• The microbiological and chemical composition of baled and precision-chop silages on a sample of farms in County Meath

      McEniry, Joseph; O'Kiely, Padraig; Clipson, Nicholas J.W.; Forristal, P.D.; Doyle, Evelyn M.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2006)
      Baled and precision-chop silages were examined on a sample of farms in the Irish midlands to determine microbiological and chemical composition at feedout. Silage making practices and chemical composition were similar to those in national surveys. Wilting was an integral part of baled silage production and was reflected in a more restricted fermentation (higher pH and water-soluble carbohydrates, with lower fermentation acids and buffering capacity) compared to precision-chop silage. Yeast numbers were higher in baled silage, suggesting a more aerobic environment within the bale. Although the fermentation appeared similar in the outer and inner horizons of baled silage, yeast, lactic acid bacteria and Enterobacteria numbers were higher in the outer horizon suggesting less exacting anaerobiosis adjacent to the surface of the bale.
    • Microevolution of antimicrobial resistance and biofilm formation of Salmonella Typhimurium during persistence on pig farms

      Tassinari, Eleonora; Duffy, Geraldine; Bawn, Matt; Burgess, Catherine; McCabe, Evonne M.; Lawlor, Peadar G.; Gardiner, Gillian; Kingsley, Robert A.; BBSRC Institute Strategic Programme Microbes in the Food Chain; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; et al. (Springer Nature, 2019-06-20)
      Salmonella Typhimurium and its monophasic variant S. 4,[5],12:i:- are the dominant serotypes associated with pigs in many countries. We investigated their population structure on nine farms using whole genome sequencing, and their genotypic and phenotypic variation. The population structure revealed the presence of phylogenetically distinct clades consisting of closely related clones of S. Typhimurium or S. 4,[5],12:i:- on each pig farm, that persisted between production cycles. All the S. 4,[5],12:i:- strains carried the Salmonella genomic island-4 (SGI-4), which confers resistance to heavy metals, and half of the strains contained the mTmV prophage, harbouring the sopE virulence gene. Most clonal groups were highly drug resistant due to the presence of multiple antimicrobial resistance (AMR) genes, and two clades exhibited evidence of recent on-farm plasmid-mediated acquisition of additional AMR genes, including an IncHI2 plasmid. Biofilm formation was highly variable but had a strong phylogenetic signature. Strains capable of forming biofilm with the greatest biomass were from the S. 4,[5],12:i:- and S. Typhimurium DT104 clades, the two dominant pandemic clones found over the last 25 years. On-farm microevolution resulted in enhanced biofilm formation in subsequent production cycle.
    • MicroRNA profiling of the bovine alveolar macrophage response to Mycobacterium bovis infection suggests pathogen survival is enhanced by microRNA regulation of endocytosis and lysosome trafficking

      Vegh, Peter; Magee, David A.; Nalpas, Nicolas C.; Bryan, Kenneth; McCabe, Matthew S.; Browne, John A.; Conlon, Kevin M.; Gordon, Stephen V.; Bradley, Daniel G.; MacHugh, David E.; et al. (Elsevier, 2014-11-05)
      Mycobacterium bovis, the causative agent of bovine tuberculosis, a major problem for global agriculture, spreads via an airborne route and is taken up by alveolar macrophages (AM) in the lung. Here, we describe the first next-generation sequencing (RNA-seq) approach to temporally profile miRNA expression in primary bovine AMs post-infection with M. bovis. One, six, and forty miRNAs were identified as significantly differentially expressed at 2, 24 and 48 h post-infection, respectively. The differential expression of three miRNAs (bta-miR-142-5p, bta-miR-146a, and bta-miR-423-3p) was confirmed by RT-qPCR. Pathway analysis of the predicted mRNA targets of differentially expressed miRNAs suggests that these miRNAs preferentially target several pathways that are functionally relevant for mycobacterial pathogenesis, including endocytosis and lysosome trafficking, IL-1 signalling and the TGF-β pathway. Over-expression studies using a bovine macrophage cell-line (Bomac) reveal the targeting of two key genes in the innate immune response to M. bovis, IL-1 receptor-associated kinase 1 (IRAK1) and TGF-β receptor 2 (TGFBR2), by miR-146. Taken together, our study suggests that miRNAs play a key role in tuning the complex interplay between M. bovis survival strategies and the host immune response.
    • MicroRNA regulation of bovine monocyte inflammatory and metabolic networks in an in vivo infection model.

      Lawless, Nathan; Reinhardt, Timothy A.; Bryan, Kenneth; Baker, Mike; Pesch, Bruce; Zimmerman, Duane; Zuelke, Kurt; Sonstegard, Tad; O'Farrelly, Cliona; Lippolis, John D.; et al. (Genetics Society of America, 2014-01-27)
      Bovine mastitis is an inflammation-driven disease of the bovine mammary gland that costs the global dairy industry several billion dollars per annum. Because disease susceptibility is a multi-factorial complex phenotype, an integrative biology approach is required to dissect the molecular networks involved. Here, we report such an approach, using next generation sequencing combined with advanced network and pathway biology methods to simultaneously profile mRNA and miRNA expression at multiple time-points (0, 12, 24, 36 and 48h) in both milk and blood FACS-isolated CD14+ monocytes from animals infected in vivo with Streptococcus uberis. More than 3,700 differentially expressed (DE) genes were identified in milk-isolated monocytes (MIMs), a key immune cell recruited to the site of infection during mastitis. Up-regulated genes were significantly enriched for inflammatory pathways, while down-regulated genes were enriched for non-glycolytic metabolic pathways. Monocyte transcriptional changes in the blood, however, were more subtle but highlighted the impact of this infection systemically. Genes up-regulated in blood-isolated-monocytes (BIMs) showed a significant association with interferon and chemokine signalling. Furthermore, twenty-six miRNAs were differentially expressed in MIMs and three in BIMs. Pathway analysis revealed that predicted targets of down-regulated miRNAs were highly enriched for roles in innate immunity (FDR < 3.4E-8) in particular TLR signalling, while up-regulated miRNAs preferentially targeted genes involved in metabolism. We conclude that during S. uberis infection miRNAs are key amplifiers of monocyte inflammatory response networks and repressors of several metabolic pathways.
    • Mid-infrared prediction of lactoferrin content in bovine milk: potential indicator of mastitis

      Soyeurt, H.; Bastin, C.; Colinet, F. G.; Arnould, V.M.R; Berry, Donagh P.; Wall, E.; Dehareng, F.; Nguyen, H. N.; Dardenne, P.; Schefers, J.; et al. (Cambridge University Press, 2012-04-27)
      Lactoferrin (LTF) is a milk glycoprotein favorably associated with the immune system of dairy cows. Somatic cell count is often used as an indicator of mastitis in dairy cows, but knowledge on the milk LTF content could aid in mastitis detection. An inexpensive, rapid and robust method to predict milk LTF is required. The aim of this study was to develop an equation to quantify the LTF content in bovine milk using mid-infrared (MIR) spectrometry. LTF was quantified by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), and all milk samples were analyzed by MIR. After discarding samples with a coefficient of variation between 2 ELISA measurements of more than 5% and the spectral outliers, the calibration set consisted of 2499 samples from Belgium (n = 110), Ireland (n = 1658) and Scotland (n = 731). Six statistical methods were evaluated to develop the LTF equation. The best method yielded a cross-validation coefficient of determination for LTF of 0.71 and a cross-validation standard error of 50.55 mg/l of milk. An external validation was undertaken using an additional dataset containing 274 Walloon samples. The validation coefficient of determination was 0.60. To assess the usefulness of the MIR predicted LTF, four logistic regressions using somatic cell score (SCS) and MIR LTF were developed to predict the presence of mastitis. The dataset used to build the logistic regressions consisted of 275 mastitis records and 13 507 MIR data collected in 18 Walloon herds. The LTF and the interaction SCS × LTF effects were significant (P < 0.001 and P = 0.02, respectively). When only the predicted LTF was included in the model, the prediction of the presence of mastitis was not accurate despite a moderate correlation between SCS and LTF (r = 0.54). The specificity and the sensitivity of models were assessed using Walloon data (i.e. internal validation) and data collected from a research herd at the University of Wisconsin – Madison (i.e. 5886 Wisconsin MIR records related to 93 mastistis events – external validation). Model specificity was better when LTF was included in the regression along with SCS when compared with SCS alone. Correct classification of non-mastitis records was 95.44% and 92.05% from Wisconsin and Walloon data, respectively. The same conclusion was formulated from the Hosmer and Lemeshow test. In conclusion, this study confirms the possibility to quantify an LTF indicator from milk MIR spectra. It suggests the usefulness of this indicator associated to SCS to detect the presence of mastitis. Moreover, the knowledge of milk LTF could also improve the milk nutritional quality.
    • Mid-infrared spectrometry of milk as a predictor of energy intake and efficiency in lactating dairy cows

      McParland, Sinead; Lewis, Eva; Kennedy, Emer; Moore, Stephen G.; McCarthy, B.; O'Donovan, Michael; Butler, Stephen T.; Pryce, J. E.; Berry, Donagh P.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; et al. (Elsevier for American Dairy Science Association, 2014-09)
      Interest is increasing in the feed intake complex of individual dairy cows, both for management and animal breeding. However, energy intake data on an individual-cow basis are not routinely available. The objective of the present study was to quantify the ability of routinely undertaken mid-infrared (MIR) spectroscopy analysis of individual cow milk samples to predict individual cow energy intake and efficiency. Feed efficiency in the present study was described by residual feed intake (RFI), which is the difference between actual energy intake and energy used (e.g., milk production, maintenance, and body tissue anabolism) or supplied from body tissue mobilization. A total of 1,535 records for energy intake, RFI, and milk MIR spectral data were available from an Irish research herd across 36 different test days from 535 lactations on 378 cows. Partial least squares regression analyses were used to relate the milk MIR spectral data to either energy intake or efficiency. The coefficient of correlation (REX) of models to predict RFI across lactation ranged from 0.48 to 0.60 in an external validation data set; the predictive ability was, however, strongest (REX = 0.65) in early lactation (<60 d in milk). The inclusion of milk yield as a predictor variable improved the accuracy of predicting energy intake across lactation (REX = 0.70). The correlation between measured RFI and measured energy balance across lactation was 0.85, whereas the correlation between RFI and energy balance, both predicted from the MIR spectrum, was 0.65. Milk MIR spectral data are routinely generated for individual cows throughout lactation and, therefore, the prediction equations developed in the present study can be immediately (and retrospectively where MIR spectral data have been stored) applied to predict energy intake and efficiency to aid in management and breeding decisions.
    • Milk losses associated with somatic cell counts by parity and stage of lactation

      Gonçalves, Juliano L.; Cue, Roger I.; Botaro, Bruno G.; Horst, José A.; Valloto, Altair A.; Santos, Marcos V.; São Paulo Research Foundation; 2014/17411-6 (Elsevier, 2018-02-15)
      The reduction of milk production caused by subclinical mastitis in dairy cows was evaluated through the regression of test-day milk yield on log-transformed somatic cell counts (LnSCC). Official test-day records (n = 1,688,054) of Holstein cows (n = 87,695) were obtained from 719 herds from January 2010 to December 2015. Editing was performed to ensure both reliability and consistency for the statistical analysis, and the final data set comprised 232,937 test-day records from 31,692 Holstein cows in 243 herds. A segmented regression was fitted to estimate the cutoff point in the LnSCC scale where milk yield started to be affected by mastitis. The statistical model used to explain daily milk yield included the effect of herd as a random effect and days in milk and LnSCC as fixed effects regressions, and analyses were performed by parity and stage of lactation. The cutoff point where milk yield starts to be affected by changes in LnSCC was estimated to be around 2.52 (the average of all estimates of approximately 12,400 cells/mL) for Holsteins cows from Brazilian herds. For first-lactation cows, milk losses per unit increase of LnSCC had estimates around 0.68 kg/d in the beginning of the lactation [5 to 19 d in milk (DIM)], 0.55 kg/d in mid-lactation (110 to 124 DIM), and 0.97 kg/d at the end of the lactation (289 to 304 DIM). For second-lactation cows, milk losses per unit increase of LnSCC had estimates around 1.47 kg/d in the beginning of the lactation (5 to 19 DIM), 1.09 kg/d in mid-lactation (110 to 124 DIM), and 2.45 kg/d at the end of the lactation (289 to 304 DIM). For third-lactation cows, milk losses per unit increase of LnSCC had estimates around 2.22 kg/d in the beginning of the lactation (5 to 19 DIM), 1.13 kg/d in mid-lactation (140 to 154 DIM), and 2.65 kg/d at the end of the lactation (289 to 304 DIM). Daily milk losses caused by increased LnSCC were dependent on parity and stage of lactation, and these factors should be considered when estimating losses associated with subclinical mastitis.
    • Milk mid-infrared spectral data as a tool to predict feed intake in lactating Norwegian Red dairy cows

      Berry, Donagh P.; Wallen, Sini E.; Prestløkken, E.; Meuwissen, Theodorus H.E.; McParland, Sinead; the Norwegian Research Council; TINE; GENO; 225233/E40 (Elsevier, 2018-03-28)
      Mid-infrared (MIR) spectroscopy of milk was used to predict dry matter intake (DMI) and net energy intake (NEI) in 160 lactating Norwegian Red dairy cows. A total of 857 observations were used in leave-one-out cross-validation and external validation to develop and validate prediction equations using 5 different models. Predictions were performed using (multiple) linear regression, partial least squares (PLS) regression, or best linear unbiased prediction (BLUP) methods. Linear regression was implemented using just milk yield (MY) or fat, protein, and lactose concentration in milk (Mcont) or using MY together with body weight (BW) as predictors of intake. The PLS and BLUP methods were implemented using just the MIR spectral information or using the MIR together with Mcont, MY, BW, or NEI from concentrate (NEIconc). When using BLUP, the MIR spectral wavelengths were always treated as random effects, whereas Mcont, MY, BW, and NEIconc were considered to be fixed effects. Accuracy of prediction (R) was defined as the correlation between the predicted and observed feed intake test-day records. When using the linear regression method, the greatest R of predicting DMI (0.54) and NEI (0.60) in the external validation was achieved when the model included both MY and BW. When using PLS, the greatest R of predicting DMI (0.54) and NEI (0.65) in the external validation data set was achieved when using both BW and MY as predictors in combination with the MIR spectra. When using BLUP, the greatest R of predicting DMI (0.54) in the external validation was when using MY together with the MIR spectra. The greatest R of predicting NEI (0.65) in the external validation using BLUP was achieved when the model included both BW and MY in combination with the MIR spectra or when the model included both NEIconc and MY in combination with MIR spectra. However, although the linear regression coefficients of actual on predicted values for DMI and NEI were not different from unity when using PLS, they were less than unity for some of the models developed using BLUP. This study shows that MIR spectral data can be used to predict NEI as a measure of feed intake in Norwegian Red dairy cattle and that the accuracy is augmented if additional, often available data are also included in the prediction model.
    • Milk production of Holstein-Friesian cows of divergent Economic Breeding Index evaluated under seasonal pasture-based management

      O'Sullivan, Margaret; Horan, Brendan; Pierce, Karina M.; McParland, Sinead; O'Sullivan, Kathleen; Buckley, Frank (Elsevier, 2019-01-03)
      The objective of this study was to validate the effect of genetic improvement using the Irish genetic merit index, the Economic Breeding Index (EBI), on total lactation performance and lactation profiles for milk yield, milk solids yield (fat plus protein; kg), and milk fat, protein, and lactose content within 3 pasture-based feeding treatments (FT) and to investigate whether an interaction exists between genetic group (GG) of Holstein-Friesian and pasture-based FT. The 2 GG were (1) extremely high EBI representative of the top 5% nationally (referred to as the elite group) and (2) representative of the national average EBI (referred to as the NA group). Cows from each GG were randomly allocated each year to 1 of 3 pasture-based FT: control, lower grass allowance, and high concentrate. The effects of GG, FT, year, parity, and the interaction between GG and FT adjusted for calving day of year on milk and milk solids (fat plus protein; kg) production across lactation were studied using mixed models. Cow was nested within GG to account for repeated cow records across years. The overall and stage of lactation-specific responses to concentrate supplementation (high concentrate vs. control) and reduced pasture allowance (lower grass allowance vs. control) were tested. Profiles of daily milk yield, milk solids yield, and milk fat, protein, and lactose content for each week of lactation for the elite and NA groups within each FT and for each parity group within the elite and NA groups were generated. Phenotypic performance was regressed against individual cow genetic potential based on predicted transmitting ability. The NA cows produced the highest milk yield. Milk fat and protein content was higher for the elite group and consequently yield of solids-corrected milk was similar, whereas yield of milk solids tended to be higher for the elite group compared with the NA group. Milk lactose content did not differ between GG. Responses to concentrate supplementation or reduced pasture allowance did not differ between GG. Milk production profiles illustrated that elite cows maintained higher production but with lower persistency than NA cows. Regression of phenotypic performance against predicted transmitting ability illustrated that performance was broadly in line with expectation. The results illustrate that the superiority of high-EBI cattle is consistent across diverse pasture-based FT. The results also highlight the success of the EBI to deliver production performance in line with the national breeding objective: lower milk volume with higher fat and protein content.
    • Milk production per cow and per hectare of spring-calving dairy cows grazing swards differing in Lolium perenne L. ploidy and Trifolium repens L. composition

      McClearn, Bríd; Gilliland, Trevor J.; Delaby, Luc; Guy, Clare; Dineen, Michael; Coughlan, Fergal; McCarthy, Brian; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Dairy Research Ireland (Elsevier, 2019-07-10)
      Grazed grass is the cheapest feed available for dairy cows in temperate regions; thus, to maximize profits, dairy farmers must optimize the use of this high-quality feed. Previous research has defined the benefits of including white clover (Trifolium repens L.) in grass swards for milk production, usually at reduced nitrogen usage and stocking rate. The aim of this study was to quantify the responses in milk production of dairy cows grazing tetraploid or diploid perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.; PRG) sown with and without white clover but without reducing stocking rate or nitrogen usage. We compared 4 grazing treatments in this study: tetraploid PRG-only swards, diploid PRG-only swards, tetraploid with white clover swards, and diploid with white clover swards. Thirty cows were assigned to each treatment, and swards were rotationally grazed at a farm-level stocking rate of 2.75 cows/ha and a nitrogen fertilizer rate of 250 kg/ha annually. Sward white clover content was 23.6 and 22.6% for tetraploid with white clover swards and diploid with white clover swards, respectively. Milk production did not differ between the 2 ploidies during this 4-yr study, but cows grazing the PRG-white clover treatments had significantly greater milk yields (+596 kg/cow per year) and milk solid yields (+48 kg/cow per year) compared with cows grazing the PRG-only treatments. The PRG-white clover swards also produced 1,205 kg of DM/ha per year more herbage, which was available for conserving and buffer feeding in spring when these swards were less productive than PRG-only swards. Although white clover is generally combined with reduced nitrogen fertilizer use, this study provides evidence that including white clover in either tetraploid or diploid PRG swards, combined with high levels of nitrogen fertilizer, can effectively increase milk production per cow and per hectare.
    • The miRNAome of the postpartum dairy cow liver in negative energy balance

      Fatima, Attia; Lynn, David J; O'Boyle, Padraic; Seoighe, Cathal; Morris, Dermot G.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Biomed Central, 2014-04-12)
      Background: Negative energy balance (NEB) is an altered metabolic state in high yielding cows that occurs during the first few weeks postpartum when energy demands for lactation and maintenance exceed the energy supply from dietary intake. NEB can, in turn, lead to metabolic disorders and to reduced fertility. Alterations in the expression of more than 700 hepatic genes have previously been reported in a study of NEB in postpartum dairy cows. miRNAs (microRNA) are known to mediate many alterations in gene expression post transcriptionally. To study the hepatic miRNA content of postpartum dairy cows, including their overall abundance and differential expression, in mild NEB (MNEB) and severe NEB (SNEB), short read RNA sequencing was carried out. To identify putative targets of differentially expressed miRNAs among differentially expressed hepatic genes reported previously in dairy cows in SNEB computational target identification was employed. Results: Our results indicate that the dairy cow liver expresses 53 miRNAs at a lower threshold of 10 reads per million. Of these, 10 miRNAs accounted for greater than 95% of the miRNAome (miRNA content). Of the highly expressed miRNAs, miR-122 constitutes 75% followed by miR-192 and miR-3596. Five out of thirteen let-7 miRNA family members are also among the highly expressed miRNAs. miR-143, down-regulated in SNEB, was found to have 4 putative up-regulated gene targets associated with SNEB including LRP2 (low density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 2), involved in lipid metabolism and up-regulated in SNEB. Conclusions: This is the first liver miRNA-seq profiling study of moderate yielding dairy cows in the early postpartum period. Tissue specific miR-122 and liver enriched miR-192 are two of the most abundant miRNAs in the postpartum dairy cow liver. miR-143 is significantly down-regulated in SNEB and putative targets of miRNA-143 which are up-regulated in SNEB, include a gene involved in lipid metabolism.
    • Modelling fat and protein concentration curves for Irish dairy cows

      Quinn, N.; Killen, L.; Buckley, Frank (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2006)
      The objective of this study was to acquire a well-fitting, single-equation model that would represent the fat and protein concentration curves of milk from Irish dairy cows. The dataset consisted of 16,086 records from both spring and autumn calving cows from both experimental and commercial herds. Many models cited in the literature to represent milk yield were examined for their suitability to model constituent curves. Models were tested for goodness-of-fit, adherence to the assumptions of regression analysis, and their ability to predict total fat and protein concentration for an entire lactation. Wilmink’s model best satisfied these criteria. It had the best Mean Square Prediction Error (goodness-of-fit) value, it satisfied the assumptions of regression analysis (multicollinearity, heteroskedasticity, autocorrelation and normality of distribution), and it predicted the actual concentration of the constituents to within 0.01 percentage point.
    • Molecular Genetic Typing of Staphylococcus aureus from Cows, Goats, Sheep, Rabbits and Chickens

      Smyth, Davida S.; Hartigan, Patrick J.; Meaney, William J; Smyth, Cyril James (Teagasc, 2006-12-01)
      S. aureus can also cause a number of infections in animals such as tick-associated pyaemia in lambs, staphylococcosis in rabbits, septicaemia, abscesses and chondronecrosis in chickens and pneumonia and osteomyelitis complex in turkeys. S. aureus is the most frequent cause of bovine mastitis, a disease that is of economic importance worldwide (Beck et al., 1992). Typically staphylococcal mastitis is chronic in nature, with subclinical mastitis being the most common form.
    • Multi-Step Tail Biting Outbreak Intervention Protocols for Pigs Housed on Slatted Floors.

      Chou, Jen-Yun; O'Driscoll, Keelin; D'Eath, Rick B; Sandercock, Dale A; Camerlink, Irene; European Cooperation in Science and Technology; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Rural & Environmental Science & Analytical Services, Scotland (MDPI, 2019-08-20)
      Solutions are needed to keep pigs under commercial conditions without tail biting outbreaks (TBOs). However, as TBOs are inevitable, even in well managed farms, it is crucial to know how to manage TBOs when they occur. We evaluated the effectiveness of multi-step intervention protocols to control TBOs. Across 96 pens (1248 undocked pigs) managed on fully-slatted floors, 40 TBOs were recorded ( 3 out of 12–14 pigs with fresh tail wounds). When an outbreak was identified, either the biters or the victims were removed, or enrichment (three ropes) was added. If the intervention failed, another intervention was randomly used until all three interventions had been deployed once. Fifty percent of TBOs were controlled after one intervention, 30% after 2–3 interventions, and 20% remained uncontrolled. A high proportion of biters/victims per pen reduced intervention success more so than the type of intervention. When only one intervention was used, adding ropes was the fastest method to overcome TBOs. Removed biters and victims were successfully reintroduced within 14 days back to their home pens. In conclusion, 80% of TBOs were successfully controlled within 18.4 1.7 days on average using one or multiple cost-effective intervention strategies.
    • Multi-year evaluation of stocking rate and animal genotype on milk production per hectare within intensive pasture-based production systems

      Coffey, E. L.; Delaby, Luc; Fleming, C.; Pierce, K.M.; Horan, Brendan; Dairy Research Levy (Elsevier, 2017-12-14)
      The objective of this experiment was to evaluate the effect of stocking rate (SR) and animal genotype (BR) on milk production, body weight (BW), and body condition score (BCS) within intensive pasture-based systems. A total of 533 lactation records, from 246 elite genetic merit dairy cows were available for analysis; 68 Holstein-Friesian (HF) and 71 Jersey × Holstein-Friesian (JxHF) crossbred cows in each of 4 consecutive years (2013–2016, inclusive). Cows from each BR were randomly allocated to 1 of 3 whole-farm comparative SR treatments, low (LSR; 1,200 kg of BW/ha), medium (MSR; 1,400 kg of BW/ha), and high (HSR; 1,600 kg of BW/ha), and remained in the same SR treatments for the duration of the experiment. The effects of SR, BR, and their interaction on milk production/cow and per hectare, BW, BCS, and grazing characteristics were analyzed. Total pasture utilization per hectare consumed in the form of grazed pasture increased linearly as SR increased: least in LSR (10,237 kg of dry matter/ha), intermediate in MSR (11,016 kg of dry matter/ha), and greatest in HSR (11,809 kg of dry matter/ha). Milk and milk solids (MS) yield per hectare was greatest for HSR (15,942 and 1,354 kg, respectively), intermediate for MSR (14,191 and 1,220 kg, respectively), and least for LSR (13,186 and 1,139 kg, respectively) with similar trends evident for fat, protein, and lactose yield/ha. At higher SR (MSR and HSR), MS yield per kg of BW per ha was reduced (0.85 and 0.82 kg of MS/kg of BW, respectively) compared with LSR (0.93 kg of MS/kg of BW/ha). Holstein-Friesian cows achieved fewer grazing days per hectare (−37 d), and produced more milk (+561 kg/ha) but less fat plus protein (−57 kg/ha) compared with JxHF cows; the JxHF cows were lighter. At similar BW per hectare, JxHF cows produced more fat plus protein/ha during the grazing season at low (1,164 vs. 1,113 kg), medium (1,254 vs. 1,185 kg), and high (1,327 vs. 1,380 kg) SR. In addition, JxHF cows produced more fat plus protein per kg of BW/ha (0.90 kg) compared with HF cows (0.84 kg). The results highlight the superior productive efficiency of high genetic potential crossbred dairy cows within intensive pasture-based production systems.
    • Multiple linear regression modelling of on-farm direct water and electricity consumption on pasture based dairy farms

      Shine, Philip; Scully, Ted; Upton, John; Murphy, Michael D.; Institutes of Technology Ireland; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (Elsevier, 2018-03-05)
      An analysis into the impact of milk production, stock numbers, infrastructural equipment, managerial procedures and environmental conditions on dairy farm electricity and water consumption using multiple linear regression (MLR) modelling was carried out. Electricity and water consumption data were attained through the utilisation of a remote monitoring system installed on a study sample of 58 pasture-based, Irish commercial dairy farms between 2014 and 2016. In total, 15 and 20 dairy farm variables were analysed on their ability to predict monthly electricity and water consumption, respectively. The subsets of variables that had the greatest prediction accuracy on unseen electricity and water consumption data were selected by applying a univariate variable selection technique, all subsets regression and 10-fold cross validation. Overall, electricity consumption was more accurately predicted than water consumption with relative prediction error values of 26% and 49% for electricity and water, respectively. Milk production and the total number of dairy cows had the largest impact on electricity consumption while milk production, automatic parlour washing and whether winter building troughs were reported to be leaking had the largest impact on water consumption. A standardised regression analysis found that utilising ground water for pre-cooling milk increased electricity consumption by 0.11 standard deviations, while increasing water consumption by 0.06 standard deviations when recycled in an open loop system. Milk production had a large influence on model overprediction with large negative correlations of −0.90 and −0.82 between milk production and mean percentage error for electricity and water prediction, respectively. This suggested that overprediction was inflated when milk production was low and vice versa. Governing bodies, farmers and/or policy makers may use the developed MLR models to calculate the impact of Irish dairy farming on natural resources or as decision support tools to calculate potential impacts of on-farm mitigation practises.
    • N leaching to groundwater from dairy production involving grazing over the winter on a clay-loam soil

      Necpalova, Magdalena; Fenton, Owen; Casey, Imelda A.; 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 national methodology to quantify the diet of grazing dairy cows

      O'Brien, Donal; Moran, Brian; Shalloo, Laurence (Elsevier, 2018-07-04)
      The unique rumen of dairy cows allows them to digest fibrous forages and feedstuffs. Surprisingly, to date few attempts have been made to develop national methods to gain an understanding on the make-up of a dairy cow's diet, despite the importance of milk production. Consumer interest is growing in purchasing milk based on the composition of the cows' diet and the time they spend grazing. The goal of this research was to develop such a methodology using the national farm survey of Ireland as a data source. The analysis was completed for a 3-yr period from 2013 to 2015 on a nationally representative sample of 275 to 318 dairy farms. Trained auditors carried out economic surveys on farms 3 to 4 times per annum. The auditors collected important additional information necessary to estimate the diet of cows including the length of the grazing season, monthly concentrate feeding, type of forage(s) conserved, and milk production. Annual cow intakes were calculated to meet net energy requirements for production, maintenance, activity, pregnancy, growth, and live weight change using survey data and published literature. Our analysis showed that the average annual cow feed intake on a fresh matter basis ranged from 22.7 t in 2013 to 24.8 t in 2015 and from 4.8 to 5 t on a dry matter basis for the same period. Forage, particularly pasture, was the largest component of the Irish cow diet, typically accounting for 96% of the diet on a fresh matter basis and 82% of dry matter intake over the 3 yr. Within the cows' forage diet, grazed pasture was the dominant component and on average contributed 74 to 77% to the average annual cow fresh matter diet over the period. The proportion of pasture in the annual cow diet as fed was also identified as a good indicator of the time cows spend grazing (e.g., coefficient of determination = 0.85). Monthly, forage was typically the main component of the cow diet, but the average contribution of concentrate was substantial for the early spring months of January and February (30 to 35% of dry matter intake). Grazed pasture was the dominant source of forage from March to October and usually contributed 95 to 97% of the diet as fed in the summer period. Overall, the national farm survey from 2013 to 2015 shows that Irish dairy farms are very reliant on forage, particularly pasture, regardless of whether it is reported on a dry matter basis or as fed. There is potential to replicate this methodology in any regions or nations where representative farm surveys are conducted.
    • A national methodology to quantify the diet of grazing dairy cows

      O'Brien, Donal; Moran, Brian; Shalloo, Laurence (Elsevier, 2018-07-04)
      The unique rumen of dairy cows allows them to digest fibrous forages and feedstuffs. Surprisingly, to date few attempts have been made to develop national methods to gain an understanding on the make-up of a dairy cow's diet, despite the importance of milk production. Consumer interest is growing in purchasing milk based on the composition of the cows' diet and the time they spend grazing. The goal of this research was to develop such a methodology using the national farm survey of Ireland as a data source. The analysis was completed for a 3-yr period from 2013 to 2015 on a nationally representative sample of 275 to 318 dairy farms. Trained auditors carried out economic surveys on farms 3 to 4 times per annum. The auditors collected important additional information necessary to estimate the diet of cows including the length of the grazing season, monthly concentrate feeding, type of forage(s) conserved, and milk production. Annual cow intakes were calculated to meet net energy requirements for production, maintenance, activity, pregnancy, growth, and live weight change using survey data and published literature. Our analysis showed that the average annual cow feed intake on a fresh matter basis ranged from 22.7 t in 2013 to 24.8 t in 2015 and from 4.8 to 5 t on a dry matter basis for the same period. Forage, particularly pasture, was the largest component of the Irish cow diet, typically accounting for 96% of the diet on a fresh matter basis and 82% of dry matter intake over the 3 yr. Within the cows' forage diet, grazed pasture was the dominant component and on average contributed 74 to 77% to the average annual cow fresh matter diet over the period. The proportion of pasture in the annual cow diet as fed was also identified as a good indicator of the time cows spend grazing (e.g., coefficient of determination = 0.85). Monthly, forage was typically the main component of the cow diet, but the average contribution of concentrate was substantial for the early spring months of January and February (30 to 35% of dry matter intake). Grazed pasture was the dominant source of forage from March to October and usually contributed 95 to 97% of the diet as fed in the summer period. Overall, the national farm survey from 2013 to 2015 shows that Irish dairy farms are very reliant on forage, particularly pasture, regardless of whether it is reported on a dry matter basis or as fed. There is potential to replicate this methodology in any regions or nations where representative farm surveys are conducted.
    • 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.