• Effect of autumn/spring nitrogen application date and level on dry matter production and nitrogen efficiency in perennial ryegrass swards

      O'Donovan, Michael; Delaby, Luc; Stakelum, G.; Dillon, Pat; National Development Plan 2000–2006 (Teagasc, 2004)
      The influence of autumn/spring N-application date and level on grass dry matter (DM) production in spring and on N uptake, recovery and efficiency were examined over 3 years (1998, 1999 and 2000, identified as Year 1, 2 and 3, respectively). Seven N-application dates were investigated in years 2 and 3 while four application dates were investigated in Year 1. The application dates were 21 October (T1), 11 November (T2), 2 December (T3), 23 December (T4), 12 January (T5), 3 February (T6) and 23 February (T7). Three N-application rates (kg N/ha) were used: 30 (N30), 60 (N60) and 90 (N90) plus a zero-N control (N0). Herbage DM yields were determined on: 18 March (H1) and 8 April (H2). Two herbage masses (HM) (40 mm above ground level) at initial Napplication date were investigated: a high HM (HHM) of 500 kg DM/ha and a low HM (LHM) of 100 kg DM/ha. The HM at initial N-application date in Year 1 was HHM, in Year 2 LHM and in Year 3 both HHM and LHM. There was a significant effect of Year (P<0.001), HM (P<0.001), N-application date (P<0.001) and N level (P<0.001) on DM production at both H1 and H2. At H1 there was a significant interaction between N-application date and level for DM production. N-application date had a significant (P<0.001) effect on N recovery at both H1 and H2. The highest N recovery rate at the two harvest dates was at T5, while the lowest was at T1 and T2. At H1 and H2 there was a significant effect (P<0.001) of application date on response to applied N. The responses were 7.5, 8.0, 8.3, 12.0, 15.7, 7.3 and 5.6 (kg DM/kg N) (s.e. 1.88) for T1 to T7,respectively, at H1, while the corresponding values at H2 were 10.3, 8.7, 6.1, 15.2, 17.6,11.4 and 15.1 (s.e. 1.88). At H2 the response to applied N was 15.6, 11.5 and 9.1 (kg DM/kg N) for N30, N60 and N90, respectively (P<0.05). Regression analysis indicated that highest DM production was achieved with T5 for both H1 and H2 harvest dates, while the lowest responses were associated with T1, T2 and T3 application dates.
    • The effect of herbage mass and allowance on herbage intake, diet composition and ingestive behaviour of dairy cows

      Stakelum, G.; Dillon, Pat (Teagasc, 2004)
      An experiment was conducted to examine the effects of herbage mass [HM, based on regrowth intervals of 35 (T) and 21 (S) days] and herbage allowance [HA, 20.2 (H) and 12.7 (L) kg organic matter (OM)/cow] on herbage OM intake (OMI), dietary composition and ingestive behaviour of dairy cows. Four groups of three cows each were used in a 4 × 4 greco-latin square design along with four oesophageal-fistulated cows. The treatment periods were 7 days and the squares (SQ) were repeated three times in a balanced way. The experiment was conducted from 11 April to 3 July 1986. The HM (organic matter) above 3 cm was 3064, 3472 and 3515 kg/ha for T and 2395, 1113 and 2396 kg/ha (s.e. 94) for S, for SQ 1 to 3, respectively. Organic matter digestibility (OMD) was 842, 799 and 778 g/kg for T, and 851, 842 and 804 g/kg for S (s.e. 0.9), for SQ 1 to 3, respectively. Sward height (cm) after grazing was 8.5 and 7.6 for T and S, and 9.6 and 6.5 for H and L (s.e. 0.18), respectively. OMI was 15.2, 14.8 and 15.2 kg for TH, 12.3, 11.9 and 10.7 kg for TL, 15.8, 14.8 and 14.5 kg for SH and 11.9, 11.1 and 11.2kg for SL (s.e. 0.24), for SQ 1 to 3, respectively. The OMD of the diet was closely related to proportion of live leaf in the diet and sward OMD. Average biting rate increased with decreasing HM (R2 0.65). Grazing time was 8.93, 9.11 and 9.06 h for TH, 8.13, 7.96 and 7.91 h for TL, 8.96, 9.59 and 9.29 h for SH and 8.56, 9.36 and 8.52 h for SL (s.e. 0.155), for SQ 1 to 3, respectively. Multiple regression analysis showed that OMI was significantly related to HM (+0.48 kg/t), OMD of the sward (+0.18 kg per 10 g/kg) and pre-experimental milk yield (+0.37 kg/kg) (R2 0.89). The increase in OMI with potential milk yield, as indicated by pre-experimental yield, accounted for 0.80 of the supplementary energy requirements.
    • Genetic relationships among linear type traits, milk yield, body weight, fertility and somatic cell count in primiparous dairy cows

      Berry, Donagh P.; Buckley, Frank; Dillon, Pat; Evans, R. D.; Veerkamp, R. F.; Allied Irish Bank; AI Managers Association; Holstein-Friesian Society of Great Britain and Ireland (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2004)
      Phenotypic and genetic (co)variances among type traits, milk yield, body weight, fertility and somatic cell count were estimated. The data analysed included 3,058 primiparous spring-calving Holstein-Friesian cows from 80 farms throughout the south of Ireland. Heritability estimates for the type traits varied from 0.11 to 0.43. Genetic correlations among some type traits were very strong and may indicate the possibility of reducing the number of traits assessed on each animal; the genetic correlation between angularity and body condition score was –0.84. Genetic correlations between all type traits (except body condition score, udder depth and teat length) and milk yield were positive and ranged from 0.08 to 0.69. The possibility of selecting for body weight may be achievable within a national progeny-testing programme using type traits within a selection index. Moderate to strong genetic correlations existed between some type traits and the various fertility measures and somatic cell count indicating the opportunity of indirect selection for improved fertility and health of animals using type traits within a selection index; however, the standard errors of some of the genetic correlations were large and should thus be treated with caution. Genetically taller, wider, deeper, more angular cows with tighter, stronger, shallower udders were predisposed to have inferior pregnancy rates to first service and require more services.