• A note on the design and testing of single teatcups for automatic milking systems

      O'Callaghan, Edmond 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, Frank 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, Edmond 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; et al. (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, Louise B.; Giblin, Linda; Markham, T.; Stickland, N. C.; Berry, Donagh P.; O'Reilly, James J; Lynch, P Brendan; Kerry, Joseph 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, Luc; Moloney, Aidan P; Boland, T. M.; 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.
    • An observational study on passive immunity in Irish suckler beef and dairy calves: Tests for failure of passive transfer of immunity and associations with health and performance

      Todd, C. G.; McGee, Mark; Tiernan, Katie; Crosson, Paul; O’Riordan, Edward G.; McClure, J.; Lorenz, Ingrid; Earley, Bernadette; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 11/S/131 (Elsevier, 2018-07-25)
      The study objectives were to: 1) evaluate the diagnostic performance of passive immunity tests for classification of failure of passive transfer (FPT) risk, based on their relationships with calf health and performance, and 2) describe the epidemiology of morbidity and mortality in suckler beef and dairy calves under Irish conditions. A total of 1392 suckler beef calves (n = 111 farms) and 2090 dairy calves (84 farms) were included in this observational study. Blood samples were collected by jugular venipuncture. Serum samples were analysed for total IgG concentration using an ELISA assay, total protein concentration by clinical analyser (TP – CA), globulin concentration, zinc sulphate turbidity (ZST) units, total solids percentage by Brix refractometer (TS – BRIX), and total protein concentration by digital refractometer (TP – DR). Crude and cause-specific morbidity, all-cause mortality, and standardised 205-day body weight (BW) were determined. Generalised linear mixed models were used to evaluate associations between suckler beef and dairy calves for morbidity, mortality, growth and passive immunity. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were constructed to determine optimal test cut-offs for classification of health and growth outcomes. Overall, 20% of suckler beef and 30% of dairy calves were treated for at least one disease event by 6 mo. of age. Suckler beef calves had greater odds of bovine respiratory disease (BRD; odds ratio (OR), 95% confidence interval (CI): 2.8, 1.2–6.5, P = 0.01), navel infection (5.1, 1.9–13.2, P < 0.001), and joint infection/lameness (3.2, 1.3–7.8, P = 0.01) during the first 6 mo. of life than dairy calves. In addition, from birth to 6 mo. of age, suckler beef calves had greater rates of navel infection (incidence rate ratio (IRR), 95% CI: 3.3, 1.3–8.4, P = 0.01), but decreased rates of diarrhoea (0.9, 0.2–0.9, P = 0.03) compared to dairy calves. Optimal test cut-offs for classification of morbidity and mortality outcomes in suckler beef calves ranged from 8 to 9 mg/ml ELISA, 56 to 61 g/l TP – CA, 26 to 40 g/l globulin, 12 to 18 ZST units, 8.4% TS – BRIX, and 5.3 to 6.3 g/dl TP – DR. Optimal test cut-offs for classification of morbidity and growth outcomes in dairy calves ranged from 10 to 12 mg/ml ELISA, 57 to 60 g/l TP – CA, 29 to 34 g/l globulin, 19 ZST units, 7.8 to 8.4% TS – BRIX, and 5.7 to 5.9 g/dl TP – DR.
    • An observational study using blood gas analysis to assess neonatal calf diarrhea and subsequent recovery with a European Commission-compliant oral electrolyte solution

      Sayers, Riona; Kennedy, Aideen E.; Krump, Lea; Sayers, Gearoid; Kennedy, Emer; Epsilion Ltd.; IV20151256 (American Dairy Science Association, 2016-04-06)
      An observational study was conducted on dairy calves (51 healthy, 31 with neonatal diarrhea) during outbreaks of diarrhea on 4 dairy farms. Clinical assessment scores (CAS) were assigned to each healthy and diarrheic calf [from 0 (healthy) to 4 (marked illness)]. Blood gas analysis [pH, base excess (BE), Na+, K+, Ca2+, Cl−, glucose, total hemoglobin, standard HCO3−, strong ion difference (SID), and anion gap (AG)] was completed for each calf. Repeated measurements were taken in healthy animals, and pre- and postintervention measurements were taken for diarrheic calves. The mean CAS of diarrheic calves was 1.7, with 51, 30, 17, and 2% of calves scoring 1, 2, 3, and 4, respectively. The mean value for blood pH, BE, AG, and SID was 7.26, −4.93 mM, 16.3 mM, and 38.59 mM, respectively. Calves were administered an oral rehydration and buffering solution (ORBS; Vitalife for Calves, Epsilion Ltd., Cork, Ireland) and reassessed. The mean CAS decreased to 0.38 (65% of calves scored 0 and 35% scored 1) at 6 to 18 h posttreatment and to 0.03 (98% of calves scored 0 and 2% scored 1) within 24 to 48 h. Significant increases in mean value for pH, BE, HCO3−, Na+, and SID, and significant decreases in AG, K+, Ca2+, and total hemoglobin were recorded posttreatment. The correlation estimates indicated that pH, HCO3−, and BE were strongly correlated with CAS, with values exceeding 0.60 in all cases. Administration of an ORBS with a high SID and bicarbonate buffer demonstrated rapid recovery from a diarrheic episode in dairy calves.
    • 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, Euridice; 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.
    • 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, Euridice; 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.
    • On farm welfare assessment of beef cattle using an environmentally-based welfare index and investigation of the human-animal relationship

      Earley, Bernadette; Mazurek, Mickael; Murray, Margaret; Prendiville, Daniel J.; European Union (Teagasc, 2009-01-01)
      On farm welfare assessment of beef cattle using an environmentally-based welfare index and investigation of the human-animal relationship. Study 1. Animal welfare index (AWI): an on-farm survey of beef suckler farms in Ireland. Study 2. Investigation and specificity of behavioural fear responses of heifers to different fear-eliciting situations involving humans.
    • An on-farm investigation of beef suckler herds using an animal welfare index (AWI)

      Mazurek, Mickael; Prendiville, Daniel J.; Crowe, Mark A; Veissier, Isabelle; Earley, Bernadette (Biomed Central, 2010-12-13)
      Background: Beef suckler farms (194 farms throughout 13 counties) were assessed once with housed cattle and once with cattle at grass using an animal welfare index (AWI). Twenty-three of the 194 farms were revisited a year later and re-evaluated using the AWI and the Tier-Gerechtheits-Index 35L/2000 (TGI35L/2000). Thirty-three indicators were collected in five categories: locomotion (5 indicators); social interactions (between animals) (7), flooring (5), environment (7) and Stockpersonship (9). Three indicators relating to the size of the farm were also collected. Improving animal welfare is an increasingly important aspect of livestock production systems predominantly due to increased consumer concern about the source of animal products. The objectives were (i) to evaluate animal welfare of Irish beef suckler herds using an animal welfare index (AWI), (ii) to examine correlations between parameters, how they influence the AWI and investigate the applicability of the parameters used, (iii) to investigate the impact of the activity of the farmer (full-time or part-time), the interest of the farmer and the number of animals on the AWI. Results: The mean AWI was 65% and ranged from 54% to 83%. The grazing period represented 16.5% of the total points of the AWI. Seventy percent of the farms were rated as "Very Good" or "Excellent". There was no difference (P > 0.05) in AWI between full-time and part-time farmers. Part-time farmers had greater (P = 0.01) "social interactions": calving (P = 0.03) and weaning (P < 0.001) scores. Full-time farmers had cleaner animals (P = 0.03) and their animals had less lameness (P = 0.01). The number of animals on-farm and the interest of the Stockperson were negatively and positively correlated (P = 0.001), respectively, with the AWI. A hierarchical classification was performed to examine how the indicators influenced the AWI. Conclusion: The AWI was easily applicable for an on-farm evaluation of welfare. The Stockpersonship was an important factor in determining the AWI (11% of the total variation) more specifically, the interest of the farmer. Part and full-time farming did not differ (P > 0.05) in AWI scores. This method could, with further development, be used in countries with both intensive and/or extensive production systems and would require substantially less resources than animal-based methods.
    • Optimal system of contract matings for use in a commercial dairy population

      McParland, Sinead; Kearney, K. F.; Lopez-Villalobos, N.; Berry, Donagh P. (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2009)
      Managing the contribution of prominent animals to the pedigree of livestock populations is a topic of increasing importance worldwide. The aim of this study was to evaluate methods of controlling the accumulation of inbreeding in the Irish Holstein-Friesian population through the methodology used to arrange contract matings. Two non-random mating systems were investigated, linear programming (LP) and sequential programming (SEQ); these were compared with random mating (RAN) and mating of the best sires to the best dams (TOP). All mating systems were compared across a range of objectives: to maximise genetic merit for the economic breeding index (EBI) used in Ireland, to minimise population coancestry with breeding females (R-value), and a dual objective of simultaneously maximising EBI and minimising coancestry with breeding females. Algorithms were developed to identify elite dams and sires from the national herd for use in the contract mating programme. One thousand contract matings were generated using each selection method, with the aim of producing 83 test sires (the number of bulls which it is feasible to test annually in Ireland) for use in a progeny testing scheme. The top 1,000 matings, as selected by the LP and SEQ methods, performed similarly when maximising the dual objective (average progeny EBI of €145 and an average coancestry of the progeny to the population of breeding females of 0.93%). The TOP and RAN methods both selected phantom progeny with higher coancestry with the breeding female population (1.21% and 1.34%, respectively) than the LP and SEQ methods. However the matings from the TOP method generated progeny of higher genetic merit (EBI = €199), whilst the progeny generated from the RAN method had lower genetic merit (EBI = €127) than those selected by the LP or SEQ methods.
    • Optimising The Response To Supplementary Concentrates By Beef Cattle In Winter

      Keane, Michael G.; Drennan, Michael J; Moloney, Aidan P (Teagasc, 2008-01-01)
      Concentrates are a major component of feed costs in winter finishing of beef cattle. Two separate experiments were carried out to evaluate the response to increasing supplementary concentrate level with grass silage and the effects of feeding the silage and concentrates separately or as a total mixed ration (TMR). In experiment 1, a total of 117 finishing steers (initial live weight 538 kg, s.d. 35.5) were assigned to a preexperimental slaughter group of 9 animals and to 6 feeding treatments of 18 animals each. The feeding treatments were: 1) silage (SO) only offered ad libitum, 2) SO plus a low level of concentrates offered separately (LS), 3) SO plus a low level of concentrates offered as a TMR (LM), 4) SO plus a medium level of concentrates offered separately (MS), 5) SO plus a medium level of concentrates offered as a TMR (MM), and 6) concentrates ad libitum plus a restricted silage allowance (AL). Low and medium target concentrate levels were 3 and 6 kg dry matter (DM) per head daily. When silage and concentrates were fed separately, the daily concentrate allowance was given in one morning feed. The animals were individually fed for a mean period of 132 days. After slaughter, carcasses were weighed and graded and the ribs joint was dissected into its component tissues. Silage DM intake decreased but total DM intake increased with increasing concentrate level. Live weight gains for SO, LS, LM, MS, MM and AL were 0.34, 0.86, 0.86, 1.02, 1.00 and 1.12 (s.e. 0.064) kg/day, respectively. Corresponding carcass weight gains were 0.25, 0.58, 0.58, 0.71, 0.68 and 0.82 (s.e. 0.028) kg/day. All measures of fatness increased, ribs joint bone proportion decreased, and muscle proportion was not significantly affected by dietary concentrate level. There were no significant interactions between concentrate level and method of feeding. Compared with offering the feeds separately, feeding a TMR increased silage DM intake by proportionately 0.06 and total DM intake by proportionately 0.04. Otherwise, method of feeding had no significant effect on performance, slaughter or carcass traits. Mean rumen pH decreased while ammonia concentration tended to increase with increasing concentrate level. Total volatile fatty acids and the acetate to propionate ratio were lowest for SO. Method of feeding had no significant effect on rumen fermentation.
    • Outdoor grazing of dairy cows on pasture versus indoor feeding on total mixed ration: Effects on gross composition and mineral content of milk during lactation

      Gulati, Arunima; Galvin, Norann; Lewis, Eva; Hennessy, Deirdre; O'Donovan, Michael; McManus, Jennifer J.; Fenelon, Mark A.; Guinee, Timothy P.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Dairy Levy Trust Co-Operative Society Limited; et al. (Elsevier, 2017-08-15)
      The influence of feeding system and lactation period on the gross composition, macroelements (Ca, P, Mg, and Na), and trace elements (Zn, Fe, Cu, Mo, Mn, Se, and Co) of bovine milk was investigated. The feeding systems included outdoor grazing on perennial ryegrass pasture (GRO), outdoor grazing on perennial ryegrass and white clover pasture (GRC), and indoors offered total mixed ration (TMR). Sixty spring-calving Holstein Friesian dairy cows were assigned to 3 herds, each consisting of 20 cows, and balanced with respect to parity, calving date, and pre-experimental milk yield and milk solids yield. The herds were allocated to 1 of the 3 feeding systems from February to November. Milk samples were collected on 10 occasions over the period June 17 to November 26, at 2 or 3 weekly intervals, when cows were on average 119 to 281 d in lactation (DIL). The total lactation period was arbitrarily sub-divided into 2 lactation periods based on DIL, namely mid lactation, June 17 to September 9 when cows were 119 to 203 DIL; and late lactation, September 22 to November 26 when cows were 216 to 281 DIL. With the exception of Mg, Na, Fe, Mo, and Co, all other variables were affected by feeding system. The GRO milk had the highest mean concentrations of total solids, total protein, casein, Ca, and P. The TMR milk had the highest concentrations of lactose, Cu, and Se, and lowest level of total protein. The GRC milk had levels of lactose, Zn, and Cu similar to those of GRO milk, and concentrations of TS, Ca, and P similar to those of TMR milk. Lactation period affected all variables, apart from the concentrations of Fe, Cu, Mn, and Se. On average, the proportion (%) of total Ca, P, Zn, Mn, or Se that sedimented with the casein on high-speed ultracentrifugation at 100,000 × g was ≥60%, whereas that of Na, Mg, or Mo was ≤45% total. The results demonstrate how the gross composition and elemental composition of milk can be affected by different feeding systems.
    • Paratuberculosis sero-status and milk production, SCC and calving interval in Irish dairy herds

      Hoogendam, K; Richardson, Esther K. B.; Mee, John F (Biomed Central, 2009-04-01)
      The objective of this study was to investigate the impact of paratuberculosis sero-status on milk yield, fat, protein, somatic cell count and calving interval in Irish dairy herds. Serum from all animals over 12 months of age (n = 2,602) in 34 dairy herds was tested for antibodies to Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis using an ELISA. Herds were categorised by sero-status into positive, non-negative and negative, where a positive herd contained two or more positive cows, a non-negative herd contained only one positive cow and a negative herd contained no positive cows. Data at animal, parity and herd-level were analysed by multiple regression using general linear models. Positive herds (mean herd size = 129 cows) and non-negative herds (81 cows) were larger than negative herds (72 cows) (P < 0.01). Negative herds had the highest economic breeding index (EBI), while positive herds had the highest estimated breeding value (EBV) for milk yield. There was no significant effect of paratuberculosis sero-status at animal, parity or herd-level on milk yield, milk fat or protein production, somatic cell count score (SCCS) or calving interval. Negative herds tended to have a lower SCCS than positive and nonnegative herds (P = 0.087). This study only examined the effects of paratuberculosis sero-status but did not examine the clinical effects of Johne's disease at the farm or dairy industry levels.