• Welfare and health of dairy cattle on out-wintering pads or in cubicle housing with or without cushioned flooring.

      Boyle, Laura; Mee, John F; O'Donovan, Michael; Kiernan, Paul (Teagasc, 2-10-01)
      The first study described in this report involved housing 66 spring calving heifers in one of three systems during the winter, namely, (i) a conventional cubicle house, (ii) a cubicle house with cushioned flooring covering the slats (slat mats) in the passageway and (iii) on a wood-chip out-wintering pad. Behaviour, health and performance indicators were measured on all animals while pregnant from housing in November 2003 until calving in January 2004. Additionally, data were collected on the first 15 animals to calve in each treatment for the first four weeks of lactation in the spring. The slat mats resulted in some improvements to hoof health compared to the conventional cubicle house. Furthermore, it increased feeding times although this had no effect on feed intake or performance. The results also indicated that heifers have a preference for standing on cushioned flooring rather than on concrete during late pregnancy. Both groups indoors differed greatly from the outdoor heifers in several respects. The outdoor animals had healthier feet and were less affected by injuries to the limbs. They also had a more diverse behaviour repertoire and slipped and tripped less. However, their welfare was adversely affected by inclement weather conditions with indications of immunosuppression combined with a reduction in average daily gain being recorded. Furthermore, they were dirtier and spent less time lying down. None of these factors influenced milk yield, quality or composition in early lactation. Welfare problems associated with the pad were weather and management dependent and hence could be addressed by more frequent cleaning of the pad and/or an increase in space allowance combined with the provision of shelter. Hence, the potential for good welfare in dairy heifers was higher on the pad than indoors in a cubicle system even when slat mats were provided. In the second study, 62 autumn calving pluriparous dairy cows were housed in September 2004 in a cubicle system with either solid concrete floors or solid concrete floors covered by a rubber mat and cleaned by an automatic scrapper. Behaviour, locomotion and foot lesion scores were recorded from at least 3 weeks prior to calving until at least 16 weeks post-partum. Furthermore, in-depth measures of oestrous behaviour and reproductive performance were recorded. The cushioned flooring had no effect on sole or white line lesion scores or on dermatitis scores. However, it reduced the rate of wear of the heels in early lactation. Cows on cushioned flooring spent more time standing, but not feeding, at the feed face while cows on concrete stood in the cubicles instead. It appears that where cows have access to spacious, well-designed cubicles they can use them for standing to get relief for their feet from the concrete. Similar to the previous study this also indicates that cows prefer to stand on cushioned flooring than on bare concrete and emphasises the importance of at least providing cows with mats or mattresses in their cubicles. There were no effects of the cushioned flooring on oestrous behaviour or reproductive performance, which was poor in both treatments. It is suggested that the reasons for this were that the cushioned flooring did not provide sufficient traction for the cows and so they were as reluctant as the cows on concrete to perform mounting behaviour.
    • Development of a Strategic Approach for a Single EU Beef Market: An Evaluation of Changes in the EU Intervention system and Labelling Regulations in Relation to Irish Cattle Prices.

      O'Connell, John; Dunne, Liam; Shanahan, Ultan (Teagasc, 01/01/2003)
      The intervention system for beef in the EU has undergone major changes since its inception. These changes were introduced because of changing circumstances in the EU beef market and because of cost factors and inefficiencies associated with and arising from the intervention system itself. While justified from these perspectives it can be said that from the perspective of beef producers the system has changed from being a mechanism which aimed at and operated to achieve a producer Guide Price which in turn was defined as “……..the price which it is hoped to attain on average on the Community market for all the quantities marketed during a given marketing year” (Com 370, July 1976) to one which has abandoned all efforts at achieving a desirable producer price and which provides at best very short term stabilisation of price at its market level. The aim of this paper is to trace the major changes which have occurred to the intervention system and the concomitant price achievement of beef in general in the EU and especially that of Irish beef. These changes together with other market and policy factors occurring on and since 1996 have combined to give a historically poor price performance for Irish beef which despite the growing importance of direct payments is still of major significance in the incomes and welfare of beef producers.
    • Variation in the quality of meat from Irish steers at the time of slaughter.

      Moloney, Aidan P; Mullen, Anne Maria; Maher, S.C.; Buckley, D.J.; Kerry, J.P. (Teagasc, 01/01/2004)
      There is no information on the variation in quality, in particular tenderness, that exists in Irish Beef nor is there information on the variation that would remain if optimum practices were imposed at all stages of the beef production chain. Evaluation of the success of measures to improve beef consistency requires information on existing variation and the minimum variation achievable.The objectives of this project were (i) to establish the variation that exists in the quality of meat from Irish cattle, (ii) to quantify the minimum variation in meat quality that can be achieved in a practical beef production system, (iii) to determine the effects and mechanisms of additional sources of variation. The conclusions from this project are: • The M. longissimus dorsi (loin) was found to be more variable than the M. semimembranosus (topside) for most quality attributes examined (tenderness, sarcomere length and pH). The scale of variation within the loin was similar to that reported by the other research groups within the EU and US. Heifers were more variable than steers for most attributes, while there was no consistent classification effect on the variability of meat quality attributes. • Tenderness was equally variable in meat from genetically similar steers, managed similarly, compared to commercial steers randomly selected from a factory lairage but matched for weight and grade.This was likely a result of both groups being crossbred beef cattle of similar age, fat score, carcass weight and managed identically post-mortem. However, variation in tenderness of both groups was less than that observed in a survey of commercial throughput (experiment 1). This decrease is attributed to better pre-and-post-slaughter handling practices. • The data suggest that selection of sires (within a breed) with better than average conformation has no deleterious effect on the eating quality of beef of their progeny.A more comprehensive comparison of sires within a breed and between breeds is required to confirm the generality of this conclusion. • In a comparison of genotypes, gender and slaughter weights, there was no evidence that variation around the mean value for tenderness differed between breeds or liveweights after 14 days ageing. Bulls were more variable than steers for some quality traits but the variation in tenderness was similar for bulls and steers after 14 days ageing. • While optimising the management of animals during the pre and post-slaughter period reduced variation in tenderness, some residual variation remained. A large percentage of the residual variation in tenderness (Warner Bratzler shear force) after 2 and 7 days post-mortem was explained by proteolysis (breakdown of myofibrillar proteins).Variation in tenderness (Warner Bratzler shear force) after 2 days post-mortem was largely explained by phosphates (energy) and proteolysis, while sensory tenderness was largely explained by phosphates and glycolytic potential. • Further work is required to reduce residual variation in Irish beef and to determine the causes of this variation.
    • Modelling Phosphorus for Grassland: Agronomically and Environmentally Sustainable Advice

      Schulte, Rogier P. (Teagasc, 01/01/2006)
      In 2006, the Nitrates Directive (through S.I. 378 (Anon, 2006)) was implemented in Ireland, aimed at reducing nutrient losses from agriculture to water bodies, i.e. surface waters, groundwater and estuarine waters. This legislation introduced strict regulation of nutrient management on Irish farms. Thus far, nutrient management had largely been based on Teagasc advice (Coulter, 2004). However, in the new policy climate, in addition to advice, compliance with legal limits is also required. This significant change in the practicalities surrounding nutrient management led to a review of Teagasc nutrient (phosphorus and nitrogen) advice, based on the following considerations: Traditionally, nutrient advice had largely been based on fertiliser rates for economically optimal productivity, i.e. rates at which further fertiliser applications would not result in higher economic returns. Now, SI 378 of 2006 demands that nutrient application rates do not exceed crop (grass) demand, nor result in nutrient losses that may have a negative impact on water quality. Previous phosphorus (P) advice (Coulter, 2004) was similar for all soil types, and did not account for potentially different P-requirements, or indeed potentially different risks of P-loss to water between soils. Previous P advice was based on returning optimum crop yields. However, grassland management in Ireland is increasingly focussed on maximising the amount of herbage grazed in situ. With extended grazing seasons and an increasing share of the animal diet consisting of grazed herbage, the scope and flexibility of diet supplementation through straights and concentrates is reduced. An increasing proportion of dietary P must be obtained from this grazed herbage as a result. Therefore P fertiliser strategies should no longer be based on yield responses alone, but in addition sustain adequate herbage P-concentrations in order to ensure that the dietary P requirements can be met on a non-supplemented diet of grazed herbage. Against this background, Teagasc, Johnstown Castle Environment Research Centre, undertook a major research programme, reviewing both agronomic and environmental aspects of P-advice for grassland.
    • An Examination of the contribution of off-farm income to the viability and sustainability of farm households and the productivity of farm businesses

      Behan, Jasmina; Carroll, James; Hennessy, Thia; Keeney, Mary; Newman, Carol; O'Brien, Mark; Thorne, Fiona; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland (Teagasc, 01/01/2007)
      The number of farm households in Ireland participating in the off-farm labour market has increased significantly in the last decade. According to the National Farm Survey (NFS), the number of farm households where the spouse and/or operator is working off-farm has increased from 37 per cent in 1995 to 58 per cent in 2007. The important contribution of non-farm income to viability of farm households is highlighted in the results of the Agri-Vision 2015 report, which concluded that the number of economically viable farm businesses is in decline and that a significant proportion of farm households are sustainable only because of the presence of off-farm income. Research conducted by Hennessy (2004) demonstrated that approximately 40 percent of farm households have an off-farm income and that almost 30 percent of the farming population are only sustainable because of off-farm income. Clearly, the future viability and sustainability of a large number of farm households depends on the ability of farmers and their spouses’ to secure and retain gainful off-farm employment. The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (DAFF) have recognised the importance of off-farm income to the sector and they have recommended that future policies focus on farm household viability in all its dimensions, including farm and off-farm income sources (2000).
    • Estimation and projection of costs and margins in crop enterprises in the Republic of Ireland

      Thorne, Fiona (Teagasc, 01/01/2007)
      This project reports on the farm level crop economics research conducted in the Rural Economy Research Centre (RERC), Teagasc during the period 2003-2006. The research conducted made current estimates and one year ahead forecasts for margins in each of the major crop enterprises in the Republic of Ireland. The enterprise specific information was based on information from the Teagasc National Farm Survey (NFS), supplemented by projections of price, cost and policy information from a variety of other sources. Yield projections were based on past trends and incorporate estimates of expected variability. In addition, the distribution of profitability amongst the population of crop farms has been examined to gain further insights into the farm level situation and outlook for tillage farms based on the results from the NFS data.
    • A New Direction for the Payment of Milk: Technological and Seasonality Considerations in Multiple Component Milk Pricing of Milk (Liquid and Manufacturing) for a Diversifying Dairy Industry

      Breen, James; Wallace, Michael; Crosse, Seamus; O'Callaghan, Donal (Teagasc, 01/01/2007)
      The main objectives of this study were to compare a Multiple Component Pricing system with the current milk pricing practice in Ireland and to estimate the marginal values of the three main milk components (fat, protein and lactose) in the context of the Irish milk processing industry. A representative linear programming model of an average Irish milk processor was developed in order to determine the marginal values of the milk components and to compare the value of milk under the Multiple Component Pricing system with the value under the current milk pricing practice. This study also examined the effect of product mix, milk supply and milk composition on the marginal value of the milk components.
    • Gender Relations and Women’s Off-farm Employment: a critical analysis of discourses

      Hanrahan, Sheena (Teagasc, 01/01/2007)
      This project addresses gender relations on dairy farms in Irish Republic. Its aim was to explore the way women who are married to farmers but who are employed in paid employment off the farm are constructed in agricultural policy discourse. It was proposed that discourses encapsulate the values and interests of powerful actors and are constitutive in their effect. Hence they are implicated in women’s experience of life within a ‘farm family’. Following on from this it may be said that women’ s continued subordination in Irish farming or indeed their chances of achieving equal status are circumscribed by dominant discourses.
    • GENEDEC

      Shrestha, Shailesh; Hennessy, Thia; European Commission (Teagasc, 01/01/2007)
      GENEDEC was a European project funded under the 6th Framework. It was co-ordinated by INRA Grignon with ten European partners and a time frame of 42 months. The purpose of the project was to conduct a quantitative and qualitative assessment of the socio-economic and environmental impacts of the decoupling of direct payments on agricultural production, markets and land use in the EU. It was envisaged that the pan-EU nature of the project would facilitate an international comparison of the effects of decoupling and would provide policy makers with sufficient information to identify the key winners and losers from decoupling throughout the EU. The project aimed to provide insights into the workability of decoupling and its impacts, and to analyse alternative policy options to improve the agricultural support system. Specifically, through the use of farm level models, this project estimated the effects of existing and proposed decoupled support schemes on production, land use and land prices and the implications for farm incomes and the future structural development of farms. The project was divided into 9 Work Packages depending on objectives and time frame of the project. The main role of RERC Teagasc was in Work Package 2 which aimed to develop farm level mathematical models and used the models developed to determine the impact of decoupling on Irish farms. The work in RERC started in November 2004 and ended in May 2006. A brief description of the models developed and results generated by RERC is provided here.
    • A spatial analysis of agriculture in the Republic of Ireland, 1991 to 2000

      Crowley, Caroline; Meredith, David; Walsh, Jim (Teagasc, 01/01/2007)
      By linking farm census and administrative data from the CSO and DAF to a geographic information system and analysing the mapping output, this project shows the continued broad division of farming in the state into marginal farming areas in the north and west and more commercial farming areas in the south and east. While this division was compounded by the 1992 CAP reforms, and commercial farming became more spatially concentrated over the 1990s, the influence of the development in the non-farm economy, particularly in peri-urban rural areas across the state, provided local drivers of change that encouraged enterprise substitution to beef production, the farming system most readily combined by farm holders with another job. A full report on the mapping output will be produced in a forthcoming publication (see publications list).
    • Policy Analysis for the Irish Agricultural Sector: The impact of a WTO Agreement on the Irish Agricultural Sector

      Donnellan, Trevor (Teagasc, 01/01/2007)
      Using dynamically recursive partial equilibrium models of Irish, EU and World agricultural commodity markets, research undertaken under projects 5158, 5159 and 5160 formed the basis of the empirically based policy analysis that the FAPRI-Ireland aggregate sector modelling team, based at Rural Economy Research Centre (RERC), has provided to Irish and EU agricultural policy makers. Under the three projects (5158, 5159 and 5160), which began in January 2003, numerous analyses of CAP reform proposals and agreements were undertaken. The full details of all of the analysis conducted are given below and are available from the FAPRI-Ireland website www.tnet.teagasc.ie/fapri). In this end of project report the most recent analysis, relating to the possible impact of the still on going Doha Round of WTO negotiations is presented relative to a Baseline under which current agricultural and trade policy is assumed to continue unchanged over a ten year horizon (2006 to 2015).
    • Contested Ruralities: Housing in the Irish Countryside

      Pitts, Eamonn; Meredith, David; Duffy, Patrick J.; Walsh, Jim; Keaveney, Karen; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Teagasc, 01/01/2007)
      The purpose of the study is to examine housing in the Irish countryside. Housing in the countryside has become an increasingly contested issue in Ireland due to processes of rural change. The realm of debate is around issues such as who has the right to live in the countryside and how traditional settlement patterns can be sustained into the future. The debate, which has many contributors from politics, media and interest groups, has suffered from a lack of large-scale empirical research. The release of a combination of data from the 2002 Census of Population (house type with type sewerage facility used) has allowed this research to establish the spatial extent of single rural dwellings, the most contested and least known about element of living in the Irish countryside. Using this data in conjunction with the study of local level housing processes, a greater understanding of rural housing in Ireland has been established.
    • Projections of forestry as a competitor with mainstream agricultural enterprises and the consequent environmental implications

      Donnellan, Trevor (Teagasc, 01/01/2007)
      Through its relationship with the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI), staff at the Rural Economy Research Centre (RERC) have developed a system of econometric models of the Irish Agriculture sector. The output from these models includes, amongst other things, projections of agricultural activity levels under different policy options. From an environmental perspective, information on future levels of agricultural activity are important since they can facilitate the calculation of aggregate national levels of emissions of various pollutants from agriculture. The project has also produced a model which makes projections of forestry planting.
    • Diversifying Marine-Based Employment Opportunities in Peripheral Communities

      Heanue, Kevin; European Commission (Teagasc, 01/01/2009)
      This project was a development project connected to an INTERREG sub-programme called the Northern Periphery Programme (NPP). More specifically, this project was funded as an NPP Preparatory Project. The aim of such NPP Preparatory Projects is to facilitate the development of a transnational consortium that may produce an application to the NPP for a main project. Such a main project application will not directly ensue from this Preparatory Project, although it may do so in the future. Nevertheless, there are tangible immediate returns to Teagasc from this Preparatory Project that include 1) the opportunity, if considered appropriate, for Teagasc to join an existing NPP main project in 2011 that promotes a new mechanism to support rural enterprise such as food and tourism in the form of the Economusuem® concept and 2) the establishment of new international and national academic and agency contacts working in the area of local development.
    • WEMAC Project

      Donnellan, Trevor; Hanrahan, Kevin; European Commission (Teagasc, 01/01/2009)
      The WEMAC (World Econometric Model of Agricultural Crops) model is a model which has its origins at the French Research Institute INRA. Over the period 2006 to 2009 INRA, Teagasc and other partners worked on further developing the model as part of an EU Framework Project. This report details some of the project main results.
    • Adding Value To Under utilised Fish Species

      Fagan, John; Gormley, Ronan T.; Mitchell, Michelle; Downey, Gerard; National Development Plan (NDP) (Teagasc, 01/02/2006)
      Tightening fish quotas and supply shortages for conventional species are causing major difficulties for both fishermen and seafood processors. There is a need, therefore, to explore the potential of underutilised fish species both as fillets or portions and as added-value products. The current project at Ashtown Food Research Centre (AFRC) addressed this issue for a number of underutilised species via (a) sous vide processing (with savoury sauces),(b)marinating (salt- and sugar-based marinades) and (c) via a combination of freeze-chilling and modified atmosphere packaging (MAP).A range of physico-chemical and sensory tests was conducted on the products and their shelf-life status was also determined.
    • A study on the use of chilling as a critical control point in a beef HACCP plan

      Kinsella, Kathleen; Sheridan, James J.; Rowe, T.; Downey, Gerard; National Development Plan (NDP) (Teagasc, 01/02/2006)
      Investigations were undertaken to establish the critical limits for use of chilling in a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) system for beef. Information was obtained on the influence of chilling on the survival of bacteria, including the pathogen Salmonella Typhimurium DT104, attached to beef carcass surfaces. In general, a chilling regime could not be identified that gave consistent and meaningful reductions in surface bacterial counts while not seriously compromising the quality of the carcasses in terms of excessive amounts of weight loss. The study concluded that chilling was not a satisfactory process for use as a critical control point (CCP) in beef chilling and could not be recommended to the Irish beef industry for inclusion in a HACCP plan.
    • A Risk Assessment and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) Study for the Irish Catering Industry

      Bolton, Declan J.; Meally, Aisling; Downey, Gerard; Safefood (Teagasc, 01/02/2007)
      This report provides details of a food safety knowledge survey, a microbiological survey, a chilled temperature survey and an audit conducted in 200 restaurants throughout the island of Ireland. The results suggest a low incidence of several bacterial pathogens (including Salmonella enterica) and identify areas in which food safety knowledge, procedures and practices should be improved. Salmonella enterica isolates were characterised and the results suggested distinct pockets of different serotypes. Growth curves for L. monocytogenes isolates suggest considerably reduced shelf-life for a variety of foods. For example, lettuce should not be stored at room temperature or the shelf-life is reduced from 6.5 days (chilled storage) to 3.3 days.The predicted shelf-life for fresh milk was 4.5 days (chilled storage). Chlorine (sodium hypochlorite, 5 ppm), 1-monolauroyl-rac-glycerol and a laurate ester (ester-glucoside laurate) were also tested for application as vegetable decontaminating agents in restaurant kitchens. The report concludes with recommendations for improved food safety and hygiene in Irish restaurants.
    • Recovery and identification of emerging Campylobacteraceae from food

      Duffy, Geraldine; Cagney, Claire; Lynch, Orla; Downey, Gerard (Teagasc, 01/02/2007)
      The family Campylobacteraceae includes 23 different species of Campylobacter and Arcobacter.To date, clinical and epidemiological interest has focused almost exclusively on just two of these species, C. jejuni and C. coli. Current routine examination methods for both clinical and food samples look exclusively for these two species. Recent clinical research indicates that some of the other, previously ignored Campylobacter species may be linked to human infection. The focus of this research was to develop a routine procedure which would allow recovery of all 23 species of Campylobacteraceae from food samples.
    • The Development and/or Validation of Novel Intervention Technologies to Assure Meat Food Safety

      Bolton, Declan J.; Byrne, Brian; Lyng, James; Downey, Gerard; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; Food Safety Authority of Ireland (Teagasc, 01/02/2007)
      This project was undertaken to fill some of the knowledge gaps in meat food safety from farm to fork. The data provide the scientific basis for a clean sheep policy to reduce the impact of fleece as a source of microbial contamination on ovine carcasses at the beginning of the slaughter process. At the other end of the slaughter-line, a polyurethane sponge swabbing technology was developed for ovine and bovine carcass sampling as required in 2001/471/EC and the new European Commission Hygiene Regulations. At the processing stages, studies were undertaken to determine the most effective media for the recovery and culture of Cl. perfringens cells and spores; the results were then applied to thermal inactivation studies on these bacteria. Thermal resistance data were also obtained for Bacillus cereus and a radio frequency cook for meat products was validated in terms of the destruction of Cl. perfringens and B. cereus cells and spores. Finally, an aerobiology study investigated the effectiveness of a range on measures to prevent air acting as a vector for bacterial dispersion in a meat processing plant.