• 28. The effect of phenotypically ranking beef cattle for residual methane output on daily methane emissions, intensity and animal productivity

      Smith, Paul E.; Waters, Sinéad M.; Kenny, David A.; Kirwan, Stuart F.; Conroy, Stephen; Kelly, Alan K.; European Union; 16/RD/ERAGAS/1RUMENPREDICT-ROI2017; 818368 (Elsevier BV, 2021-04)
      Beef cattle ranked as having low residual methane output had lower emissions intensity and similar overall productive performance as their high emissions ranking contemporaries. The concept of residual methane output is proposed as an appropriate trait to more equitably identify animals on the basis of low emissions beef production
    • Animal Transport: Developing optimum animal handling procedures and effective transport strategies in the food production chain to improve animal welfare and food quality

      Earley, Bernadette; Murray, Margaret; Prendiville, Daniel J.; European Union (Teagasc, 2007-01-01)
      A series of studies were performed to investigate the effect of transport on liveweight, physiological and haematological responses of cattle. The first study was carried out over a 6 week period in the Spring of 2004. Eighty-four continental x bulls (mean weight (s.d.) 367 (35) kg), naïve to transport, were randomly assigned to one of six journey (J) times of 0, 6, 9, 12, 18 and 24h transport at a stocking density of 1.02m2/bull. Blood samples were collected by jugular venipuncture before, immediately after and at 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 12 and 24h and bulls were weighed before, immediately after, and at 4, 12 and 24h. Bulls travelling for 6h (280 km), 9h (435 km), 12h (582 km), 18h (902 km) and 24h (1192 km) lost 4.7, 4.5, 5.7 (P=0.05), 6.6 (P=0.05) and 7.5 (P=0.05) percentage liveweight compared with baseline. During the 24h recovery period liveweight was regained to pre-transport levels. Lymphocyte percentages were lower (P=0.001) and neutrophil percentages were higher (P=0.05) in all animals. Blood protein and creatine kinase, glucose and NEFA concentrations were higher (P=0.05) in the bulls following transport and returned to baseline within 24h. In conclusion, liveweight and some physiological and haematological responses of bulls returned to pre-transport levels within 24h having had access to feed and water. Transport of bulls from 6 – 24hours did not impact negatively on animal welfare.
    • Automatic cough detection for bovine respiratory disease in a calf house

      Carpentier, Lenn; Berckmans, Daniel; Youssef, Ali; Berckmans, Dries; van Waterschoot, Toon; Johnston, Dayle; Ferguson, Natasha; Earley, Bernadette; Fontana, Ilaria; Tullo, Emanuela; et al. (Elsevier, 2018-07-06)
      In calf rearing, bovine respiratory disease (BRD) is a major animal health challenge. Farmers incur severe economic losses due to BRD. Additional to economic costs, outbreaks of BRD impair the welfare of the animal and extra expertise and labour are needed to treat and care for the infected animals. Coughing is recognised as a clinical manifestation of BRD. Therefore, the monitoring of coughing in a calf house has the potential to detect cases of respiratory infection before they become too severe, and thus to limit the impact of BRD on both the farmer and the animal. The objective of this study was to develop an algorithm for detection of coughing sounds in a calf house. Sounds were recorded in four adjacent compartments of one calf house over two time periods (82 and 96 days). There were approximately 21 and 14 calves in each compartment over the two time-periods, respectively. The algorithm was developed using 445 min of sound data. These data contained 664 different cough references, which were labelled by a human expert. It was found that, during the first time period in all 3 of the compartments and during the second period in 2 out of 4 compartments, the algorithm worked very well (precision higher than 80%), while in the 2 other cases the algorithm worked well but the precision was less (66.6% and 53.8%). A relation between the number of calves diagnosed with BRD and the detected coughs is shown.
    • Block Chain and Internet of Nano-Things for Optimizing Chemical Sensing in Smart Farming

      Vimalajeewa, Dixon; Thakur, Subhasis; Breslin, John; Berry, Donagh P.; Balasubramaniam, Sasitharan; Science Foundation Ireland; European Union; 13/1A/1977; 16/RC/3835 (2020)
      The use of Internet of Things (IoT) with the Internet of Nano Things (IoNT) can further expand decision making systems (DMS) to improve reliability as it provides a new spectrum of more granular level data to make decisions. However, growing concerns such as data security, transparency and processing capability challenge their use in real-world applications. DMS integrated with Block Chain (BC) technology can contribute immensely to overcome such challenges. The use of IoNT and IoT along with BC for making DMS has not yet been investigated. This study proposes a BC-powered IoNT (BC-IoNT) system for sensing chemicals level in the context of farm management. This is a critical application for smart farming, which aims to improve sustainable farm practices through controlled delivery of chemicals. BC-IoNT system includes a novel machine learning model formed by using the Langmuir molecular binding model and the Bayesian theory, and is used as a smart contract for sensing the level of the chemicals. A credit model is used to quantify the traceability and credibility of farms to determine if they are compliant with the chemical standards. The accuracy of detecting the chemicals of the distributed BC-IoNT approach was ≥ 90% and the centralized approach was ≤ 80%. Also, the efficiency of sensing the level of chemicals depends on the sampling frequency and variability in chemical level among farms.
    • 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.
    • Breed- and trait-specific associations define the genetic architecture of calving performance traits in cattle

      Purfield, Deirdre C; Evans, Ross D; Berry, Donagh; European Union; Science Foundation Ireland; 727213; 14/IA/2576); 16/RC/3835 (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2020-05-04)
      Reducing the incidence of both the degree of assistance required at calving, as well as the extent of perinatal mortality (PM) has both economic and societal benefits. The existence of heritable genetic variability in both traits signifies the presence of underlying genomic variability. The objective of the present study was to locate regions of the genome, and by extension putative genes and mutations, that are likely to be underpinning the genetic variability in direct calving difficulty (DCD), maternal calving difficulty (MCD), and PM. Imputed whole-genome single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data on up to 8,304 Angus (AA), 17,175 Charolais (CH), 16,794 Limousin (LM), and 18,474 Holstein-Friesian (HF) sires representing 5,866,712 calving events from descendants were used. Several putative quantitative trait loci (QTL) regions associated with calving performance both within and across dairy and beef breeds were identified, although the majority were both breed- and trait-specific. QTL surrounding and encompassing the myostatin (MSTN) gene were associated (P < 5 × 10−8) with DCD and PM in both the CH and LM populations. The well-known Q204X mutation was the fifth strongest association with DCD in the CH population and accounted for 5.09% of the genetic variance in DCD. In contrast, none of the 259 segregating variants in MSTN were associated (P > × 10−6) with DCD in the LM population but a genomic region 617 kb downstream of MSTN was associated (P < 5 × 10−8). The genetic architecture for DCD differed in the HF population relative to the CH and LM, where two QTL encompassing ZNF613 on Bos taurus autosome (BTA)18 and PLAG1 on BTA14 were identified in the former. Pleiotropic SNP associated with all three calving performance traits were also identified in the three beef breeds; 5 SNP were pleiotropic in AA, 116 in LM, and 882 in CH but no SNP was associated with more than one trait within the HF population. The majority of these pleiotropic SNP were on BTA2 surrounding MSTN and were associated with both DCD and PM. Multiple previously reported, but also novel QTL, associated with calving performance were detected in this large study. These also included QTL regions harboring SNP with the same direction of allele substitution effect for both DCD and MCD thus contributing to a more effective simultaneous selection for both traits.
    • 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.
    • A case study of the carbon footprint of milk from high-performing confinement and grass-based dairy farms

      O’Brien, Donal; Judith Louise, Capper; Garnsworthy, Phil; Grainger, Chris; Shalloo, Laurence; European Union; FP7-244983 (Elsevier, 2014-01-17)
      Life-cycle assessment (LCA) is the preferred methodology to assess carbon footprint per unit of milk. The objective of this case study was to apply an LCA method to compare carbon footprints of high-performance confinement and grass-based dairy farms. Physical performance data from research herds were used to quantify carbon footprints of a high-performance Irish grass-based dairy system and a top-performing United Kingdom (UK) confinement dairy system. For the US confinement dairy system, data from the top 5% of herds of a national database were used. Life-cycle assessment was applied using the same dairy farm greenhouse gas (GHG) model for all dairy systems. The model estimated all on- and off-farm GHG sources associated with dairy production until milk is sold from the farm in kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2-eq) and allocated emissions between milk and meat. The carbon footprint of milk was calculated by expressing GHG emissions attributed to milk per tonne of energy-corrected milk (ECM). The comparison showed that when GHG emissions were only attributed to milk, the carbon footprint of milk from the Irish grass-based system (837 kg of CO2-eq/t of ECM) was 5% lower than the UK confinement system (884 kg of CO2-eq/t of ECM) and 7% lower than the US confinement system (898 kg of CO2-eq/t of ECM). However, without grassland carbon sequestration, the grass-based and confinement dairy systems had similar carbon footprints per tonne of ECM. Emission algorithms and allocation of GHG emissions between milk and meat also affected the relative difference and order of dairy system carbon footprints. For instance, depending on the method chosen to allocate emissions between milk and meat, the relative difference between the carbon footprints of grass-based and confinement dairy systems varied by 3 to 22%. This indicates that further harmonization of several aspects of the LCA methodology is required to compare carbon footprints of contrasting dairy systems. In comparison to recent reports that assess the carbon footprint of milk from average Irish, UK, and US dairy systems, this case study indicates that top-performing herds of the respective nations have carbon footprints 27 to 32% lower than average dairy systems. Although differences between studies are partly explained by methodological inconsistency, the comparison suggests that potential exists to reduce the carbon footprint of milk in each of the nations by implementing practices that improve productivity.
    • A case study of the carbon footprint of milk from high-performing confinement and grass-based dairy farms

      O’Brien, D.; Capper, J.L.; Garnsworthy, P.C.; Grainger, C.; Shalloo, Laurence; European Union; FP7- 244983 (American Dairy Science Association, 2014-03)
      Life-cycle assessment (LCA) is the preferred methodology to assess carbon footprint per unit of milk. The objective of this case study was to apply an LCA method to compare carbon footprints of high-performance confinement and grass-based dairy farms. Physical performance data from research herds were used to quantify carbon footprints of a high-performance Irish grass-based dairy system and a top-performing United Kingdom (UK) confinement dairy system. For the US confinement dairy system, data from the top 5% of herds of a national database were used. Life-cycle assessment was applied using the same dairy farm greenhouse gas (GHG) model for all dairy systems. The model estimated all on- and off-farm GHG sources associated with dairy production until milk is sold from the farm in kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2-eq) and allocated emissions between milk and meat. The carbon footprint of milk was calculated by expressing GHG emissions attributed to milk per tonne of energycorrected milk (ECM). The comparison showed that when GHG emissions were only attributed to milk, the carbon footprint of milk from the Irish grass-based system (837 kg of CO2-eq/t of ECM) was 5% lower than the UK confinement system (884 kg of CO2-eq/t of ECM) and 7% lower than the US confinement system (898 kg of CO2-eq/t of ECM). However, without grassland carbon sequestration, the grass-based and confinement dairy systems had similar carbon footprints per tonne of ECM. Emission algorithms and allocation of GHG emissions between milk and meat also affected the relative difference and order of dairy system carbon footprints. For instance, depending on the method chosen to allocate emissions between milk and meat, the relative difference between the carbon footprints of grass-based and confinement dairy systems varied by 3 to 22%. This indicates that further harmonization of several aspects of the LCA methodology is required to compare carbon footprints of contrasting dairy systems. In comparison to recent reports that assess the carbon footprint of milk from average Irish, UK, and US dairy systems, this case study indicates that top-performing herds of the respective nations have carbon footprints 27 to 32% lower than average dairy systems. Although differences between studies are partly explained by methodological inconsistency, the comparison suggests that potential exists to reduce the carbon footprint of milk in each of the nations by implementing practices that improve productivity.
    • Cattle stratified on genetic merit segregate on carcass characteristics, but there is scope for improvement

      Berry, Donagh; Pabiou, Thierry; Brennan, Denis; Hegarthy, Patrick J; Judge, Michelle M; Science Foundation Ireland; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; European Union; 16/ RC/3835 (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2019-05-03)
      The study objective was to quantify the ability of genetic merit for a generated carcass index to differentiate animals on primal carcass cut weights using data from 1,446 herds on 9,414 heifers and 22,413 steers with weights for 14 different primal carcass cuts (plus 3 generated groups of cuts). The carcass genetic merit index was compromised of carcass weight (positive weight), conformation (positive weight), and fat score (negative weight), each equally weighted within the index. The association analyses were undertaken using linear mixed models; models were run with or without carcass weight as a covariate. In a further series of analyses, carcass weight and carcass fat score were both included as covariates in the models. Whether the association between primal cut yield and carcass weight differed by genetic merit stratum was also investigated. Genetic merit was associated (P < 0.001) with the weight of all cuts evaluated even when adjusted to a common carcass weight (P < 0.01); when simultaneously adjusted to a common carcass weight and fat score, genetic merit was not associated with the weight of the cuberoll or the group cuts termed minced-meat. The weight of the different primal cuts increased almost linearly within increasing genetic merit, with the exception of the rump and bavette. The difference in mean primal cut weight between the very low and very high genetic merit strata, as a proportion of the overall mean weight of that cut in the entire data set, varied from 0.05 (bavette) to 0.28 (eye of round); the average was 0.17. Following adjustment for differences in carcass weight, there was no difference in cut weight between the very low and very high strata for the rump, chuck tender, and mince cut group; the remaining cuts were heavier in the higher index animals with the exception of the cuberoll and bavette, which were lighter in the very high index animals. The association between carcass weight and the weight of each of the evaluated primal cuts differed (P < 0.05) by genetic merit stratum for all cuts evaluated with the exception of the rump, striploin, and brisket as well as the group cuts of frying and mincing. With the exception of these 5 primal (group) cuts, the regression coefficients of primal cut weight on carcass weight increased consistently for all traits with increasing genetic merit stratum, other than for the fillet, cuberoll, bavette, chuck and neck, and heel and shank.
    • Characterisation of the Whole Blood mRNA Transcriptome in Holstein-Friesian and Jersey Calves in Response to Gradual Weaning

      Johnston, Dayle; Earley, Bernadette; Cormican, Paul; Kenny, David A.; McCabe, Matthew; Kelly, Alan K; McGee, Mark; Waters, Sinead M.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; European Union; et al. (PLOS, 2016-08-01)
      Weaning of dairy calves is an early life husbandry management practice which involves the changeover from a liquid to a solid feed based diet. The objectives of the study were to use RNA-seq technology to examine the effect of (i) breed and (ii) gradual weaning, on the whole blood mRNA transcriptome of artificially reared Holstein-Friesian and Jersey calves. The calves were gradually weaned over 14 days (day (d) -13 to d 0) and mRNA transcription was examined one day before gradual weaning was initiated (d -14), one day after weaning (d 1), and 8 days after weaning (d 8). On d -14, 550 genes were differentially expressed between Holstein-Friesian and Jersey calves, while there were 490 differentially expressed genes (DEG) identified on d 1, and 411 DEG detected eight days after weaning (P < 0.05; FDR < 0.1). No genes were differentially expressed within breed, in response to gradual weaning (P > 0.05). The pathways, gene ontology terms, and biological functions consistently over-represented among the DEG between Holstein-Friesian and Jersey were associated with the immune response and immune cell signalling, specifically chemotaxis. Decreased transcription of several cytokines, chemokines, immunoglobulin-like genes, phagocytosis-promoting receptors and g-protein coupled receptors suggests decreased monocyte, natural killer cell, and T lymphocyte, chemotaxis and activation in Jersey compared to Holstein-Friesian calves. Knowledge of breed-specific immune responses could facilitate health management practices better tailored towards specific disease sensitivities of Holstein-Friesian and Jersey calves. Gradual weaning did not compromise the welfare of artificially-reared dairy calves, evidenced by the lack of alterations in the expression of any genes in response to gradual weaning.
    • Characteristics of feed efficiency within and across lactation in dairy cows and the effect of genetic selection

      Hurley, A. M.; Lopez-Villalobos, N.; McParland, Sinead; Lewis, Eva; Kennedy, Emer; O'Donovan, Michael; Burke, Jennifer L.; Berry, Donagh; Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; European Union (Elsevier, 2017-11-23)
      The objective of the present study was to investigate the phenotypic inter- and intra-relationships within and among alternative feed efficiency metrics across different stages of lactation and parities; the expected effect of genetic selection for feed efficiency on the resulting phenotypic lactation profiles was also quantified. A total of 8,199 net energy intake (NEI) test-day records from 2,505 lactations on 1,290 cows were used. Derived efficiency traits were either ratio based or residual based; the latter were derived from least squares regression models. Residual energy intake (REI) was defined as NEI minus predicted energy requirements based on lactation performance; residual energy production (REP) was defined as net energy for lactation minus predicted energy requirements based on lactation performance. Energy conversion efficiency was defined as net energy for lactation divided by NEI. Pearson phenotypic correlations among traits were computed across lactation stages and parities, and the significance of the differences was determined using the Fisher r-to-z transformation. Sources of variation in the feed efficiency metrics were investigated using linear mixed models, which included the fixed effects of contemporary group, breed, parity, stage of lactation, and the 2-way interaction of parity by stage of lactation. With the exception of REI, parity was associated with all efficiency and production traits. Stage of lactation, as well as the 2-way interaction of parity by stage of lactation, were associated with all efficiency and production traits. Phenotypic correlations among the efficiency and production traits differed not only by stage of lactation but also by parity. For example, the strong phenotypic correlation between REI and energy balance (EB; 0.89) for cows in parity 3 or greater and early lactation was weaker for parity 1 cows at the same lactation stage (0.81), suggesting primiparous cows use the ingested energy for both milk production and growth. Nonetheless, these strong phenotypic correlations between REI and EB suggested negative REI animals (i.e., more efficient) are also in more negative EB. These correlations were further supported when assessing the effect on phenotypic performance of animals genetically divergent for feed intake and efficiency based on parental average. Animals genetically selected to have lower REI resulted in cows who consumed less NEI but were also in negative EB throughout the entire lactation. Nonetheless, such repercussions of negative EB do not imply that selection for negative REI (as defined here) should not be practiced, but instead should be undertaken within the framework of a balanced breeding objective, which includes traits such as reproduction and health.
    • A comparison of 4 different machine learning algorithms to predict lactoferrin content in bovine milk from mid-infrared spectra

      Soyeurt, H.; Grelet, C.; McParland, Sinead; Calmels, M.; Coffey, M.; Tedde, A.; Delhez, P.; Dehareng, F.; Gengler, N.; European Union; et al. (American Dairy Science Association, 2020-10-22)
      Lactoferrin (LF) is a glycoprotein naturally present in milk. Its content varies throughout lactation, but also with mastitis; therefore it is a potential additional indicator of udder health beyond somatic cell count. Condequently, there is an interest in quantifying this biomolecule routinely. First prediction equations proposed in the literature to predict the content in milk using milk mid-infrared spectrometry were built using partial least square regression (PLSR) due to the limited size of the data set. Thanks to a large data set, the current study aimed to test 4 different machine learning algorithms using a large data set comprising 6,619 records collected across different herds, breeds, and countries. The first algorithm was a PLSR, as used in past investigations. The second and third algorithms used partial least square (PLS) factors combined with a linear and polynomial support vector regression (PLS + SVR). The fourth algorithm also used PLS factors, but included in an artificial neural network with 1 hidden layer (PLS + ANN). The training and validation sets comprised 5,541 and 836 records, respectively. Even if the calibration prediction performances were the best for PLS + polynomial SVR, their validation prediction performances were the worst. The 3 other algorithms had similar validation performances. Indeed, the validation root mean squared error (RMSE) ranged between 162.17 and 166.75 mg/L of milk. However, the lower standard deviation of cross-validation RMSE and the better normality of the residual distribution observed for PLS + ANN suggest that this modeling was more suitable to predict the LF content in milk from milk mid-infrared spectra (R2v = 0.60 and validation RMSE = 162.17 mg/L of milk). This PLS +ANN model was then applied to almost 6 million spectral records. The predicted LF showed the expected relationships with milk yield, somatic cell score, somatic cell count, and stage of lactation. The model tended to underestimate high LF values (higher than 600 mg/L of milk). However, if the prediction threshold was set to 500 mg/L, 82% of samples from the validation having a content of LF higher than 600 mg/L were detected. Future research should aim to increase the number of those extremely high LF records in the calibration set.
    • Concurrent and long-term associations between the endometrial microbiota and endometrial transcriptome in postpartum dairy cows

      Moore, Stephen; Ericsson, Aaron C.; Behura, Susanta K.; Lamberson, William R.; Evans, Timothy J.; McCabe, Matthew; Poock, Scott E.; Lucy, Matthew C.; USDA Animal Health Formula Funds; Food for the twenty-first Century program, University of Missouri; et al. (BioMed Central, 2019-05-22)
      Background Fertility in dairy cows depends on ovarian cyclicity and on uterine involution. Ovarian cyclicity and uterine involution are delayed when there is uterine dysbiosis (overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria). Fertility in dairy cows may involve a mechanism through which the uterine microbiota affects ovarian cyclicity as well as the transcriptome of the endometrium within the involuting uterus. The hypothesis was that the transcriptome of the endometrium in postpartum cows would be associated with the cyclicity status of the cow as well as the microbiota during uterine involution. The endometrium of first lactation dairy cows was sampled at 1, 5, and 9 weeks postpartum. All cows were allowed to return to cyclicity without intervention until week 5 and treated with an ovulation synchronization protocol so that sampling at week 9 was on day 13 of the estrous cycle. The endometrial microbiota was measured by 16S rRNA gene sequencing and principal component analysis. The endometrial transcriptome was measured by mRNA sequencing, differential gene expression analysis, and Ingenuity Pathway Analysis. Results The endometrial microbiota changed from week 1 to week 5 but the week 5 and week 9 microbiota were similar. The endometrial transcriptome differed for cows that were either cycling or not cycling at week 5 and cyclicity status depended in part on the endometrial microbiota. Compared with cows cycling at week 5, there were large changes in the transcriptome of cows that progressed from non-cycling at week 5 to cycling at week 9. There was evidence for concurrent and longer-term associations between the endometrial microbiota and transcriptome. The week 1 endometrial microbiota had the greatest effect on the subsequent endometrial transcriptome and this effect was greatest at week 5 and diminished by week 9. Conclusions The cumulative response of the endometrial transcriptome to the microbiota represented the combination of past microbial exposure and current microbial exposure. The endometrial transcriptome in postpartum cows, therefore, depended on the immediate and longer-term effects of the uterine microbiota that acted directly on the uterus. There may also be an indirect mechanism through which the microbiome affects the transcriptome through the restoration of ovarian cyclicity postpartum.
    • Daily and seasonal trends of electricity and water use on pasture-based automatic milking dairy farms

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

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

      Metzler-Zebeli, B.U.; Magowan, E.; Hollmann, M.; Ball, M.E.E.; Molnár, A.; Witter, K.; Ertl, R.; Hawken, R.J.; Lawlor, Peadar G.; O’Connell, N.E.; et al. (Elsevier BV, 2018-02)
      The contribution of the intestinal tract to differences in residual feed intake (RFI) has been inconclusively studied in chickens so far. It is also not clear if RFI-related differences in intestinal function are similar in chickens raised in different environments. The objective was to investigate differences in nutrient retention, visceral organ size, intestinal morphology, jejunal permeability and expression of genes related to barrier function, and innate immune response in chickens of diverging RFI raised at 2 locations (L1: Austria; L2: UK). The experimental protocol was similar, and the same dietary formulation was fed at the 2 locations. Individual BW and feed intake (FI) of chickens (Cobb 500FF) were recorded from d 7 of life. At 5 wk of life, chickens (L1, n = 157; L2 = 192) were ranked according to their RFI, and low, medium, and high RFI chickens were selected (n = 9/RFI group, sex, and location). RFI values were similar between locations within the same RFI group and increased by 446 and 464 g from low to high RFI in females and males, respectively. Location, but not RFI rank, affected growth, nutrient retention, size of the intestine, and jejunal disaccharidase activity. Chickens from L2 had lower total body weight gain and mucosal enzyme activity but higher nutrient retention and longer intestines than chickens at L1. Parameters determined only at L1 showed increased crypt depth in the duodenum and jejunum and enhanced paracellular permeability in low vs. high RFI females. Jejunal expression of IL1B was lower in low vs. high RFI females at L2, whereas that of TLR4 at L1 and MCT1 at both locations was higher in low vs. high RFI males. Correlation analysis between intestinal parameters and feed efficiency metrics indicated that feed conversion ratio was more correlated to intestinal size and function than was RFI. In conclusion, the rearing environment greatly affected intestinal size and function, thereby contributing to the variation in chicken RFI observed across locations.
    • The effect of abrupt weaning of suckler calves on the plasma concentrations of cortisol, catecholamines, leukocyte, acute-phase proteins and in vitro interferon-gamma production

      Hickey, Mary-Clare; Drennan, Michael J; Earley, Bernadette; European Union (Teagasc, 2005-12-01)
      The objective of this study was to examine the effect of abrupt weaning (inclusive of social group disruption and maternal separation) on the physiological mediators of stress and measures of immune function. Thirty-eight male and 38 female continental calves were habituated to handling for two weeks prior to bleeding. Calves were blocked on sex, weight and breed of dam and randomly assigned, within block, to either a control (cows remain with calves) or abruptly weaned group (calves removed from cows). Animals were separated into the respective treatment groups at weaning (0 h). Calves were bled at – 168 h, 6 h (males only), 24 h, 48 h and 168 h post weaning. At each sampling time an observer scored the behavioural reaction of calves to sampling. Blood samples were analysed for cortisol, catecholamine concentrations (not sampled at –168 h) and in vitro interferon-gamma production, neutrophil :lymphocyte ratio and acute phase protein concentrations. All continuous data were analysed using a split-plot ANOVA, except that collected at 6 h, which was analysed using a single factor ANOVA model. The effects of weaning, calf sex and time and respective interactions were described. Disruption of the established social groups at 0 h, increased (p<0.001) the plasma cortisol concentration and neutrophil: lymphocyte ratio and reduced the leukocyte concentration (p<0.001) and the in vitro interferon-gamma response to the mitogen concanavalin-A (p<0.001) and keyhole limpet haemocyanin (p<0.001) for weaned and control animals, when compared with –168h. Plasma adrenaline and noradrenaline concentrations were not affected by group disruption. There was no effect of weaning or sex on calf behavioural reaction to handling during blood sampling. Plasma cortisol and adrenaline concentrations were not affected by weaning or sex. Plasma noradrenaline concentration was influenced by weaning x sex (p<0.05) and time x sex (p<0.05). The response increased for male calves with weaning and increased with each sampling time post weaning. For heifers the response was not affected by weaning and plasma concentrations decreased at 168 h post weaning. There was no effect of weaning or sex on leukocyte concentration. The neutrophils : lymphocyte ration increased post weaning (p<0.01) and was affected by sex (p<0.05). Weaning decreased (p<0.05) the in vitro interferon-gamma response to the antigen KLH. There was a time x weaning x sex (p<0.05) interaction for fibrinogen concentration but no effect of treatment on haptoglobin concentration. Abrupt weaning increased plasma cortisol and nor-adrenaline concentrations, which was accompanied by attenuation of in vitro interferon gamma production to novel mitogen and antigen complexes up to 7 days post weaning.
    • The effect of abrupt weaning of suckler calves on the plasma concentrations of cortisol, catecholamines, leukocyte, acute-phase proteins and in vitro interferon-gamma production.

      Hickey, Mary-Clare; Drennan, Michael J; Earley, Bernadette; European Union (Teagasc, 2005-12-01)
      The objective of this study was to examine the effect of abrupt weaning (inclusive of social group disruption and maternal separation) on the physiological mediators of stress and measures of immune function. Thirty-eight male and 38 female continental calves were habituated to handling for two weeks prior to bleeding. Calves were blocked on sex, weight and breed of dam and randomly assigned, within block, to either a control (cows remain with calves) or abruptly weaned group (calves removed from cows). Animals were separated into the respective treatment groups at weaning (0 h). Calves were bled at – 168 h, 6 h (males only), 24 h, 48 h and 168 h post weaning. At each sampling time an observer scored the behavioural reaction of calves to sampling. Blood samples were analysed for cortisol, catecholamine concentrations (not sampled at –168 h) and in vitro interferon-gamma production, neutrophil :lymphocyte ratio and acute phase protein concentrations. All continuous data were analysed using a split-plot ANOVA, except that collected at 6 h, which was analysed using a single factor ANOVA model. The effects of weaning, calf sex and time and respective interactions were described. Disruption of the established social groups at 0 h, increased (p<0.001) the plasma cortisol concentration and neutrophil: lymphocyte ratio and reduced the leukocyte concentration (p<0.001) and the in vitro interferon-gamma response to the mitogen concanavalin-A (p<0.001) and keyhole limpet haemocyanin (p<0.001) for weaned and control animals, when compared with –168h. Plasma adrenaline and noradrenaline concentrations were not affected by group disruption. There was no effect of weaning or sex on calf behavioural reaction to handling during blood sampling. Plasma cortisol and adrenaline concentrations were not affected by weaning or sex. Plasma noradrenaline concentration was influenced by weaning x sex (p<0.05) and time x sex (p<0.05). The response increased for male calves with weaning and increased with each sampling time post weaning. For heifers the response was not affected by weaning and plasma concentrations decreased at 168 h post weaning. There was no effect of weaning or sex on leukocyte concentration. The neutrophils : lymphocyte ration increased post weaning (p<0.01) and was affected by sex (p<0.05). Weaning decreased (p<0.05) the in vitro interferon-gamma response to the antigen KLH. There was a time x weaning x sex (p<0.05) interaction for fibrinogen concentration but no effect of treatment on haptoglobin concentration. Abrupt weaning increased plasma cortisol and nor-adrenaline concentrations, which was accompanied by attenuation of in vitro interferon gamma production to novel mitogen and antigen complexes up to 7 days post weaning.