• N leaching to groundwater from dairy production involving grazing over the winter on a clay-loam soil

      Necpalova, Magdalena; Fenton, Owen; Casey, I.; Humphreys, James (Elsevier B. V., 15/08/2012)
      This study investigated concentrations of various N species in shallow groundwater (< 2.2 m below ground level) and N losses from dairy production involving grazing over the winter period on a clay loam soil with a high natural attenuation capacity in southern Ireland (52˚51’N, 08˚21’W) over a two year period. A dense network of shallow groundwater piezometers was installed to determine groundwater flow direction and N spatial and temporal variation. Estimated vertical travel times through the unsaturated zone (<0.5 yr, time lag) allowed the correlation of management with groundwater N within a short space of time. There was a two way interaction of the system and sampling date (P < 0.05) on concentrations of DON, oxidised N and NO3--N. In contrast, concentrations of NH4+-N and NO2--N were unaffected by the dairy system. Grazing over the winter had no effect on N losses to groundwater. Mean concentrations of DON, NH4+-N, NO2--N and NO3--N were 2.16, 0.35, 0.01 and 0.37 mg L-1 respectively. Soil attenuation processes such as denitrification and DNRA resulted in increased NH4+-N levels. For this reason, DON and NH4+-N represented the highest proportion of N losses from the site. Some of the spatial and temporal variation of N concentrations was explained by correlations with selected chemical and hydro-topographical parameters (NO3--N/Cl- ratio, distance of the sampling point from the closest receptor, watertable depth, depth of sampling piezometer, DOC concentration). A high explanatory power of NO3--N/Cl- ratio and the distance of the sampling point from the closest receptor indicated the influence of point sources and groundwater-surface water interactions.
    • Groundwater: A pathway for terrestrial C and N losses and indirect greenhouse gas emissions

      Jahangir, Mohammad M. R.; Johnson, P.; Khalil, M.I.; Hennessy, D.; Humphreys, James; Fenton, Owen; Richards, Karl G. (Elsevier, 16/07/2012)
      Estimating losses of dissolved carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) via groundwater in an agricultural system provides insights into reducing uncertainties in the terrestrial C and N balances. In addition, quantification of dissolved nitrous oxide (N2O), carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) in groundwaters beneath agricultural systems is important for global greenhouse gas (GHG) budgets. Dissolved C (DC: dissolved organic carbon (DOC) + CO2-C + CH4-C) and dissolved nitrogen (DN: NO3−-N + NH4+ + NO2−-N + N2O-N + N2) in groundwater were measured in two low permeability (<0.02 m d−1) and two high permeability (>0.05 m d−1) aquifers in Ireland. Groundwater in multilevel piezometers was sampled monthly over two years. Mean groundwater discharge to surface water was higher in 2009 (587–836 mm) than in 2010 (326–385 mm). Dissolved C and N delivery to surface water via groundwater caused substantial losses of terrestrial C and N. The extent of delivery was site specific and depended on N input, recharge and aquifer permeability. Mean dissolved N losses ranged from 8–12% of N input in low permeability to 27–38% in high permeability aquifers. The dominant fraction of DN was NO3−-N (84–90% of DN) in high permeability aquifers and N2 (46–77% of DN) in low permeability aquifers. Indirect N2O emissions via groundwater denitrification accounted for 0.03–0.12% of N input, which was equivalent to 3–11% of total N2O emissions. Dissolved C loss to surface waters via groundwater was not significant compared to total carbon (TC) content of the topsoil (0.06–0.18% of TC). Site characteristics contributed greatly to the distribution of N between NO3−-N and dissolved N gases, N2O and N2. Indirect GHG emissions from groundwater were an important part of farm nutrient budgets, which clearly has implications for national GHG inventories.
    • A review of nitrous oxide mitigation by farm nitrogen management in temperate grassland-based agriculture

      Li, Dejun; Watson, Catherine J.; Yan, Ming Jia; Lalor, Stanley T. J.; Rafique, Rashid; Hyde, Bernard; Lanigan, Gary; Richards, Karl G.; Holden, Nicholas M.; Humphreys, James (Elsevier, 20/07/2013)
      Nitrous oxide (N2O) emission from grassland-based agriculture is an important source of atmospheric N2O. It is hence crucial to explore various solutions including farm nitrogen (N) management to mitigate N2O emissions without sacrificing farm profitability and food supply. This paper reviews major N management practices to lower N2O emission from grassland-based agriculture. Restricted grazing by reducing grazing time is an effective way to decrease N2O emissions from excreta patches. Balancing the protein-to-energy ratios in the diets of ruminants can also decrease N2O emissions from excreta patches. Among the managements of synthetic fertilizer N application, only adjusting fertilizer N rate and slow-released fertilizers are proven to be effective in lowering N2O emissions. Use of bedding materials may increase N2O emissions from animal houses. Manure storage as slurry, manipulating slurry pH to values lower than 6 and storage as solid manure under anaerobic conditions help to reduce N2O emissions during manure storage stage. For manure land application, N2O emissions can be mitigated by reducing manure N inputs to levels that satisfy grass needs. Use of nitrification inhibitors can substantially lower N2O emissions associated with applications of fertilizers and manures and from urine patches. N2O emissions from legume based grasslands are generally lower than fertilizer-based systems. In conclusion, effective measures should be taken at each step during N flow or combined options should be used in order to mitigate N2O emission at the farm level.
    • Influence of feeding systems on the eating quality of beef

      Troy, Declan J.; Murray, Brendan; O'Sullivan, Aidan; Mooney, Teresa; Moloney, Aidan P; Kerry, Joseph (Teagasc, 2002-10)
      The objective was to determine pre-slaughter factors which may enhance the eating quality of beef and to assist the Irish beef production chain to exploit these factors to produce beef of higher quality and increased consumer acceptability. The effects of pre-slaughter growth rate, high energy diets, feed type and age at slaughter on beef quality were examined.
    • Insulin restores GH responsiveness during lactation-induced negative energy balance in dairy cattle: effects on expression of IGF-I and GH receptor 1A

      Butler, Stephen T.; Marr, A.L.; Pelton, S.H.; Radcliff, R.P.; Lucy, Matt C.; Butler, W.R. (Bioscientifica, 2003-02-01)
      Early lactation in dairy cattle is a period of severe negative energy balance (NEB) characterized by reduced blood glucose and insulin concentrations and elevated blood growth hormone (GH) concentrations. The liver is refractory to GH during NEB and this uncoupling of the GH-insulin-like growth factor (IGF) axis results in diminished plasma concentrations of IGF-I. Our objectives were to examine the effects of insulin administration during the immediate postpartum period on plasma IGF-I and GH concentrations and to examine the hepatic expression of total GH receptor (all GH receptor transcripts), GH receptor 1A (GHR 1A) and IGF-I. In addition, we examined adipose tissue for total GH receptor and IGF-I mRNA levels to establish the effects of chronic hyperinsulinemia on an insulin-responsive peripheral tissue. Holstein cows (n = 14) were subjected to either a hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp (insulin; INS) or saline infusion (control; CTL) for 96 hours starting on day 10 postpartum. Insulin was infused intravenously (1µg • kg BW-1 • h-1), blood samples were collected hourly, and euglycemia was maintained by infusion of glucose. Insulin concentrations during the infusions were increased 8-fold in INS cows compared with CTL cows (2.33 ± 0.14 vs. 0.27 ± 0.14 ng/ml; P < 0.001) while blood glucose concentrations were not different between treatments (45.3 ± 2.2 vs. 42.5 ± 2.2 mg/dl; P > 0.1). Plasma IGF-I increased continuously during the insulin infusion, and reached the highest concentrations at the end of the clamp, being almost four-fold higher in INS compared with CTL cows (117 ± 4 vs. 30 ± 4 ng/ml; P < 0.001). Hepatic expression of GHR 1A and IGF-I mRNA was low in CTL cows, but was increased 3.6-fold (P < 0.05) and 6.3-fold (P < 0.001) respectively in INS cows. By contrast, in adipose tissue the changes in gene expression in response to insulin were reversed with decreases in both total GHR and IGF-I mRNA. The expression of GHR 1A and IGF-I mRNA in liver tissue were correlated in INS (r = 0.86; P < 0.05), but not CTL cows (r = 0.43; P > 0.1). Insulin appears to be a key metabolic signal in coupling the GH-IGF axis, thus orchestrating a marked elevation in circulating IGF-I concentrations.
    • Effects of Different Rearing Methods on Health Status, Immunity and Performance of Artificially Reared Calves

      Earley, Bernadette (Biomed Central, 2003-03-31)
      Morbidity and mortality of the young calf represent a major cause of economic concern for producers [1]. The objective of the study was to evaluate the performance and immune status of calves reared in the presence or absence of quartz linear heating lamps (CD 3000) and fed calf milk replacer either by bucket or by teat. Mart-purchased Holstein/Friesian calves were approximately 21 days of age at arrival at the research centre. The calves were allocated randomly to one of the following four treatments (n = 16 calves per treatment) using a 2 × 2 factorial design; 1). Teat fed + quartz linear lamp (QLL) (2). Bucket fed + QLL; 3). Teat fed + no QLL and 4). Bucket fed + no QLL. For the 42-day experimental period, 8 groups of 8 calves were penned (2.4 × 10.0 m) on straw in a naturally ventilated Monopitch calf house. A quartz linear heating lamp (3 k output) was positioned in the centre of the individual sheds, 10 feet above the floor of the straw bedded pens for these on QLL treatments, and remained switched on for the duration of the study. The calves received an individual allowance of 25 kg of milk replacer powder offered warm (38°C) by bucket and had ad libitum access to a concentrate ration. Individual disease episodes were determined by the requirement to treat with antibiotics for either enteric disease or respiratory disease. Serum immunoglobulins (IgG1) were measured quantitatively by single radial immunodiffusion standard and calculated via an internal Ig standard (100 mg/L) on days 1, 14 and 28 of the study. Haematological parameters were measured on days 1, 14 and 42 of the study and included red blood cell number, haemoglobin, packed cell volume, mean cell volume and total white cell counts. The data were analysed using a model appropriate to factorial design, with terms for QLL and teat in the main plot. The average temperature and relative humidity of the shed compartments with and without the QLL heating lamps were recorded continuously and were 11.3°C and 81% and 10.5°C and 86%, respectively. There was no significant difference (P > 0.05) between treatments with respect to liveweight gain from day of arrival (day 1) to day 42 of the study. There was no significant interaction between QLL, no QLL, teat fed and bucket fed treatments with respect to serum IgG1 concentrations and haematological parameters throughout the study period (P > 0.05). The incidence of respiratory disease and enteric disease was similar across the treatment groups (P > 0.05). It is concluded that the rearing of calves indoors, in the presence of quartz linear heating lamps, and either fed calf milk replacer by teat or bucket had no beneficial effect on calf health and performance when compared with calves reared in a natural ventilated environment.
    • Insemination factors affecting the conception rate in seasonal calving Holstein-Friesian cows

      Buckley, Frank; Mee, John F; O'Sullivan, Kathleen; Evans, Ross D; Berry, Donagh P.; Dillon, Pat (EDP Sciences, 2003-11)
      Differences in conception rate to first service between artificial inseminations (AI) carried out by commercial AI operators (CAI) or do-it-yourself operators (DIY), between natural service (NAT) and AI, between different AI sires, and between fresh and frozen-thawed semen, on Irish commercial dairy farms, were studied using logistic regression. The study comprised 12 933 potential first inseminations from 77 spring-calving dairy herds. The data were recorded during 1999 and 2000. Amongst the total, 4 394 cows had repeated records across the two years. Adjustment variables included: herd, year, parity, calving period, calving to service interval, herd size, proportion of North American Holstein-Friesian genes, peak milk yield, semen fresh or frozen-thawed status, AI sire and a cow history variable to account for the correlation structure that may exist between performance records of cows present in both years of the study. Interactions of interest were tested but were non-significant. No significant association was observed between the category of AI operator and the likelihood of conception rate to first service (PREG1). The variation in PREG1 observed within the category of operator (CAI and DIY) was investigated using the Levene test for homogeneity of variance. There was no difference between the level of variation observed within CAI and DIY operators. There were significant differences in the likelihood of PREG1 between different AI sires. Amongst the 40 most commonly used AI sires, 3 sires had a lower likelihood of PREG1 (P < 0.05) when compared to the reference AI sire (sire with PREG1 similar to the mean of the group). There was a tendency for a reduced likelihood of PREG1 with the use of fresh semen compared to frozen-thawed semen ( , P = 0.067). Amongst the adjustment variables in the model, those significantly associated with the likelihood of PREG1 included the herd, calving period, calving to first service interval and peak milk yield. No significant difference in the likelihood of PREG1 was observed between AI and NAT.
    • Rearing calves outdoors with and without calf jackets compared with indoor housing on calf health and live-weight performance

      Earley, Bernadette; Murray, Margaret; Farrell, J.A.; Nolan, Marie-Jean (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2004)
      The objective of this study was to compare the effects of rearing calves outdoors, with and without all-weather calf jackets, with calves reared indoors on calf immunity and animal performance. In February 1999, male Holstein calves (mean (s.e.) weight 55 (1.90) kg) were randomly assigned to one of three treatments (n=30 per treatment): 1) outdoors with jacket, (J; mean age 19 (s.e. 2.0) days); 2) outdoors without jacket (NJ; mean age 19 (s.e. 1.8) days), and 3) indoors on straw (I; mean age 19 (s.e. 1.0) days). Calves received an individual allowance of 25 kg of milk replacer dry matter during the first 42 days with ad libitum access to a concentrate ration from day 0 to 63. The jackets were removed from the calves on day 42. Live-weight gain from day 0 to day 63 of the study was not significantly different between treatments (J, 0.79; NJ, 0.80; I, 0.80 kg). Sixty percent of the J calves and 53% of the NJ calves required four or more antibiotic treatments for respiratory disease while corresponding treatments were required for 97% of the I calves. The incidence of diarrhoea was significantly higher in both outdoor treatments compared to the I treatment. There was no significant difference in white blood cell counts or in serum immunoglobulin concentrations between treatments on days 0, 21, 42 and 63 or in in vitro interferon-γ production on day 63. It is concluded that using calf jackets on calves reared outdoors had no beneficial effect on calf performance or immune status. The incidence of respiratory disease was higher and diarrhoea incidence was lower in calves reared indoors compared with calves reared outdoors. There was no significant difference in incidences of diarrhoea and respiratory disease between the two outdoor treatments.
    • Cow serum and colostrum immunoglobulin (IgG1) concentration of five suckler cow breed types and subsequent immune status of their calves

      Murphy, B.M.; Drennan, Michael J; O'Mara, Frank P.; Earley, Bernadette (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2004)
      The objective of this study was to determine the effect of cow breed type on (a) cow serum and colostrum immunoglobulin (IgG1) concentrations and (b) subsequent calf serum IgG1 concentration and zinc sulphate turbidity (ZST) units. Five cow breed types were examined: LF (Limousin × Friesian), LLF (Limousin × (Limousin × Friesian)), L (Limousin), C (Charolais) and SLF (Simmental × (Limousin × Friesian)). Three blood samples were taken by jugular venipuncture from the cows at approximately 90, 60 and 30 days pre partum, at parturition and at 15 days or more post partum and from the calves at 48 (40 to 56) h post partum. Prior to suckling a 20 ml sample of colostrum was obtained. Milk yield was estimated using the weigh-suckleweigh technique. The decrease in serum IgG1 concentration in cows between 90 days pre partum and parturition was greater (P < 0.01) for LF cows than all other breed types, except SLF. There was no difference between LLF, L, C and SLF cows. There was no effect of cow breed type on colostrum IgG1 concentration. Milk yield was higher (P < 0.001) for LF cows than all other breed types, while that of SLF was higher than the three remaining breed types, which were similar. Calf serum IgG1 concentration and ZST units were higher (P < 0.01) for the progeny of LF cows than all others except SLF. There was no difference between the progeny of LLF, L, C and SLF cows. Calf serum IgG1 was affected by cow breed type and showed a positive relationship with cow serum IgG1 decreases in late pregnancy.
    • Genetic relationships among linear type traits, milk yield, body weight, fertility and somatic cell count in primiparous dairy cows

      Berry, Donagh P.; Buckley, Frank; Dillon, Pat; Evans, Ross D; Veerkamp, R. F. (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2004)
      Phenotypic and genetic (co)variances among type traits, milk yield, body weight, fertility and somatic cell count were estimated. The data analysed included 3,058 primiparous spring-calving Holstein-Friesian cows from 80 farms throughout the south of Ireland. Heritability estimates for the type traits varied from 0.11 to 0.43. Genetic correlations among some type traits were very strong and may indicate the possibility of reducing the number of traits assessed on each animal; the genetic correlation between angularity and body condition score was –0.84. Genetic correlations between all type traits (except body condition score, udder depth and teat length) and milk yield were positive and ranged from 0.08 to 0.69. The possibility of selecting for body weight may be achievable within a national progeny-testing programme using type traits within a selection index. Moderate to strong genetic correlations existed between some type traits and the various fertility measures and somatic cell count indicating the opportunity of indirect selection for improved fertility and health of animals using type traits within a selection index; however, the standard errors of some of the genetic correlations were large and should thus be treated with caution. Genetically taller, wider, deeper, more angular cows with tighter, stronger, shallower udders were predisposed to have inferior pregnancy rates to first service and require more services.
    • Effect of feed on cholesterol concentration and oxidation products development of longissimus dorsi muscle from Iberian pigs

      Rey, A.I.; Lopez-Borte, C.J.; Buckley, J.D. (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2004)
      The effect of dietary free-range feeding or supplementation with copper and/or vitamin E in confinement on total cholesterol, neutral and polar lipids and cholesterol oxidation of the longissimus dorsi muscle from Iberian pigs was studied. Free-range fed pigs had higher (P=0.001) contents of γ-tocopherol and lower concentrations of α-tocopherol in the muscle than pigs fed diets supplemented with 100 mg/kg vitamin E. The total cholesterol content of the muscle was not significantly affected by the diets. However, the cholesterol:phospholipid ratio was higher (P<0.05), and consequently the membrane fluidity was lower, in the free-range fed pigs than in the pigs fed in confinement with either copper-supplemented (P<0.05) or vitamin E-supplemented (P<0.01) diets. The proportion of saturated fatty acids in phospholipids was greater (P<0.05) in the free-range fed group, which suggests metabolic regulation to maintain membrane structure. Free-range feeding produced higher levels of free fatty acids (P<0.01), lysophosphatidylcholine (P<0.05) and phosphatidylserine (P<0.01) and lower cholesterol esters (P<0.01) and sphingomyelin (P<0.05) in the muscle than the other groups. The ratios of phosphatidylethanolamine:phosphatidylcholine and sphingomyelin: phosphatidylcholine, which are indicators of membrane fluidity, were not significantly affected in any group. Dietary α-tocopheryl acetate supplementation produced lower β-epoxide (P<0.01), 7β-OH (P<0.05), and total cholesterol oxides (P<0.01) in cooked muscle after refrigerated display than in the other groups. These results indicate that supplementation with dietary α-tocopheryl acetate is more effective in reducing cholesterol oxidation than free-range feeding in cooked muscle from Iberian pigs. In evaluating oxidation, the composition of the muscle and meat treatment have to be considered as well as membrane fluidity.
    • Analysis of DRB1 exon 2 genotyping by STR size analysis in Suffolk and Texel sheep breeds

      Sayers, Gearoid; Mitchel, S; Ryan, Marion T; Stear, M.J.; Hanrahan, James P; Sweeney, Torres (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2004)
      Alleles of the DRB1 exon 2 locus of the major histocompatibility complex have recently been associated with genetic resistance to gastrointestinal nematodes in sheep. While sequence-based typing is the standard method for allele discrimination, a rapid, high throughput method for DRB1 exon 2 genotyping is required if such information is to be incorporated into national breeding programmes. Previous studies have highlighted a simple tandem repeat (STR) located within intron 2 of the DRB1 gene, which could potentially be used to accurately assess the allele present within the adjacent exon 2. The aims of this study were firstly to compare two methods of STR analysis, Genescan™ and autoradiography, and secondly to investigate if STR analysis of DRB1 intron 2 could be used to accurately assess the profile of DRB1 exon 2. Six DRB1 exon 2 alleles were identified by sequence-based typing in Suffolk (n = 31) and eight in Texel (n = 60) sheep. The results indicated that Genescan™ was a more accurate method of STR analysis than autoradiography. The expected 1:1 correspondence between STR size, analysed by Genescan™ and DRB1 exon 2 allele, determined by sequence-based typing, was not observed. However, the correspondence was found to be degenerate, whereby some alleles were associated with two STR sizes. Thus, irrespective of the STR size identified, STR analysis by Genescan™ identified the correct allele in all cases within both populations of animals studied. However, the Genescan™ method of allele identification cannot be used for Suffolk × Texel crossbred progeny or in other breeds where the relationship between STR size and DRB1 exon 2 allele is not known.
    • Effect of suckler cow genotype and nutrition level during the winter on voluntary intake and performance and on the growth and slaughter characteristics of their progeny

      Drennan, Michael J; McGee, Mark (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2004)
      A 4-year study comparing Hereford × Friesian (HF) and Limousin × Friesian (LF) spring-calving cows and two grass silages on the performance of suckler cows and their progeny was undertaken using 163 cows. Cows were offered, to appetite, grass silage of either low (L) or moderate (M) digestibility in late pregnancy and early lactation. Cows and their calves spent from April until weaning in October at pasture. Bulls were slaughtered at 16 months of age and heifers at 20 months of age. There was no significant effect of cow genotype on dry matter (DM) intake, annual live-weight change or reproductive performance but annual body condition score gain was higher (P < 0.05) for HF than for LF cows. Cows offered the M silage had higher (P < 0.001) DM intake, lower winter live-weight loss (P < 0.001) and lower (P < 0.01) live-weight gain at pasture than cows offered the L silage. Calf birth, weaning and slaughter weights were not significantly different (P > 0.05) between genotypes. The male progeny of LF cows had a higher kill-out proportion (P < 0.001) and carcass weight (P < 0.05) and lower (P < 0.05) carcass fat score than HF cows. Compared to the M silage, the male progeny from cows offered the L silage had a greater daily gain from birth to slaughter (P < 0.05), slaughter weight (P < 0.05) and carcass weight (P < 0.05). The corresponding differences for female progeny were in the same direction but were not statistically significant.
    • 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 (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.
    • A note on the effects of test-end vacuum on milking characteristics

      O'Callaghan, Edmund J.; Gleeson, David E (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2004)
      The magnitude of vacuum applied to the teat end can have a major effect on milking characteristics. While milking vacuum is usually measured in the milk pipeline, the teat-end vacuum during milk flow depends on the configuration of the milking unit. The objective was to establish the effect of teat-end vacuum, recorded during flow simulation, on actual milking time, milk yield, and both mean and peak milk-flow rates. Four configurations of milking units were set up to give vacuum levels of 35, 38, 40 and 42 kPa at the apex of an artificial teat during simulated milking. The experiment involved a latin square design with four groups of Friesian cows (14/group), four 2-day periods and four treatments (vacuum level). Altering the vacuum level had no significant effect on milk yield. There were no differences in milking characteristics between vacuum levels of 38 and 40 kPa. A vacuum level of 42 kPa gave a shorter milking time (P < 0.001), higher average milk-flow rate (P < 0.01) and higher peak milk-flow rate (P < 0.001) than the three lower vacuum levels. Milking time was significantly longer (P < 0.001) and peak milk-flow rate lower (P < 0.001) with a vacuum of 35 kPa compared to other vacuum levels.
    • Colour of subcutaneous adipose tissue and muscle of Irish beef carcasses destined for the Italian market.

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

      Berry, Donagh P.; Buckley, Frank; Dillon, Pat; Evans, Ross D; Veerkamp, Roel F (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2004)
      Phenotypic and genetic (co)variances among type traits, milk yield, body weight, fertility and somatic cell count were estimated. The data analysed included 3,058 primiparous spring-calving Holstein-Friesian cows from 80 farms throughout the south of Ireland. Heritability estimates for the type traits varied from 0.11 to 0.43. Genetic correlations among some type traits were very strong and may indicate the possibility of reducing the number of traits assessed on each animal; the genetic correlation between angularity and body condition score was –0.84. Genetic correlations between all type traits (except body condition score, udder depth and teat length) and milk yield were positive and ranged from 0.08 to 0.69. The possibility of selecting for body weight may be achievable within a national progeny-testing programme using type traits within a selection index. Moderate to strong genetic correlations existed between some type traits and the various fertility measures and somatic cell count indicating the opportunity of indirect selection for improved fertility and health of animals using type traits within a selection index; however, the standard errors of some of the genetic correlations were large and should thus be treated with caution. Genetically taller, wider, deeper, more angular cows with tighter, stronger, shallower udders were predisposed to have inferior pregnancy rates to first service and require more services.
    • Temporal trends in reproductive performance in Irish dairy herds and associated risk factors

      Mee, John F (Biomed Central, 2004-03-01)
      Irish dairy herd fertility has been declining since the 1980s. The extent, nature and causes of this decline in fertility and the current status of Irish dairy herd fertility were described. An increase in calving interval of approximately one day per year has been recorded. The principal components of this trend have been an increased incidence of postpartum endocrinopathies, reduced expression of oestrus and a fall in conception rate. Both submission rate and calving-to-service interval have increased slightly over time. Significant risk factors associated with these trends have been strain substitution within the Holstein-Friesian breed and single trait selection for milk production. Critically, these changes have been reflected in loss of body condition. Contributory factors included increased herd size and possibly increased use of DIYAI. The most recent Irish study showed that 48% of cows conceived to first service and 14% of cows were not pregnant at the end of the industry-average 15-week spring breeding season. However, the top quartile of herds achieved a first-service conception rate of 59%, illustrating the wide variation between herds. These phenotypic trends were attributed to both genetic and environmental factors and their interactions. Recent Irish dairy herd fertility performance falls short of the targets set for seasonal compact calving.
    • Prevalence of antibodies to Leptospira interrogans serovar hardjo in bulk tank milk from unvaccinated irish dairy herds

      Leonard, Nola; Mee, John F; Snijders, Sylvia; Mackie, Dermot (Biomed Central, 2004-04-01)
      Bulk tank milk samples, collected from 347 herds throughout the Republic of Ireland using a sampling frame based on seven milk-recording organisations, were tested by ELISA for antibodies to Leptospira interrogans serovar hardjo. These herds, which had not been vaccinated against leptospirosis within the previous five years, were categorised according to their province, milk-recording organisation and size. Two-hundred-and-seventy-three herds (79%) had a positive ELISA titre. Both the probability of a herd being seropositive and the antibody level in the herd milk sample were affected by the province (P < 0.05 and P < 0.01, respectively) and the herd size category (P < 0.05 and P < 0.01, respectively). Larger herds were significantly more likely to have positive reactions and higher mean concentrations of antibody. It was concluded that a high proportion of unvaccinated Irish dairy herds have been exposed to infection with Leptospira hardjo.
    • Insulin increases 17β-estradiol production by the dominant follicle of the first postpartum follicle wave in dairy cows

      Butler, Stephen T.; Pelton, S.H.; Butler, W.R. (Bioscientifica on behalf of Society for Reproduction and Fertility, 2004-05-01)
      Prolonged anovulation following parturition has a negative impact on fertility in dairy cows. Insulin plays an important role in ovarian function in many species, and is profoundly depressed in dairy cows during early lactation. We hypothesized that hypoinsulinemia during early lactation represents a key indicator of nutritional status, resulting in delayed ovulation. Holstein cows (n = 10) were subjected to either a hyperinsulinemic–euglycemic clamp (INS) or saline infusion (CTL) for 96 h, beginning on day 10 after parturition during the first postpartum follicular wave. Insulin was infused continuously (0.3 μg/kg body weight per h) via a jugular catheter, and euglycemia was maintained by infusion of glucose. Circulating insulin concentrations were elevated 2.6-fold in INS cows compared with CTL cows (0.73 ± 0.026 vs 0.28 ± 0.026 ng/ml; P < 0.001). Insulin treatment did not affect (P > 0.05) luteinizing hormone (LH) pulse frequency, pulse amplitude or mean circulating LH. Circulating estradiol was elevated in INS cows (P < 0.01) and circulating testosterone also tended to be higher. The ratio of testosterone to estradiol was not different between treatments for the initial 30 h of infusion, but was significantly reduced thereafter in response to insulin (P < 0.01), suggesting that hyperinsulinemia increased follicular aromatase activity. Insulin treatment also resulted in reduced circulating nonesterified fatty acids, and increased circulating total and free insulin-like growth factor-I concentrations. Insulin infusion increased estradiol secretion by the dominant follicle of the first postpartum follicular wave in dairy cows, and this effect appears not to be mediated through changes in pulsatile LH release.