• Administration of a live culture of Lactococcus lactis DPC 3147 into the bovine mammary gland stimulates the local host immune response, particularly IL-1β and IL-8 gene expression

      Beecher, Christine; Daly, Mairead; Berry, Donagh; Klostermann, Katja; Flynn, James; Meaney, William J; Hill, Colin; McCarthy, Tommie V; Ross, R Paul; Giblin, Linda; et al. (Cambridge University Press: Published for the Institute of Food Research and the Hannah Research Institute, 18/05/2009)
      Mastitis is one of the most costly diseases to the dairy farming industry. Conventional antibiotic therapy is often unsatisfactory for successful treatment of mastitis and alternative treatments are continually under investigation. We have previously demonstrated, in two separate field trials, that a probiotic culture, Lactococcus lactis DPC 3147, was comparable to antibiotic therapy to treat bovine mastitis. To understand the mode of action of this therapeutic, we looked at the detailed immune response of the host to delivery of this live strain directly into the mammary gland of six healthy dairy cows. All animals elicited signs of udder inflammation 7 h post infusion. At this time, clots were visible in the milk of all animals in the investigation. The most pronounced increase in immune gene expression was observed in Interleukin (IL)-1b and IL-8, with highest expression corresponding to peaks in somatic cell count. Infusion with a live culture of a Lc. lactis leads to a rapid and considerable innate immune response.
    • Analysis of Johne’s disease ELISA status and associated performance parameters in Irish dairy cows

      Kennedy, Aideen E.; Byrne, Nicky; Garcia, A. B; O'Mahony, James A.; Sayers, Riona; Irish Dairy Levy Research Trust (2016-03-02)
      Background Infection with Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) has been associated with reductions in milk production in dairy cows and sub optimal fertility. The aim of this study was to highlight the production losses associated with testing MAP ELISA positive in Irish dairy cows. Secondary objectives included investigation of risk factors associated with testing MAP ELISA positive. A survey of management practices on study farms was also conducted, with examination of associations between management practices and herd MAP status. Blood samples were collected from 4188 breeding animals on 22 farms. Samples were ELISA tested using the ID Screen Paratuberculosis Indirect Screening Test. Production parameters examined included milk yield, milk fat, milk protein, somatic cell count, and calving interval. The association between MAP ELISA status and production data was investigated using multi-level mixed models. Logistic regression was used to identify risk factors for testing JD blood ELISA positive at individual cow level and to identify associations between farm management practices and herd MAP status. Results Data were available for 3528 cows. The apparent prevalence recorded was 7.4 %. Mixed model analysis revealed no statistically significant association between testing MAP ELISA positive and dairy cow production parameters. Risk factors associated with testing positive included larger sized herds being over twice more likely to test positive than smaller herds (OR 2.4 P = <0.001). Friesians were less likely to test positive relative to other breeds. A number of study farmers were engaged in management practices that have previously been identified as high risk for MAP transmission e.g., 73.1 % pooled colostrum and 84.6 % of study farmers used the calving area to house sick animals throughout the year. No significant associations however, were identified between farm management practices and herd MAP status. Conclusion No production losses were identified; however an apparent prevalence of 7.4 % was recorded. With the abolition of EU milk quotas herd size in Ireland is expanding, as herds included in this study were larger than the national average, results may be indicative of future JD levels if no JD control programmes are implemented to minimise transmission.
    • 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.
    • Determining the Prevalence and Seasonality of Fasciola hepatica in Pasture-based Dairy herds in Ireland using a Bulk Tank Milk ELISA

      Bloemhoff, Yris; Forbes, Andrew; Danaher, Martin; Good, Barbara; Morgan, Eric; Mulcahy, Grace; Sekiya, Mary; Sayers, Riona; Irish Dairy Levy Research Trust; Merial (Biomed Central, 09/07/2015)
      Background Fasciola hepatica is a helminth parasite of global importance in livestock, with major economic impact. However information on F. hepatica infections in Irish pasture-based dairy herds is limited. Therefore this study was conducted in order to determine the prevalence, seasonality and management factors associated with F. hepatica. A total of 319 Irish dairy herds were selected for this study. Bulk tank milk (BTM) samples were collected from 290 dairy farms on a quarter year basis, while from a further 29 dairy farms BTM samples were collected on a monthly basis to provide a more detailed pattern of F. hepatica exposure in Irish herds. BTM samples were analysed using a commercially available F. hepatica antibody detection ELISA. Furthermore, within-herd prevalence of F. hepatica was assessed in a subset of these 29 herds (n = 17); both individual serum samples and bulk tank milk samples were collected. Results A within-herd prevalence of ≤ 50 % was found for herds with negative bulk tank milk samples. The mean prevalence of the 290 study herds was 75.4 % (Range 52 %–75.1 %), with the highest prevalence being observed in November (75.1 %). The seasonal pattern of F. hepatica shows elevated antibodies as the grazing season progressed, reaching a peak in January. A significant association was found between F. hepatica and age at first calving. Conclusion This study demonstrates that F. hepatica is present in a large proportion of Irish dairy herds and provides a basis on which control practices, particularly in adult dairy cows, can be reviewed.
    • 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.
    • Effect of restricting silage feeding prepartum on time of calving, dystocia and stillbirth in Holstein-Friesian cows

      Gleeson, David E; O'Brien, Bernadette; Mee, John F; Irish Dairy Levy Research Trust (Biomed Central, 2007-11-01)
      A study was carried out to investigate the effect of restricting silage feeding on time of calving and calving performance in Holstein-Friesian cows. In the treatment group (n = 1,248 cows, 12 herds) silage feeding commenced in the evening (17:00 to 20:00 h), after a period of restricted access (2 to 10 h) while in the control group ad-libitum access to silage was provided over the 24 h period (n = 1,193 cows, 12 herds). Daytime and nighttime calvings were defined as calvings occurring between the hours of 06:30 and 00:29 and between 00:30 and 06:29, respectively. Restricting access to silage resulted in less calvings at night compared to cows with ad-libitum access to silage (18 vs 22%, P < 0.05). Cows with restricted access to silage had a higher percentage of difficult calvings (11 vs 7%, P < 0.001) and stillbirths (7 vs 5%, P < 0.05) compared to cows in the control group. The percentage of calvings at night was lower (13%) when access to silage was restricted for 10 h compared to 2, 4 or 6 h (22, 18, 25%, respectively) (P < 0.001). Calf sire breed, calf gender or cow parity did not influence time of calving. In conclusion, offering silage to pregnant Holstein-Friesian cows in the evening, after a period of restricted access, reduced the incidence of nighttime calvings, but increased the incidence of dystocia and stillbirth.
    • Impact of three inactivated bovine viral diarrhoea virus vaccines on bulk milk p80 (NS3) ELISA test results in dairy herds

      Sayers, Riona; Sayers, Gearoid; Graham, David A.; Arkins, S.; Irish Dairy Levy Research Trust (Elsevier, 2015-03-25)
      Bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV) is endemic in many countries and vaccines are used as a component of control and eradication strategies. Surveillance programmes to detect exposure to BVDV often incorporate the use of bulk milk (BM) testing for antibodies against BVDV p80 (NS3), but vaccination can interfere with these results. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether BVDV vaccines would confound BM testing for specific antibodies in a nationally representative group of commercial dairy farms in the Republic of Ireland. A total of 256 commercial dairy herds were included in the statistical analysis. Quarterly BM or serum samples from selected weanling heifers (unvaccinated homeborn youngstock) were assessed by ELISA for antibodies against the BVDV p80 subunit and whole virus. Wilcoxon ranksum and receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analyses were used to examine differences among groups vaccinated with one of three commercially available inactivated BVDV vaccines. Two of the three vaccines showed evidence of interference with ELISA testing of BM samples. ROC analysis highlighted that one vaccine did not reduce the discriminatory power of the BVDV p80 ELISA for identification of herds with evidence of recent BVDV circulation, when compared with unvaccinated herds; thus, administration of this vaccine would allow uncomplicated interpretation of BM ELISA test results in vaccinated seropositive herds. Seasonal differences in BM antibody results were identified, suggesting that the latter half of lactation is the most suitable time for sampling dairy herds containing predominantly spring calving cows. The results of the present study are likely to prove useful in countries allowing vaccination during or following BVDV eradication, where BM testing is required as part of the surveillance strategy.
    • Implementing biosecurity measures on dairy farms in Ireland

      Sayers, Riona; Sayers, Gearoid; Mee, John F; Good, Margaret; Bermingham, Mairead L; Grant, Jim; Dillon, Pat; Irish Dairy Levy Research Trust (Elsevier, 2012-12-29)
      Dairy farms in Ireland are expanding in preparation for a new era of unrestricted milk production with the elimination of the European Union (EU) production quotas in 2015. Countries experiencing a changing agricultural demographic, including farm expansion, can benefit from documenting the implementation of on-farm biosecurity. The objectives of this study were to document and describe influences on biosecurity practices and related opinions on dairy farms. A representative response rate of 64% was achieved to a nationwide telesurvey of farmers. A 20% discrepancy was found between self-declared and truly ‘closed’ herds indicating a lack of understanding of the closed herd concept. Although >72% of farmers surveyed considered biosecurity to be important, 53% stated that a lack of information might prevent them from improving their biosecurity. Logistic regression highlighted regional, age, and farm-size related differences in biosecurity practices and opinions towards its implementation. Farmers in the most dairy cattle dense region were three times more likely to quarantine purchased stock than were their equivalents in regions where dairy production was less intense (P = 0.012). Younger farmers in general were over twice as likely as middle-aged farmers to implement biosecurity guidelines (P = 0.026). The owners of large enterprises were almost five times more likely to join a voluntary animal health scheme (P = 0.003), and were over three times more likely to pay a premium price for health accredited animals (P = 0.02) than were those farming small holdings. The baseline data recorded in this survey will form the basis for more detailed sociological and demographic research which will facilitate the targeting of future training of the farming community in biosecurity.
    • Iodine concentrations in milk

      O'Brien, Bernadette; Gleeson, David E; Jordan, Kieran; Irish Dairy Levy Research Trust (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2013)
      Iodine tends to be supplemented at farm level in the expectation of increasing cow health and fertility. There is concern that such practices may result in high milk iodine, which could affect ingredients for infant formula and, thus, dairy export markets. The objective of this study was to quantify the effect of iodine fortified feed and teat disinfection practices of dairy cows on milk iodine concentration. Thirty lactating cows were fed 7 kg, 3 kg (10 mg iodine/kg) and 0 kg of concentrate feed during 3 periods of 35 days each. During the first 14 days of each period, cows were on dietary iodine treatments only; during days 15–21, one of three teat disinfection treatments (n = 10) was applied (in addition to the dietary iodine treatments): non-iodine (chlorhexidine) post-milking spray; 0.5% iodine spray post-milking; 0.5% iodine spray pre- and post-milking. Cow milk yield was 21.3 kg/day. Individual cow milk samples were analysed for iodine concentration on 2 days at the end of each treatment period. Dietary supplementation of iodine at both 30 mg and 70 mg/day, when compared to the diet with no supplement, increased milk iodine concentrations significantly (P < 0.001) from 449 to 1034 and 915 μg/kg, respectively. Teat disinfection both pre- and post-milking increased milk iodine concentration at each of the dietary supplementation levels of 0, 30 and 70 mg/day compared with a non-iodine teat disinfectant (P < 0.001). In conclusion, both dietary iodine supplementation and teat disinfection iodine increased milk iodine concentrations in an additive manner, exceeding common target values of 250 μg/kg. As both iodine treatments can occur simultaneously on farm, supplementation strategies should be monitored.
    • Review of potential sources and control of thermoduric bacteria in bulk-tank milk

      Gleeson, David E; O'Connell, Aine; Jordan, Kieran; Irish Dairy Levy Research Trust (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2013)
      Bacteria that contaminate milk include thermoduric bacteria that can survive pasteurisation and subsequently grow in the pasteurised milk or contaminate product. Elimination of thermodurics at milking is not feasible. Therefore, knowledge of their source and strategies for their reduction are important. The major sources of thermodurics in milk are contamination of the teat skin from soil and bedding, and subsequent contamination from deposits that can build up on milking equipment surfaces. Hygiene at milking can reduce the number of bacteria contaminating milk. Teat preparation at milking and a recommended plant cleaning procedure are critical to the prevention of the contamination of milk with thermoduric bacteria.
    • Seasonality of nitrogen uptake, apparent recovery of fertilizer nitrogen and background nitrogen supply in two Irish grassland soils

      Murphy, Paul N. C.; O'Connell, K.; Watson, S.; Watson, C. J.; Humphreys, James; Irish National Development Plan; Irish Dairy Levy Research Trust (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2013)
      Improving fertilizer nitrogen (N) use efficiency is central to sustainable and profitable grassland agriculture. A plot experiment with a control and fertilizer N (calcium ammonium nitrate, 25–50 kg/ha N) applied on nine occasions from February to September 2002 was conducted at two sites in southwest Ireland to assess N uptake and apparent recovery of fertilizer N (ARFN). Apparent recovery of fertilizer N after eight weeks varied from low in February (21%) and March (46%) to high from April to August (69–98%), indicating that high N use efficiency can be achieved in Irish grasslands at these times. Low recovery in spring suggested that N was applied in excess of immediate crop requirements. Note that N uptake and ARFN values from this study are likely to be somewhat conservative, particularly for spring applications. Over the 8 weeks during which growth was monitored, most (70%) of the grass yield and N uptake response to fertilizer N were in weeks 1 to 4 after application; however, a significant (30%) response occurred in weeks 5–8. This suggested that residual N availability following grazing at 4 weeks can be significant and that there may be scope to decrease N application rates in a grazing rotation. This can potentially improve N use efficiency and decrease N surpluses, with associated economic and environmental benefits. Apparent recovery of fertilizer N was closely related to soil temperature, with a 5.8% increase in ARFN with a 1 °C increase in temperature. Background (non-fertilizer) N supply contributed an average of 164 kg/ha per year (49%) taken up by the fertilized sward, highlighting the potential importance of soil N mineralisation to grassland productivity. Note that these results are for one year at two sites and that conditions may vary between years and at other sites and also that the experiment did not reproduce the cumulative effect of repeated fertilizer application over the grazing year.