• Body condition score and live-weight effects on milk production in Irish Holstein-Friesian dairy cows

      Berry, Donagh; Buckley, Frank; Dillon, Pat; Allied Irish Bank; Artificial Insemination Managers Association;; Holstein-Friesian Society of Great Britain and Ireland; Dairy Levy Research Trust; European Union (Cambridge University Press, 2007-10)
      The objective of the present study was to quantify the relationships among body condition score (BCS; scale 1 to 5), live weight (WT) and milk production in Irish Holstein-Friesian spring calving dairy cows. Data were from 66 commercial dairy herds during the years 1999 and 2000. The data consisted of up to 9886 lactations with records for BCS or WT at least once pre-calving, or at calving, nadir or 60 days post-calving. Change in BCS and WT was also calculated between time periods. Mixed models with cow included as a random effect were used to quantify the effect of BCS and WT, as well as change in each trait, on milk yield, milk fat concentration and milk protein concentration. Significant and sometimes curvilinear associations were observed among BCS at calving or nadir and milk production. Total 305-day milk yield was greatest in cows calving at a BCS of 4.25 units. However, cows calving at a BCS of 3.50 units produced only 68 kg less milk than cows calving at a BCS of 4.25 units while cows calving at 3.25 or 3.00 BCS units produced a further 50 and 114 kg less, respectively. Cows that lost more condition in early lactation produced more milk of greater fat and protein concentration, although the trend reversed in cows that lost large amounts of condition post-calving. Milk yield increased with WT although the marginal effect decreased as cows got heavier. Milk fat and protein concentration in early lactation also increased with WT pre-calving, calving and nadir, although WT did not significantly affect average lactation milk fat concentration.
    • A comparison of machine learning techniques for predicting insemination outcome in Irish dairy cows

      Fenlon, Caroline; O'Grady, Luke; Dunnion, John; Shalloo, Laurence; Butler, Stephen; Doherty, Michael L.; Dairy Levy Research Trust (AICS, 2016-09)
      Reproductive performance has an important effect on economic efficiency in dairy farms with short yearly periods of breeding. The individual factors affecting the outcome of an artificial insemination have been extensively researched in many univariate models. In this study, these factors are analysed in combination to create a comprehensive multivariate model of conception in Irish dairy cows. Logistic regression, Naive Bayes, Decision Tree learning and Random Forests are trained using 2,723 artificial insemination records from Irish research farms. An additional 4,205 breeding events from commercial dairy farms are used to evaluate and compare the performance of each data mining technique. The models are assessed in terms of both discrimination and calibration ability. The logistic regression model was found to be the most useful model for predicting insemination outcome. This model is proposed as being appropriate for use in decision support and in general simulation of Irish dairy cows.
    • Development of an efficient milk production profile of the Irish dairy Industry

      Shalloo, Laurence; Dillon, Pat; Wallace, Michael; Dairy Levy Research Trust; European Union (Teagasc, 2008-07)
      Fluctuation around milk price will be the biggest factor that the dairy industry will experience over the next number of years. This fluctuation is being driven by fluctuation on the world dairy markets. In the past, when intervention was a much bigger feature of the CAP regime, the fluctuation in world markets had little effect on the EU price. This was because the Intervention system bought product from the market when prices were depressed and placed products on the world market when the price rose. This in effect meant that the CAP regime was having a regulatory effect on the world market as well as the EU markets. An example of the type of fluctuation observed on the world market can be gleamed from the Fonterra milk price in 2006-2007 ($4.50/kg (MS) milk solid) versus 2007-2008 ($7.90/kg MS). This corresponds to a 76% increase in price in 1 year. For the Dairy Industry in Ireland to prosper under these conditions all sectors will be required to be as efficient as possible from the farm, processing and marketing sectors. This report deals with; (1) Milk payment (2) Optimum milk production systems and (3) Seasonality of milk supply. (1) Milk payment systems in Ireland currently do not adequately reward high solids quality milk. Virtually all milk payment systems include a positive constant which reward the production of volume rather than the production of protein and fat kilograms. The A+B-C system of milk payment would adequately reward the production of protein and fat while at the same time correcting for the volume related processing costs. (2) Optimum systems of milk production will be built around the maximization of grass utilization in the future. Grazed grass is the cheapest feed that can be fed to dairy cows. Stocking rates nationally are 1.74cows/Ha around the milking platform and therefore when dairy farms are expanding they should do so by increasing stocking rate. The inclusion of supplementary feeds will reduce profitability for the vast majority of dairy farmers and could only possibly lead to increases in profitability when coupled increases in stocking rate. (3) Grass based systems while substantially reducing costs at farm level result in a seasonal milk supply profile. This results in a reduced capacity utilization of the milk processing facilities as well as restricted product port folio. However the production of Winter milk will lead to significant cost increases at farm level and should only be encouraged if the specific product produced would be sufficient to cover the additional costs associated with over winter production. Within spring calving systems milk payment systems should be used to encourage an efficient milk supply profile with a mean compact calving date of mid February.
    • Effects of synchronization treatments on ovarian follicular dynamics, corpus luteum growth, and circulating steroid hormone concentrations in lactating dairy cows

      Herlihy, Mary M.; Crowe, Mark A; Diskin, Michael G.; Butler, Stephen; National Development Plan Ireland; Dairy Levy Research Trust (Elsevier Inc.; American Dairy Science Association, 2012-02)
      Lactating dairy cows (n = 57) ≥45 d postpartum at first service were enrolled in a randomized complete block design study to evaluate treatments to synchronize estrus and ovulation. At 10 d before artificial insemination (AI), animals were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 treatments: (1) d −10 GnRH (GnRH1; 10 μg of buserelin, i.m.) and controlled internal drug release insert [CIDR, 1.38 g of progesterone (P4)]; d −3 PGF2α (PGF; 25 mg of dinoprost, i.m.); d −2 CIDR out; and AI at observed estrus (CIDR_OBS); (2) same as CIDR_OBS, but GnRH (GnRH2) 36 h after CIDR out and timed AI (TAI) 18 h later (CIDR_TAI); or (3) same as CIDR_TAI, but no CIDR (Ovsynch). Transrectal ultrasound was used to assess follicle size before ovulation and on d 4, 8, and 15 after the presumptive day of estrus (d 0) to measure the corpus luteum (CL). Blood samples were collected to determine concentrations of estradiol (E2; d −10, −9, −3, −2, −1, and 0) and P4 (d −10, −9, −2, −1, 0, 1, 4, 6, 8, 11, and 15). No treatment differences were observed in either circulating concentrations of P4 or the ovulatory response to GnRH1 at the onset of synchronization treatments. Circulating concentrations of P4 were greater for CIDR_OBS and CIDR_TAI compared with Ovsynch at 24 h after CIDR insertion (5.34 and 4.98 vs. 1.75 ng/mL) and immediately before CIDR removal (1.65 and 1.48 vs. 0.40 ng/mL). Peak circulating concentrations of E2 were greater for CIDR_OBS compared with Ovsynch (3.85 vs. 2.39 pg/mL), but CIDR_TAI (2.82 pg/mL) did not differ from either CIDR_OBS or Ovsynch. The interval from PGF injection to peak circulating E2 did not differ between CIDR_TAI and Ovsynch (52.1 vs. 49.8 h). Both CIDR_TAI and Ovsynch, however, had shorter intervals from PGF injection to peak circulating E2 concentrations compared with CIDR_OBS (67.8 h). The diameter of the dominant follicle before ovulation was greater for CIDR_OBS compared with Ovsynch (18.5 vs. 16.0 mm) but CIDR_TAI (17.1 mm) did not differ from either of the other treatments. The mean interval from PGF to ovulation was longer for CIDR_OBS (100.0 h) compared with CIDR_TAI and Ovsynch (84.4 and 83.2 h, respectively). Use of CIDR_OBS resulted in increased preovulatory follicle size and greater circulating concentrations of E2 due to a longer period of preovulatory follicle growth. Progesterone supplementation during synchronization and GnRH on the day before TAI affected ovulatory follicle size, and periovulatory circulating concentrations of P4 and E2. No differences, however, in postovulatory P4 or luteal volume profiles were observed.
    • Farm-gate nitrogen balances on intensive dairy farms in the south west of Ireland

      Treacy, Mark; Humphreys, James; McNamara, Kevin; 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.
    • 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.; National Development Plan (Dublin, Ireland); Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Dairy Levy Research Trust (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.
    • Grazing of dairy cows on pasture versus indoor feeding on total mixed ration: Effects on low-moisture part-skim Mozzarella cheese yield and quality characteristics in mid and late lactation

      Gulati, Arunima; Galvin, Norann; Hennessy, Deirdre; McAuliffe, Stephen; O'Donovan, Michael; McManus, Jennifer J.; Fenelon, Mark; Guinee, Timothy P.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; Dairy Levy Research Trust; et al. (Elsevier for American Dairy Science Association, 2018-08-16)
      This study investigated the effects of 3 dairy cow feeding systems on the composition, yield, and biochemical and physical properties of low-moisture part-skim Mozzarella cheese in mid (ML; May–June) and late (LL; October–November) lactation. Sixty spring-calving cows were assigned to 3 herds, each consisting of 20 cows, and balanced on parity, calving date, and pre-experimental milk yield and milk solids yield. Each herd was allocated to 1 of the following feeding systems: grazing on perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) pasture (GRO), grazing on perennial ryegrass and white clover (Trifolium repens L.) pasture (GRC), or housed indoors and offered total mixed ration (TMR). Mozzarella cheese was manufactured on 3 separate occasions in ML and 4 in LL in 2016. Feeding system had significant effects on milk composition, cheese yield, the elemental composition of cheese, cheese color (green to red and blue to yellow color coordinates), the extent of flow on heating, and the fluidity of the melted cheese. Compared with TMR milk, GRO and GRC milks had higher concentrations of protein and casein and lower concentrations of I, Cu, and Se, higher cheese-yielding capacity, and produced cheese with lower concentrations of the trace elements I, Cu, and Se and higher yellowness value. Cheese from GRO milk had higher heat-induced flow and fluidity than cheese from TMR milk. These effects were observed over the entire lactation period (ML + LL), but varied somewhat in ML and LL. Feeding system had little, or no, effect on gross composition of the cheese, the proportions of milk protein or fat lost to cheese whey, the texture of the unheated cheese, or the energy required to extend the molten cheese. The differences in color and melt characteristics of cheeses obtained from milks with the different feeding systems may provide a basis for creating points of differentiation suited to different markets.
    • Insemination factors affecting the conception rate in seasonal calving Holstein-Friesian cows

      Buckley, Frank; Mee, John F; O'Sullivan, Kathleen; Evans, R. D.; Berry, Donagh; Dillon, Pat; AIB Bank; Holstein UK and Ireland; National AI Co-ops; Dairy Levy Research Trust (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.