• Effects of supplementary concentrate level with grass silage, and separate or total mixed ration feeding, on performance and carcass traits of finishing steers

      Caplis, J.; Keane, Michael G.; Moloney, Aidan P; O'Mara, Frank P.; National Development Plan 2000–2006 (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2005)
      Concentrates are a major component of feed costs in winter finishing of beef cattle. The objectives of this study were (1) to determine the response to increasing levels of supplementary concentrates with grass silage, and (2) to determine the effects of feeding silage and concentrates separately or as a total mixed ration (TMR). A total of 117 finishing steers (mean initial live weight 538 (s.d. 35.5) kg) were assigned to a pre-experimental slaughter group of 9 animals and to 6 feeding treatments of 18 animals each. The feeding treatments were (1) silage only offered ad libitum (SO), (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 concentrate target levels were 3 and 6 kg dry matter (DM) per head daily. When silage (210g/kg DM, 758 g/kg in vitro DM digestibility, pH 3.7) 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 a rib (6th to 10th) joint was dissected into its component tissues. Silage DM intake decreased (P < 0.001) but total DM intake increased (P < 0.001) with increasing concentrate level. Average live-weight gains for SO, LS, LM, MS, MM and AL was 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 (P < 0.05), bone proportion of the rib joint decreased (P < 0.001), 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 as a TMR increased silage DM intake by proportionately 0.06 (P < 0.05) and total DM intake by proportionately 0.04 (P < 0.05). Method of feeding had no significant effect on performance, slaughter or carcass traits. It is concluded that silage intake decreased and total intake increased with increasing concentrate level. Live-weight and carcass-weight gains also increased with increasing concentrate level. Feeding a TMR had no effect on animal performance or carcass traits compared with separate feeding.
    • Environmental aspects of soil phosphorus testing

      Daly, Karen M.; Casey, A. (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2005)
      Soil phosphorus testing in Ireland uses Morgan’s reagent from samples taken to 10 cm depth for agronomic recommendations. However, its suitability as an environmental indicator has been questioned in terms of sample depth and extraction solution. Seven grassland sites were sampled to depths of 2, 5 and 10 cm and extracted for Morgan’s P, the standard agronomic test, as well as iron-oxide impregnated paper strip P (FeOP), calcium chloride extractable P (CaCl2-P) and water soluble P (WSP), all proposed as environmental soil tests. Extractable soil P decreased with increasing sample depth, as did variances in each test, such that, 2 cm samples had highest concentrations and variances. The current standard sample depth (10 cm) was linearly related to corresponding data from samples taken to 2 and 5 cm, indicating that surface soil P can be consistently estimated from the current standard depth. When soil tests were compared with dissolved reactive P (DRP) in overland flow collected from two field sites, certain soil tests were better indicators of P loss than others. The relative difference in Morgan’s P values at the standard sample depth (10 cm) was reflected in the relative difference in P loss between the two sites. Average values of DRP collected from two sites ranged from 0.032 to 0.067 mg/l at the low P site and 0.261 to 0.620 at the high P site. Average DRP values from the high P site and maximum DRP values from the low P site were simulated using water-soluble P extraction at water to soil ratios 5 to 250 l/kg. In this study, Morgan’s P to 10 cm gave a good indication of the relative difference in DRP loss between the two sites.
    • Post-weaning performance and carcass characteristics of steer progency from different suckler cow breed types

      Drennan, Michael J; McGee, Mark; Keane, Michael G. (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2005-04)
      In two experiments a total of 44 steer progeny of spring-calving Charolais (C) and Hereford × Friesian (HF) suckler cows and C sires were slaughtered at approximately 2 years of age. Following weaning they were offered silage and 1 kg of concentrate per head daily during a 5 month winter after which they spent 7 months at pasture. In Experiment 1, animals were given a silage/concentrate diet during a finishing period of either 95 or 152 days. In Experiment 2, steers were offered either a daily diet of silage plus 6 kg of concentrates or concentrates to appetite plus 5 kg of silage (fresh weight) during the final 140-day finishing period. Following slaughter, an 8-rib pistola from each animal was dissected. For the two experiments combined C and HF progeny had carcass weights of 372 and 385 (s.e. 6.1) kg, proportions of carcass as pistola of 467 and 454 (s.e. 2.8) g/kg and pistola meat proportions of 676 and 642 (s.e. 5.1) g/kg, respectively. All fat traits were lower for the C than HF progeny but there was no difference in carcass conformation score. Increasing slaughter weight increased carcass weight (P < 0.001), kidney plus channel fat weight (P < 0.001), and pistola fat proportion (P < 0.001) and decreased the proportions of carcass as pistola (P < 0.05), pistola meat (P < 0.01), and bone (P < 0.05). In conclusion, breed type had no effect on carcass growth but the C progeny had higher meat yield than the HF. Increasing slaughter weight increased fatness and reduced meat yield.