Recent Submissions

  • Performance and carcass traits of progeny of Limousin sires differing in genetic merit

    Keane, Michael G.; Diskin, Michael G. (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2007)
    Genetic indices for growth and carcass classification are published for beef sires used in Ireland for artificial insemination (AI). The objective of this study was to compare growth and carcass traits of progeny of Limousin sires of low and high genetic index for growth. A total of 70 progeny (42 males and 28 females) out of predominantly Holstein-Friesian cows by 7 AI Limousin sires were reared together to slaughter. The 7 sires were classified as low (n=3) or high (n=4) index based on their published genetic index for growth. The male progeny were reared entire and all animals were slaughtered at about 20 months of age. Carcasses were classified for conformation and fatness, and a rib joint (ribs 6 to 10) was separated into fat, muscle and bone. Growth rate did not differ significantly between the index groups but tended to be higher for the high index progeny. This higher growth rate, combined with a significantly higher kill out proportion, resulted in carcass weight andcarcass weight per day of age being significantly higher for the high index progeny. Carcass conformation and fat class were not affected by genetic index, nor was the composition of the rib joint. Compared with males, females had a significantly lower growth rate and kill out proportion and, consequently, had a significantly lower carcass weight. The proportions of fat and bone in the rib joint were significantly higher, and the proportion of muscle was significantly lower for females than for males. It is concluded that carcass weight reflected sire group genetic index for growth but feed intake, carcass classification and rib joint composition were not affected.
  • Manipulating the ensilage of wilted, unchopped grass through the use of additive treatments

    McEniry, Joseph; O'Kiely, Padraig; Clipson, N.W.J.; Forristal, P.D.; Doyle, E.M.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2007)
    Baled silage composition frequently differs from that of comparable conventional precision-chop silage. The lower final concentration of fermentation products in baled silage makes it more conducive to the activities of undesirable microorganisms. Silage additives can be used to encourage beneficial microbial activity and/or inhibit detrimental microbial activity. The experiment was organised in a 2 (chop treatments) × 6 (additive treatments) × 2 (stages of ensilage) factorial arrangement of treatments (n = 3 silos/treatment) to suggest additive treatments for use in baled silage production that would help create conditions more inhibitory to the activities of undesirable microorganisms and realise an outcome comparable to precision-chop silage. Chopping the herbage prior to ensiling, in the absence of an additive treatment, improved the silage fermentation. In the unchopped herbage, where the fermentation was poorer, the lactic acid bacterial inoculant resulted in an immediate increase (P < 0.001) in lactic acid concentration and a faster decline (P < 0.001) in pH with a subsequent reduction in butyric acid (P < 0.001) and ammonia-N (P < 0.01) concentrations. When sucrose was added in addition to the lactic acid bacterial inoculant, the combined treatment had a more pronounced effect on pH, butyric acid and ammonia-N values at the end of ensilage. The formic acid based additive and the antimicrobial mixture restricted the activities of undesirable microorganisms resulting in reduced concentrations of butyric acid (P < 0.001) and ammonia-N (P < 0.01). These additives offer a potential to create conditions in baled silage more inhibitory to the activities of undesirable microorganisms.
  • Effects of extended grazing during mid, late or throughout pregnancy, and winter shearing of housed ewes, on ewe and lamb performance

    Keady, Tim; Hanrahan, James P; Flanagan, S. (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2007)
    A flock of March-lambing ewes was used to evaluate the effects of (i) extended (deferred, winter) grazing of pasture during mid, late or throughout pregnancy, and (ii) winter shearing of ewes housed during mid and late pregnancy, on lamb birth weight and subsequent growth to weaning. Ewes (n = 265) were allocated at random to five treatments for the period from 7 December (~ day 47 of pregnancy) to lambing. The treatments were: housed shorn (HS), housed unshorn (HU), grazing throughout (EG), grazing to 20 January followed by housing (EGH), housed to 20 January followed by grazing (HEG). From 1 March to lambing the HEG and EG ewes were dispersed on the paddocks intended for grazing post lambing. All ewes were offered a concentrate supplement during the final 6 weeks of pregnancy. Housed ewes were offered grass silage while ewes on extended grazing were allocated 1.3 kg herbage dry matter per head per day from swards that had been closed for approximately 10 weeks. Ewes plus lambs (except triplet-rearing ewes which were grazed separately) from all treatments were grazed together post lambing, grouped according to lambing date. For treatments HS, HU, EGH, HEG and EG gestation lengths were 147.0, 145.6, 146.3, 146.6 and 146.9 (s.e. 0.34, P < 0.001) days, lamb birth weights were 4.9, 4.3, 4.4, 4.6 and 5.0 (s.e. 0.10, P < 0.001) kg, and lamb weaning weights were 34.6, 32.1, 33.3, 33.8 and 34.9 (s.e. 0.66, P < 0.001) kg, respectively. Extended grazing in mid and late pregnancy resulted in 35% and 65%, respectively, of the increase in lamb birth weight associated with extended grazing throughout. Treatment effects on lamb birth weight were associated with those on weaning weight (P < 0.01, R2 = 0.93). It is concluded that extended grazing or shearing of housed ewes increased lamb birth weight and subsequent weaning weight. The increased lamb birth weight from deferred grazing in mid pregnancy was probably due to improved protein utilisation from the grazed herbage. Meanwhile, the increased
  • Effects of daily herbage allowance and stage of lactation on the intake and performance of dairy cows in early summer

    Stakelum, G.; Maher, J.; Rath, M. (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2007)
    The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between daily herbage allowance (DHA) and the performance of dairy cows at two stages of lactation. Spring-calving (n=42, mean calving date 17 February) and autumn-calving (n=42, mean calving date 22 September) Friesian cows were divided into three equal groups and assigned to three levels of DHA (above a cutting height of 35 mm), 17 (L), 20 (M) and 23 (H) kg of dry matter (DM) per head, from late April to late June, 1996. The spring-calving cows grazed to sward heights (mm) of 47, 56 and 65 (s.e. 0.6) and residual herbage organic matter (OM) masses (above 35 mm) of 294, 408 and 528 (s.e. 12.1) kg/ha for L, M and H, respectively. The autumn-calving cows grazed to corresponding sward heights of 51, 60 and 69 (s.e. 1.1) mm and leftresidual herbage OM masses of 364, 445 and 555 (s.e. 12.9) kg/ha for L, M and H, respectively. Pastures were mechanically topped post grazing. Spring-calving cows consumed 13.3, 14.7 and 15.5 kg OM (s.e. 0.47) per day, and autumn-calving cows consumed 13.3, 13.8 and 14.9 kg OM (s.e. 0.43) per day for L, M and H, respectively. Mean daily solids-corrected milk yield was 23.1, 23.8 and 24.8 (s.e. 0.34) kg for the spring-calving cows, and 17.5, 18.4 and 18.7 (s.e. 0.35) kg for the autumncalving cows, for L, M and H, respectively. Milk yield could be predicted from preexperimental yield (PMY) and daily herbage organic matter allowance (DOMA, kg) according to the following equation: y = −1.13 + 0.76 (s.e. 0.030) PMY + 0.22 (s.e. 0.057) DOMA (r.s.d. 1.32, R2 0.89). The results indicate that high individual cow and herd production levels can be achieved from high quality herbage alone during early summer at a DHA of 23 kg DM for spring-calving cows and 20 kg DM for autumn-calving cows.
  • Effects of breed type, silage harvest date and pattern of offering concentrates on intake, performance and carcass traits of finishing steers

    Cummins, B.; Keane, Michael G.; O'Kiely, Padraig; Kenny, David A. (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2007)
    The objective of this experiment was to investigate the effects and interactions of breed type, silage harvest date and pattern of offering concentrates on intake, performance and carcass traits of finishing steers. Seventy-two steers (36 Friesian and 36 beef cross) were blocked on weight within breed type and assigned to a pre-experimental slaughter group or to one of 4 dietary treatments in a 2 (breed type) 2 (early- or late- cut silage) 2 (flat rate or varied pattern of offering concentrates) factorial arrangement of treatments. The flat-rate feeding pattern was silage ad libitum plus 5 kg concentrates per head daily to slaughter. The varied feeding pattern was silage only for 79 days followed by concentrates ad libitum to slaughter. All animals were slaughtered together after 164 days when the groups on the two feeding patterns had consumed the same total quantity of concentrates. Friesians had a higher (P < 0.001) silage dry matter (DM) intake and a higher (P < 0.01) total DM intake than the beef crosses. Live-weight gain was similar for both breed types but the beef-cross animals had a higher (P < 0.001) kill-out proportion, higher (P < 0.01) carcass gain, and better (P < 0.001) carcass conformation than the Friesians. The beef-cross type also had a higher (P < 0.001) proportion of muscle and a lower (P < 0.001) proportion of bone in the carcass. Silage harvest date had no effect on silage or total DM intakes but the early-cut silage did result in higher (P < 0.01) carcass gain. Animals on the varied feeding pattern consumed less (P < 0.01) silage DM and less (P < 0.001) total DM than those on the flat rate feeding pattern. Live-weight gain and carcass gain were similar for the two feeding patterns. It is concluded that Friesians had a higher intake, but had lower carcass gain than the beef-cross type. Animals on the early-cut silage had higher carcass gain than those on the late-cut silage. The varied feeding pattern resulted in lower DM intake but efficiency of feed energy utilisation was similar for both feeding patterns. Interactions were generally not statistically significant.
  • The effect of phase-feeding on the growth performance, carcass characteristics and nitrogen balance of growing and finishing pigs.

    Garry, B.P.; Pierce, K.M.; O'Doherty, J.V. (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2007)
    A completely randomised design experiment was conducted to determine if grouphoused grower-finisher pigs (43.9 to 95 kg) show differences in performance and nitrogen utilisation when provided with a single high lysine diet (11 g/kg) or with a mean lysine concentration of 9.5 g/kg, either as a single diet or as a series of two or four diets. Four hundred and forty pigs were assigned to four dietary treatments. The experimental treatments were (total lysine) (1) 11 g lysine/kg from day 0 to slaughter (SHD) (2) 10.5 g/kg lysine from day 0 to day 28 and 8.5 g/kg lysine from day 29 to slaughter (DFD) (3) 9.5 g/kg lysine from day 0 to slaughter (RFD) and (4) 11 g/kg lysine from day 0 to day 14, 10 g/kg lysine from day 14 to day 28, 9.0 g/kg lysine from day 28 to day 42 and 8.0 g/kg lysine from day 42 to slaughter (PFD). The estimated lysine concentration required for treatments RFD, DFD and PFD was 9.5 g/kg for group-housed pigs. All diets were pelleted and formulated to have a net energy concentration of 9.8 MJ/kg. The pigs were group fed in mixed-sex pens using single space feeders (11 pigs/feeder, 6 boars and 5 gilts). Daily feed intake was lower (P < 0.05) in treatment SHD in comparison to RFD and DFD during the overall grower-finisher period (2.08 vs 2.18 and 2.23 kg/day, respectively). Lysine conversion ratio was poorer for pigs on treatment SHD compared with DFD (P < 0.01), RFD (P < 0.01) or PFD (P < 0.001), while food conversion ratio was better for pigs on treatment SHD compared with treatments DFD (P < 0.01) and PFD (P < 0.001) during the grower-finisher period (2.31 vs 2.43 and 2.48 kg/kg, respectively). N intake and excretion were higher (P < 0.001) for pigs offered SHD compared to all other treatments (3.93 vs 3.51, 3.42, 3.40 kg and 2.56 vs 2.14, 2.03, 2.10 kg for SHD vs DFD RFD and PFD for intake and excretion, respectively). N utilisation coefficient was lower for pigs on treatment SHD than pigs on treatments DFD (P < 0.01), RFD (P < 0.001) or PFD (P < 0.01). In conclusion, phase feeding did not result in any benefit to pig performance, N excretion, N utilisation or carcass characteristics when compared with a single diet that was formulated to match the animal’s requirement for lysine (treatment RFD).
  • The effect of grazing pressure on rotationally grazed pastures in spring/early summer on subsequent sward characteristics

    Stakelum, G.; Dillon, Pat (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2007)
    Two experiments (E1 and E2) were carried out to examine the effect of grazing pressure (GP) in the early part of the grazing season on subsequent sward composition. Three GP levels, equating to 6.35, 4.24 and 3.53 cows/ha in E1, and 6.06, 5.05 and 4.03 cows/ha in E2, were used. The GP treatments were applied between April and July in E1, and April and June in E2. As GP decreased different swards, termed high (HQ), medium (MQ) and low (LQ) quality, were created. The post-grazing sward heights at the end of the GP periods were 6.6, 10.5 and 14.6 (s.e. 0.78) cm in E1, and 5.9, 8.8 and 11.4 (s.e. 0.39) cm in E2, for HQ, MQ and low LQ, respectively. Organic matter digestibility coefficients for herbage from the HQ, MQ and LQ swards during the subsequent grazing cycles averaged 0.770, 0.729 and 0.702 (s.e. 0.0055) in E1, and 0.761, 0.731 and 0.711 (s.e. 0.0038) in E2, respectively. Average live leaf proportions of the HQ, MQ and LQ swards were 0.583, 0.427 and 0.329 (s.e. 0.0193) in E1, and 0.600, 0.474 and 0.362 (s.e. 0.0155) in E2, respectively. GP had a significant effect on the proportion of grass area categorised as short grass (SG). The proportions of SG area in HQ, MQ and LQ were 0.711, 0.579 and 0.445 (s.e. 0.0106), respectively, in E1, and 0.700, 0.556 and 0.441 (s.e. 0.0133), respectively, in E2. Pre-grazing herbage mass (dry matter above 45 mm) was 2,065, 2,736 and 3,700 (s.e. 144.1) kg/ha for HQ, MQ and LQ, respectively, in E1 and 2,688, 3,735 and 4,722 (s.e. 145.0) kg/ha for HQ, MQ and LQ, respectively, in E2. The results show the importance of early season grazing pressure in creating a leafy high-digestibility sward for the remainder of the grazing season.
  • The effect of grazing pressure on rotationally grazed pastures in spring/early summer on the performance of dairy cows in the summer/autumn period

    Stakelum, G.; Dillon, Pat (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2007)
    Two experiments (E1 and E2) were carried out to examine the effects of sward type (ST) on dairy cow performance. Applying grazing pressures (GP) in spring/early summer of 6.35, 4.24 and 3.53 cows/ha in E1, and 6.06, 5.05 and 4.03 cows/ha in E2, created the different ST. From summer to autumn, two stocking rates (SR) were applied to each sward, i.e., high (HR) and low (LR). As GP was reduced, the swards were characterised by progressively higher herbage mass of lower organic matter digestibility (OMD) and live leaf (LL) proportion, termed high (HQ), medium (MQ) and low (LQ) quality. There was no interaction between ST and SR for any animal performance variables except for grazing time. Mean diet OMD was 0.816, 0.803 and 0.794 (s.e. 0.0029) in E1, and 0.793, 0.780 and 0.772 (s.e. 0.0021) in E2, for HQ, MQ and LQ, respectively. The corresponding values for LL were 0.785, 0.740 and 0.709 (s.e. 0.0121) in E1, and 0.825, 0.790 and 0.759 (s.e. 0.0095) in E2. Milk yield per cow was 13.2, 12.2 and 10.6 (s.e. 0.55) kg in E1, and 18.4, 17.5 and 16.2 (s.e. 0.32) kg in E2, for HQ, MQ and LQ, respectively. Milk yields were 11.1 and 12.9 (s.e. 0.46) kg in E1, and 16.4 and 18.3 (s.e. 0.26) kg in E2, for HR and LR, respectively. There was no effect of ST or SR on milk composition or body weight gain. Herbage organic matter intake was 12.8, 12.5 and 11.1 (s.e. 0.28) kg in E2, for HQ, MQ and LQ, respectively. The corresponding values were 11.4 and 12.9 (s.e. 0.23) kg for HR and LR, respectively. The results show that milk yield of springcalving dairy cows is higher in summer when high rather than low stocking rates are applied in spring/early summer. The increased milk production is attributed to higher intake of herbage of higher nutritive value.
  • The effect of decoupling on farming in Ireland: A regional analysis

    Shrestha, S.; Hennessy, Thia; Hynes, Stephen (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2007)
    Data from the Irish National Farm Survey and Census of Agriculture were used to analyse the regional implications of the decoupling of direct payments for farmers in Ireland. A mathematical programming model was used to estimate the regional effects of decoupling while a micro-simulation model was exploited to map the geographic distribution of decoupled payments. The results show that under the historical decoupling scheme, milk quota will shift from less efficient to larger more efficient farms in all regions. Beef cattle numbers are projected to decrease on all farms, with the exception of the Mideast and Southeast regions where numbers are projected to increase. The regional effect of decoupling on sheep farming was marginal with all regions projected to benefit from the policy change. The analysis also shows, using a static micro-simulation model that a shift to a flat rate national calculation of the decoupled payment would result in a significant movement of revenues from the southern regions to the northwestern regions of the country. In particular, large beef and dairy farmers in the southern regions would lose out while small dairy and sheep farmers in the western and northern regions would be most likely to gain.
  • The duration of the outdoor rearing period of pigs influences Iberian ham characteristics

    Carrapiso, A.I.; Jurado, Á.; Martin, L.; Garcia, C. (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2007)
    The effect of outdoor rearing duration (75 v 50 days) and rearing system (outdoor v indoor based systems) of Iberian pigs on the chemical composition (fatty acid composition of fat and intramuscular fat, moisture, salt, pigment concentrations and water activity of lean meat), the instrumental colour (CIEL*a*b* system) and the sensory characteristics (descriptive analysis) of dry-cured hams were investigated. The fatty acid composition of subcutaneous fat was weakly affected by outdoor rearing duration, but greatly affected by rearing system with the indoor hams showing larger proportion of saturated fatty acids than outdoor rearing. Rearing system also affected L* of subcut aneous fat (the indoor hams were lighter than the outdoor ones). The instrumental colour of lean was only affected by outdoor rearing duration (scores for a* and its derived variables were larger in the long-outdoor group than in the short-outdoor one). The effect of outdoor rearing duration on the sensory characteristics of Iberian hams was marked, 13 sensory characteristics being affected. Among them, odour intensity, flavour intensity, and flavour persistence were greater in the long-outdoor hams than in the short-outdoor ones, whereas these characteristics were not affected by rearing system. However, rearing system also had a large effect influencing 12 sensory characteristics.
  • Detection of abnormal recordings in Irish milk recorded data

    Quinn-Whelton, N.; Killen, L.; Guinee, Timothy P.; Buckley, Frank (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2007)
    The objective of this study was to detect abnormal recordings of milk yield, fat concentration and protein concentration in Irish milk-recorded data. The data consisted of 14,956 records from both commercial and experimental herds with 92% of the recordings recorded manually and the remainder recorded electronically. The method used in this paper was a modified version of the method employed by the Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory in Maryland, USA and conformed with the guidelines outlined by the International Committee of Animal Recording. The results illustrate the effectiveness of detecting abnormal recordings in Irish milk records. The method described in this paper, defines the upper and lower limits for each production trait and these limits along with the slope parameters were used to determine if a recording was abnormal or not. Three percent of milk yield recordings, 5% of fat concentration recordings and less than 1% of protein concentration recordings were found to be abnormal. The proportion of values declared abnormal in manually recorded and electronically recorded data were examined and found to be significantly different for fat concentration.
  • Conservation characteristics of grass and dry sugar beet pulp co-ensiled after different degrees of mixing

    Cummins, B.; O'Kiely, Padraig; Keane, Michael G.; Kenny, David A. (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2007)
    The objective of this experiment was to quantify the effects of the degree of mixing of dry molassed sugar beet pulp (BP) with grass on silage conservation characteristics. Herbage from a timothy (Phleum pratense) sward was precision chopped and treated with a formic acid based additive (3 l/t grass). Units of 50 kg grass, without or with 2.5kg BP were randomly allocated among four replicates on each of seven treatments. The treatments were (1) no BP (NONE), (2) BP evenly mixed through the grass (EVEN), (3) BP evenly mixed through the lower 25 kg grass (LOWH), (4) BP evenly mixed through the lower 12.5 kg grass (LOWQ), (5) 0.625 kg BP mixed through the top 25 kg grass and 1.875 kg SBP mixed through the lower 25 kg grass (25/75), (6) BP placed in 0.5 kg layers beneath each 10 kg grass (LAYR), and (7) BP placed in a single layer under all of the grass (BOTM). Laboratory silos were filled and sealed, and stored at 15 °C for 163 days. Effluent was collected and weighed from each silo throughout the ensilage period. At opening, silage composition and aerobic stability measurements were made. Total outflow of effluent was reduced (P<0.001) by the addition of BP; LAYR had a greater effect (P<0.001) than any of the other treatments. Effluent dry matter (DM) concentration was highest (P<0.05) for BOTM and lowest (P<0.01) for NONE. All treatments underwent similar lactic-acid dominant fermentations. Incorporation of BP with grass increased silage DM concentration (P<0.001), in vitro DM digestibility (P<0.05) and water soluble carbohydrate (P<0.001) concentration and reduced acid detergent fibre (P<0.001) concentration. Aerobic stability was similar across treatments and aerobic deterioration at 192 h was higher (P<0.05) for LOWQ, 25/75, LAYR and BOTM than for NONE. In conclusion, the incorporation of BP increased silage DM digestibility but had relatively little effect on fermentation or aerobic stability. Placing BP in layers gave the largest and most sustained restriction in effluent output.
  • Body and carcass measurements, carcass conformation and tissue distribution of high dairy genetic merit Holstein, standard dairy genetic merit Friesian and Charolais x Holstein-Friesian male cattle

    McGee, Mark; Keane, Michael G.; Neilan, R.; Moloney, Aidan P; Caffrey, P.J. (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2007)
    The increased proportion of Holstein genes in the dairy herd may have undesirable consequences for beef production in Ireland. A total of 72 spring-born calves, (24 Holstein (HO), 24 Friesian (FR) and 24 Charolais X Holstein-Friesian (CH)) were reared from calfhood to slaughter. Calves were artificially reared indoors and spent their first summer at pasture following which they were assigned to a 3 breeds (HO, FR and CH) 2 production systems (intensive 19-month bull beef and extensive 25-month steer beef) 2 slaughter weights (560 and 650 kg) factorial experiment. Body measurements of all animals were recorded at the same time before the earliest slaughter date. After slaughter, carcasses were graded and measured and the pistola hind-quarter was separated into fat, bone and muscle. HO had significantly higher values for withers height, pelvic height and chest depth than FR, which in turn had higher values than CH. HO had a longer back and a narrower chest than either FR or CH, which were not significantly different. Carcass length and depth, pistola length, and leg length were 139.2, 134.4 and 132.0 (s.e. 0.81), 52.1, 51.3 and 47.7 (s.e. 0.38), 114.4, 109.0 and 107.0 (s.e. 0.65) and 76.7, 71.9 and 71.4 (s.e. 0.44) cm for HO, FR and CH, respectively. Breed differences in pistola tissue distribution between the joints were small and confined to the distal pelvic limb and ribs. There were relatively small breed differences in the distribution of pistola muscle weight between individual muscles. Body measurements were significantly greater for animals on the intensive system (bulls) than the extensive system (steers) in absolute terms, but the opposite was so when they were expressed relative to live weight. The only significant difference in relative carcass measurements between the production systems was for carcass depth, which was lower for the intensive compared with the extensive system. Increasing slaughter weight significantly increased all carcass measurements in absolute terms but reduced them relative to weight. It is concluded that there were large differences between the breed types in body and carcass measurements, and hence in carcass shape and compactness but differences in tissue distribution were small.