• A consumer study of the effect of castration and slaughter age of lambs on the sensory quality of meat

      Gravador, Rufielyn S.; Pace, Elaine; Mooney, Bernard R.; Jaeger, Sara R.; Gkarane, Vasiliki; Fahey, Alan G.; Brunton, Nigel P.; Claffey, Noel A.; Allen, Paul; Diskin, Michael G.; et al. (Elsevier, 2018-09-20)
      Meat from ram lambs is often considered inferior to meat from castrated lambs, especially in older or heavier animals. This study aimed to determine if differences exist in the sensory quality and acceptability of meat from rams and castrates, slaughtered at mean ages of 196 or 385 days. Rams had higher average daily gain, feed conversion efficiency, total weight gain and lower carcass fatness than castrates. A triangle test (n = 81 consumers) showed a difference (P < 0.05) in the sensory quality of meat from rams vs castrates. A 9-point hedonic test involving 100 consumers showed that, although meat from both rams and castrates was ‘liked’, meat from castrates scored higher (P < 0.05) in Overall Liking, Flavour Liking and Tenderness Liking. Meat from castrates was also rated lower (P < 0.05) in Unpleasant Taste/Off-Flavour Intensity. Flavour Intensity and Unpleasant Taste/Off-Flavour Intensity increased (P < 0.05) with age at slaughter. This consumer study revealed that while meat from castrates was higher in Overall Liking, Flavour Liking and Tenderness Liking and lower in Unpleasant Taste/Off-Flavour Intensity than meat from rams, both meats were ‘liked’ by consumers.
    • 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.
    • The Effect of Group Composition and Mineral Supplementation during Rearing on Measures of Cartilage Condition and Bone Mineral Density in Replacement Gilts

      Hartnett, Phoebe; Boyle, Laura; Younge, Bridget; O'Driscoll, Keelin; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship programme (MDPI, 2019-08-30)
      Lameness is a major cause of poor longevity and poor welfare in replacement gilts. The problem is exacerbated by inappropriate housing and diet during the rearing period. Replacement gilts are often reared with male finisher pigs destined for slaughter. If they are not castrated, they perform high levels of potentially injurious sexual and aggressive behaviour. Furthermore, finisher pig diets are not designed to meet the needs of developing gilts and may not supply the necessary minerals to support good limb health. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of supplementing the diet of replacement gilts with copper, zinc and manganese and separating them from males during the rearing period on locomotory ability, bone mineral density and cartilage lesion scores. A 2 × 2 factorial design experiment investigated the effect of female-only or mixed-sex rearing, with or without supplementary minerals (Copper, Zinc and Manganese). In total, 384 maternal line gilts were assigned to 32 pens of 12 and were locomotion scored during the rearing period. A sub-sample (n = 102) of gilts were culled at breeding age and the front right limb was removed at slaughter. Areal bone mineral density (aBMD) was measured using dual energy X-ray absorptiometry, after which the limb was dissected to score the condition of the cartilage. The addition of trace minerals to the diet resulted in increased aBMD in the humerus (P < 0.05) compared to the control diet. Rearing gilts in female-only groups reduced the number of cartilage lesions overall (P < 0.05), and on the humeral condyle (P < 0.05). Rearing replacement gilts in female-only groups and with mineral supplementation had benefits for limb health.
    • Fertility of fresh and frozen sex-sorted semen in dairy cows and heifers in seasonal-calving pasture-based herds

      Maicas, C.; Hutchinson, Ian A.; Kenneally, Jonathon; Grant, Jim; Cromie, A. R.; Lonergan, P.; Butler, Stephen T.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship programme; Teagasc postdoctoral fellowship; Dovea Genetics; et al. (Elsevier, 2019-08-22)
      Our objective in this study was to evaluate the reproductive performance of dairy heifers and cows inseminated with fresh or frozen sex-sorted semen (SS) in seasonal-calving pasture-based dairy herds. Ejaculates of 10 Holstein-Friesian bulls were split and processed to provide (1) fresh conventional semen at 3 × 106 sperm per straw (CONV); (2) fresh SS at 1 × 106 sperm per straw (SS-1M); (3) fresh SS semen at 2 × 106 sperm per straw (SS-2M); and (4) frozen SS at 2 × 106 sperm per straw (SS-FRZ). Generalized linear mixed models were used to evaluate the effect of semen treatment and other explanatory variables on pregnancy per artificial insemination (P/AI) in heifers (n = 3,214) and lactating cows (n = 5,457). In heifers, P/AI was greater for inseminations with CONV (60.9%) than with SS-FRZ (52.8%) but did not differ from SS-1M (54.2%) or SS-2M (53.5%). Cows inseminated with CONV had greater P/AI (48.0%) than cows inseminated with SS, irrespective of treatment (SS-1M, SS-2M, and S-FROZEN; 37.6, 38.9, and 40.6%, respectively). None of the SS treatments differed from each other with regard to P/AI in either heifers or cows. The relative performance of SS compared with CONV was also examined [i.e., relative P/AI = (SS P/AI)/(CONV P/AI) × 100]. Frozen SS achieved relative P/AI >84%. Bull affected P/AI in both heifers and cows, but no bull by semen treatment interaction was observed. In heifers, P/AI increased with increasing Predicted Transmitting Ability for milk protein percentage. In cows, P/AI increased with increasing Economic Breeding Index (EBI) and with days in milk (DIM) at AI but decreased with increasing EBI milk subindex, parity and with DIM2. Cows in parity ≥5 had the lowest P/AI and differed from cows in parities 1, 2, or 3. Dispatch-to-AI interval of fresh semen did not affect P/AI in lactating cows, but a dispatch-to-AI interval by bull interaction was detected whereby P/AI was constant for most bulls but increased with greater dispatch-to-AI intervals for 2 bulls. In conclusion, frozen SS achieved greater P/AI relative to conventional semen than was previously reported in lactating cows. Fresh SS did not achieve greater P/AI than frozen SS, regardless of whether the sperm dose per straw was 1 × 106 or 2 × 106. A bull effect for all semen treatments, as well as a dispatch-to-AI interval by bull interaction for fresh semen, highlights the importance of using a large team of bulls for breeding management.