• 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.
    • Comparison of rapid laboratory tests for failure of passive transfer in the bovine

      Hogan, Ian; Doherty, Michael L.; Fagan, John; Kennedy, Emer; Conneely, Muireann; Brady, Paula; Ryan, Clare; Lorenz, Ingrid (Biomed Central, 2015-08-25)
      Background Failure of passive transfer of maternal immunity via colostrum can occur in the bovine, and a number of blood tests have been developed to test calves for this failure. It is not clear which test is most suitable for this purpose. The objective was to examine the most commonly used tests for failure of passive transfer and to decide which is most suitable for routine laboratory use. 126 serum samples were taken from calves of dairy cows after birth but prior to colostrum feeding, and at 48 h of age. Five different tests were compared against radial immunodiffusion which is considered the appropriate reference method. These tests were serum gamma-glutamyltransferase levels, serum protein levels, serum globulin levels, an enzyme linked immunosorbent assay and the zinc sulphate turbidity test. Results The tests examined displayed high sensitivity but widely varying specificity. Examination of the use of different cut-off points allowed some improvement in specificity at the expense of sensitivity, but the tests which had performed best at the original cut-off points still displayed the best performance. Gamma-glutamyltransferase levels as a measure of colostrum absorption returned, in this study, the best balance between sensitivity and specificity. The ELISA used in this study and serum globulin levels displayed performance similar to the gamma-glutamyltransferase levels. Serum total protein was less successful than others examined at providing both sensitivity and specificity but may, when performed via refractometer, be useful for on-farm testing. As currently performed the poor sensitivity for which the zinc sulphate turbidity test is most often criticized is evident. Modification of the cut-off point to increase specificity is less successful at balancing these parameters than the ELISA, gamma-glutamyltransferase levels, and globulin levels. Conclusions Gamma-glutamyltransferase levels, ELISA testing and circulating globulin levels performed best in detecting failure of passive transfer in serum samples, although all three had some practical considerations.
    • A Comparison of the Productivity of Suckler Cows of Different Breed Composition

      Drennan, Michael J; Murphy, B.M. (Teagasc, 2006-01-01)
      The findings obtained in a comparison of 5 suckler dam breed types {Limousin x Friesian (LF), Limousin x (Limousin x Friesian) (LLF), Limousin (L), Charolais (C) and Simmental x (Limousin x Friesian) (SLF)} and their progeny through to slaughter
    • 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.
    • Effect of milk feed source, frequency of feeding and age at turnout on calf performance, live-weight at mating and 1st lactation milk production

      Gleeson, David E; O'Brien, Bernadette (Biomed Central, 2012-10-18)
      Female calves (n = 108) were assigned to 6 cold milk feeding treatments in two experiments for a 70-day period. Live-weight (LW) was measured weekly, with an additional LW taken at day 410 and post-calving for animals in experiment 1. In Experiment 1, the effect of feeding frequency and age of turnout to pasture on calf performance and 1st lactation milk yields were evaluated. The whole milk (WM) feeding treatments applied were (i) once daily feeding (OD), (ii) twice daily feeding (TD), (iii) OD feeding, outdoors at 38 days (ODO). In Experiment 2, the effects of feeding milk replacer (MR) as opposed to WM and age of turnout to pasture on calf performance were evaluated. The treatments applied were (i) OD feeding with WM (OD), (ii) OD feeding with milk replacer (MR) (ODMR), (iii) OD feeding with MR, outdoors at 38 days (ODMRO). Experiment 1: There were no differences (P > 0.05) in LW or average daily gain between TD and OD calves at day 80 or 410. ODO calves had lower LW at day 80 as compared to OD or TD (P < 0.001). Calf LW at day 80 was 86, 89 and 85 kg and at day 410 was 304, 309 and 316 kg for OD, TD and ODO, respectively. Milk feeding frequency or time of calf turnout had no effect on LW post calving, milk composition or 1st lactation milk yields. Experiment 2: Total LW at day 80 was higher (P < 0.05) for ODMR compared to OD or ODMRO calves. Calf LW was 87, 95, and 88 kg for OD, ODMR and ODMRO, respectively. However, LW at day 410 did not differ between treatments.This study showed that while some differences were observed in calf LW at day 80, these differences had no effect on LW at day 410 or 1st lactation milk yield. It can be concluded that calves can be successfully reared when fed OD with WM or MR, indoors and when turned out to pasture at 38 days of age.
    • Rearing calves outdoors with and without calf jackets compared with indoor housing on calf health and live-weight performance

      Earley, Bernadette; Murray, Margaret; Farrell, J.A.; Nolan, Marie-Jean; National Development Plan, 2000-2006 (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2004)
      The objective of this study was to compare the effects of rearing calves outdoors, with and without all-weather calf jackets, with calves reared indoors on calf immunity and animal performance. In February 1999, male Holstein calves (mean (s.e.) weight 55 (1.90) kg) were randomly assigned to one of three treatments (n=30 per treatment): 1) outdoors with jacket, (J; mean age 19 (s.e. 2.0) days); 2) outdoors without jacket (NJ; mean age 19 (s.e. 1.8) days), and 3) indoors on straw (I; mean age 19 (s.e. 1.0) days). Calves received an individual allowance of 25 kg of milk replacer dry matter during the first 42 days with ad libitum access to a concentrate ration from day 0 to 63. The jackets were removed from the calves on day 42. Live-weight gain from day 0 to day 63 of the study was not significantly different between treatments (J, 0.79; NJ, 0.80; I, 0.80 kg). Sixty percent of the J calves and 53% of the NJ calves required four or more antibiotic treatments for respiratory disease while corresponding treatments were required for 97% of the I calves. The incidence of diarrhoea was significantly higher in both outdoor treatments compared to the I treatment. There was no significant difference in white blood cell counts or in serum immunoglobulin concentrations between treatments on days 0, 21, 42 and 63 or in in vitro interferon-γ production on day 63. It is concluded that using calf jackets on calves reared outdoors had no beneficial effect on calf performance or immune status. The incidence of respiratory disease was higher and diarrhoea incidence was lower in calves reared indoors compared with calves reared outdoors. There was no significant difference in incidences of diarrhoea and respiratory disease between the two outdoor treatments.
    • Transcriptomic analysis of the stress response to weaning at housing in bovine leukocytes using RNA-seq technology

      O'Loughlin, Aran; Lynn, David J; McGee, Mark; Doyle, Sean; McCabe, Matthew; Earley, Bernadette; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Biomed Central, 2012-06-18)
      Background: Weaning of beef calves is a necessary husbandry practice and involves separating the calf from its mother, resulting in numerous stressful events including dietary change, social reorganisation and the cessation of the maternal-offspring bond and is often accompanied by housing. While much recent research has focused on the physiological response of the bovine immune system to stress in recent years, little is known about the molecular mechanisms modulating the immune response. Therefore, the objective of this study was to provide new insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying the physiological response to weaning at housing in beef calves using Illumina RNA-seq.Results: The leukocyte transcriptome was significantly altered for at least 7 days following either housing or weaning at housing. Analysis of differentially expressed genes revealed that four main pathways, cytokine signalling, transmembrane transport, haemostasis and G-protein-coupled receptor (GPRC) signalling were differentially regulated between control and weaned calves and underwent significant transcriptomic alterations in response to weaning stress on day 1, 2 and 7. Of particular note, chemokines, cytokines and integrins were consistently found to be up-regulated on each day following weaning. Evidence for alternative splicing of genes was also detected, indicating a number of genes involved in the innate and adaptive immune response may be alternatively transcribed, including those responsible for toll receptor cascades and T cell receptor signalling.Conclusions: This study represents the first application of RNA-Seq technology for genomic studies in bovine leukocytes in response to weaning stress. Weaning stress induces the activation of a number of cytokine, chemokine and integrin transcripts and may alter the immune system whereby the ability of a number of cells of the innate and adaptive immune system to locate and destroy pathogens is transcriptionally enhanced. Stress alters the homeostasis of the transcriptomic environment of leukocytes for at least 7 days following weaning, indicating long term effects of stress exposure in the bovine. The identification of gene signature networks that are stress activated provides a mechanistic framework to characterise the multifaceted nature of weaning stress adaptation in beef calves. Thus, capturing subtle transcriptomic changes provides insight into the molecular mechanisms that underlie the physiological response to weaning stress.