• Development of a benchmarking system for Irish beef farms using data envelopment analysis

      Finneran, Eoghan; Crosson, Paul (2013)
      Agricultural extension trends have involved greater use of collaborative “discussion group” dissemination approaches. These discussion groups involve regular participatory meetings between a consistent cohort of farmers and extension practitioners with occasional input from industry and research stakeholders. In Ireland, policy change, small farm scale and low incomes are some of the factors incentivising beef farmers and industry to seek increased whole-farm income efficiency. Whole-farm comparative analysis may provide a means of identifying and explaining efficiency drivers at farm level. This article describes the development of BEEFMARK, a benchmarking model with potential to act as a tool to facilitate farmer-farmer and farmer-adviser group learning within discussion groups. BEEFMARK utilised Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) to measure beef farm income and scale efficiency and to identify and characterise efficient peer farms which act as benchmarks for similarly structured, but lower efficiency farms. Market derived gross output (€) per livestock unit was positively associated with farm efficiency while greater overhead and concentrate feed expenditure was negatively associated with income and scale efficiency.
    • Effects of finishing strategy on performance of Belgian Blue × Friesian and Limousin × Friesian steers.

      Keane, Michael G. (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2010)
      Belgian Blue and Limousin bulls are used for cross-breeding with Holstein Friesian dairy cows in Ireland. In beef winter-finishing enterprises, a preliminary feeding period sometimes precedes the finishing period. The optimum feeding level for this period has not been established. The objective of this study was to compare lifetime performance of Belgian Blue × Holstein Friesian (BB) and Limousin × Holstein Friesian (LM) steers and to determine the effects of three finishing strategies on performance and carcass traits. Fortyeight spring-born male calves (24 BB and 24 LM), the progeny of Limousin and Belgian Blue bulls out of Holstein Friesian cows, were reared together to slaughter. At about 19 months of age they were assigned to one of three finishing strategies involving grass silage ad libitum plus 0, 3 or 6 kg concentrates per head daily for 112 days (preliminary period) followed by concentrates ad libitum to slaughter at 610 kg live weight. Slaughter weight and carcass weight did not differ between the breed types but BB had a higher kill-out proportion, better carcass conformation and lower carcass fatness. Live-weight gains during the preliminary period were 431, 914 and 1134 g/day (s.e. 31.8; P < 0.001) for the 0, 3 and 6 kg/day concentrate levels, respectively. Overall gains for the combined preliminary and finishing periods for the treatments in the same order were 945, 1101 and 1081 g/day (s.e. 36.1; P < 0.01). There were few differences between the finishing treatments in slaughter weight, carcass weight or carcass traits. It is concluded that general productivity is similar for BB and LM but BB have superior carcass traits. Where a preliminary feeding period precedes a finishing period on ad libitum concentrates, animals fed a low level of supplementary concentrates require less feed energy to reach a fixed slaughter weight than those fed none or a higher level of supplementary concentrates.
    • Enhancing the healthiness, shelf-life and flavour of Irish fresh packaged beef

      Moloney, Aidan P; Murray, Brendan; Troy, Declan J.; O'Grady, Michael; Kerry, Joseph P.; Downey, Gerard (Teagasc, 2007-02)
      Consumer concern about the nutritional aspects of health has heightened interest in developing methods for manipulation of the fatty acid composition of ruminant products. Ruminant meats such as beef and lamb are often criticised by nutritionists for having high amounts of saturated (S) fatty acids and low levels of polyunsaturated (P) fatty acids. The P:S ratio in beef is approximately 0.1, the ideal being about 0.4. However, an excessive increase in P concentration could predispose beef lipids to rancidity and loss of shelflife. Moreover, the colour of meat is an important influence on the purchase decision of the consumer. This report summarises the Teagasc contribution to a larger project supported under the Food Institutional Research Measure programme administrated by the Department of Agriculture and Food. The Teagasc contribution focused on enhancing the fatty acid composition of beef by nutritional manipulation of cattle using grazing and plant oils, the use of healthy - fatty acid enriched bovine tissue to make a processed beef product and the efficacy of dietary inclusion of tea catechins and rosemary to enhance the shelf-life of beef.
    • GWAS and eQTL analysis identifies a SNP associated with both residual feed intake and GFRA2 expression in beef cattle

      Higgins, Marc G.; Fitzsimons, Clare; McClure, Matthew C.; McKenna, Clare; Conroy, S.B.; Kenny, David A.; McGee, Mark; Waters, Sinead M.; Morris, Derek W.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; et al. (Nature Publishing Group, 2018-09-24)
      Residual feed intake (RFI), a measure of feed efficiency, is an important economic and environmental trait in beef production. Selection of low RFI (feed efficient) cattle could maintain levels of production, while decreasing feed costs and methane emissions. However, RFI is a difficult and expensive trait to measure. Identification of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with RFI may enable rapid, cost effective genomic selection of feed efficient cattle. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) were conducted in multiple breeds followed by meta-analysis to identify genetic variants associated with RFI and component traits (average daily gain (ADG) and feed intake (FI)) in Irish beef cattle (n = 1492). Expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) analysis was conducted to identify functional effects of GWAS-identified variants. Twenty-four SNPs were associated (P < 5 × 10−5) with RFI, ADG or FI. The variant rs43555985 exhibited strongest association for RFI (P = 8.28E-06). An eQTL was identified between this variant and GFRA2 (P = 0.0038) where the allele negatively correlated with RFI was associated with increased GFRA2 expression in liver. GFRA2 influences basal metabolic rates, suggesting a mechanism by which genetic variation may contribute to RFI. This study identified SNPs that may be useful both for genomic selection of RFI and for understanding the biology of feed efficiency.
    • Influence of feeding systems on the eating quality of beef

      Troy, Declan J.; Murray, Brendan; O'Sullivan, Aileen; Mooney, Teresa; Moloney, Aidan P; Kerry, Joseph P. (Teagasc, 2002-10)
      The objective was to determine pre-slaughter factors which may enhance the eating quality of beef and to assist the Irish beef production chain to exploit these factors to produce beef of higher quality and increased consumer acceptability. The effects of pre-slaughter growth rate, high energy diets, feed type and age at slaughter on beef quality were examined.
    • Validation and Improvement of the Beef Production Sub-index in Ireland for Beef Cattle

      Drennan, Michael J; McGee, Mark; Clarke, Anne Marie; Kenny, David A.; Evans, R. D.; Berry, Donagh (Teagasc, 2009-12-01)
      The objectives of the following study were to: a. Quantify the effect of sire genetic merit for BCI on: 1. feed intake, growth and carcass traits of progeny managed under bull or steer beef production systems. 2. live animal scores, carcass composition and plasma hormone and metabolite concentrations in their progeny. b. Compare the progeny of : 1. Late-maturing beef with dairy breeds and 2. Charolais (CH), Limousin (LM), Simmental (SM) and Belgian Blue (BB) sires bred to beef suckler dams, for feed intake, blood hormones and metabolites, live animal measurements, carcass traits and carcass value in bull and steer production systems.