• Additive genetic, non-additive genetic and permanent environmental effects for female reproductive performance in seasonal calving dairy females

      Kelleher, Margaret M.; Buckley, Frank; Evans, R. D.; Berry, Donagh; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2016-09-08)
      Excellent reproductive performance (i.e. 365-day calving interval) is paramount to herd profit in seasonal-calving dairy systems. Reproductive targets are currently not being achieved in Irish dairy herds. Furthermore, most research on the genetics of reproductive performance in dairy cattle has focused primarily on lactating cows and relatively few studies have attempted to quantify the genetic contribution to differences in reproductive performance in nulliparae. The objective of the present study was to estimate the contribution of both the additive and non-additive genetic components, as well as the permanent environmental component, to phenotypic variation in the reproductive traits in nulliparous, primiparous and multiparous seasonal-calving dairy females. Reproductive phenotypes were available on up to 202,525 dairy females. Variance components were estimated using (repeatability where appropriate) linear animal mixed models; fixed effects included in the mixed models were contemporary group, parity (where appropriate), breed proportion, inter-breed specific heterosis coefficients and inter-breed specific recombination loss coefficients. Heritability of the reproductive traits ranged from 0.004 (pregnancy rate to first service) to 0.17 (age at first service in nulliparae), while repeatability estimates for the reproductive traits in cows ranged from 0.01 (calving interval) to 0.11 (pregnant in the first 42 days of the breeding season). Breed-specific heterosis regression coefficients suggest that, relative to the parental mean, a first-cross Holstein–Jersey crossbred was almost 7 days younger at first calving, had a 9-day shorter calving interval, a 6 percentage unit greater pregnancy rate in the first 42 days of the breeding season and a 3 percentage unit greater survival rate to next lactation. Heifer calving rate traits were strongly genetically correlated with age at first calving (–0.97 to –0.66) and calving rate in the first 42 days of the calving season for first parity cows (0.77 to 0.56), but genetic correlations with other cow reproductive traits were weak and inconsistent. Calving interval was strongly genetically correlated with the majority of the cow traits; 56%, 40%, and 92% of the genetic variation in calving interval was explained by calving to the first service interval, number of services and pregnant in the first 42 days of the breeding season, respectively. Permanent environmental correlations between the reproductive performance traits were generally moderate to strong. The existence of contributions from non-additive genetic and permanent environmental effects to phenotypic differences among cows suggests the usefulness of such information to rank cows on future expected performance; this was evidenced by a stronger correlation with future reproductive performance for an individual cow index that combined additive genetic, non-additive genetic and permanent environmental effects compared to an index based solely on additive genetic effects (i.e. estimated breeding values).
    • Animal performance and economic implications of alternative production systems for dairy bulls slaughtered at 15 months of age

      Murphy, B.M.; Crosson, Paul; Kelly, Alan K; Prendiville, Robert; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; 11/SF/322 (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2017-10-26)
      The objectives of this experiment were to investigate (i) the influence of varying levels of concentrate supplementation during the grazing season, (ii) alternative finishing strategies for dairy bulls slaughtered at 15 mo of age and (iii) economic implications of these management strategies. Bulls were assigned to a 2 (level of concentrate supplementation during the grazing season: 1 kg [LA] and 2 kg [HA] dry matter [DM]/head daily) × 2 (finishing strategies: concentrates ad libitum group [AL] or grass silage ad libitum plus 5 kg DM of concentrates/head daily group [SC]) factorial arrangement of treatments. Average daily gain (ADG) during the grazing season was greater (P < 0.01) for HA than for LA. Consequently, HA bulls were 16 kg heavier at housing: 214 and 230 kg, respectively (P < 0.05). During the finishing period, ADG tended (P = 0.09) to be greater for LA than for HA. Carcass weight tended (P = 0.08) to be greater for HA than for LA. Fat score was greater for HA. Live weight at slaughter (P < 0.001) and carcass weight (P < 0.001) were 41 and 23 kg greater for AL than for SC, respectively. Conformation (P < 0.05) and fat score (P < 0.05) were greater for AL than for SC. The Grange Dairy Beef Systems Model simulated whole-farm system effects of the production systems. Net margin/head was greater for LA than for HA and greater for SC than for AL. Sensitivity analysis of finishing concentrate price, calf purchase price and beef price showed no re-ranking of the systems on a net margin basis. Although greater animal performance was observed from the higher plane of nutrition, overall profitability was lower.
    • Association of bovine leptin polymorphisms with energy output and energy storage traits in progeny tested Holstein-Friesian dairy cattle sires

      Giblin, Linda; Butler, Stephen T.; Kearney, Breda M.; Waters, Sinead M.; Callanan, Michael J.; Berry, Donagh; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; Irish Dairy Levy Research Trust; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; RSF-06-0353; et al. (Biomed Central, 29/07/2010)
      Background: Leptin modulates appetite, energy expenditure and the reproductive axis by signalling via its receptor the status of body energy stores to the brain. The present study aimed to quantify the associations between 10 novel and known single nucleotide polymorphisms in genes coding for leptin and leptin receptor with performance traits in 848 Holstein-Friesian sires, estimated from performance of up to 43,117 daughter-parity records per sire. Results: All single nucleotide polymorphisms were segregating in this sample population and none deviated (P > 0.05) from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium. Complete linkage disequilibrium existed between the novel polymorphism LEP-1609, and the previously identified polymorphisms LEP-1457 and LEP-580. LEP-2470 associated (P < 0.05) with milk protein concentration and calf perinatal mortality. It had a tendency to associate with milk yield (P < 0.1). The G allele of LEP-1238 was associated (P < 0.05) with reduced milk fat concentration, reduced milk protein concentration, longer gestation length and tended to associate (P < 0.1) with an increase in calving difficulty, calf perinatal mortality and somatic cells in the milk. LEP-963 exhibited an association (P < 0.05) with milk fat concentration, milk protein concentration, calving difficulty and gestation length. It also tended to associate with milk yield (P < 0.1). The R25C SNP associated (P < 0.05) with milk fat concentration, milk protein concentration, calving difficulty and length of gestation. The T allele of the Y7F SNP significantly associated with reduced angularity (P < 0.01) and reduced milk protein yield (P < 0.05). There was also a tendency (P < 0.1) for Y7F to associate with increased body condition score, reduced milk yield and shorter gestation (P < 0.1). A80V associated with reduced survival in the herd (P < 0.05). Conclusions Several leptin polymorphisms (LEP-2470, LEP-1238, LEP-963, Y7F and R25C) associated with the energetically expensive process of lactogenesis. Only SNP Y7F associated with energy storage. Associations were also observed between leptin polymorphisms and calving difficulty, gestation length and calf perinatal mortality. The lack of an association between the leptin variants investigated with calving interval in this large data set would question the potential importance of these leptin variants, or indeed leptin, in selection for improved fertility in the Holstein-Friesian dairy cow.
    • A case of bovine raw milk contamination with Listeria monocytogenes

      Hunt, Karen; Drummond, Niall; Murphy, Mary; Butler, Francis; Buckley, James F.; Jordan, Kieran; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; European Union (Biomed Central, 06/07/2012)
      During routine sampling of bulk raw milk on a dairy farm, the pathogenic bacteria Listeria monocytogenes was found to be a contaminant, at numbers < 100 cfu/ml. A strain with an indistinguishable pulsed-field gel electrophoresis pattern was isolated from the bulk milk two months later. Environmental swabs taken at the dairy environment were negative for the presence of L. monocytogenes, indicating a possible case of excretion of the L. monocytogenes directly into the milk. Milk samples were collected from the individual cows and analysed, resulting in the identification of L. monocytogenes excretion (at 280 cfu/ml) from one of the 4 mammary quarters of one dairy cow out of 180. When the infected cow was isolated from the herd, no L. monocytogenes was detected from the remaining herd. The pulsed-field gel electrophoresis pattern of the strain from the individual cow was indistinguishable from that originally isolated from the bulk milk. The infected cow did not show any clinical signs of disease, nor did the appearance of the milk have any physical abnormalities. Antibiotic treatment of the infected mammary quarter was found to be ineffective. This study shows that there can be risks associated with direct contamination of raw milk with L. monocytogenes.
    • Differentially Expressed Genes in Endometrium and Corpus Luteum of Holstein Cows Selected for High and Low Fertility Are Enriched for Sequence Variants Associated with Fertility

      Moore, Stephen; Pryce, J. E.; Hayes, Ben J.; Chamberlain, A. J.; Kemper, K. E.; Berry, Donagh; McCabe, Matthew; Cormican, Paul; Lonergan, P.; Fair, Trudee; et al. (Oxford University Press, 2015-11)
      Despite the importance of fertility in humans and livestock, there has been little success dissecting the genetic basis of fertility. Our hypothesis was that genes differentially expressed in the endometrium and corpus luteum on Day 13 of the estrous cycle between cows with either good or poor genetic merit for fertility would be enriched for genetic variants associated with fertility. We combined a unique genetic model of fertility (cattle that have been selected for high and low fertility and show substantial difference in fertility) with gene expression data from these cattle and genome-wide association study (GWAS) results in ∼20 000 cattle to identify quantitative trait loci (QTL) regions and sequence variants associated with genetic variation in fertility. Two hundred and forty-five QTL regions and 17 sequence variants associated primarily with prostaglandin F2alpha, steroidogenesis, mRNA processing, energy status, and immune-related processes were identified. Ninety-three of the QTL regions were validated by two independent GWAS, with signals for fertility detected primarily on chromosomes 18, 5, 7, 8, and 29. Plausible causative mutations were identified, including one missense variant significantly associated with fertility and predicted to affect the protein function of EIF4EBP3. The results of this study enhance our understanding of 1) the contribution of the endometrium and corpus luteum transcriptome to phenotypic fertility differences and 2) the genetic architecture of fertility in dairy cattle. Including these variants in predictions of genomic breeding values may improve the rate of genetic gain for this critical trait.
    • The distribution of runs of homozygosity and selection signatures in six commercial meat sheep breeds

      Purfield, Deirdre C; McParland, Sinead; Wall, E.; Berry, Donagh; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; 11/S/112; 14/S/849 (PLOS, 2017-05-02)
      Domestication and the subsequent selection of animals for either economic or morphological features can leave a variety of imprints on the genome of a population. Genomic regions subjected to high selective pressures often show reduced genetic diversity and frequent runs of homozygosity (ROH). Therefore, the objective of the present study was to use 42,182 autosomal SNPs to identify genomic regions in 3,191 sheep from six commercial breeds subjected to selection pressure and to quantify the genetic diversity within each breed using ROH. In addition, the historical effective population size of each breed was also estimated and, in conjunction with ROH, was used to elucidate the demographic history of the six breeds. ROH were common in the autosomes of animals in the present study, but the observed breed differences in patterns of ROH length and burden suggested differences in breed effective population size and recent management. ROH provided a sufficient predictor of the pedigree inbreeding coefficient, with an estimated correlation between both measures of 0.62. Genomic regions under putative selection were identified using two complementary algorithms; the fixation index and hapFLK. The identified regions under putative selection included candidate genes associated with skin pigmentation, body size and muscle formation; such characteristics are often sought after in modern-day breeding programs. These regions of selection frequently overlapped with high ROH regions both within and across breeds. Multiple yet uncharacterised genes also resided within putative regions of selection. This further substantiates the need for a more comprehensive annotation of the sheep genome as these uncharacterised genes may contribute to traits of interest in the animal sciences. Despite this, the regions identified as under putative selection in the current study provide an insight into the mechanisms leading to breed differentiation and genetic variation in meat production.
    • Effect of early calf-hood nutrition on the transcriptomic profile of subcutaneous adipose tissue in Holstein-Friesian bulls

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

      McParland, Sinead; Kennedy, Emer; Lewis, Eva; Moore, Stephen; McCarthy, Brian; O'Donovan, Michael; Berry, Donagh; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; European Commission; Marie Curie project International Research Staff Exchange Scheme SEQSEL; et al. (Elsevier for American Dairy Science Association, 2014-12)
      Energy balance (EB) and energy intake (EI) are heritable traits of economic importance. Despite this, neither trait is explicitly included in national dairy cow breeding goals due to a lack of routinely available data from which to compute reliable breeding values. Mid-infrared (MIR) spectrometry, which is performed during routine milk recording, is an accurate predictor of both EB and EI. The objective of this study was to estimate genetic parameters of EB and EI predicted using MIR spectrometry. Measured EI and EB were available for 1,102 Irish Holstein-Friesian cows based on actual feed intake and energy sink data. A subset of these data (1,270 test-day records) was used to develop equations to predict EI, EB, and daily change in body condition score (ΔBCS) and body weight (ΔBW) using the MIR spectrum with or without milk yield also as a predictor variable. Accuracy of cross-validation of the prediction equations was 0.75, 0.73, 0.77, and 0.70 for EI, EB, ΔBCS, and ΔBW, respectively. Prediction equations were applied to additional spectral data, yielding up to 94,653 records of MIR-predicted EI, EB, ΔBCS, and ΔBW available for variance component estimation. Variance components were estimated using repeatability animal linear mixed models. Heritabilities of MIR-predicted EI, EB, ΔBCS, and ΔBW were 0.20, 0.10, 0.07, and 0.06, respectively; heritability estimates of the respective measured traits were 0.35, 0.16, 0.07, and 0.08, respectively. The genetic correlation between measured and MIR-predicted EI was 0.84 and between measured and MIR-predicted EB was 0.54, indicating that selection based on MIR-predicted EI or EB would improve true EI or EB. Genetic and phenotypic associations between EI and both the milk production and body-change traits were generally in agreement, regardless of whether measured EI or MIR-predicted EI was considered. Higher-yielding animals of higher body weight had greater EI. Predicted EB was negatively genetically correlated with milk yield (genetic correlation = −0.29) and positively genetically correlated with both milk fat and protein percent (genetic correlation = 0.17 and 0.16, respectively). Least squares means phenotypic EI of 198 animals stratified as low, average, and high estimated breeding values for MIR-predicted EI (animal phenotypes were not included in the genetic evaluation) were 154.3, 156.0, and 163.3 MJ/d, corroborating that selection on MIR-predicted EI will, on average, result in differences in phenotypic true EI.
    • Genetic parameters of ovarian and uterine reproductive traits in dairy cows

      Carthy, Tara; Ryan, Dan P.; Fitzgerald, A. M.; Evans, R. D.; Berry, Donagh; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; European Commission; 11/S/133 (Elsevier for American Dairy Science Association, 2015-04)
      The objective of the study was to estimate genetic parameters of detailed reproductive traits derived from ultrasound examination of the reproductive tract as well as their genetic correlations with traditional reproductive traits. A total of 226,141 calving and insemination records as well as 74,134 ultrasound records from Irish dairy cows were used. Traditional reproductive traits included postpartum interval to first service, conception, and next calving, as well as the interval from first to last service; number of inseminations, pregnancy rate to first service, pregnant within 42 d of the herd breeding season, and submission in the first 21 d of the herd breeding season were also available. Detailed reproductive traits included resumed cyclicity at the time of ultrasound examination, incidence of multiple ovulations, incidence of early postpartum ovulation, heat detection, ovarian cystic structures, embryo loss, and uterine score; the latter was a subjectively assessed on a scale of 1 (little fluid with normal uterine tone) to 4 (large quantity of fluid with a flaccid uterine tone). Variance (and covariance) components were estimated using repeatability animal linear mixed models. Heritability for all reproductive traits were generally low (0.001–0.05), with the exception of traits related to cyclicity postpartum, regardless if defined traditionally (0.07; calving to first service) or from ultrasound examination [resumed cyclicity at the time of examination (0.07) or early postpartum ovulation (0.10)]. The genetic correlations among the detailed reproductive traits were generally favorable. The exception was the genetic correlation (0.29) between resumed cyclicity and uterine score; superior genetic merit for cyclicity postpartum was associated with inferior uterine score. Superior genetic merit for most traditional reproductive traits was associated with superior genetic merit for resumed cyclicity (genetic correlations ranged from −0.59 to −0.36 and from 0.56 to 0.70) and uterine score (genetic correlations ranged from −0.47 to 0.32 and from 0.25 to 0.52). Genetic predisposition to an increased incidence of embryo loss was associated with both an inferior uterine score (0.24) and inferior genetic merit for traditional reproductive traits (genetic correlations ranged from −0.52 to −0.42 and from 0.33 to 0.80). The results from the present study indicate that selection based on traditional reproductive traits, such as calving interval or days open, resulted in improved genetic merit of all the detailed reproductive traits evaluated in this study. Additionally, greater accuracy of selection for calving interval is expected for a relatively small progeny group size when detailed reproductive traits are included in a multitrait genetic evaluation.
    • Genetics of bovine respiratory disease in cattle: can breeding programs reduce the problem?

      Berry, Donagh; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland (Cambridge University Press, 2014-12)
      Genetics is responsible for approximately half the observed change in performance internationally in well-structured cattle breeding programs. Almost all, if not all, individual characteristics, including animal health, have a genetic basis. Once genetic variation exists then breeding for improvement is possible. Although the heritability of most health traits is low to moderate, considerable exploitable genetic variation does exist. From the limited studies undertaken, and mostly from limited datasets, the direct heritability of susceptibility to BRD varied from 0.07 to 0.22 and the maternal heritability (where estimated) varied from 0.05 to 0.07. Nonetheless, considerable genetic variation clearly exists; the genetic standard deviation for the direct component (binary trait), although differing across populations, varied from 0.08 to 0.20 while the genetic standard deviation for the maternal component varied from 0.04 to 0.07. Little is known about the genetic correlation between genetic predisposition to BRD and animal performance; the estimation of these correlations should be prioritized. (Long-term) Breeding strategies to reduce the incidence of BRD in cattle should be incorporated into national BRD eradication or control strategies.
    • Genomic prediction of crown rust resistance in Lolium perenne

      Arojju, Sai Krishna; Conaghan, Patrick; Barth, Susanne; Milbourne, Dan; Casler, M.D.; Hodkinson, Trevor R; Michel, Thibauld; Byrne, Stephen L.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; Marie Sklodowska-Curie; et al. (Biomed Central, 29/05/2018)
      Background Genomic selection (GS) can accelerate genetic gains in breeding programmes by reducing the time it takes to complete a cycle of selection. Puccinia coronata f. sp lolli (crown rust) is one of the most widespread diseases of perennial ryegrass and can lead to reductions in yield, persistency and nutritional value. Here, we used a large perennial ryegrass population to assess the accuracy of using genome wide markers to predict crown rust resistance and to investigate the factors affecting predictive ability. Results Using these data, predictive ability for crown rust resistance in the complete population reached a maximum of 0.52. Much of the predictive ability resulted from the ability of markers to capture genetic relationships among families within the training set, and reducing the marker density had little impact on predictive ability. Using permutation based variable importance measure and genome wide association studies (GWAS) to identify and rank markers enabled the identification of a small subset of SNPs that could achieve predictive abilities close to those achieved using the complete marker set. Conclusion Using a GWAS to identify and rank markers enabled a small panel of markers to be identified that could achieve higher predictive ability than the same number of randomly selected markers, and predictive abilities close to those achieved with the entire marker set. This was particularly evident in a sub-population characterised by having on-average higher genome-wide linkage disequilibirum (LD). Higher predictive abilities with selected markers over random markers suggests they are in LD with QTL. Accuracy due to genetic relationships will decay rapidly over generations whereas accuracy due to LD will persist, which is advantageous for practical breeding applications.
    • Good water status: The integration of sustainable grassland production and water resources in Ireland

      Richards, Karl G.; Fenton, Owen; Khalil, Mohammed I.; Haria, Atul H.; Humphreys, James; Doody, Donnacha G.; Moles, Richard; Morgan, Ger; Jordan, Philip; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; et al. (School of Agriculture, Food Science and Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin in association with Teagasc, 2009)
      The challenge for sustainable grassland production is to integrate economically profitable farming systems with environmental protection. The Water Framework Directive aims to attain at least “good status” for all waters by 2015, to be achieved through the introduction of measures across all sectors of society. Historically, the impact of grassland agriculture on water quality was investigated in isolation. More recently it has been highlighted that water quality and other environmental impacts such as greenhouse gas emissions must be considered in an integrated manner. Catchment hydrology is critical to understanding the drivers behind nutrient transport to surface water and groundwaters. Flashy catchments are more susceptible to phosphorus, sediment and ammonium loss, whereas contrastingly baseflow dominated catchments are more susceptible to nitrate transport. Understanding catchment hydrology enables the targeting of measures for the mitigation of diffuse agricultural contaminants. This increased understanding can also be used to support extended deadlines for the achievement of good status. This paper reviews the potential effects of grassland agriculture on water quantity and the transport of pesticides and nutrients to water in the context of achieving good status for all waters by 2015 under the Water Framework Directive.
    • 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.
    • Groundwater: A pathway for terrestrial C and N losses and indirect greenhouse gas emissions

      Jahangir, Mohammad M. R.; Johnston, Paul; Khalil, Mohammed I.; Hennessy, Deirdre; Humphreys, James; Fenton, Owen; Richards, Karl G.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, Trinity College Dublin; RSF 06383 (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.
    • Heritability and impact of environmental effects during pregnancy on antral follicle count in cattle

      Walsh, S.W.; Mossa, F.; Butler, Stephen T.; Berry, Donagh; Scheetz, D.; Jimenez-Krassel, F.; Templeman, R.J.; Cater, F.; Lonergan, P.; Evans, A.C.O.; et al. (Elsevier for American Dairy Science Association, 2014-07)
      Previous studies have documented that ovarian antral follicle count (AFC) is positively correlated with number of healthy follicles and oocytes in ovaries (ovarian reserve), as well as ovarian function and fertility in cattle. However, environmental factors (e.g., nutrition, steroids) during pregnancy in cattle and sheep can reduce AFC in offspring. The role that genetic and environmental factors play in influencing the variability in AFC and, correspondingly, the size of the ovarian reserve, ovarian function, and fertility, are, however, poorly understood. The present study tests the hypothesis that variability in AFC in offspring is influenced not only by genetic merit but also by the dam age and lactation status (lactating cows vs. nonlactating heifers) and milk production during pregnancy. Antral follicle count was assessed by ultrasonography in 445 Irish Holstein-Friesian dairy cows and 522 US Holstein-Friesian dairy heifers. Heritability estimates for AFC (± standard error) were 0.31 ± 0.14 and 0.25 ± 0.13 in dairy cows and heifers, respectively. Association analysis between both genotypic sire data and phenotypic dam data with AFC in their daughters was performed using regression and generalized linear models. Antral follicle count was negatively associated with genetic merit for milk fat concentration. Also, AFC was greater in offspring of dams that were lactating (n = 255) compared with nonlactating dams (n = 89) during pregnancy and was positively associated with dam milk fat concentration and milk fat-to-protein ratio. In conclusion, AFC in dairy cattle is a moderately heritable genetic trait affected by age or lactation status and milk quality but not by level of dam’s milk production during pregnancy.
    • Improved detection of biomarkers in cervico-vaginal mucus (CVM) from postpartum cattle

      Adnane, Mounir; Kelly, Paul M; Chapwanya, Aspinas; Meade, Kieran G; O'Farrelly, Cliona; The Algerian Ministry for High Education and Scientific Research; University of Tiaret, Algeria; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; ofarrecl-HRB-HRA_POR/2012/37; 13/S/472 (Biomed Central, 2018-09-29)
      Background In the postpartum cow, early diagnosis of uterine disease is currently problematic due to the lack of reliable, non-invasive diagnostic methods. Cervico-vaginal mucus (CVM) is an easy to collect potentially informative source of biomarkers for the diagnosis and prognosis of uterine disease in cows. Here, we report an improved method for processing CVM from postpartum dairy cows for the measurement of immune biomarkers. CVM samples were collected from the vagina using gloved hand during the first two weeks postpartum and processed with buffer alone or buffer containing different concentrations of the reducing agents recommended in standard protocols: Dithiothriotol (DTT) or N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (NAC). Total protein was measured using the bicinchoninic acid (BCA) assay; interleukin 6 (IL-6), IL-8 and α1-acid glycoprotein (AGP) were measured by ELISA. Results We found that use of reducing agents to liquefy CVM affects protein yield and the accuracy of biomarker detection. Our improved protocol results in lower protein yields but improved detection of cytokines and chemokines. Using our modified method to measure AGP in CVM we found raised levels of AGP at seven days postpartum in CVM from cows that went on to develop endometritis. Conclusion We conclude that processing CVM without reducing agents improves detection of biomarkers that reflect uterine health in cattle. We propose that measurement of AGP in CVM during the first week postpartum may identify cows at risk of developing clinical endometritis.
    • Imputation of ungenotyped parental genotypes in dairy and beef cattle from progeny genotypes

      Berry, Donagh; McParland, Sinead; Kearney, J.F.; Sargolzaei, Mehdi; Mullen, Michael P.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; Science Foundation Ireland; European Union; RSF-06-0353; RSF-06-0428; et al. (Cambridge University Press, 2014-04-09)
      The objective of this study was to quantify the accuracy of imputing the genotype of parents using information on the genotype of their progeny and a family-based and population-based imputation algorithm. Two separate data sets were used, one containing both dairy and beef animals (n = 3122) with high-density genotypes (735 151 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs)) and the other containing just dairy animals (n = 5489) with medium-density genotypes (51 602 SNPs). Imputation accuracy of three different genotype density panels were evaluated representing low (i.e. 6501 SNPs), medium and high density. The full genotypes of sires with genotyped half-sib progeny were masked and subsequently imputed. Genotyped half-sib progeny group sizes were altered from 4 up to 12 and the impact on imputation accuracy was quantified. Up to 157 and 258 sires were used to test the accuracy of imputation in the dairy plus beef data set and the dairy-only data set, respectively. The efficiency and accuracy of imputation was quantified as the proportion of genotypes that could not be imputed, and as both the genotype concordance rate and allele concordance rate. The median proportion of genotypes per animal that could not be imputed in the imputation process decreased as the number of genotyped half-sib progeny increased; values for the medium-density panel ranged from a median of 0.015 with a half-sib progeny group size of 4 to a median of 0.0014 to 0.0015 with a half-sib progeny group size of 8. The accuracy of imputation across different paternal half-sib progeny group sizes was similar in both data sets. Concordance rates increased considerably as the number of genotyped half-sib progeny increased from four (mean animal allele concordance rate of 0.94 in both data sets for the medium-density genotype panel) to five (mean animal allele concordance rate of 0.96 in both data sets for the medium-density genotype panel) after which it was relatively stable up to a half-sib progeny group size of eight. In the data set with dairy-only animals, sufficient sires with paternal half-sib progeny groups up to 12 were available and the withinanimal mean genotype concordance rates continued to increase up to this group size. The accuracy of imputation was worst for the low-density genotypes, especially with smaller half-sib progeny group sizes but the difference in imputation accuracy between density panels diminished as progeny group size increased; the difference between high and medium-density genotype panels was relatively small across all half-sib progeny group sizes. Where biological material or genotypes are not available on individual animals, at least five progeny can be genotyped (on either a medium or high-density genotyping platform) and the parental alleles imputed with, on average, ⩾96% accuracy.
    • Markers associated with heading and aftermath heading in perennial ryegrass full-sib families

      Arojju, Sai Krishna; Barth, Susanne; Milbourne, Dan; Conaghan, Patrick; Velmurugan, Janaki; Hodkinson, Trevor R; Byrne, Stephen L.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; EU Marie-Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship; et al. (Biomed Central, 16/07/2016)
      Background Heading and aftermath heading are important traits in perennial ryegrass because they impact forage quality. So far, genome-wide association analyses in this major forage species have only identified a small number of genetic variants associated with heading date that overall explained little of the variation. Some possible reasons include rare alleles with large phenotypic affects, allelic heterogeneity, or insufficient marker density. We established a genome-wide association panel with multiple genotypes from multiple full-sib families. This ensured alleles were present at the frequency needed to have sufficient statistical power to identify associations. We genotyped the panel via partial genome sequencing and performed genome-wide association analyses with multi-year phenotype data collected for heading date, and aftermath heading. Results Genome wide association using a mixed linear model failed to identify any variants significantly associated with heading date or aftermath heading. Our failure to identify associations for these traits is likely due to the extremely low linkage disequilibrium we observed in this population. However, using single marker analysis within each full-sib family we could identify markers and genomic regions associated with heading and aftermath heading. Using the ryegrass genome we identified putative orthologs of key heading genes, some of which were located in regions of marker-trait associations. Conclusion Given the very low levels of LD, genome wide association studies in perennial ryegrass populations are going to require very high SNP densities. Single marker analysis within full-sibs enabled us to identify significant marker-trait associations. One of these markers anchored proximal to a putative ortholog of TFL1, homologues of which have been shown to play a key role in continuous heading of some members of the rose family, Rosaceae.
    • Meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies for cattle stature identifies common genes that regulate body size in mammals

      Bouwman, Aniek C.; Hayes, Ben J.; Purfield, Deirdre C; Berry, Donagh; Chamberlain, Amanda J.; Hurtado Ponce, Carla; Sargolzaei, Mehdi; Schenkel, Flavio S.; Sahana, Goutam; Govignon-Gion, Armelle; et al. (Nature Publishing Group, 2018-02-19)
      Stature is affected by many polymorphisms of small effect in humans1. In contrast, variation in dogs, even within breeds, has been suggested to be largely due to variants in a small number of genes2,3. Here we use data from cattle to compare the genetic architecture of stature to those in humans and dogs. We conducted a meta-analysis for stature using 58,265 cattle from 17 populations with 25.4 million imputed whole-genome sequence variants. Results showed that the genetic architecture of stature in cattle is similar to that in humans, as the lead variants in 163 significantly associated genomic regions (P < 5 × 10−8) explained at most 13.8% of the phenotypic variance. Most of these variants were noncoding, including variants that were also expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) and in ChIP–seq peaks. There was significant overlap in loci for stature with humans and dogs, suggesting that a set of common genes regulates body size in mammals.
    • Mid-infrared spectrometry of milk as a predictor of energy intake and efficiency in lactating dairy cows

      McParland, Sinead; Lewis, Eva; Kennedy, Emer; Moore, Stephen; McCarthy, Brian; O'Donovan, Michael; Butler, Stephen T.; Pryce, J. E.; Berry, Donagh; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; et al. (Elsevier for American Dairy Science Association, 2014-09)
      Interest is increasing in the feed intake complex of individual dairy cows, both for management and animal breeding. However, energy intake data on an individual-cow basis are not routinely available. The objective of the present study was to quantify the ability of routinely undertaken mid-infrared (MIR) spectroscopy analysis of individual cow milk samples to predict individual cow energy intake and efficiency. Feed efficiency in the present study was described by residual feed intake (RFI), which is the difference between actual energy intake and energy used (e.g., milk production, maintenance, and body tissue anabolism) or supplied from body tissue mobilization. A total of 1,535 records for energy intake, RFI, and milk MIR spectral data were available from an Irish research herd across 36 different test days from 535 lactations on 378 cows. Partial least squares regression analyses were used to relate the milk MIR spectral data to either energy intake or efficiency. The coefficient of correlation (REX) of models to predict RFI across lactation ranged from 0.48 to 0.60 in an external validation data set; the predictive ability was, however, strongest (REX = 0.65) in early lactation (<60 d in milk). The inclusion of milk yield as a predictor variable improved the accuracy of predicting energy intake across lactation (REX = 0.70). The correlation between measured RFI and measured energy balance across lactation was 0.85, whereas the correlation between RFI and energy balance, both predicted from the MIR spectrum, was 0.65. Milk MIR spectral data are routinely generated for individual cows throughout lactation and, therefore, the prediction equations developed in the present study can be immediately (and retrospectively where MIR spectral data have been stored) applied to predict energy intake and efficiency to aid in management and breeding decisions.