Now showing items 1-20 of 995

    • The influence of animal species, gender and tissue on the structural, biophysical, biochemical and biological properties of collagen sponges

      Sorushanova, Anna; Skoufos, Ioannis; Tzora, Athina; Mullen, Anne Maria; Zeugolis, Dimitrios I.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship; Teagasc/Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Science Foundation Ireland; European Research Council; 2014045; et al. (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2021-01-21)
      Although collagen type I is extensively used in biomedicine, no study to-date has assessed how the properties of the produced scaffolds are affected as a function of species, gender and tissue from which the collagen was extracted. Herein, we extracted and characterised collagen from porcine and bovine, male and female and skin and tendon tissues and we subsequently fabricated and assessed the structural, biophysical, biochemical and biological properties of collagen sponges. All collagen preparations were of similar purity and free-amine content (p > 0.05). In general, the porcine groups yielded more collagen; had higher (p < 0.05) denaturation temperature and resistance to enzymatic degradation; and lower (p < 0.05) swelling ratio and compression stress and modulus than the bovine groups of the same gender and tissue. All collagen preparations supported growth of human dermal fibroblasts and exhibited similar biological response to human THP-1 monocytes. These results further illustrate the need for standardisation of collagen preparations for the development of reproducible collagen-based devices.
    • Sire contribution to fertilization failure and early embryo survival in cattle

      O'Callaghan, E.; Sánchez, J.M.; McDonald, M.; Kelly, A.K.; Hamdi, M.; Maicas, C.; Fair, S.; Kenny, D.A.; Lonergan, P.; Science Foundation Ireland; et al. (American Dairy Science Association, 2021-06)
      Despite passing routine laboratory tests of semen quality, bulls used in artificial insemination (AI) exhibit a significant range in field fertility. The objective of this study was to determine whether subfertility in AI bulls is due to issues of sperm transport to the site of fertilization, fertilization failure, or failure of early embryo or conceptus development. In experiment 1, Holstein-Friesian bulls (3 high fertility, HF, and 3 low fertility, LF) were selected from the national population of AI bulls based on adjusted fertility scores from a minimum of 500 inseminations (HF: +4.37% and LF: −12.7%; mean = 0%). Superovulated beef heifers were blocked based on estimated number of follicles at the time of AI and inseminated with semen from HF or LF bulls (n = 3–4 heifers per bull; total 19 heifers). Following slaughter 7 d later, the number of corpora lutea was counted and the uteri were flushed. Recovered structures (oocytes/embryos) were classified according to developmental stage and stained with 4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole to assess number of cells and accessory sperm. Overall recovery rate (total structures recovered/total corpora lutea) was 52.6% and was not different between groups. Mean (± standard error of the mean) number of embryos recovered per recipient was 8.7 ± 5.2 and 9.4 ± 5.5 for HF and LF, respectively. Overall fertilization rate of recovered structures was not different between groups. However, more embryos were at advanced stages of development (all blastocyst stages combined), reflected in a greater mean embryo cell number on d 7 for HF versus LF bulls. Number of accessory sperm was greater for embryos derived from HF than for LF bulls. The aim of experiment 2 was to evaluate the effect of sire fertility on survival of bovine embryos to d 15. Day 7 blastocysts were produced in vitro using semen from the same HF (n = 3) and LF (n = 3) bulls and transferred in groups of 5–10 to synchronized heifers (n = 7 heifers per bull; total 42 heifers). Conceptus recovery rate on d 15 was higher in HF (59.4%,) versus LF (45.0%). Mean length of recovered conceptuses for HF bulls was not affected by fertility status. In conclusion, while differences in field fertility among AI sires used in this study were not reflected in fertilization rate, differences in embryo quality were apparent as early as d 7. These differences likely contributed to the higher proportion of conceptuses surviving to d 15 in HF bulls.
    • Early life nutrition affects the molecular ontogeny of testicular development in the young bull calf

      Coen, Stephen; Keogh, Kate; Lonergan, Patrick; Fair, Sean; Kenny, David (Research Square Platform LLC, 2022-05-25)
      Enhanced early life nutrition accelerates sexual development in the bull calf through neuroendocrine-signalling mediated via the hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular axis. Our aim was to assess the impact of contrasting feeding regimes in bull calves during the first 12 weeks of life on the testes transcriptome and proteome. Holstein-Friesian bull calves were offered either a high (HI) or moderate (MOD) plane of nutrition, designed to support target growth rates of 1.0 and 0.5 kg/day, respectively. At 12 weeks of age all calves were euthanized, testicular parenchyma sampled, and global transcriptome (miRNAseq and mRNAseq) and proteome analyses undertaken. Bioinformatic analyses revealed 7 differentially expressed (DE) miRNA and 20 DE mRNA. There were no differentially abundant proteins between the two dietary groups. Integration of omics results highlighted a potential role for the cadherin gene, CDH13, in earlier reproductive development. Furthermore, co-regulatory network analysis of the proteomic data revealed CDH13 as a hub protein within a network enriched for processes related to insulin, IGF-1, androgen and Sertoli cell junction signalling pathways as well as cholesterol biosynthesis. Overall, results highlight a potential role for CDH13 in mediating earlier reproductive development as a consequence of enhanced early life nutrition in the bull calf.
    • An association analysis of sow parity, live-weight and back-fat depth as indicators of sow productivity

      Lavery, A.; Lawlor, P.G.; Magowan, E.; Miller, H.M.; O’Driscoll, K.; Berry, D.P.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; University of Leeds (Elsevier BV, 2019)
      Understanding how critical sow live-weight and back-fat depth during gestation are in ensuring optimum sow productivity is important. The objective of this study was to quantify the association between sow parity, live-weight and back-fat depth during gestation with subsequent sow reproductive performance. Records of 1058 sows and 13 827 piglets from 10 trials on two research farms between the years 2005 and 2015 were analysed. Sows ranged from parity 1 to 6 with the number of sows per parity distributed as follows: 232, 277, 180, 131, 132 and 106, respectively. Variables that were analysed included total born (TB), born alive (BA), piglet birth weight (BtWT), pre-weaning mortality (PWM), piglet wean weight (WnWT), number of piglets weaned (Wn), wean to service interval (WSI), piglets born alive in subsequent farrowing and sow lactation feed intake. Calculated variables included the within-litter CV in birth weight (LtV), pre-weaning growth rate per litter (PWG), total litter gain (TLG), lactation efficiency and litter size reared after cross-fostering. Data were analysed using linear mixed models accounting for covariance among records. Third and fourth parity sows had more (P<0.05) TB, BA and heavier BtWT compared with gilts and parity 6 sow contemporaries. Parities 2 and 3 sows weaned more (P<0.05) piglets than older sows. These piglets had heavier (P<0.05) birth weights than those from gilt litters. LtV and PWM were greater (P<0.01) in litters born to parity 5 sows than those born to younger sows. Sow live-weight and back-fat depth at service, days 25 and 50 of gestation were not associated with TB, BA, BtWT, LtV, PWG, WnWT or lactation efficiency (P>0.05). Heavier sow live-weight throughout gestation was associated with an increase in PWM (P<0.01) and reduced Wn and lactation feed intake (P<0.05). Deeper back-fat in late gestation was associated with fewer (P<0.05) BA but heavier (P<0.05) BtWT, whereas deeper back-fat depth throughout gestation was associated with reduced (P<0.01) lactation feed intake. Sow back-fat depth was not associated with LtV, PWG, TLG, WSI or piglets born alive in subsequent farrowing (P>0.05). In conclusion, this study showed that sow parity, live-weight and back-fat depth can be used as indicators of reproductive performance. In addition, this study also provides validation for future development of a benchmarking tool to monitor and improve the productivity of modern sow herd.
    • Effects of pen faeces and feed contamination in biomarkers determination in oral fluid of pigs

      Franco-Martínez, Lorena; Ortín-Bustillo, Alba; Rubio, Camila P.; Escribano, Damián; López-Arjona, Marina; García-Manzanilla, Edgar; Cerón, José J.; Martínez-Subiela, Silvia; Tvarijonaviciute, Asta; Tecles, Fernando; et al. (Elsevier, 2022-12-20)
      The present study aims to evaluate the possible effects of the presence of pen faeces and feed on the measurement of a panel of biomarkers in porcine oral fluid. For this, clean porcine oral fluid was pooled and incubated with two different concentrations of pen faeces or feed representing a high or low level of contamination with each material. In addition, these pools were aliquoted and subjected to centrifugation, filtration or chemical clarification to evaluate if these techniques could revert the effects of those contaminants in biomarker evaluation. A panel of 21 biomarkers that assessed stress, inflammation, immune system and redox homeostasis among others, were measured for all aliquots. Changes of statistical relevance (p < 0.05) in oral fluid contaminated with pen faeces or feed versus untreated samples were observed for all methods employed with the exception of adenosine deaminase (ADA) and creatine kinase (CK) in oral fluid contaminated with pen faeces or feed. Pen faeces did not affect the measurement of haptoglobin, superoxide dismutase, CK, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), ADA and cortisol (when the latter is measured by chemiluminescence); while uric acid, LDH, CK, ADA, and hydrogen peroxide methods were not affected by the presence of feed in oral fluid. The effects of centrifugation, filtration or chemical clarification with chitosan in these contaminated samples were modest and for most cases did not caused baseline levels on the measured biomarkers. In conclusion, the presence of pen faeces or feed in porcine oral fluid can interfere with the results obtained when analytes are measured.
    • Hoof lesions in partly housed pasture-based dairy cows

      Browne, N.; Hudson, C.D.; Crossley, R.E.; Sugrue, K.; Huxley, J.N.; Conneely, M.; Dairy Research Ireland; Teagasc Walsh Scholarship (Elsevier, 2022-09-27)
      Lameness is a symptom of a painful disorder affecting the limbs, which impacts dairy cow welfare and productivity. Lameness is primarily caused by hoof lesions. The prevalence of different lesion types can differ depending on environmental conditions and farm management practices. The aims of this observational study were to establish the cow-level and herd-level lesion prevalence during both housing and grazing periods in a partly housed, pasture-based system, establish the prevalence of lesions always associated with pain (“alarm” lesion), identify the lesions associated with a higher lameness score, determine relationships between lesions, and identify risk factors for digital dermatitis. On 98 farms during the grazing period and on 74 of the same farms during the housing period, every cow was lameness scored (0–3 lameness scoring scale), and the hind hooves of lame cows (score 2 and 3) were examined (maximum 20 cows per visit) and the prevalence of each lesion type recorded. To gather data on potential predictors for the risk factor analysis, a questionnaire with the farmer was conducted on lameness management practices and infrastructure measurements were taken at each visit. Cow-level data were also collected (e.g., parity, breed, milk yield, and so on). Noninfectious lesions were found to be more prevalent than infectious lesions in this system type. The most prevalent lesion types during both grazing and housing periods were white line separation, sole hemorrhages and overgrown claws; all remaining lesions had a cow-level prevalence of less than 15%. The cow-level prevalence of alarm lesions was 19% during the grazing period and 25% during the housing period; the most prevalent alarm lesion was sole ulcers during both periods. We found significantly more foreign bodies within the hoof sole (grazing = 14%, housing = 7%) and overgrown claws (grazing = 71%, housing = 55%) during the grazing period compared with the housing period. Cows with foul of the foot, sole ulcer, white line abscess, toe necrosis or an amputated claw had higher odds of being more severely lame, compared with mildly lame. The strongest correlation between lesions were between toe necrosis and digital dermatitis (r = 0.40), overgrown claws and corkscrew claws (r = 0.33), and interdigital hyperplasia and digital dermatitis (r = 0.31) at herd level. At the cow level, the strongest correlation was between overgrown claws and corkscrew claws (r = 0.27), and digital dermatitis and heel erosion (r = 0.22). The farmers' perception of the presence of digital dermatitis (and lameness) was significantly correlated with the actual presence of digital dermatitis recorded. Additional risk factors for the presence of digital dermatitis were cow track and verge width near the collecting yard, and stone presence on the cow tracks. Results from this study help further our understanding of the causes of lameness in partly housed, pasture-based dairy cows, and can be used to guide prevention and treatment protocols.
    • Detection of Genomic Imprinting for Carcass Traits in Cattle Using Imputed High-Density Genotype Data.

      Kenny, David; Sleator, Roy D; Murphy, Craig P; Evans, Ross D; Berry, Donagh P; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Science Foundation Ireland; RSF 17/S/235; 16/RC/3835; VistaMilk (Frontiers, 2022-07-15)
      Genomic imprinting is an epigenetic phenomenon defined as the silencing of an allele, at least partially, at a given locus based on the sex of the transmitting parent. The objective of the present study was to detect the presence of SNP-phenotype imprinting associations for carcass weight (CW), carcass conformation (CC) and carcass fat (CF) in cattle. The data used comprised carcass data, along with imputed, high-density genotype data on 618,837 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from 23,687 cattle; all animal genotypes were phased with respect to parent of origin. Based on the phased genotypes and a series of single-locus linear models, 24, 339, and 316 SNPs demonstrated imprinting associations with CW, CC, and CF, respectively. Regardless of the trait in question, no known imprinted gene was located within 0.5 Mb of the SNPs demonstrating imprinting associations in the present study. Since all imprinting associations detected herein were at novel loci, further investigation of these regions may be warranted. Nonetheless, knowledge of these associations might be useful for improving the accuracy of genomic evaluations for these traits, as well as mate allocations systems to exploit the effects of genomic imprinting.
    • Selecting Milk Spectra to Develop Equations to Predict Milk Technological Traits

      Frizzarin, Maria; Gormley, Isobel Claire; Casa, Alessandro; McParland, Sinéad; Science Foundation Ireland; 18/SIRG/5562; 16/RC/3835 (VistaMilk) (MDPI AG, 2021-12-11)
      Including all available data when developing equations to relate midinfrared spectra to a phenotype may be suboptimal for poorly represented spectra. Here, an alternative local changepoint approach was developed to predict six milk technological traits from midinfrared spectra. Neighbours were objectively identified for each predictand as those most similar to the predictand using the Mahalanobis distances between the spectral principal components, and subsequently used in partial least square regression (PLSR) analyses. The performance of the local changepoint approach was compared to that of PLSR using all spectra (global PLSR) and another LOCAL approach, whereby a fixed number of neighbours was used in the prediction according to the correlation between the predictand and the available spectra. Global PLSR had the lowest RMSEV for five traits. The local changepoint approach had the lowest RMSEV for one trait; however, it outperformed the LOCAL approach for four traits. When the 5% of the spectra with the greatest Mahalanobis distance from the centre of the global principal component space were analysed, the local changepoint approach outperformed the global PLSR and the LOCAL approach in two and five traits, respectively. The objective selection of neighbours improved the prediction performance compared to utilising a fixed number of neighbours; however, it generally did not outperform the global PLSR.
    • Validation of maternal and terminal sheep breeding objectives using Irish field data

      McHugh, Noirin; McDermott, Kevin; Bohan, Alan; Farrell, Lydia J; Herron, Jonathan; Pabiou, Thierry; Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine; GREENBREED (17/S/235); ERA-GAS (2019EN202; GrassToGas) (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2022-07-23)
      Genetic evaluations provide producers with a tool to aid in breeding decisions and highlight the increase in performance achievable at the farm level through genetic gain. Despite this, large-scale validation of sheep breeding objectives using field data is lacking in the scientific literature. The objective of the present study was to evaluate the phenotypic differences for a range of economically important traits for animals divergent in genetic merit for the Irish national maternal and terminal sheep breeding objectives. A dataset of 17,356 crossbred ewes and 54,322 progeny differing in their maternal and terminal breeding index recorded in 139 commercial flocks was available. The association of the maternal index of the ewe or terminal index of the ram and a range of phenotypic performance traits, including lambing, lamb performance, ewe performance, and health traits, were undertaken. Ewes excelling on the maternal index had higher litter sizes and produced progeny with greater perinatal lamb survival, heavier live weights from birth to postweaning and reduced days to slaughter (P < 0.05). Ewe maternal index had no quantifiable impact on lambing ease, carcass conformation, or fat, the health status of the ewe or lamb, ewe barren rate, or ewe live weight. Lambs born to rams of superior terminal index produced heavier lambs from preweaning onwards, with a reduced day to slaughter (P < 0.05). Lambing traits, lamb health, and carcass characteristics of the progeny did not differ between sires stratified as low or high on the terminal index (P > 0.05). Results from this study highlight that selecting either ewes or rams of superior maternal or terminal attributes will result in an improvement on pertinent performance traits of the national sheep flock, resulting in greater flock productivity and profitability.
    • Bio-economic modelling of sheep meat production systems with varying flock litter size using field data

      Farrell, L.; Creighton, P.; Bohan, A.; McGovern, F.; McHugh, N.; Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine; European Union ERA-GAS; 16/S/696 Multipro; 2019EN202; GrassToGas (Elsevier, 2022-10-31)
      Sheep meat producers derive the majority of income from sales of weaned lambs, determined by flock conception rates, litter size, and lamb survival. Field data from commercial flocks can inform sensitivity analyses of the effect of litter size on flock productivity, feed demand, and gross margin. This study adapted an established bio-economic model of a flock of breeding ewes informed by statistical relationships (from linear models) between flock litter size (lambs born per ewe lambing) and production factors (such as flock barren rate, litter birth type and lamb birth weight) identified using 156 145 animal records from the Irish national sheep breeding database. Sensitivity analyses were undertaken to investigate the effects of flock litter size on flock production, feed demand, and gross margin. Results showed that as flock litter size increased, the proportion of lambs born as multiples increased, with 14 % of lambs born as singles when flock litter size was 2.2 lambs born per ewe lambing. Flock gross margin increased from €2 205 to €7 730 as litter size increased from 1.0 to 2.0 lambs born per ewe lambing. As litter size increased from 1.0 to 2.2 lambs born per ewe lambing, flock gross margin increased linearly by, on average, €52 per 0.01 increase in litter size. At a litter size of > 2.2 lambs born per ewe lambing, flock gross margin increased on average €12 per 0.01 increase in litter size. At a litter size of 2.2 lambs born per ewe lambing, flock efficiency (at 65.0 kg of lamb weaned per ewe presented for breeding), weaning rate (at 1.5 lambs weaned per ewe presented for breeding; not including excess lambs from large litters sold within a week after birth and thus not weaned on-farm), and gross margin (at €8 500) began to plateau. The results indicate lower marginal returns in gross margin at very high flock litter size, due to the lower value of additional lambs born as triplets and quadruplets compared with single- and twin-born lambs. However, the diminishing economic returns occurred at higher flock litter size than are currently biologically achieved in most flocks. Quantification from this analysis demonstrates how the value of increasing the number of lambs born changes at very high flock litter size, which can inform the priorities and performance benchmarking for international sheep meat production industries.
    • Productivity, Profitability and Nitrogen Utilisation Efficiency of Two Pasture-Based Milk Production Systems Differing in the Milking Frequency and Feeding Level

      Correa-Luna, Martín; Donaghy, Daniel; Kemp, Peter; Shalloo, Laurence; Ruelle, Elodie; Hennessy, Deirdre; López-Villalobos, Nicolás (MDPI AG, 2021-02-16)
      The aim of this study was to model the productivity, profitability and the nitrogen (N) utilisation efficiency (NUE) of two spring-calving pasture-based milk production systems differing in milking frequency and intensification levels in New Zealand. For this purpose, physical performance data from a low-intensity production system where cows were milked once per day (OAD-LI) and from a high-intensity production system where cows were milked twice per day (TAD-HI) were employed. OAD-LI cows were milked once-daily with a stocking rate (SR) of 2.1 cows/ha and fed diets with low supplementation (304 kg pasture silage/cow) with applications of 134 kg N fertiliser/ha and TAD-HI cows were milked twice-daily with a SR of 2.8 cows/ha and fed diets of higher supplementation (429 kg pasture silage and 1695 kg concentrate/cow) with applications of 87 kg N fertiliser/ha. The Moorepark Dairy System Model was used to evaluate production, economic performance and N balance on an annual basis. Despite the higher feed costs of TAD-HI as more supplementation was utilised, profitability per hectare was 16% higher because more cows were milked with a higher milk yield per cow (milking frequency) when compared to OAD-LI. At the cow level, the NUE was higher in TAD-HI (30% vs. 27%) reflecting the better balanced diet for energy and crude protein and higher milk yields as a result of milking frequency. At the farm scale the NUE was higher (38% vs. 26%) in the TAD-HI due to the losses associated with the imported feed being excluded and higher N captured in milk. These results suggest that milking frequency, the use of feed supplementation and application of N fertiliser as management tools on grazing dairy systems affect productivity, profitability and N balance. Further studies are required to find optimal stocking rates in combination with the use of supplementary feed and N fertiliser application that maximize milk production and profitability for OAD and TAD milking production systems but minimize N losses.
    • The net contribution of livestock to the supply of human edible protein: the case of Ireland

      Hennessy, D. P.; Shalloo, L.; van Zanten, H. H. E.; Schop, M.; De Boer, I. J. M.; European Union; 696356 (Cambridge University Press (CUP), 2021-10-20)
      If current food consumption patterns continue, the agriculture sector must provide significantly more food in the coming years from the available land area. Some livestock systems engage in feed–food competition as arable land is used for livestock feed rather than as crops for food; reducing the global supply of food. There is a growing argument that to meet future-food demands sustainably, feed–food competition must be minimized. To this end, we evaluated the effectiveness of two refined metrics to quantify feed–food competition in three livestock systems; dairy and its beef, suckler beef and pig production in Ireland. The metrics are edible protein conversion ratio (EPCR) and the land-use ratio (LUR). The EPCR compares the amount of human digestible protein (HDP) in livestock feed against the amount of HDP the livestock produced, calculating how efficiently it produces HDP. However, the LUR compares the potential HDP from a crop system on the land used to produce the livestock’s feed against the HDP the livestock system produced. In both metrics, a value <1 demonstrates an efficient system. The EPCR values for dairy beef (0.22) and suckler beef (0.29) systems consider them efficient producers, whereas pig production (1.51) is inefficient. The LUR values designate that only the dairy beef (0.58) is a net positive producer of HDP from the land used for its feed, with crop production producing more HDP than suckler beef (1.34) and pig production (1.73). Consequently, the LUR can be deemed to be more suitable to represent feed–food competition in livestock production.
    • Phenotypic factors associated with lamb live weight and carcass composition measurements in an Irish multi-breed sheep population

      McGovern, Fiona Mary; McHugh, Noirin; Fitzmaurice, Shauna; Pabiou, Thierry; McDermott, Kevin; Wall, Eamon; Fetherstone, Nicola; Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; MULTIREPRO (16/S/696); GREENBREED (17/S/235) (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2020-11-14)
      Understanding the phenotypic factors that affect lamb live weight and carcass composition is imperative to generating accurate genetic evaluations and further enables implementation of functional management strategies. This study investigated phenotypic factors affecting live weight across the growing season and traits associated with carcass composition in lambs from a multibreed sheep population. Four live weight traits and two carcass composition traits were considered for analysis namely; birth, preweaning, weaning, and postweaning weight, and ultrasound muscle depth and fat depth. A total of 427,927 records from 159,492 lambs collected from 775 flocks between the years 2016 and 2019, inclusive were available from the Irish national sheep database. Factors associated with live weight and carcass composition were determined using linear mixed models. The heaviest birth, preweaning, and weaning weights were associated with single born lambs (P < 0.001), however by postweaning, there was no difference observed in the weights of single and twin born lambs (P > 0.01). Breed class affected lamb live weight and carcass composition with terminal lambs weighing heaviest and having greater muscle depth than all other breed classes investigated (P < 0.001). Lambs born to first parity dams were consistently lighter, regardless of time of weighing (P < 0.001), while dams lambing for the first time as ewe lambs produced lighter lambs than those lambing for the first time as hoggets (P < 0.001). Greater heterosis coefficients (i.e., >90% and ≤100%) resulted in heavier lambs at weaning compared with lambs with lower levels of heterosis coefficients (P < 0.001). A heterosis coefficient class <10% resulted in lambs with greater muscle depth while recombination loss of <10% increased ultrasound fat depth (P < 0.001). Results from this study highlight the impact of multiple animal level factors on lamb live weight and carcass composition which will enable more accurate bio-economic models and genetic evaluations going forward.
    • Use of infrared thermography to noninvasively assess neonatal piglet temperature

      Schmitt, Oceane; O’Driscoll, Keelin; Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 13S428 (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2020-11-18)
      Hypothermia is risk factor for piglet neonatal mortality, especially for low birth weight piglets. Piglets with intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) also have a higher mortality risk at birth. This study aimed to validate infrared thermography (IRT) as an alternative to rectal temperature (RT) to measure piglet temperature in the hour postpartum, and to identify piglets with thermoregulation difficulties. At birth (6.3 ± 0.35 min postpartum), 67 piglets were dried, weighed, scored for growth retardation (IUGR; 0–3), and isolated in a plastic box where IRT images were taken, followed by RT. Piglets were then returned to the farrowing pen, and the process repeated at 15, 30, and 60 min postpartum. Piglets were ranked according to their weight (quartiles: 0.57–1.27 kg, 1.27–1.5 kg, 1.5–1.74 kg, 1.74–2.44 kg). Temperatures (ear base and tip; minimum, maximum and average of back) were extracted from IRT images (Thermacam Researcher Pro 2.0). Pearson correlations between temperature measures were calculated, and the effect of time, IUGR score, and weight were included in linear mixed models (SAS 9.4). RT was correlated with all IRT data across time points (P < 0.05); correlations were strongest with the ear base, and weakest with the ear tip and minimum back temperature. Both IUGR score and weight rank affected ear base (P < 0.05) and RTs (P < 0.05). The lightest piglets, and piglets with severe IUGR had the lowest temperature, relative to their counterparts. Indeed, differences between all weights categories were significant for RT. Piglets with the lowest weight (0.27–1.27 kg) had lower ear base temperatures than piglets in the third quartile (1.5–1.74 kg; 35.2 ± 0.36 °C vs. 36.5 ± 0.35 °C, t64.9 = −4.51, P < 0.001) and the heaviest piglets (1.74–2.44 kg; 35.2 ± 0.36 °C vs. 36.4 ± 0.36 °C, t70.4 = −3.97, P < 0.005). Overall, piglets with severe IUGR (score 3) had a lower RT than normal piglets (score 0; 35.8 ± 0.46 °C vs. 37.2 ± 0.42 °C, t43.1 = 3.16, P < 0.05) and piglets with mild IUGR (score 1; 35.8 ± 0.46 °C vs. 37.1 ± 0.40 °C, t45.3 = 2.92, P < 0.05); and they also had lower temperature at the base of the ear than normal piglets (35.1 ± 0.42 °C vs. 36.3 ± 0.36 °C, t63.1 = 3.01, P < 0.05). These results confirmed that IRT is an interesting noninvasive tool for assessing neonatal piglets’ thermoregulatory abilities and could be used in research investigating successful interventions for piglets at risk of hypothermia.
    • Commercial beef farms excelling in terminal and maternal genetic merit generate more gross profit

      Kelly, David N; Connolly, K; Kelly, P; Cromie, A R; Murphy, C P; Sleator, R D; Berry, D P; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Ireland; 17/s/235 (GreenBreed) (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2021-06-09)
      Validation of beef total merit breeding indexes for improving performance and profitability has previously been undertaken at the individual animal level; however, no herd-level validation of beef genetic merit and profit has been previously investigated. The objective of the present study was to quantify the relationship between herd profitability and both herd-average terminal and maternal genetic merit across 1,311 commercial Irish beef herds. Herd-level physical and financial performance data were available from a financial benchmarking tool used by Irish farmers and their extension advisors. Animal genetic merit data originated from the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation who undertake the national beef and dairy genetic evaluations. Herd-average genetic merit variables included the terminal index of young animals, the maternal index of dams, and the terminal index of service sires. The herds represented three production systems: 1) cow-calf to beef, 2) cow-calf to weanling/yearling, and 3) weanling/yearling to beef. Associations between herd financial performance metrics and herd average genetic merit variables were quantified using a series of linear mixed models with year, production system, herd size, stocking rate, concentrate input, and the two-way interactions between production system and herd size, stocking rate, and concentrate input included as nuisance factors. Herd nested within the county of Ireland (n = 26) was included as a repeated effect. Herds with young cattle excelling in terminal index enjoyed greater gross and net profit per hectare (ha), per livestock unit (LU), and per kg net live-weight output. The change in gross profit per LU per unit change in the terminal index of young animals was €1.41 (SE = 0.23), while the respective regression coefficient for net profit per LU was €1.37 (SE = 0.30); the standard deviation of the terminal index is €37. Herd-average dam maternal index and sire terminal index were both independently positively associated with gross profit per ha and gross profit per LU. Each one unit increase in dam maternal index (standard deviation of €38) was associated with a €1.40 (SE = 0.48) and €0.76 (SE = 0.29) greater gross profit per ha and per LU, respectively. Results from the present study at the herd-level concur with previous validation studies at the individual animal level thus instilling further confidence among stakeholders as to the expected improvement in herd profitability with improving genetic merit.
    • Evaluation of partial body weight for predicting body weight and average daily gain in growing beef cattle

      MacNeil, Michael D; Berry, Donagh P; Clark, Sam A; Crowley, John J; Scholtz, Michiel M; Vytelle LLC, a Wheatsheaf Group company (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2021-07-22)
      Information on body weight and average daily gain (ADG) of growing animals is key not only to monitoring performance, but also for use in genetic evaluations in the pursuit of achieving sustainable genetic gain. Accurate calculation of ADG, however, requires serial measures of body weight over at least 70 days. This can be resource intensive and thus alternative approaches to predicting individual animal ADG warrant investigation. One such approach is the use of continuously collected individual animal partial body weights. The objective of the present study was to determine the utility of partial body weights in predicting both body weight and ADG; a secondary objective was to deduce the appropriate length of test to determine ADG from partial body weight records. The dataset used consisted of partial body weights, predicted body weights and recorded body weights recorded for 8,972 growing cattle from a range of different breed types in 35 contemporary groups. The relationships among partial body weight, predicted body weight and recorded body weight at the beginning and end of the performance test were determined and calculated ADG per animal from each body weight measure were also compared. On average, partial body weight explained 90.7 ± 2.0% of the variation in recorded body weight at the beginning of the postweaning gain test and 87.9 ± 2.9% of the variation in recorded body weight at its end. The GrowSafe proprietary algorithm to predict body weight from the partial body weight strengthened these coefficients of determination to 95.1 ± 0.9% and 94.9 ± 0.8%, respectively. The ADG calculated from the partial body weight or from the predicted body weight were very strongly correlated (r = 0.95); correlations between these ADG values with those calculated from the recorded body weights were weaker at 0.81 and 0.78, respectively. For some applications, ADG may be measured with sufficient accuracy with a test period of 50 days using partial body weights. The intended inference space is to individual trials which have been represented in this study by contemporary groups of growing cattle from different genotypes.
    • Development of a syndromic surveillance system for Irish dairy cattle using milk recording data

      Douglass, Alexander P.; O'Grady, Luke; McGrath, Guy; Tratalos, Jamie; Mee, John F.; Barrett, Damien; Sánchez-Miguel, Cosme; More, Simon J.; Madouasse, Aurélien; Green, Martin; et al. (Elsevier, 2022-07-31)
      In the last decade and a half, emerging vector-borne diseases have become a substantial threat to cattle across Europe. To mitigate the impact of the emergence of new diseases, outbreaks must be detected early. However, the clinical signs associated with many diseases may be nonspecific. Furthermore, there is often a delay in the development of new diagnostic tests for novel pathogens which limits the ability to detect emerging disease in the initial stages. Syndromic Surveillance has been proposed as an additional surveillance method that could augment traditional methods by detecting aberrations in non-specific disease indicators. The aim of this study was to develop a syndromic surveillance system for Irish dairy herds based on routinely collected milk recording and meteorological data. We sought to determine whether the system would have detected the 2012 Schmallenberg virus (SBV) incursion into Ireland earlier than conventional surveillance methods. Using 7,743,138 milk recordings from 730,724 cows in 7037 herds between 2007 and 2012, linear mixed-effects models were developed to predict milk yield and alarms generated with temporally clustered deviations from predicted values. Additionally, hotspot spatial analyses were conducted at corresponding time points. Using a range of thresholds, our model generated alarms throughout September 2012, between 4 and 6 weeks prior to the first laboratory confirmation of SBV in Ireland. This system for monitoring milk yield represents both a potentially useful tool for early detection of disease, and a valuable foundation for developing similar tools using other metrics.
    • Localization of urea transporter B in the developing bovine rumen

      Zhong, Chongliang; Lyons, Tamsin; Heussaff, Orla; Doyle, Evelyn; O'Hara, Eoin; Waters, Sinead M.; Kenny, David; Stewart, Gavin S.; The China Scholarship Council; University College Dublin (Elsevier, 2022-09-30)
      Urea nitrogen secreted from blood to rumen is a crucial factor shaping the symbiotic relationship between host ruminants and their microbial populations. Passage of urea across rumen epithelia is facilitated by urea transporter B (UT-B), but the long-term regulation of these proteins remains unclear. As ruminal function develops over a period of months, the developing rumen is an excellent model with which to investigate this regulation. Using rumen epithelium samples of calves from birth to 96 d of age, this study performed immunolocalization studies to localize and semi-quantify UT-B protein development. As expected, preliminary experiments confirmed that ruminal monocarboxylate transporter 1 (MCT1) short chain fatty acid transporter protein abundance increased with age (P < 0.01, n = 4). Further investigation revealed that ruminal UT-B was present in the first few weeks of life and initially detected in the basolateral membrane of stratum basale cells. Over the next 2 months, UT-B staining spread to other epithelial layers and semi-quantification indicated that UT-B abundance significantly increased with age (P < 0.01, n = 4 or 6). These changes were in line with the development of rumen function after the advent of solid feed intake and weaning, exhibiting a similar pattern to both MCT1 transporters and papillae growth. This study therefore confirmed age-dependent changes of in situ ruminal UT-B protein, adding to our understanding of the long-term regulation of ruminal urea transporters.
    • Low-cost do-it-yourself (DIY) mannequin for blood collection: A comprehensive evaluation about its use in teaching

      Tvarijonaviciute, Asta; Carrillo-Sanchez, Juana D.; Rubio, Camila P.; Contreras-Aguilar, María D.; Muñoz-Prieto, Alberto; Pardo-Marin, Luis; Cerón, José J.; Franco-Martínez, Lorena; Martínez-Subiela, Silvia (Elsevier, 2022-11)
      The use of mannequins to practice different clinical procedures in undergraduate students complies with the 3R principle (Replacement, Reduction, Refinement) without affecting professional competencies. However, commercial solutions are often expensive and therefore, not available for many schools. The main aim of this study was to describe the development and validation of an economical Do-It-Yourself mannequin for jugular blood collection from dogs. The use of the mannequin was evaluated by (1) assessment of the opinion of students and experts and (2) by conducting a pilot study where salivary biomarkers of stress were determined in students and dogs. The costs of the materials needed for the mannequin confection were less than 60 Euros and it was easily built in less than 1 h. The mannequin was very well accepted and scored by both, students and experts, being mostly liked a lot and considered it to be very useful for the practices (Scored 8, 9 or 10/10). Students that could first practice with the mannequin reported a self-perceived higher level of confidence and had lower levels of alpha-amylase in saliva after the procedure. Overall, the mannequin enables the initiation of blood sampling skills in agreement with 3R principles and is easy to perform, economically affordable and sustainable. This model could be adapted to other vein simulations and animal species, and has the potential to help students deal with stressful situations such as taking blood samples from a live animal.
    • Optimisation of a bead-beating procedure for simultaneous extraction of bacterial and fungal DNA from pig faeces and liquid feed for 16S and ITS2 rDNA amplicon sequencing

      Cullen, J.T.; Lawlor, P.G.; Cormican, P.; Crispie, F.; Gardiner, G.E.; Waterford Institute of Technology; Irish Research Council; GOIPG/2021/331 (Elsevier, 2022-12-31)
      Efficient cell lysis is critical for the extraction of DNA from difficult-to-lyse microorganisms such as Gram-positive bacteria and filamentous fungi. A bead-beating (BB) step is usually included in DNA extraction protocols to improve cell lysis. However, there is no consensus on the duration of BB that is necessary for complete lysis of the microbial communities present in complex microbial ecosystems, but which will still maintain the integrity of DNA released from easy-to-lyse microbes. Another consideration is that most protocols are tailored to one particular target group of microbes, typically either bacteria or fungi, in a given sample matrix. In this study, we investigated the impact of five BB durations (0, 3, 10, 15 and 20 min) during DNA extraction with the QIAamp® Fast DNA Stool Mini Kit, on the bacterial and fungal communities of single pig faecal and liquid feed samples, extracted in triplicate, with the objective of determining a suitable ‘catch-all’ method. Both sample types were subjected to the BB durations in triplicate, followed by 16S (bacterial) and ITS2 (fungal) rDNA amplicon sequencing. The performance of the different BB durations was assessed based on the quantity of total DNA extracted, alpha- and beta-diversity analyses of the resultant microbial communities and differential abundance of bacterial and fungal taxa. Our results suggest that 20 min of BB is most appropriate for maximising the lysis of difficult-to-lyse bacteria and fungi in both pig faeces and liquid feed, while minimising the negative impact on easier-to-lyse microbes. Total DNA yield increased with BB duration for both sample types; however, the yield from faeces decreased after 20 min of BB. Despite this, DESeq2 analysis indicated that changes in the differential abundances of the dominant taxa at this point were limited, which was supported by the Shannon diversity results. Maximising the BB duration appeared to be necessary in order to obtain a representative profile of the Gram-positive bacteria, particularly in liquid feed, and of the filamentous fungi present in both sample types. However, considering the small sample size, along with the reliance on differential as opposed to absolute abundances to validate increases or decreases in taxa, a larger-scale study is necessary to verify the findings of the present study.