• N leaching to groundwater from dairy production involving grazing over the winter on a clay-loam soil

      Necpalova, Magdalena; Fenton, Owen; Casey, I.; Humphreys, James; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; RSF07-511 (Elsevier B. V., 15/08/2012)
      This study investigated concentrations of various N species in shallow groundwater (< 2.2 m below ground level) and N losses from dairy production involving grazing over the winter period on a clay loam soil with a high natural attenuation capacity in southern Ireland (52˚51’N, 08˚21’W) over a two year period. A dense network of shallow groundwater piezometers was installed to determine groundwater flow direction and N spatial and temporal variation. Estimated vertical travel times through the unsaturated zone (<0.5 yr, time lag) allowed the correlation of management with groundwater N within a short space of time. There was a two way interaction of the system and sampling date (P < 0.05) on concentrations of DON, oxidised N and NO3--N. In contrast, concentrations of NH4+-N and NO2--N were unaffected by the dairy system. Grazing over the winter had no effect on N losses to groundwater. Mean concentrations of DON, NH4+-N, NO2--N and NO3--N were 2.16, 0.35, 0.01 and 0.37 mg L-1 respectively. Soil attenuation processes such as denitrification and DNRA resulted in increased NH4+-N levels. For this reason, DON and NH4+-N represented the highest proportion of N losses from the site. Some of the spatial and temporal variation of N concentrations was explained by correlations with selected chemical and hydro-topographical parameters (NO3--N/Cl- ratio, distance of the sampling point from the closest receptor, watertable depth, depth of sampling piezometer, DOC concentration). A high explanatory power of NO3--N/Cl- ratio and the distance of the sampling point from the closest receptor indicated the influence of point sources and groundwater-surface water interactions.
    • A nationwide survey of anthelmintic treatment failure on sheep farms in Ireland

      Keegan, Jason D; Keane, Orla M; Good, Barbara; De Waal, Theo; Denny, Marian; Hanrahan, James P; Fitzgerald, William; Sheehan, Maresa; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Biomed Central, 2017-02-09)
      Background Between 2013 and 2015 the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) administered a sheep technology adoption programme (STAP), with the aim of increasing profitability on Irish sheep farms by encouraging the adoption of best management practices. One of the options available to STAP participants was to test the efficacy of the anthelmintic treatment (benzimadazole, levamisole or macrocyclic lactone) used in their flocks by means of a drench test, which is a modification of the faecal egg count reduction test; individual faecal samples were collected from the same group of lambs before and after anthelmintic treatment, the number of eggs present pre and post treatment was subsequently determined from a pooled sample. Results In total, 4211 drench tests were undertaken by farmers during the 3 years of the programme. Information on the anthelmintic product used was available for 3771 of these tests; anthelmintics from the classes benzimidazole (BZ), levamisole (LV) and macrocyclic lactone (ML) (avermectins (AVM) plus moxidectin (MOX)) were used in 42.0%, 23.4% and 32.5% of tests, respectively. The remaining 2.1% of tests involved an inappropriate product. The efficacy of treatment against ‘other trichostrongyles’ (excluding Nematodirus spp and Strongyloides papillosus.) could be established for 1446 tests, and 51% of these tests were considered effective (i.e. a reduction of faecal egg count (FEC) ≥ 95%). There was a significant difference among the drug groups in efficacy; 31.5%, 51.9%, 62.5% and 84% of treatments were considered effective for BZ, LV, AVM, MOX, respectively. The efficacy of treatment against Nematodirus spp. could be established for 338 tests and the overall efficacy was 96%. Conclusions Due to the significant difference among the anthelmintic classes for efficacy against ‘other trichostrongyles’ along with the high level of efficacy against Nematodirus spp., a genus for which anthelmintic resistance is rarely reported, it is concluded that anthelmintic resistance was responsible for the majority of the anthelmintic treatment failures observed.
    • Nematode control in suckler beef cattle over their first two grazing seasons using a targeted selective treatment approach

      O’Shaughnessy, James; Earley, Bernadette; Mee, John F; Doherty, Michael L; Crosson, Paul; Barrett, Damien; de Waal, Theo; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Biomed Central, 2015-06-18)
      Background With concerns over the development of anthelmintic resistance in cattle nematode populations, we must re-examine our approach to nematode control in cattle. Targeted selective treatments (TST), whereby individual animals are treated instead of entire groups, are being investigated as an alternative. The study objective was to determine if anthelmintic usage could be reduced using a TST-based approach to nematode control in spring-born suckler beef cattle over their first and second grazing seasons (SGS) without affecting performance. In the first grazing season (FGS), 99 calves with an initial mean (s.d.) calf age and live weight on day 0 (June 28th 2012) of 107 (23.1) days and 160 (32.5) kg, respectively, were used. The study commenced on day 0 when calves were randomised and allocated to one of two treatments; 1), standard treatment (control) and 2), TST. Control calves were treated subcutaneously with ivermectin on days 0, 41 and 82 in the FGS. All calves were treated with ivermectin on day 124 and housed on day 133. In the SGS, only heifer calves from the FGS were used and control heifers were treated with ivermectin on day 393. Animals were weighed, blood and faecal sampled every three weeks. The TST animals were treated with ivermectin if thresholds based on a combination of plasma pepsinogen concentrations, faecal egg count and/or the presence of Dictyocaulus viviparus larvae in faeces (FGS only) were reached. Results No TST calves reached the treatment threshold criteria in the FGS. The FGS average daily live weight gain (ADG ± s.e.m.) for control and TST group calves was 0.89 ± 0.02 kg and 0.94 ± 0.02 kg day−1, respectively (P = 0.17). In the SGS, all heifers were treated with ivermectin on day 431 due to clinical signs of respiratory disease. The ADG for control and TST heifers from turnout on day 321 to day 431 was 0.90 ± 0.04 and 0.80 ± 0.04 kg day−1, respectively (P = 0.03). Conclusions Spring-born FGS suckler beef calves require minimal anthelmintic treatment to maintain performance. In contrast, clinical parasitic disease may develop in the SGS unless appropriate anthelmintic treatment is provided.
    • Next Generation Sequencing Reveals the Expression of a Unique miRNA Profile in Response to a Gram-Positive Bacterial Infection

      Lawless, Nathan; Foroushani, Amir B. K.; McCabe, Matthew S.; O'Farrelly, Cliona; Lynn, David J.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (PLOS, 2013-01-25)
      MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short, non-coding RNAs, which post-transcriptionally regulate gene expression and are proposed to play a key role in the regulation of innate and adaptive immunity. Here, we report a next generation sequencing (NGS) approach profiling the expression of miRNAs in primary bovine mammary epithelial cells (BMEs) at 1, 2, 4 and 6 hours post-infection with Streptococcus uberis, a causative agent of bovine mastitis. Analysing over 450 million sequencing reads, we found that 20% of the approximately 1,300 currently known bovine miRNAs are expressed in unchallenged BMEs. We also identified the expression of more than 20 potentially novel bovine miRNAs. There is, however, a significant dynamic range in the expression of known miRNAs. The top 10 highly expressed miRNAs account for >80% of all aligned reads, with the remaining miRNAs showing much lower expression. Twenty-one miRNAs were identified as significantly differentially expressed post-infection with S. uberis. Several of these miRNAs have characterised roles in the immune systems of other species. This miRNA response to the Gram-positive S. uberis is markedly different, however, to lipopolysaccharide (LPS) induced miRNA expression. Of 145 miRNAs identified in the literature as being LPS responsive, only 9 were also differentially expressed in response to S. uberis. Computational analysis has also revealed that the predicted target genes of miRNAs, which are down-regulated in BMEs following S. uberis infection, are statistically enriched for roles in innate immunity. This suggests that miRNAs, which potentially act as central regulators of gene expression responses to a Gram-positive bacterial infection, may significantly regulate the sentinel capacity of mammary epithelial cells to mobilise the innate immune system.
    • Non-carcass parts and carcass composition of high dairy genetic merit Holstein, standard dairy genetic merit Friesian and Charolais × Holstein-Friesian steers

      McGee, Mark; Keane, Michael G.; Neilan, R.; Moloney, Aidan P; Caffrey, Patrick J. (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2008)
      The increased use of Holstein genetic material in the dairy herd has consequences for beef production. A total of 24 spring-born calves comprising 8 Holsteins (HO), 8 Friesians (FR) and 8 Charolais × Holstein-Friesians (CH) were reared from calfhood to slaughter. At the end of the second grazing season they were assigned to a 3 (breeds; HO, FR and CH) × 2 (slaughter weights; 620 and 730 kg) factorial experiment and fin¬ished indoors. After slaughter carcasses were classified for conformation and fatness, all organs and non-carcass parts were weighed, and the right side of each carcass was dissected into fat, bone and muscle. Non-carcass parts, carcass weight, kill-out propor¬tion, carcass conformation score and m. longissimus area were 405, 398 and 368 (s.e. 8.31) g/kg empty body weight, 355, 344 and 383 (s.e. 9.4) kg, 509, 520 and 545 (s.e. 8.99) g/kg, 1.0, 2.0 and 3.1 (s.e. 0.16), 7616, 7096 and 9286 (s.e. 223.4) mm2 for HO, FR and CH, respectively. Corresponding proportions of carcass muscle and fat were 631, 614 and 656 (s.e. 8.4), and 165, 200 and 165 (s.e. 10.5) g/kg. Increasing slaughter weight increased the proportion of total non-carcass parts, carcass weight, carcass fat score and fat proportion, and reduced carcass muscle and bone proportions. It is concluded that differences in kill-out proportion between the two dairy breeds was primarily due to the lower proportion of gastrointestinal tract (GIT) in FR, and the higher kill-out proportion of CH was mainly due to lower proportions of GIT, internal organs and internal fat. In terms of beef production, HO and FR were broadly comparable for most traits except carcass conformation score and carcass fat proportion, which were lower for HO. CH was superior to the dairy breeds in all important production traits.
    • A note on muscle composition and colour of Holstein-Friesian, Piedmontese × Holstein-Friesian and Romagnola × Holstein-Friesian steers.

      Keane, Michael G.; Allen, Paul (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2009)
      Holstein-Friesian (HF), Piedmontese × Holstein-Friesian (PM) and Romagnola × Holstein-Friesian (RO) steers were compared for muscle composition and colour. A total of 120 steers in a 3 breed types (HF, PM and RO) × 2 feeding levels (low and high) × 2 finishing periods (short, S and extended, E) factorial experiment were used. Three samples of m. longissimus were taken for chemical analysis, measurement of drip loss and Hunterlab colour measurements. Muscle moisture and protein concentrations were lower, and lipid concentration was higher for HF than for PM and RO, which were similar. There were no effects of feeding level on chemical composition, but after blooming all colour values except hue were lower for the higher feeding level. The E finishing period reduced moisture, protein, drip-loss, L (lightness), a (redness) and chroma values. It is concluded that PM and RO had similar muscle composition but HF had a higher lipid concentration. Feeding level had few effects on muscle composition, but extended finishing increased all measures of fatness and reduced colour values.
    • A note on the chemical composition and in vitro digestibility of contrasting stover components of maize grown in climatically marginal conditions and harvested at differing maturities.

      Lynch, J.P.; O'Kiely, Padraig; Doyle, E. M.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; RSF 07 501 (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2014)
      This study evaluated the nutritive value of three contrasting components of maize stover (leaf, upper stem, lower stem) at three harvest dates. The leaf component had a greater in vitro dry matter digestibility (DMD) and a lower NDF concentration, compared to the stem components. Delaying harvest reduced the in vitro DMD of the stem components to a greater extent than leaf, reflecting lower increases in the NDF and lignin concentrations in leaf tissue. The stem components of maize stover had a lower nutritive value than the leaf component, and had a larger decrease in digestibility with delayed harvest.
    • A note on the comparison of three near infrared reflectance spectroscopy calibration strategies for assessing herbage quality of ryegrass

      Burns, G.A.; O'Kiely, Padraig; Grogan, D.; Gilliland, T.J.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; RSF 07 526 (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2014)
      Perennial ryegrass (n = 1,836), Italian ryegrass (n = 137) and hybrid ryegrass (n = 103) herbage was taken from harvested plots from the Irish national variety evaluation scheme and analysed for in vitro dry matter digestibility, water soluble carbohydrate concentration, crude protein concentration and buffering capacity. Spectral data were obtained using near infrared reflectance spectroscopy and three calibration strategies (global, species-specific or local) were utilised to relate the reference values to the spectral data. The local strategy generally provided the poorest estimation of herbage composition, with global and species-specific calibration strategies producing similarly accurate estimates of each quality trait. The higher accuracy and easier maintenance of the global strategy make it the recommended calibration method for analysing quality of ryegrass.
    • A note on the conservation characteristics of baled grass silages ensiled with different additives.

      Keles, G.; O'Kiely, Padraig; Forristal, P.D. (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2010)
      The effects of contrasting conventional silage additives on chemical composition, aerobic stability and deterioration, and mould development in baled silage were investigated. Herbage from a grassland sward was wilted for 24 h and treated with acid (formic or sulphuric), sugar (molasses), bacterial (Lactobacillus plantarum, L. plantarum + Serratia rubidaea + Bacillus subtilis, or L. buchneri) or sugar + bacterial (molasses + L. plantarum) additives prior to baling and wrapping. Silage made without an additive preserved well and had a low incidence of mould growth, and the effects of additives were minor or absent. It is concluded that little practical benefit was realised when conventional additives were applied to wilted, leafy, easy-to-ensile grass prior to baling and ensilage.
    • A note on the design and testing of single teatcups for automatic milking systems

      O'Callaghan, Edmund J; Berry, Donagh P. (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2008)
      In automatic milking units single independent teatcups or shell/liner combinations are required. The milking characteristics of three designs of single-teatcup milking units were compared with a conventional milking unit in a pipeline milking system. The combined weight of each single-teatcup shell and liner used in the single-teatcup units was 0.18 kg, 0.38 kg or 0.56 kg. The conventional milking cluster had a claw volume of 150 mL and a weight of 3.16 kg. The single sets of teatcups were applied manually and removed automatically when milk flow from the four teatcups reached 0.2 kg/min. The experiment involved a latin square design with four groups of Friesian cows (10 cows/group), four 2-day periods and four treatments. At a flow rate of 4 L/min during simulated milking the mean vacuum level at the teat-end (artificial teat) during the “bphase” of pulsation was 43.8 kPa with the conventional milking unit and 33 kPa for the three single-teatcup units. The corresponding mean and minimum teat-end vacuum in the “d-phase” were 38.46 kPa and 29.54 kPa, respectively, for the conventional system and 24.95 kPa and 17.59 kPa, respectively, for the single-teatcup configuration. The light teatcup (weight 0.18 kg) gave longer time to milk letdown, longer milking time and both lower peak and average milk flow than the conventional cluster.
    • A note on the effect of post-mortem maturation on colour of bovine Longissimus dorsi muscle

      Dunne, Peter G.; Monahan, F.J.; Moloney, Aidan P; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2010)
      Fifteen heifers were housed and fed a concentrate diet while 54 counterparts grazed at pasture for 90 days at which stage six heifers from each group were slaughtered. The remaining animals in the pasture group were then housed and offered either: concentrate only; concentrate plus grass silage with silage accounting for either 20% or 50% of the total dry matter offered; or zero-grazed grass plus concentrate with grass accounting for 83% of the dry matter offered. Heifers (3/diet) were slaughtered 28, 56, 91 and 120 days thereafter. Colour characteristics of M. longissimus dorsi (LD) were measured at 48 h post mortem. The LD was then vacuum-packaged and stored at between 0 and 4 °C in darkness for 12 days, when colour characteristics were again measured. Maturation of LD resulted in meat that had higher redness values (‘a’ value; P<0.001) and a more intense red colour (higher ‘C’ value; P<0.001) at 14 days post mortem than at 2 days, regardless of diet/duration of feeding. Maturation also resulted in a brighter colour (higher ‘L’ value; P<0.001) but this difference was greatest when cattle were slaughtered the day-56 time point.
    • A note on the effects of test-end vacuum on milking characteristics

      O'Callaghan, Edmund J.; Gleeson, David E; European Union (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2004)
      The magnitude of vacuum applied to the teat end can have a major effect on milking characteristics. While milking vacuum is usually measured in the milk pipeline, the teat-end vacuum during milk flow depends on the configuration of the milking unit. The objective was to establish the effect of teat-end vacuum, recorded during flow simulation, on actual milking time, milk yield, and both mean and peak milk-flow rates. Four configurations of milking units were set up to give vacuum levels of 35, 38, 40 and 42 kPa at the apex of an artificial teat during simulated milking. The experiment involved a latin square design with four groups of Friesian cows (14/group), four 2-day periods and four treatments (vacuum level). Altering the vacuum level had no significant effect on milk yield. There were no differences in milking characteristics between vacuum levels of 38 and 40 kPa. A vacuum level of 42 kPa gave a shorter milking time (P < 0.001), higher average milk-flow rate (P < 0.01) and higher peak milk-flow rate (P < 0.001) than the three lower vacuum levels. Milking time was significantly longer (P < 0.001) and peak milk-flow rate lower (P < 0.001) with a vacuum of 35 kPa compared to other vacuum levels.
    • A note on the evaluation of the acid-insoluble ash technique as a method for determining apparent diet digestibility in beef cattle.

      McGeough, E.J.; O'Kiely, Padraig; Kenny, David A.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; RSF 05 224 (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2010)
      The objective was to determine if the acid-insoluble ash (AIA) method provided accurate estimates of in vivo apparent digestibility compared with the standard total faecal collection (TFC) method. Twelve steers, mean live weight 328 (s.d. 27.3) kg, were offered one of three diets based on whole-crop wheat (WCW) or a grass silage (GS) diet in a 4 × 4 latin square design. Apparent dietary digestibility was determined simultaneously using AIA and TFC methods. Agreement between the two methods depended on diet type, with acceptable agreement (a difference between the methods of 0.06), observed with the WCW-based diets. However, the strength of the agreement was weakened with the inclusion of GS. Agreement statistics were found to be a useful tool for assessing the relationship between the two methods of measurement.
    • A note on the fermentation characteristics of red clover silage in response to advancing stage of maturity in the primary growth

      King, Colman; McEniry, Joseph; O'Kiely, Padraig; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; RSF 07 557 (Teagasc, 2012-12)
      This study investigated the silage fermentation characteristics of red clover (Trifolium pratense L., var. Merviot) harvested at five dates in the primary growth (at two week intervals from 12 May to 7 July). Despite the challenging herbage ensilability characteristics pre-ensiling [i.e. low dry matter (DM) concentration (142 to 178 g/kg), low water soluble carbohydrate concentration (51 to 118 g/kg DM) and high buffering capacity (552 to 639 mEq/kg DM], the silages preserved successfully and showed little evidence of clostridial activity (i.e. low concentration of butyric acid and ammonia-N). Stage of maturity at harvest had little effect on silage fermentation characteristics.
    • A note on the fermentation characteristics of red clover silage in response to advancing stage of maturity in the primary growth Corrigendum

      King, Colman; McEniry, Joseph; O'Kiely, Padraig (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2014)
      Corrigendum
    • Novel Graphical Analyses of Runs of Homozygosity among Species and Livestock Breeds

      Iacolina, Laura; Stronen, Astrid V.; Pertoldi, Cino; Tokarska, Małgorzata; Norgaard, Louise S.; Munoz, Joaquin; Kjaersgaard, Anders; Ruiz-Gonzalez, Aritz; Kaminski, Stanislaw; Purfield, Deirdre C; Carlsberg Foundation; Aalborg Zoo Conservation Foundation; Marie Sklodowska-Curie Action; Danish Natural Science Research Council; 2011-01-0059; 656697; 11-103926; 09-065999; 95095995; 1337-00007 (Hindawi, 2016)
      Runs of homozygosity (ROH), uninterrupted stretches of homozygous genotypes resulting from parents transmitting identical haplotypes to their offspring, have emerged as informative genome-wide estimates of autozygosity (inbreeding). We used genomic profiles based on 698 K single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from nine breeds of domestic cattle (Bos taurus) and the European bison (Bison bonasus) to investigate how ROH distributions can be compared within and among species. We focused on two length classes: 0.5–15 Mb to investigate ancient events and >15 Mb to address recent events (approximately three generations). For each length class, we chose a few chromosomes with a high number of ROH, calculated the percentage of times a SNP appeared in a ROH, and plotted the results. We selected areas with distinct patterns including regions where (1) all groups revealed an increase or decrease of ROH, (2) bison differed from cattle, (3) one cattle breed or groups of breeds differed (e.g., dairy versus meat cattle). Examination of these regions in the cattle genome showed genes potentially important for natural and human-induced selection, concerning, for example, meat and milk quality, metabolism, growth, and immune function. The comparative methodology presented here permits visual identification of regions of interest for selection, breeding programs, and conservation.
    • Nutrient management on intensive dairy farms in the southwest of Ireland

      Humphreys, James; Treacy, Mark; McNamara, Kevin (Teagasc, 2006-08-01)
      Intensive grass-based dairy farming relies on high inputs of nutrients that are now regulated under SI 378, 2006 (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters). This project studied nutrient management practices on twenty-one intensive dairy farms in the south-west of Ireland between 2003 and 2006. Mean stocking rate was 202 kg organic-N/ha deposited by grazing livestock. Overall fertiliser-N use on the farms decreased from 266 to 223 kg N/ha/yr during the study, with the rate of fertiliser-N in the first application each year decreasing from 49 to 33 kg N/ha, while the rate of fertiliser-N applied for first cut silage production also fell from 106 to 96 kg N/ha. These decreases were partly achieved by applying more slurry in springtime and by the introduction of white clover on five of the farms. While the limits on fertiliser-N use under SI 378 were exceeded on ten farms in 2003, the limits were exceeded on only two farms in 2006. Fertiliser-P usage declined from 12.0 to 10.2 kg P/ha/yr, and complied with the limits of SI 378 on thirteen of the farms in 2006. Mean Morgan’s extractable soil P concentration (STP) exceeded 10 mg/l on five farms, while the mean concentration exceeded 8 mg/l on ten farms. Phosphorus management, therefore, was close to that required by SI 378 on most farms. Slurry storage capacity met or exceeded the minimum requirements of SI 378 on eight farms; substantial investment in slurry storage facilities was necessary on thirteen farms. The mean N surplus on the farms declined from 277 to 232 kg N/ha/yr during the study due to a decline in total N input from 335 to 288 kg N/ha/yr over the same period. The mean efficiency of N-use increased from 17.9 to 20.2 %. The large variation in rates of fertiliser-N applied on farms with similar stocking rates suggests potential for further improvements in N use efficiency on some farms. Decreases in nutrient input levels can be partly attributed to increased farmer awareness, due to advice and record keeping from this study and the introduction of SI 378, and the increasing cost of nutrient inputs relative to output prices. In terms of fertiliser N and P use and soil P concentrations, complying with the limits in SI 378 does not require major changes in nutrient management practices on the majority of these intensive dairy farms.
    • Nutritional intervention during gestation alters growth, body composition and gene expression patterns in skeletal muscle of pig offspring

      McNamara, L.B.; Giblin, Linda; Markham, T.; Stickland, N. C.; Berry, Donagh P.; O'Reilly, James J; Lynch, P Brendan; Kerry, J. P.; Lawlor, Peadar G; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Cambridge University Press, 2011-02)
      Variations in maternal nutrition during gestation can influence foetal growth, foetal development and permanently ‘programme’ offspring for postnatal life. The objective of this study was to analyse the effect of increased maternal nutrition during different gestation time windows on offspring growth, carcass quality, meat quality and gene expression in skeletal muscle. A total of 64 sows were assigned to the following feeding treatments: a standard control diet at a feed allocation of 2.3 kg/day throughout gestation, increased feed allowance of 4.6 kg/day from 25 to 50 days of gestation (dg), from 50 to 80 dg and from 25 to 80 dg. At weaning, Light, Medium and Heavy pigs of the same gender, within litter, were selected based on birth weight, individually penned and monitored until slaughter at 130 days post weaning. Carcass and meat quality traits of the semimembranosus (SM) muscle were recorded post mortem. A cross section of the semitendinosus (ST) muscle encompassing the deep and superficial regions were harvested from pigs (n518 per treatment) for RNA extraction and quantification of gene expression by real-time PCR. The results showed that doubling the feed intake from 25 to 50 dg reduced offspring growth, carcass weight, intramuscular fat content and increased drip loss of the SM muscle. Interestingly, protein phosphatase 3 catalytic subunit – a-isoform, which codes for the transcription factor calcineurin, was upregulated in the ST muscle of offspring whose mothers received increased feed allowance from 25 to 50 dg. This may provide an explanation for the previous observed increases in Type IIa muscle fibres of these offspring. Increasing the maternal feed intake from 50 to 80 dg negatively impacted pig growth and carcass weight, but produced leaner male pigs. Extending the increased maternal feed intake from 25 to 80 dg had no effect on offspring over the standard control gestation diet. Although intra-litter variation in pig weight is a problem for pig producers, increased maternal feeding offered no improvement throughout life to the lighter birth weight littermates in our study. Indeed, increased maternal nutrition at the three-gestation time windows selected provided no major benefits to the offspring.
    • Nutritive value of forage legumes used for grazing and silage

      Dewhurst, Richard J.; Delaby, L; Moloney, Aidan P; Boland, T.; Lewis, Eva (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2009)
      Legume forages have an important position in ruminant production in Western Europe and with further development can play an even larger role. Red clover for silage and white clover in grazed swards lead to enhanced growth rate and milk yield in comparison with pure grasses. Much of the production benefit of these legumes relates to enhanced intake since digestibilities are not markedly different to grasses. The higher intake of legume silages reflects differences in the cell structure of legume plants which combined with high fermentation rates means that they break down into small particles in the rumen, and leave the rumen more rapidly than perennial ryegrass. Ease of ingestion leads to high rates of intake, which explains higher intakes for grazed legumes. A further benefit of legumes is the reduced rate of decline in digestibility with advancing maturity. Whilst legumes have limited effects on gross milk composition or carcass characteristics, there are marked increases in levels of beneficial n−3 PUFA. Legumes have often led to a reduction in methane production from the rumen and again, this relates to both physical and chemical differences between forage species. The high rates of release of soluble protein and of breakdown to small particles from clovers and lucerne is associated with susceptibility to bloat, which is a limitation to further exploitation in grazing systems. The high concentration of rapidly degraded protein in legumes also leads to inefficient utilisation of dietary N and increased urinary N output. Research with tanniniferous forages, such as birdsfoot trefoil and sulla, demonstrates the potential for future legumes with reduced environmental and health effects, though these particular forage legumes are not well adapted to temperate regions of Western Europe that are the focus of this review.
    • Offspring subcutaneous adipose markers are sensitive to the timing of maternal gestational weight gain

      Giblin, Linda; Darimont, Christian; Leone, Patricia; McNamara, Louise B.; Blancher, Florence; Berry, Donagh P.; Castaneda-Gutierrez, Eurídice; Lawlor, Peadar G; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Biomed Central, 08/03/2015)
      Background Excessive maternal weight gain during pregnancy impacts on offspring health. This study focused on the timing of maternal gestational weight gain, using a porcine model with mothers of normal pre-pregnancy weight. Methods Trial design ensured the trajectory of maternal gestational weight gain differed across treatments in early, mid and late gestation. Diet composition did not differ. On day 25 gestation, sows were assigned to one of five treatments: Control sows received a standard gestation diet of 2.3 kg/day (30 MJ DE/day) from early to late gestation (day 25–110 gestation). E sows received 4.6 kg food/day in early gestation (day 25–50 gestation). M sows doubled their food intake in mid gestation (day 50–80 gestation). EM sows doubled their food intake during both early and mid gestation (day 25–80 gestation). L sows consumed 3.5 kg food/day in late gestation (day 80–110 gestation). Offspring body weight and food intake levels were measured from birth to adolescence. Markers of lipid metabolism, hypertrophy and inflammation were investigated in subcutaneous adipose tissue of adolescent offspring. Results The trajectory of gestational weight gain differed across treatments. However total gestational weight gain did not differ except for EM sows who were the heaviest and fattest mothers at parturition. Offspring birth weight did not differ across treatments. Subcutaneous adipose tissue from EM offspring differed significantly from controls, with elevated mRNA levels of lipogenic (CD36, ACACB and LPL), nutrient transporters (FABP4 and GLUT4), lipolysis (HSL and ATGL), adipocyte size (MEST) and inflammation (PAI-1) indicators. The subcutaneous adipose depot from L offspring exhibited elevated levels of CD36, ACACB, LPL, GLUT4 and FABP4 mRNA transcripts compared to control offspring. Conclusions Increasing gestational weight gain in early gestation had the greatest impact on offspring postnatal growth rate. Increasing maternal food allowance in late gestation appeared to shift the offspring adipocyte focus towards accumulation of fat. Mothers who gained the most weight during gestation (EM mothers) gave birth to offspring whose subcutaneous adipose tissue, at adolescence, appeared hyperactive compared to controls. This study concluded that mothers, who gained more than the recommended weight gain in mid and late gestation, put their offspring adipose tissue at risk of dysfunction.