• Ranking of Sire Breeds and Beef Cross Breeding of Dairy and Beef Cows

      Keane, Michael G. (Teagasc, 2011-03-01)
      Summary There is general agreement across countries on the ranking of beef breeds for production and carcass traits. Differences between dairy and early maturing beef breeds in growth and slaughter traits are small, but the latter have lower feed intake and better carcass conformation. Late maturing beef breeds also have lower feed intake and better carcass conformation and in addition, have a higher growth rate, kill-out proportion and carcass muscle proportion. When factors such as age and fatness are accounted for, differences between breeds in meat quality traits are small. Differences amongst breed types in kill-out proportion can be explained by differences in gut contents (consequent on differences in feed intake), differences in the proportions of gastrointestinal tract and metabolic organs, differences in hide proportion, and differences in offal fats. Growth is an allometric, rather than an isometric, process. Some parts, organs and tissues grow relatively more slowly than the animal overall, and so become decreasing proportions over time, while others grow relatively faster and become increasing proportions. With increasing slaughter weight, the proportions of non carcass parts, hind quarter, bone, total muscle and higher value muscle decrease, while the proportions of non carcass and carcass fats, fore quarter and marbling fat all increase. Because of heterosis or hybrid vigour, the productivity of cross-bred cattle is superior to the mean of the parent breeds. While calving difficulty may be slightly higher (probably due to greater birth weight), calf mortality is much reduced in cross-breds. In addition, general robustness and growth rate are increased. There are additive effects of heterosis in the dam and the progeny. When cross-bred cows are mated to a bull of a third breed, >60 % of total heterosis is attributable to the cross-bred cows. The double muscling phenotype in beef cattle is due to the inactivated myostatin gene, but the inactivating mutation is not the same in all breeds and other genes also contribute to muscling. Compared to normal animals, double muscled animals have lower proportions of digestive tract, internal fats and metabolic organs. This explains their superior kill-out proportion. They also have a smaller hind shin that helps accentuate the muscling in the remainder of the 4 limb. There are similar degrees of muscular hypertrophy in both the hind and fore quarters. Muscle to bone ratio is about one third greater in double muscled than in normal carcasses. Piedmontese cattle with none, one or two mutated myostatin alleles were compared with normal Herefords and Limousins. In the absence of any mutated allele, Piedmontese were similar to Herefords, with one mutated allele they were similar to Limousins and with two mutated alleles they were immensely superior to Limousins. In fact, the response to the second mutated allele was about three times that to the first. If progeny approximated to the mean of the parent breeds, crossing a double muscled sire with a dairy or early maturing beef cow would result in cattle of similar characteristics to pure-bred late maturing beef breeds. This does not happen because double muscling is dependent on a homozygous myostatin genotype. The progeny of a common cow breed and normal late maturing, or double muscled, sire breeds have similar production traits.
    • 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.
    • Rearing Undocked Pigs on Fully Slatted Floors Using Multiple Types and Variations of Enrichment

      Chou, Jen-Yun; Drique, Constance; Sandercock, Dale; D'Eath, Rick; O'Driscoll, Keelin (MDPI AG, 2019-04-02)
      In fully slatted systems, tail biting is difficult to manage when pigs’ tails are not docked because loose enrichment material can obstruct slurry systems. This pilot study sought to determine: a) whether intact-tailed pigs can be reared with a manageable level of tail biting by using multiple slat-compatible enrichment; b) whether a variation of enrichment has an effect; and c) whether pigs show a preference in enrichment use. Ninety-six undocked pigs were given the same enrichment items from one week after birth until weaning. At weaning, four different combinations of 8 enrichment items were utilized based on predefined characteristics. These were randomly assigned to 8 pens (n = 12 pigs/pen). Four pens had the same combination (SAME) from assignment and four pens switched combinations every two weeks (SWITCH). Individual lesion scores, interactions with the enrichment, and harmful behaviours were recorded. The average tail score during the experiment was low (0.93 ± 0.02). Only one pig in a SAME pen had a severely bitten tail (partly amputated). The overall level of interaction with enrichment did not decline over time. Pigs interacted with a rack of loose material most frequently (p < 0.001). The study showed promising results for rearing undocked pigs on fully slatted floors using slat-compatible enrichment.
    • The relationship between anogenital distance and fertility, and genome-wide associations for anogenital distance in Irish Holstein-Friesian cows

      Gobikrushanth, M.; Purfield, Deirdre C; Kenneally, J.; Doyle, R.C.; Holden, Shauna A.; Martinez, P.M.; Rojas Canadas, E.; Bruinjé, Tony C.; Colazo, M.G.; Ambrose, D. J.; et al. (Elsevier, 2018-12-26)
      The evaluation of anogenital distance (AGD), the distance from the center of the anus to base of the clitoris, as a potential fertility trait for genetic selection in dairy cows has generated recent interest. The objectives of this cross-sectional observational study were to (1) characterize the distribution and variability of AGD, (2) determine factors associated with AGD, (3) estimate heritability for AGD, (4) identify single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) associated with phenotypic variation of AGD, and (5) validate the relationship between categories of AGD and fertility in Irish Holstein-Friesian cows. Anogenital distance was measured using digital calipers in 1,180 Holstein cows (mean ± standard deviation: 225 ± 79 d in milk) from 10 dairy herds located in Munster, Ireland. In addition, age (yr), weight (kg), height at hip (cm), and body condition score (BCS) at the time of AGD measurement were determined in a subset of 281 cows. Genotype information available from 908 cows was subsequently imputed to the Illumina Bovine High Density BeadChip (Illumina Inc., San Diego, CA) for genome-wide association analysis of phenotypic variation in AGD. Overall, AGD had a normal distribution and high variability (mean ± standard deviation; 119.2 ± 11.6 mm). Anogenital distance was weakly but positively associated with cow age, hip height, and body weight, and negatively associated with BCS; the phenotypic variation in AGD that was explainable by these variables was small (coefficient of determination; R2 = 0.09, 0.06, 0.10, and 0.02, respectively). The estimated heritability for AGD was 0.37 (standard error of mean ± 0.08). Six SNP of suggestive significance were identified on Bos taurus autosomes 6, 15, 20, and 26; however, none of these SNP was related to previously identified candidate genes for fertility. Cows were categorized into quartiles (Q1; 86 to 111 mm; n = 311, Q2; 112 to 120 mm; n = 330; Q3; 121 to 127 mm; n = 265, and Q4; 128 to 160 mm; n = 274) based on AGD and the association with reproductive outcomes examined (21-d submission rate, pregnancy to first AI, pregnancy rate within 21, 42 and 84-d after the farm mating start date, and number of times bred). None of the reproductive variables differed significantly between AGD categories. In summary, despite identification of high variability and moderate heritability for AGD in Irish Holstein-Friesian cows, reproductive outcomes did not differ between categories of AGD. This latter result differs from our previous finding of an inverse relationship between AGD and pregnancy outcomes in first- and second-parity Canadian Holstein cows, emphasizing the need to test and validate this new phenotype in diverse cow populations.
    • Relationship between dairy cow genetic merit and profit on commercial spring calving dairy farms

      Ramsbottom, George; Cromie, A. R.; Horan, Brendan; Berry, Donagh P. (Cambridge University Press, 2011-12)
      Because not all animal factors influencing profitability can be included in total merit breeding indices for profitability, the association between animal total merit index and true profitability, taking cognisance of all factors associated with costs and revenues, is generally not known. One method to estimate such associations is at the herd level, associating herd average genetic merit with herd profitability. The objective of this study was to primarily relate herd average genetic merit for a range of traits, including the Irish total merit index, with indicators of performance, including profitability, using correlation and multiple regression analyses. Physical, genetic and financial performance data from 1131 Irish seasonal calving pasture-based dairy farms were available following edits; data on some herds were available for more than 1 year of the 3-year study period (2007 to 2009). Herd average economic breeding index (EBI) was associated with reduced herd average phenotypic milk yield but with greater milk composition, resulting in higher milk prices. Moderate positive correlations (0.26 to 0.61) existed between genetic merit for an individual trait and average herd performance for that trait (e.g. genetic merit for milk yield and average per cow milk yield). Following adjustment for year, stocking rate, herd size and quantity of purchased feed in the multiple regression analysis, average herd EBI was positively and linearly associated with net margin per cow and per litre as well as gross revenue output per cow and per litre. The change in net margin per cow per unit change in the total merit index was h1.94 (s.e.50.42), which was not different from the expectation of h2. This study, based on a large data set of commercial herds with accurate information on profitability and genetic merit, confirms that, after accounting for confounding factors, the change in herd profitability per unit change in herd genetic merit for the total merit index is within expectations.
    • Relationship between live weight and body condition score in Irish Holstein-Friesian dairy cows

      Berry, Donagh P.; Buckley, Frank; Dillon, Pat (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2011)
      The objective of this study was to quantify the change in live weight (LWT) per unit change in body condition score (BCS) for Irish Holstein-Friesian dairy cows. Mixed model analyses were performed on 82 948 test-day records of BCS and LWT across 11 075 lactations from 7391 cows, representing 62 commercial and 4 research herds, during the years 1999 and 2000. Factors included in the mixed models were parity, stage of the inter-calving interval and the three-way interaction between herd, year and fortnight of the calendar year at calving. Interactions between the effect of BCS and either parity or stage of the inter-calving interval were included in some models to evaluate the effect of these factors on the relationship between LWT and BCS. A moderate correlation (0.49) existed between BCS and LWT in the complete dataset, but it differed significantly with parity and stage of the inter-calving interval (range 0.36 to 0.59). Analysis of the entire dataset yielded an estimate of 50 kg LWT change per unit change in BCS and this coefficient ranged from 39 kg to 66 kg, depending on parity or the stage of the inter-calving interval. Accurate values of LWT per unit BCS are important input parameters for animal or herd-level biological models designed to evaluate the energy demands of the animal or herd.
    • The relationship between serum anti-Müllerian hormone concentrations and fertility, and genome-wide associations for anti-Müllerian hormone in Holstein cows

      Gobikrushanth, M.; Purfield, Deirdre C; Colazo, M. G.; Butler, Stephen T.; Wang, Z.; Ambrose, D. J.; Growing Forward 2; Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency; Alberta Milk; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; et al. (Elsevier, 2018-05-07)
      The objectives of this study were to (1) evaluate factors associated with variation in circulating anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) concentrations, (2) establish an optimum AMH threshold predictive of pregnancy to first artificial insemination (P/AI), (3) examine the relationship between AMH and fertility (P/AI, pregnancy loss between 30 and 60 d after artificial insemination, and pregnancy risk up to 250 d postpartum), and (4) identify quantitative trait loci associated with phenotypic variation of AMH concentrations in dairy cows. Serum AMH concentrations (pg/mL) were determined at 7 ± 2.4 d postpartum in 647 lactating Holstein cows (213 primiparous, 434 multiparous) from 1 research and 6 commercial dairy herds in Alberta, Canada. Of these, 589 cows were genotyped on the 26K Bovine BeadChip (Neogen Inc., Lincoln, NE) and subsequently imputed to the Illumina Bovine High Density BeadChip (Illumina, San Diego, CA) for genome-wide association analysis for variation in serum AMH concentrations. Factors associated with variation in serum AMH concentrations and the relationship between categories of AMH and aforementioned fertility outcomes were evaluated only in a subset of 460 cows that had a complete data set available. The overall mean (±standard error of the mean), median, minimum, and maximum AMH concentrations were 191.1 ± 6.3, 151.7, 13.9, and 1,879.0 pg/mL, respectively. The AMH concentrations were not associated with herd, precalving body condition score, postpartum week, and season of sampling; the lactation number, however, had a quadratic relationship with serum AMH concentrations (116.2, 204.9 204.5, and 157.9 pg/mL for first, second, third, and ≥fourth lactation, respectively). The optimum AMH threshold predictive of P/AI could not be established because the receiver operating characteristic curve analysis model was nonsignificant. Categories of AMH [low (<83.0 pg/mL; n = 92), intermediate (≥83.0 to ≤285.0 pg/mL; n = 276), and high (>285.0 pg/mL; n = 92) based on lowest 20%, intermediate 60%, and highest 20% serum AMH) had no associations with P/AI (34, 43, and 40%), pregnancy loss between 30 and 60 d after artificial insemination (20, 12, and 8%), or pregnancy risk up to 250 d postpartum. One candidate gene associated with AMH production [AMH gene on Bos taurus autosome (BTA) 7] and 4 candidate genes related to embryo development (SCAI and PPP6C genes on BTA11 and FGF18 and EEF2K genes on BTA20 and BTA25, respectively) were in linkage disequilibrium with single nucleotide polymorphisms associated with phenotypic variation in serum AMH in dairy cows.
    • The relationship between serum insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) concentration and reproductive performance, and genome-wide associations for serum IGF-1 in Holstein cows

      Gobikrushanth, M.; Purfield, Deirdre C; Colazo, M. G.; Wang, Z.; Butler, Stephen T.; Ambrose, D. J.; Growing Forward 2; Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency; Alberta Milk; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; et al. (Elsevier, 2019-07-19)
      The objectives of this study were to determine (1) factors associated with serum concentration of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1); (2) the relationship between serum IGF-1 concentration during the first week postpartum and ovarian cyclicity status by 35 d postpartum (DPP); (3) an optimum serum IGF-1 concentration threshold predictive of pregnancy to first artificial insemination (P/AI), including its diagnostic values; (4) the associations among categories of serum IGF-1 concentration and reproductive outcomes (P/AI and pregnancy risk up to 150 and 250 DPP); and (5) single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) associated with phenotypic variation in serum IGF-1 concentration in dairy cows. Serum IGF-1 concentration was determined at 7 (±2.4; ±standard error of the mean) DPP in 647 lactating Holstein cows (213 primiparous, 434 multiparous) from 7 herds in Alberta, Canada. The overall mean, median, minimum, and maximum serum IGF-1 concentrations during the first week postpartum were 37.8 (±1.23), 31.0, 20.0, and 225.0 ng/mL, respectively. Herd, age, parity, precalving body condition score, and season of blood sampling were all identified as factors associated with serum IGF-1 concentrations. Although serum IGF-1 concentration during the first week postpartum had no association with ovarian cyclicity status by 35 DPP in primiparous cows, it was greater in cyclic than in acyclic multiparous cows (32.2 vs. 27.4 ng/mL, respectively). The optimum serum IGF-1 thresholds predictive of P/AI were 85.0 ng/mL (sensitivity = 31.9%; specificity = 89.1%) and 31.0 ng/mL (sensitivity = 45.5%; specificity = 66.9%) for primiparous and multiparous cows, respectively. When cows were grouped into either high or low IGF-1 categories (greater or less than or equal to 85.0 ng/mL for primiparous cows and greater or less than or equal to 31.0 ng/mL for multiparous cows, respectively), primiparous cows with high IGF-1 had 4.43 times greater odds of P/AI and a tendency for higher pregnancy risk up to 150 DPP than those with low IGF-1, but not up to 250 DPP. Likewise, multiparous cows with high IGF-1 had 1.61 times greater odds of P/AI than those with low IGF-1. Pregnancy risk up to 150 and 250 DPP, however, did not differ between IGF-1 categories in multiparous cows. Moreover, 37 SNP across 10 Bos taurus autosomes were associated with variation in serum IGF-1 concentration, and 4 previously identified candidate genes related to fertility that were in linkage disequilibrium with some of these SNP were also identified.
    • Relationship between tail lesions and lung health in slaughter pigs

      van Staaveren, Nienke; Vale, Ana P.; Manzanilla, Edgar G; Teixeira, Dayane L.; Leonard, Finola C.; Hanlon, Alison; Boyle, Laura; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; VCI Educational Trust Fund; RSF 11/S/107 (Elsevier, 2016-03-10)
      Tail lesions are associated with poor health either because they serve as a point of entry for pathogens or because of shared risk factors. This study investigated the relationship between carcass tail lesion and lung lesion severity scores in slaughter pigs. Carcasses were scored after scalding/dehairing for tail lesion severity (0–4). Lungs were scored according to an adapted version of the BPEX pig health scheme. Severity of enzootic pneumonia (EP-like lesions) was recorded on a scale of 0–50. Severity of pleurisy was scored on a 0–2 scale with score 2 equating to severe pleurisy or those lungs that remained attached to the chest wall (‘lungs in chest’). The database for assessing pleurisy lesions contained all pleurisy scores (n = 5628). Lungs with a score of 2 for pleurisy were excluded from the analysis of all other lung lesions as such lungs could not be assessed for other lesions (n = 4491). Associations between tail lesions and different lung lesion outcomes were analysed using generalized linear mixed models (PROC GLIMMIX) with random effect for batch. Males were more affected by moderate (OR = 1.9, 95% CI 1.51–2.34) and severe (OR = 5.8, 95% CI 3.45–9.70) tail lesions than females. EP-like lesions and pleurisy were most commonly observed. Pigs with severe tail lesions tended to have more ‘lungs in chest’ than pigs with moderate tail lesions (P = 0.1). No other associations between tail lesions and lung lesions were found. Males had higher odds of having EP-like lesions (OR = 1.2, 95% CI 1.05–1.36) than females. Tail lesions on the carcass may not be an accurate predictor of lung health. However, tail lesions are important welfare indicators and respiratory disease is a significant infectious condition affecting pigs. Thus, recording of tail and lung lesions at meat inspection provides valuable information regarding on-farm health and welfare of pigs.
    • The relationship between various live animal scores/measurements and carcass classification for conformation and fatness with meat yield and distribution, and ultimate carcass value

      Drennan, Michael J; McGee, Mark; Conroy, S.B.; Keane, Michael G.; Kenny, David A.; Berry, Donagh P. (Teagasc, 2009-12-01)
      Accordingly, the primary objectives of the following study were to: (1) determine the relationship of live animal muscular and skeletal scores, ultrasonically scanned muscle and fat depth measurements of the m. longissimus dorsi, and carcass conformation and fat scores with kill-out proportion, carcass composition and value. (2) Specifically develop and test the accuracy of prediction equations for carcass meat, fat and bone proportions, derived from carcass conformation and fat scores, and develop prediction equations for total carcass composition from hind-quarter composition.
    • Relative Tissue Growth Patterns and Carcass Composition in Beef Cattle

      Keane, Michael G. (Teagasc, 2011-03-01)
      Summary The main objective of the beef breed evaluation programme carried out at Grange Beef Research Centre was to compare the productive characteristics of different beef breed crosses out of Holstein-Friesian cows. In the course of this work much additional information was acquired, particularly on growth patterns of body organs and tissues, and how these affect kill-out proportion and carcass composition. The data were also used to examine relationships between carcass classification variables and carcass composition. Cattle used for beef production in Ireland can be classified into three main biological types: (i) early maturing, (ii) dairy, and (iii) late maturing. Results from an experiment that compared Friesians (dairy), Hereford × Friesians (early maturing) and Charolais × Friesians (late maturing) are used to represent these biological types. The material is organized under the following headings: (i) non carcass parts and kill-out proportion, (ii) carcass composition, (iii) carcass tissue distribution, (iv) muscle chemical composition, (v) gender, (vi) dairy breeds, and (vii)carcass classification and composition. Kill-out proportion increased by about 10 g/kg from Friesians to Hereford × Friesians to Charolais × Friesians. It also increased by about 10 g/kg per 100 kg increase in slaughter weight. Friesians had higher proportions of gastrointestinal tract plus contents than the two beef crosses and also had higher proportions of metabolic organs. Hereford crosses had a higher proportion of hide and offal fats than Charolais crosses. At any carcass weight, early maturing animals had more fat and less bone and muscle than late maturing animals. As carcass weight increased, the proportions of bone and muscle in the carcass decreased, and the proportion of fat increased, but the rates of these changes differed with biological type. Carcass muscle distribution also differed with biological type. Late maturing cattle had a higher proportion of hind quarter and higher value muscle than Friesians and early maturing animals, while Friesians had higher proportions than early maturing animals. Muscle lipid content (marbling) differed with biological type (early maturing > dairy > late maturing) and with carcass joint (highest for flank and ribs, lowest for m. longissimus). Early maturing steers and heifers had similar carcass fat proportions when the heifers were about 60 kg carcass lighter than the steers. Despite having poorer carcass conformation, heifers had a slightly higher proportion of muscle and a considerably higher proportion of higher value muscle than steers. Carcass classification grade was not a reliable indicator of carcass muscle proportion. Carcass fat class was related to both carcass fat and muscle proportions but accounted for less than half the variance in these. Carcass conformation class was not related to carcass fat proportion, carcass muscle proportion or higher value muscle proportion, but it was negatively related to carcass bone proportion.
    • Requirements of future grass-based ruminant production systems in Ireland

      O'Donovan, Michael; Lewis, Eva; O'Kiely, Padraig (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2011)
      There is a renewed interest in grazing systems in many temperate and subtropical regions of the world. This results from lower inflation-adjusted prices, the proposed removal of some subsidies and tariffs, and rising labour, machinery and housing costs. The utilization of grass by grazing should provide the basis of sustainable livestock systems as grazed grass is the cheapest source of nutrients for ruminants. This is very important in the Irish context as there are approximately 130 000 farmers involved in primary production in Ireland and the value of the goods produced was €5.8 billion in 2008. For the future, the key objective for grazing systems is to ensure high grass utilization, allowing increased output per hectare for all sectors. The primary emphasis in grass breeding needs to be focused on (i) seasonal growth pattern as well as overall annual growth, (ii) nutritive value, including digestibility, particularly in the mid-season period, (iii) ensuring a sward canopy structure that is suitable for grazing, and (iv) development of persistent cultivars that perform under farm conditions. Evaluation programmes should also consider including an estimate of production potential at the field as well as at plot level, and evaluation under grazing management systems as well as under mixed grazing/silage management systems. It is difficult to accurately quantify the breeding achievements for grass mainly because its value, whether grazed or conserved, must be indirectly realised through the output of animal product. Grass evaluation and breeding need to better accommodate the requirements of the grazing ruminant. This will necessitate the application of new approaches and knowledge, which will ultimately enable further increases in animal output per hectare to be achieved.
    • Residual feed intake phenotype and gender affect the expression of key genes of the lipogenesis pathway in subcutaneous adipose tissue of beef cattle

      McKenna, Clare; Porter, Richard K; Keogh, Kate; Waters, Sinead M.; McGee, Mark; Kenny, David A.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Biomed Central, 2018-09-20)
      Background Feed accounts for up to 75% of costs in beef production systems, thus any improvement in feed efficiency (FE) will benefit the profitability of this enterprise. Residual feed intake (RFI) is a measure of FE that is independent of level of production. Adipose tissue (AT) is a major endocrine organ and the primary metabolic energy reservoir. It modulates a variety of processes related to FE such as lipid metabolism and glucose homeostasis and thus measures of inter-animal variation in adiposity are frequently included in the calculation of the RFI index. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of phenotypic RFI status and gender on the expression of key candidate genes related to processes involved in energy metabolism within AT. Dry matter intake (DMI) and average daily gain (ADG) were measured over a period of 70 d for 52 purebred Simmental heifers (n = 24) and bulls (n = 28) with an initial BW±SD of 372±39.6 kg and 387±50.6 kg, respectively. Residual feed intake was calculated and animals were ranked within gender by RFI into high (inefficient; n = 9 heifers and n = 8 bulls) and low (efficient; n = 9 heifers and n = 8 bulls) groups. Results Average daily gain ±SD and daily DMI ±SD for heifers and bulls were 1.2±0.4 kg and 9.1±0.5 kg, and 1.8±0.3 kg and 9.5±1 kg respectively. High RFI heifers and bulls consumed 10% and 15% more (P < 0.05) than their low RFI counterparts, respectively. Heifers had a higher expression of all genes measured than bulls (P < 0.05). A gender × RFI interaction was detected for HMGCS2(P < 0.05) in which high RFI bulls tended to have lower expression of HMGCS2 than low RFI bulls (P < 0.1), whereas high RFI heifers had higher expression than low RFI heifers (P < 0.05) and high RFI bulls (P < 0.05). SLC2A4 expression was consistently higher in subcutaneous AT of low RFI animals across gender. Conclusion The findings of this study indicate that low RFI cattle exhibit upregulation of the molecular mechanisms governing glucose metabolism in adipose tissue, in particular, glucose clearance. The decreased expression of SLC2A4 in the inefficient cattle may result in less efficient glucose metabolism in these animals. We conclude that SLC2A4 may be a potential biomarker for RFI in cattle.
    • Residual feed intake phenotype and gender affect the expression of key genes of the lipogenesis pathway in subcutaneous adipose tissue of beef cattle

      McKenna, Clare; Porter, Richard K.; Keogh, Kate A.; Waters, Sinead M.; McGee, Mark; Kenny, David A.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; RMIS: 6092 (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2018-09-20)
      Background Feed accounts for up to 75% of costs in beef production systems, thus any improvement in feed efficiency (FE) will benefit the profitability of this enterprise. Residual feed intake (RFI) is a measure of FE that is independent of level of production. Adipose tissue (AT) is a major endocrine organ and the primary metabolic energy reservoir. It modulates a variety of processes related to FE such as lipid metabolism and glucose homeostasis and thus measures of inter-animal variation in adiposity are frequently included in the calculation of the RFI index. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of phenotypic RFI status and gender on the expression of key candidate genes related to processes involved in energy metabolism within AT. Dry matter intake (DMI) and average daily gain (ADG) were measured over a period of 70 d for 52 purebred Simmental heifers (n = 24) and bulls (n = 28) with an initial BW±SD of 372±39.6 kg and 387±50.6 kg, respectively. Residual feed intake was calculated and animals were ranked within gender by RFI into high (inefficient; n = 9 heifers and n = 8 bulls) and low (efficient; n = 9 heifers and n = 8 bulls) groups. Results Average daily gain ±SD and daily DMI ±SD for heifers and bulls were 1.2±0.4 kg and 9.1±0.5 kg, and 1.8±0.3 kg and 9.5±1 kg respectively. High RFI heifers and bulls consumed 10% and 15% more (P < 0.05) than their low RFI counterparts, respectively. Heifers had a higher expression of all genes measured than bulls (P < 0.05). A gender × RFI interaction was detected for HMGCS2(P < 0.05) in which high RFI bulls tended to have lower expression of HMGCS2 than low RFI bulls (P < 0.1), whereas high RFI heifers had higher expression than low RFI heifers (P < 0.05) and high RFI bulls (P < 0.05). SLC2A4 expression was consistently higher in subcutaneous AT of low RFI animals across gender. Conclusion The findings of this study indicate that low RFI cattle exhibit upregulation of the molecular mechanisms governing glucose metabolism in adipose tissue, in particular, glucose clearance. The decreased expression of SLC2A4 in the inefficient cattle may result in less efficient glucose metabolism in these animals. We conclude that SLC2A4 may be a potential biomarker for RFI in cattle.
    • Response to Teladorsagia circumcincta infection in Scottish Blackface lambs with divergent phenotypes for nematode resistance

      McRae, Kathryn M.; Good, Barbara; Hanrahan, James P; Glynn, Assumpta; O'Connell, Mary J.; Keane, Orla M; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Allan and Grace Kay Overseas Scholarship (Elsevier, 2014-10-24)
      The objective of this study was to identify Scottish Blackface lambs that were at the extremes of the spectrum of resistance to gastrointestinal nematodes and characterise their response to an experimental nematode challenge. Lambs (n = 90) were monitored for faecal egg count (FEC) (2 samples from each of 2 independent natural infections). The most resistant (n = 10) and susceptible (n = 10) individuals were selected and challenged with 30,000 Teladorsagia circumcincta larvae (L3) at 9 months of age. Response to infection was monitored by measuring FEC, plasma pepsinogen, serum antibodies against nematode larval antigens and haematology profile, until necropsy at 71 days post infection. Worm burden, worm fecundity and the level of anti-nematode antibodies in abomasal mucosa were determined at necropsy. FEC was consistently higher in susceptible animals (P < 0.05), validating the selection method. Worm fecundity was significantly reduced in resistant animals (P = 0.03). There was also a significant correlation (r = 0.88; P < 0.001) between the number of adult worms and FEC at slaughter. There was no effect of phenotype (resistance/susceptibility) on plasma pepsinogen or on haematology profile. Phenotype had a significant effect on the level of anti-nematode IgA antibodies in serum (P < 0.01), reflecting a higher peak in resistant animals at day 7 post infection. It is concluded that significant variation in the response to gastrointestinal nematode challenge exists within the Scottish Blackface population with resistant animals displaying significantly lower FEC, lower worm fecundity and higher concentration of anti-nematode IgA antibodies in serum.
    • Responses of North American and New Zealand strains of Holstein–Friesian dairy cattle to homeostatic challenges during early and mid-lactation

      Patton, Joe; Murphy, J.J.; O'Mara, Frank P.; Butler, Stephen T.; National Development Plan Ireland (Cambridge University Press, 2009-02)
      This study investigated the physiological basis of differences in nutrient partitioning between the North American (NA) and New Zealand (NZ) strains of Holstein Friesian cattle by determining the responses to homeostatic challenges at two stages of lactation. Glucose tolerance tests, epinephrine challenges, and insulin challenges were carried out on consecutive days commencing on day 32 ± 0.48 (mean ± s.e.m) of lactation (T1) and again commencing on day 137 ± 2.44 of lactation (T2). The insulin and non-esterified fatty acid (NEFA) responses to glucose infusion did not differ between the strains. The NZ strain had a greater clearance rate (CR) of glucose (2.04 vs. 1.66 % / min) and tended to have a shorter (34.4 vs. 41.1 min) glucose half-life (t½) at T2 when infused with glucose. The NA cows had a greater glucose response to epinephrine infusion across T1 and T2, and tended to have a greater insulin response to epinephrine infusion. Plasma NEFA concentration declined to similar nadir concentrations for both strains at T1 in response to insulin, though from a higher basal concentration in NA cows, resulting in a greater (-2.29 vs. -1.38) NEFA area under the response curve (AUC) for NA cows. Glucose response to insulin varied with time, tending to be greater for NA at T1, but tending to be lower for NA at T2. The results indicated that NA cows had a greater glycogenolytic response to epinephrine, but both strains had similar lipolytic responses. The results also imply that higher basal circulating NEFA concentrations in the NA strain in early lactation were not due to diminished adipose tissue responsiveness to insulin. There were indications that glucose clearance rate was greater in NZ cows in mid-lactation, and may form the basis of increased body tissue accretion during mid- to late-lactation in this strain.
    • A review of factors influencing litter size in Irish sows

      Lawlor, Peadar G; Lynch, P Brendan (Biomed Central, 2007-06-01)
      Many factors influence litter size. These include genetics, gilt management, lactation length, parity distribution, disease, stress and boar fertility. In the past 20 years, litter size in Irish sows has increased by only one pig. Born alive figures now average at 11.2 pigs per litter. In this regard, Ireland is falling behind our European competitors who have made significant advances over this time. Denmark, for example, has an average figure of 12.7 pigs born alive per litter and France an average of 12.5. The single area that could be improved immediately is sow feeding. It is important that sows are fed correctly throughout pregnancy. If over-fed during pregnancy, sows will have depressed appetite during lactation. If underfed in pregnancy, sows will be too thin at farrowing. The correct way to feed a pregnant sow is to match her feed allocation to her requirement for maintenance, body growth and growth of her developing foetuses. During lactation, sows should be given as much feed as they can eat to prevent excessive loss of body condition. Liquid-feed curves should be such that lactating sows are provided with a minimum mean daily feed supply of 6.2 kg. A small proportion of sows will eat more and this could be given as supplementary dry feed. Where dry feeding is practised in the farrowing house, it is difficult to hand-feed sows to match their appetite. Ideally ad libitum wet/dry feeders should be used. From weaning to service, sows should once again be fed ad libitum. If liquid feeding, this means giving at least 60 MJ DE (digestible energy) per day during this period. If dry feeding, at least 4 kg of lactation diet should be fed daily. The effort spent perfecting sow feeding management on units should yield high dividends in the form of increased pigs born alive per litter.
    • A review of nitrous oxide mitigation by farm nitrogen management in temperate grassland-based agriculture

      Li, Dejun; Watson, C. J.; Yan, Ming Jia; Lalor, Stanley T. J.; Rafique, Rashid; Hyde, Bernard; Lanigan, Gary; Richards, Karl G.; Holden, Nicholas M.; Humphreys, James; et al. (Elsevier, 20/07/2013)
      Nitrous oxide (N2O) emission from grassland-based agriculture is an important source of atmospheric N2O. It is hence crucial to explore various solutions including farm nitrogen (N) management to mitigate N2O emissions without sacrificing farm profitability and food supply. This paper reviews major N management practices to lower N2O emission from grassland-based agriculture. Restricted grazing by reducing grazing time is an effective way to decrease N2O emissions from excreta patches. Balancing the protein-to-energy ratios in the diets of ruminants can also decrease N2O emissions from excreta patches. Among the managements of synthetic fertilizer N application, only adjusting fertilizer N rate and slow-released fertilizers are proven to be effective in lowering N2O emissions. Use of bedding materials may increase N2O emissions from animal houses. Manure storage as slurry, manipulating slurry pH to values lower than 6 and storage as solid manure under anaerobic conditions help to reduce N2O emissions during manure storage stage. For manure land application, N2O emissions can be mitigated by reducing manure N inputs to levels that satisfy grass needs. Use of nitrification inhibitors can substantially lower N2O emissions associated with applications of fertilizers and manures and from urine patches. N2O emissions from legume based grasslands are generally lower than fertilizer-based systems. In conclusion, effective measures should be taken at each step during N flow or combined options should be used in order to mitigate N2O emission at the farm level.
    • 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.
    • Review of studies on flukicide residues in cows’ milk and their transfer to dairy products

      Power, C.; Sayers, Riona; O'Brien, Bernadette; Furey, A.; Danaher, Martin; Kieran, Jordan; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2013)
      Flukicides are widely used to treat infestations of liver fluke in dairy cattle. This could result in flukicide residues in milk if animals are improperly treated or if withdrawal periods are not properly observed. The purpose of this review is to summarise the results of studies on depletion of flukicides from milk and the transfer of flukicide residues to dairy products, if present in the milk. As the depletion of flukicide residues from milk of animals treated during lactation was relatively slow, the studies support the view that the dry period (when milk is not being used for human consumption) is the most suitable time for flukicide treatment. Migration of residues to product occurred at different rates, depending on the drug in question. Generally, concentration of flukicides occurred in cheese, butter and skim milk powder. Pasteurisation or heat treatment during spray drying had no impact in reducing residues.