour requirement and cost and the initial capital investment requirement should be key in making the decision.
    • An examination of the effects of labor efficiency on the profitability of grass-based, seasonal-calving dairy farms

      Deming, J.; Kinsella, Jim; O'Brien, Bernadette; Shalloo, Laurence; Dairy Research Ireland; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Elsevier, 2019-06-27)
      The seasonality of grass-based, seasonal-calving dairy systems results in disproportionately higher labor demands during the spring, when cows are calving, than in the remaining seasons. This study aimed to (1) examine the relationship between labor efficiency and profitability; (2) investigate strategies to reduce the hours worked per day by the farmer, family, and farm staff in the spring by having certain tasks outsourced; and (3) quantify the economic implications of those strategies. Data from an existing labor efficiency study on Irish dairy farms were used in conjunction with economic performance data from the farms. Tasks that required the highest level of farm labor per day in the spring were identified and hypothetical strategies to reduce the farm hours worked per day were examined. A stochastic budgetary simulation model was then used to examine the economic implications of employing these strategies and the effects of their use in conjunction with a proportionate increase in cow numbers that would leave the hours worked per day unchanged. The strategies were to use contractors to perform calf rearing, machinery work, or milking. Contracting out milking resulted in the greatest reduction in hours worked per day (5.6 h/d) followed by calf rearing (2.7 h/d) and machinery work (2 h/d). Reducing the hours worked per day by removing those tasks had slight (i.e., <5%) negative effects on profitability; however, maintaining the farm hours worked per day while utilizing the same strategies and increasing herd sizes resulted in profitable options. The most profitable scenario was for farms to increase herd size while contracting out milking.
    • Examining the impact of mastitis on the profitability of the Irish dairy industry

      Geary, Una; Lopez-Villalobos, N.; O'Brien, Bernadette; Garrick, Dorian J.; Shalloo, Laurence (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2013)
      Mastitis was identified as a priority disease within the Irish dairy industry by both dairy farmers and industry animal health experts, which led to the development of the CellCheck programme. In order to support this programme it was necessary to understand the extent to which mastitis affects farm profit, processor returns and ultimately industry profitability. To this end, an analysis of the impact of mastitis on farm, processor and the overall industry profitability was carried out. The impact of mastitis on farm costs, farm receipts and farm profitability is presented across a range of bulk milk somatic cell count (SCC) categories from <100,000 to >400,000 cells/mL. A meta-analysis of the relationship between SCC and raw milk composition, cheese processing characteristics and cheese composition was carried out and utilised to establish the impact of mastitis on processor returns. As SCC increased, the impact of mastitis on the volume of product that could be produced, net processor returns, milk price and the values per kg of fat and protein were calculated. The farm and processor analysis were then combined to estimate the impact of mastitis on the Irish dairy industry returns, accounting for both farm and processor costs. The analysis suggests that as cell count reduced from >400,000 to <100,000 cells/mL, overall returns to the farm should increase by 4.8 c/L, including the farm and processor related effects. Nationally, if the cell count was reduced by 10%, it would be worth €37.6 million for the Irish dairy industry.
    • Farm management factors associated with bulk tank somatic cell count in Irish dairy herds

      Kelly, P.T.; O'Sullivan, Kathleen; Berry, Donagh; 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, P.T.; O'Sullivan, Kathleen; Berry, Donagh; 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.
    • Identification of possible cow grazing behaviour indicators for restricted grass availability in a pasture-based spring calving dairy system

      Werner, Jessica; Umstatter, Christina; Kennedy, Emer; Grant, Jim; Leso, Lorenzo; Geoghegan, Anne; Shalloo, Laurence; Schick, Matthias; O'Brien, Bernadette; Science Foundation Ireland; et al. (Elsevier, 2018-12-05)
      Precision livestock farming uses biosensors to measure different parameters of individual animals to support farmers in the decision making process. Although sensor development is advanced, there is still little implementation of sensor-based solutions on commercial farms. Especially on pasture-based dairy systems, the grazing management of cows is largely not supported by technology. A key factor in pasture-based milk production is the correct grass allocation to maximize the grass utilization per cow, while optimizing cow performance. Currently, grass allocation is mostly based on subjective eye measurements or calculations per herd. The aim of this study was to identify possible indicators of insufficient or sufficient grass allocation in the cow grazing behaviour measures. A total number of 30 cows were allocated a restricted pasture allowance of 60% of their intake capacity. Their behavioural characteristics were compared to those of 10 cows (control group) with pasture allowance of 100% of their intake capacity. Grazing behaviour and activity of cows were measured using the RumiWatchSystem for a complete experimental period of 10 weeks. The results demonstrated that the parameter of bite frequency was significantly different between the restricted and the control groups. There were also consistent differences observed between the groups for rumination time per day, rumination chews per bolus and frequency of cows standing or lying.
    • Iodine concentrations in milk

      O'Brien, Bernadette; Gleeson, David E; Jordan, Kieran; Irish Dairy Levy Research Trust (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2013)
      Iodine tends to be supplemented at farm level in the expectation of increasing cow health and fertility. There is concern that such practices may result in high milk iodine, which could affect ingredients for infant formula and, thus, dairy export markets. The objective of this study was to quantify the effect of iodine fortified feed and teat disinfection practices of dairy cows on milk iodine concentration. Thirty lactating cows were fed 7 kg, 3 kg (10 mg iodine/kg) and 0 kg of concentrate feed during 3 periods of 35 days each. During the first 14 days of each period, cows were on dietary iodine treatments only; during days 15–21, one of three teat disinfection treatments (n = 10) was applied (in addition to the dietary iodine treatments): non-iodine (chlorhexidine) post-milking spray; 0.5% iodine spray post-milking; 0.5% iodine spray pre- and post-milking. Cow milk yield was 21.3 kg/day. Individual cow milk samples were analysed for iodine concentration on 2 days at the end of each treatment period. Dietary supplementation of iodine at both 30 mg and 70 mg/day, when compared to the diet with no supplement, increased milk iodine concentrations significantly (P < 0.001) from 449 to 1034 and 915 μg/kg, respectively. Teat disinfection both pre- and post-milking increased milk iodine concentration at each of the dietary supplementation levels of 0, 30 and 70 mg/day compared with a non-iodine teat disinfectant (P < 0.001). In conclusion, both dietary iodine supplementation and teat disinfection iodine increased milk iodine concentrations in an additive manner, exceeding common target values of 250 μg/kg. As both iodine treatments can occur simultaneously on farm, supplementation strategies should be monitored.