• Fertility of frozen sex-sorted sperm at 4 × 106 sperm per dose in lactating dairy cows in seasonal-calving pasture-based herds

      Maicas, C.; Holden, S.A.; Drake, E.; Cromie, A.R.; Lonergan, P.; Butler, S.T.; Irish Dairy Levy Trust; Munster Bovine; Meat Industry Ireland; Glanbia; et al. (American Dairy Science Association, 2019-09-23)
      The objective was to evaluate the reproductive performance of frozen sex-sorted sperm at 4 × 106 sperm per dose (SexedULTRA 4M, Sexing Technologies, Navasota, TX) relative to frozen conventional sperm in seasonal-calving pasture-based dairy cows. Semen from Holstein-Friesian (n = 8) and Jersey (n = 2) bulls was used. Four of the Holstein bulls used were resident at or near a sex-sorting laboratory (Cogent, UK, or ST Benelux, the Netherlands). The remaining 6 bulls were located at studs in Ireland. For these 6 bulls, ejaculates were collected, diluted with transport medium, and couriered to Cogent in parcel shippers. Transit time from ejaculation to arrival at the sorting laboratory was 6 to 7 h. For all bulls, ejaculates were split and processed to provide frozen conventional sperm (CONV) at 15 × 106 sperm per straw and frozen sex-sorted (SS) sperm at 4 × 106 sperm per straw and used to inseminate lactating dairy cows after spontaneous estrus. Pregnancy diagnosis was performed by ultrasound scanning (n = 7,246 records available for analysis). Generalized linear mixed models were used to examine effects on pregnancy per AI (P/AI) at first artificial insemination, with sperm treatment (CONV vs. SS), bull (n = 10), and treatment × bull interaction as the fixed effects, and herd (n = 142) as a random effect. Overall, P/ AI was greater for cows inseminated with CONV than for those inseminated with SS (59.9% vs. 45.5%; 76.0% relative to CONV). This study was not designed to compare resident bulls vs. shipped ejaculates, but the magnitude of the difference between P/AI achieved by CONV and SS was apparently less for resident bulls (60.3% vs. 50.2%) than for shipped ejaculates (58.6% vs. 40.7%). We discovered a treatment × bull interaction for shipped ejaculates (P/AI ranged from 45 to 86% relative to CONV) but not for the resident bulls (P/AI ranged from 81 to 87% relative to CONV). Relative P/AI of SS compared with CONV was greater in cows with high or average fertility potential (76.1% and 78.3%, respectively) than in cows with low fertility potential (58.1%). In 33.1% of the enrolled herds, the P/AI achieved with SS was 90% or more of the P/ AI achieved with CONV; this was mainly explained by herds in which SS performed exceptionally well but CONV performed poorly. In conclusion, SS had lower overall P/AI compared with CONV; however, P/AI achieved with SS was dependent on the bull, fertility potential of the cow, and herd. Strategies to improve the P/AI with SS in seasonal-calving pasture-based lactating dairy cows require further research.
    • Fertility of frozen sex-sorted sperm at 4 × 106 sperm per dose in lactating dairy cows in seasonal-calving pasture-based herds

      Maicas, C.; Holden, S.A.; Drake, E.; Cromie, A.R.; Lonergan, P.; Butler, S.T.; Irish Dairy Levy Trust; Munster Bovine; Meat Industry Ireland; Glanbia; et al. (American Dairy Science Association, 2020-01)
      The objective was to evaluate the reproductive performance of frozen sex-sorted sperm at 4 × 106 sperm per dose (SexedULTRA 4M, Sexing Technologies, Navasota, TX) relative to frozen conventional sperm in seasonal-calving pasture-based dairy cows. Semen from Holstein-Friesian (n = 8) and Jersey (n = 2) bulls was used. Four of the Holstein bulls used were resident at or near a sex-sorting laboratory (Cogent, UK, or ST Benelux, the Netherlands). The remaining 6 bulls were located at studs in Ireland. For these 6 bulls, ejaculates were collected, diluted with transport medium, and couriered to Cogent in parcel shippers. Transit time from ejaculation to arrival at the sorting laboratory was 6 to 7 h. For all bulls, ejaculates were split and processed to provide frozen conventional sperm (CONV) at 15 × 106 sperm per straw and frozen sex-sorted (SS) sperm at 4 × 106 sperm per straw and used to inseminate lactating dairy cows after spontaneous estrus. Pregnancy diagnosis was performed by ultrasound scanning (n = 7,246 records available for analysis). Generalized linear mixed models were used to examine effects on pregnancy per AI (P/AI) at first artificial insemination, with sperm treatment (CONV vs. SS), bull (n = 10), and treatment × bull interaction as the fixed effects, and herd (n = 142) as a random effect. Overall, P/AI was greater for cows inseminated with CONV than for those inseminated with SS (59.9% vs. 45.5%; 76.0% relative to CONV). This study was not designed to compare resident bulls vs. shipped ejaculates, but the magnitude of the difference between P/AI achieved by CONV and SS was apparently less for resident bulls (60.3% vs. 50.2%) than for shipped ejaculates (58.6% vs. 40.7%). We discovered a treatment × bull interaction for shipped ejaculates (P/AI ranged from 45 to 86% relative to CONV) but not for the resident bulls (P/AI ranged from 81 to 87% relative to CONV). Relative P/AI of SS compared with CONV was greater in cows with high or average fertility potential (76.1% and 78.3%, respectively) than in cows with low fertility potential (58.1%). In 33.1% of the enrolled herds, the P/AI achieved with SS was 90% or more of the P/AI achieved with CONV; this was mainly explained by herds in which SS performed exceptionally well but CONV performed poorly. In conclusion, SS had lower overall P/AI compared with CONV; however, P/AI achieved with SS was dependent on the bull, fertility potential of the cow, and herd. Strategies to improve the P/AI with SS in seasonal-calving pasture-based lactating dairy cows require further research.
    • Sward type alters the relative abundance of members of the rumen microbial ecosystem in dairy cows

      Smith, Paul E.; Enriquez-Hidalgo, Daniel; Hennessy, Deirdre; McCabe, Matthew S.; Kenny, David A.; Kelly, Alan K.; Waters, Sinéad M.; FACCE ERA GAS; Irish Dairy Levy Trust; European Union; et al. (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2020-06-09)
      The performance of ruminant livestock has been shown to beneft from the enhanced nutritive value and herbage yield associated with clover incorporation in the grazing sward. However, little research to date has been conducted investigating the efects of mixed swards containing white clover on the composition of the rumen microbiome. In this study, the rumen microbial composition of late lactation dairy cows grazing perennial ryegrass only (PRG; n=20) or perennial ryegrass and white clover (WCPRG; n=19) swards, was characterised using 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing. PERMANOVA analysis indicated diet signifcantly altered the composition of the rumen microbiome (P=0.024). Subtle shifts in the relative abundance of 14 bacterial genera were apparent between diets, including an increased relative abundance of Lachnospira (0.04 vs. 0.23%) and Pseudobutyrivibrio (1.38 vs. 0.81%) in the WCPRG and PRG groups, respectively. The composition of the archaeal community was altered between dietary groups, with a minor increase in the relative abundance of Methanosphaera in the WCPRG observed. Results from this study highlight the potential for sward type to infuence the composition of the rumen microbial community.