• Genetic and economic benefits of foreign sire contributions to a domestic sheep industry; including an Ireland-New Zealand case study

      Fetherstone, Nicola; Hely, Fiona S; McHugh, Noirín; McGovern, Fiona M; Amer, Peter R; European Union; n°772787 (Biomed Central, 2021-01-06)
      Background Importation of foreign genetics is a widely used genetic improvement strategy. However, even if the foreign genetic merit is currently greater than the domestic genetic merit, differences in foreign and domestic trends mean that the long-term competitiveness of an importation strategy cannot be guaranteed. Gene flow models are used to quantify the impact that a specific subpopulation, such as foreign genetics, can have over time on the genetic or economic benefit of a domestic industry. Methods We used a deterministic recursive gene flow model to predict the commercial performance of lambs born across various subpopulations. Numerous breeding strategies were evaluated by varying market share, proportions of rams selected for mating, genetic trend, superiority of foreign genetics over domestic genetics and frequency of importation. Specifically, an Ireland-New Zealand case study was simulated to quantify the potential gain that could be made by using foreign sire contributions (New Zealand) in a domestic sheep industry (Ireland). Results Genetic and economic gains were generated from alternative breeding strategies. The ‘base scenario’ (i.e. representing the current industry) predicted an average genetic merit value of €2.51 for lambs born and an annualised cumulative benefit of €45 million (m) after 20 years. Maximum genetic (€9.45 for lambs born) and economic (annualised cumulative benefit of €180 m after 20 years) benefits were achieved by implementing the ‘PRO-intense-market scenario’ which involved shifting market share away from conservative domestic breeders and reducing the proportion of rams that were selected for mating by progressive domestic breeders from the top 40% to the top 20%, without the use of any foreign genetics. The ‘PROFOR scenario’, which considered the use of foreign and progressive domestic genetics, predicted an average genetic merit value of €7.37 for lambs born and an annualised cumulative benefit of €144 m, after 20 years. Conclusions Our results demonstrate that there is opportunity for a domestic industry to increase industry benefits without the use of foreign genetics but through an attempt to shift the market share away from conservative domestic breeders towards progressive domestic breeders. However, the importation and use of progressive foreign genetics may be an effective method to trigger a change in behaviour of conservative domestic breeders towards the use of progressive genetics.
    • Irish Famine Facts

      Keating, John (Teagasc, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, 1996-06)
      The Irish Famine of 1845-1850 caused over one million deaths and forced a further one million people to flee the country. In this book, the author sets out to provide a synopsis of the documented facts and scientific background to the famine. The poverty, the hardship of subsistence living and the role of the potato in pre-famine Irleand are described. So also is the coming of blight and the response of the Government and voluntary bodies to the famine. The consequences of the disaster for the people are dealt with in detail. The book is fully illustrated and presents in a concise format the story of one of the greatest human tragedies of the nineteenth century.
    • 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.
    • Post-epidemic Schmallenberg virus circulation: parallel bovine serological and Culicoides virological surveillance studies in Ireland

      Collins, Áine B; Barrett, Damien; Doherty, Michael L.; Larska, M.; Mee, John F; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; National Centre for Research and Development (NCBiR), Poland; PBS2/A8/24/2013 (Biomed Central, 2016-10-18)
      Background Schmallenberg virus (SBV) emerged in northern-Europe in 2011 resulting in an epidemic of ruminant abortions and congenital malformations throughout the continent. In the years following the epidemic there have been reports of SBV overwintering and continued circulation in several European countries. When the population-level of immunity declines in exposed regions, re-introduction of SBV could result in further outbreaks of Schmallenberg disease. The aims of this study were to determine the SBV seroprevalence in previously exposed Irish dairy herds in 2014 and to investigate if SBV continued to circulate in these herds in the three years (2013–2015) following the Irish Schmallenberg epidemic. Whole-herd SBV serosurveillance was conducted in 26 herds before (spring) and following the 2014 vector-season (winter), and following the 2015 vector-season (winter). In spring 2014, 5,531 blood samples were collected from 4,070 cows and 1,461 heifers. In winter 2014, 2,483 blood samples were collected from 1,550 youngstock (8–10 months old) and a subsample (n = 933; 288 cows, 645 heifers) of the seronegative animals identified in the spring. Youngstock were resampled in winter 2015. Culicoides spp. were collected in 10 herds during the 2014 vector-season and analysed for SBV; a total of 138 pools (3,048 Culicoides) from 6 SBV vector species were tested for SBV RNA using real-time PCR. Results In spring 2014, animal-level seroprevalence was 62.5 % (cows = 84.7 %; heifers = 0.6 %). Within-herd seroprevalence ranged widely from 8.5 %–84.1 % in the 26 herds. In winter 2014, 22 animals (0.9 %; 10 cows, 5 heifers, 7 youngstock) originating in 17 herds (range 1–4 animals/herd) tested seropositive. In winter 2015 all youngstock, including the 7 seropositive animals in winter 2014, tested seronegative suggesting their initial positive result was due to persistence of maternal antibodies. All of the Culicoides pools examined tested negative for SBV-RNA. Conclusions SBV appears to have recirculated at a very low level in these herds during 2013 and 2014, while there was no evidence of SBV infection in naïve youngstock during 2015. A large population of naïve animals was identified and may be at risk of infection in future years should SBV re-emerge and recirculate as it has done in continental Europe.
    • Quantification, description and international comparison of antimicrobial use on Irish pig farms

      O’Neill, Lorcan; Rodrigues da Costa, Maria; Leonard, Finola C; Gibbons, James; Calderón Díaz, Julia A; McCutcheon, Gerard; Manzanilla, Edgar G; Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine; 15 S 676 (Biomed Central, 2020-10-12)
      Abstract Background There is concern that the use of antimicrobials in livestock production has a role in the emergence and dissemination of antimicrobial resistance in animals and humans. Consequently, there are increasing efforts to reduce antimicrobial use (AMU) in agriculture. As the largest consumer of veterinary antimicrobials in several countries, the pig sector is a particular focus of these efforts. Data on AMU in pig production in Ireland are lacking. This study aimed to quantify AMU on Irish pig farms, to identify the major patterns of use employed and to compare the results obtained to those from other published reports and studies. Results Antimicrobial use data for 2016 was collected from 67 Irish pig farms which represented c. 35% of national production. The combined sample population consumed 14.5 t of antimicrobial by weight of active ingredient suggesting that the pig sector accounted for approximately 40% of veterinary AMU in Ireland in 2016. At farm level, median AMU measured in milligram per population correction unit (mg/PCU) was 93.9 (range: 1.0–1196.0). When measured in terms of treatment incidence (TI200), median AMU was 15.4 (range: 0.2–169.2). Oral treatments accounted for 97.5% of all AMU by weight of active ingredient and were primarily administered via medicated feed to pigs in the post weaning stages of production. AMU in Irish pig production in 2016 was higher than results obtained from the national reports of Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and France but lower than the United Kingdom. Conclusions Pig production in Ireland is an important consumer of veterinary antimicrobials. The quantities and patterns of AMU on Irish pig farms are comparable to pig production in other European countries but higher than some countries with more advanced AMU reduction strategies. This AMU is characterised by a high proportion of prophylactic use and is primarily administered to pigs post weaning via medicated feed. Further studies to better understand the reasons for AMU on Irish pig farms and strategies to improve health among weaner pigs will be of benefit in the effort to reduce AMU.
    • Using the Biocheck.UGent™ scoring tool in Irish farrow-to-finish pig farms: assessing biosecurity and its relation to productive performance

      Rodrigues da Costa, Maria; Gasa, Josep; Calderón Díaz, Julia A; Postma, Merel; Dewulf, Jeroen; McCutcheon, Gerard; Manzanilla, Edgar G; Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine; 14/S/832 (Biomed Central, 2019-03-01)
      Background Biosecurity is one of the main factors affecting disease occurrence and antimicrobial use, and it is associated with performance in pig production. However, the importance of specific measures could vary depending on the (national) context. The aim of this study was to describe the biosecurity status in a cohort of Irish pig farms, to investigate which of those biosecurity aspects are more relevant by using the Biocheck.UGent™ scoring system, and to study the impact of such aspects on farm performance. Results External biosecurity score was high compared to most countries due to the characteristics of the Irish pig sector (i.e. purchasing only semen and breeding gilts on farm). The internal biosecurity score was lower and had greater variability among farms than other EU countries. Using multivariable linear regression, the biosecurity practices explained 8, 23, and 16% of variability in piglet mortality, finisher mortality, and average daily gain, respectively. Three clusters of farms were defined based on their biosecurity scores (0 to 100) using principal components and hierarchical clustering analysis. Scores for clusters 1, 2 and 3 were (mean ± SD) 38 ± 7.6, 61 ± 7.0 and 66 ± 9.8 for internal and 73 ± 5.1, 74 ± 5.3 and 86 ± 4.5 for external biosecurity. Cluster 3 had lower piglet mortality (P = 0.022) and higher average daily gain (P = 0.037) when compared to cluster 2. Conclusions Irish farms follow European tendencies with internal biosecurity posing as the biggest liability. Our results suggest that practices related to the environment and region, feed, water and equipment supply, and the management of the different stages, need to be addressed in lower performing farms to improve productive performance. Further studies on the economic impact of these biosecurity practices including complementary data on herd health, gilt rearing, piglet management, vaccination and feeding strategies are needed.