• 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.
    • Replacement strategies to maximise profiltability in dairying.

      Crosse, Seamus; Haran, P.; Killen, L. (Teagasc, 1998-01-01)
      The overall objective of this project was to develop a dynamic model which would determine the optimum replacement rates for dairy herds under an Irish system of production. A model was designed and applied to the Irish dairy replacement problem, which included in the decision making process production, fertility, calving interval, seasonality, month of calving and various economic factors. The output from the Hierarchic model is a series of rankings. The dynamic programming approach can enable one to inform a farmer which cows in the herd should be replaced, on the basis that a replacement heifer( and its future successors) are expected to be more profitable than the current cow. The optimum replacement rate was 17.8% from this analysis.
    • The development of feeding and management strategies for milk production systems with very contrasting milk supply patterns.

      Ryan, G.; Crosse, Seamus; Fitzgerald, S. (Teagasc, 1998-01-01)
      In Experiment 1, three systems of milk production with contrasting calving patterns, namely 100% autumn (A); 100% spring (S) and 50% autumn: 50% spring (AS), were compared over a two year period. The average milk yield was 6,532, 6,358 and 6,142 kg/cow for systems A, AS and S respectively. The difference in yield was not statistically significant. Fat yield, fat content and protein yield for system S was significantly lower than those with the other two systems. The autumn-calving cows (A) had reduced reproductive performance. Experiment 2 compared grazed grass with grass silage as a forage source for autumn-calving cows in early lactation; it showed that the cows on grazed grass had significantly higher milk protein yield and milk protein content. The cows on the grass silage had significantly lower dry matter intake and a significantly higher bodyweight loss post-calving. The aim of this project was to develop low-cost systems of milk production which lead to an improved milk supply pattern of quality milk for the food industry. In particular, the objective was to research the role which grazed grass can contribute to the feed requirements of cows calving at different times during the year.
    • Ingredient Development using a Pilot-Scale Tall-Form Spray Drier

      Kelly, Philip M; Kelly, J.; Harrington, D. (Teagasc, 1998-02-01)
      The main objectives of the project were to establish relationships between process variables and product physicochemical/functional characteristics in the course of processing and drying new dairy-based ingredients such as high-fat and protein-rich products in regular and agglomerated forms. By establishing processing protocols, R&D users of the ingredient drying facilities of Moorepark Technology Ltd may be able to predict the process variables necessary for desired end-product specifications to be achieved, and thus make experimentation more efficient and cost effective, as well as facilitate small scale production runs and sample preparation for market development purposes. Particular emphasis was placed on the development of high fat cream and fat-filled powders, flavour-delivery systems and protein-enriched ingredients. The major achievement of this project is that it is now possible to confidently select the appropriate processing conditions during the spray drying of ingredients in order to attain desired end-product specifications. Based on the use of the newly-installed Tall-form drier, the project succeeded in correlating the effects of process parameters of this technicallyadvanced pilot plant with the physicochemical properties of powders containing varying fat (20-80%) and protein contents. In general, the physicochemical characteristics of fat-filled and cream-filled powders with similar fat contents were similar except for higher solubility index values (range 0.1-0.6) in the case of the former particularly in the range 26-28% fat. Furthermore, the free fat content of powders may now be controlled much more precisely using an appropriate combination of total fat, atomiser nozzle selection and post-drying blending.
    • The microbiological safety and quality of foods processed by the "sous vide" system as a method of commercial catering

      Bolton, Declan J. (Teagasc, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, 1998-08)
      The objective of this project was to improve the quality and safety of sous vide foods by investigating the responses of the food-poisoning microorganisms to the processing and storage conditions used in this technology. The major food poisoning bacteria of concern in sous vide foods are strains of Clostridium botulinum, Bacillus cereus, verotoxigenic Escherichia coli O157:H7 (VTEC), Salmonella spp., Listeria monocytogenes and Yersinia enterocolitica.
    • Extending the shelf life of fresh sliced mushrooms

      Brennan, Martine H.; Gormley, Ronan T. (Teagasc, 1998-08)
      The Irish mushroom industry is expanding rapidly as is the demand for sliced mushrooms. To increase the competitiveness of Irish mushrooms for export their shelf life should be extended to compensate for the time lost in transit. The aim of this project was to extend the shelf life of sliced mushrooms by 50 % using novel processing treatments and / or packaging. A method was established to assess the effects of different treatments on mushroom quality. This method was followed using solutions of citric acid, hydrogen peroxide, EDTA, nisin, diacetyl, vitamin E, ascorbic acid, rosemary extracts and sodium metabisulphite.
    • Relating starch properties to boiled potato texture

      Gormley, Ronan T. (Teagasc, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, 1998-08)
      Basic information on starch properties may help to explain the different textural characteristics of potato cultivars, and also their suitability for different forms of processing. The study involved tests on both raw potatoes, and on starch separated from potatoes, and embraced three main activities: (i) to relate boiled-potato texture with the other test variables; (ii) to develop a rapid crush-test for assessing cooked-potato texture; (iii) to study the effect of chilling and freezing on the development of resistant starch (RS) in boiled potatoes.
    • Control and detection of food-borne pathogens

      Duffy, Geraldine; Cloak, Orla; Sheridan, James J. (Teagasc, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, 1998-08)
      The objective of this study was to develop rapid methods for the detection of bacteria from food.
    • Examination of Production Systems for Mushroom Cultivation in Ireland

      Staunton, L.; Cormican, T.; Grant, Jim (Teagasc, 1998-08-01)
      The plastic bag growing system used in Ireland is very labour intensive requiring considerable manual labour input. This has several very undesirable consequences. It was because of these considerations that it was considered important to examine possible feasible alternatives to plastic bag production for the Irish Mushroom Industry. This project was set up at Kinsealy Research Centre to examine possible alternatives. Part of this consisted of examining commercial systems both at home and abroad.
    • Reduced Herbicide Inputs in Cereals

      Mitchell, B.J. (Teagasc, 1998-09-01)
      The objective of this project was to examine if herbicides used in cereals at rates lower than recommended by the manufacturer (reduced rates) would give acceptable weed control resulting in lower crop production costs. Field trials with a number of herbicides at full and reduced rates were carried out in winter barley, winter wheat and spring barley in 1994-1996. Herbicides used at recommended rates gave the highest and most consistent levels of weed control. Herbicides used at 50% of the recommended rates gave slightly lower levels of weed control than the recommended rates but did not result in lower yields. While rates lower than 50% gave about 70% control of weeds, grain yield was reduced in some trials. Reduced rates gave higher weed control in barley than in wheat. The level of weed control was influenced by weed species and the growth stages of the weeds at the time of herbicide spraying. Thus selection of herbicides and their rates of application should be field specific. The findings show that it is possible to reduce the amount of herbicides used in cereals with considerable cost savings and reduced risk of herbicide residues in grain, soil and water.
    • Establishment of Enabling Technology for Manufacture of Selected Types of Continental and Speciality Cheeses

      Wilkinson, M.G.; Sheehan, Jeremiah J.; Guinee, Timothy P.; Cogan, T.M. (Teagasc, 1998-09-01)
      The objectives in the project were the development of the science and technology for speciality cheese manufacture, identification and overcoming of the technical constraints to the manufacture of soft speciality cheeses in Ireland and the development of Moorepark Technology Limited (MTL) pilot plant as an integrated, flexible pre-commercial manufacturing platform with which to evaluate the market for speciality cheese.
    • Development of a Range of Encapsulated Milk Fat Products

      Keogh, M.K.; O'Kennedy, Brendan; Neville, D.P.; Kennedy, B.; Gorry, C. (Teagasc, 1998-09-01)
      The aims of this research were to determine the effects of milk composition (fat, whey protein, lactose and salts) and process (homogenisation) factors on the formation of emulsions and microencapsulated powder particles and to relate these to the properties of the powder, especially susceptibility to fat oxidation. The effect of composition, using sodium caseinate and lactose on the production of high fat powders was also studied. Finally, new developments in microencapsulated milk powders were undertaken in collaboration with industry using sodium caseinate and lactose. Overall, the microencapsulation process should provide a technique to extend the shelf-life of sensitive fats and flavours and to produce high fat powders for a range of end-uses. The major components of the emulsions used to make the microencapsulated powders influenced fat globule diameter and stability, but the minor salt components also affected globule size and stability. Free flowing high fat (70%) powders with sodium caseinate and lactose as encapsulants were manufactured using a tall-form Niro spray dryer with fluidised beds. A flavoured ingredient using a by-product flavoured fat as the flavour agent was made using the same encapsulants. Microencapsulated powders were incorporated into baked goods as multi-functional ingredients. They increased loaf volumes and improved handling and processability of the dough, thereby extending the product range for fat and other dairy ingredients used for baking. Microencapsulated 80% fat blends were manufactured for biscuit formulations to overcome the handling problems associated with bulk fats. This sub-project also gave rise to a leading role in a EU FAIR project on the microencapsulation of fish oil for use in functional foods using milk components as the sole encapsulants.
    • Significance of Lactobacilli in Cheddar Cheese

      Cogan, Tim; Beresford, Tom; Drinan, Finbarr; Palles, Tony; Fitzsimons, Nora (Teagasc, 1998-09-01)
      The objectives of this project were to isolate and identify the non-starter lactobacilli in mature Cheddar cheese, identify strains which impart mature flavours to cheese and determine their role in developing cheese flavour. The main conclusions were as follows: Based on an analysis of 18 mature Cheddar cheeses, selected from 7 commercial manufacturers, non-starter lactic acid bacteria typically numbered, as expected, 106-108 per gram and were dominated (97 percent) by Lactobacillus paracasei. Although a small number of strains (typically 1 to 4) was found in each cheese there was considerable strain diversity in cheeses within as well as between manufacturing plants. When selected strains were investigated for survival and flavour enhancement when added (as starter adjuncts) with the normal starter cultures in Cheddar cheese manufacture, it was found that they remained dominant for up to 3 months of ripening. Commercial grading of these cheeses at 3 and 6 months confirmed that the added strains did modify flavour development and one (DPC 4103), in particular, had a beneficial effect. It was confirmed that two selected strains of non-starter lactobacilli were capable of metabolising citrate under the conditions of Cheddar cheese ripening and, consequently, if present in sufficient numbers, would influence flavour development. The work was greatly facilitated by the successful and novel adaptation of a modern rapid molecular technique (RAPD) for species and strain classification. In summary these studies found that one species of lactobacilli (Lb. paracasei) was the dominant non-starter lactic acid bacteria in mature Cheddar cheese. Although a wide variety of strains were identified, only a few were found in any particular cheese, suggesting their likely role in cheese flavour diversity even within the same manufacturing plant. This suggests the potential for flavour control or enhancement through the selective and controlled use of non-starter lactic acid bacteria. Preliminary investigations of the metabolism of those organisms supports this view and a follow-up study now in progress should provide greater clarity on this matter.
    • Extension of the season of production and quality improvement of a range of vegetable crops.

      Murphy, Richard J.; Cullen, William (Teagasc, 1998-09-01)
      The use of modules for propagation together with growing aids such as plastic covers after transplanting has brought forward significantly the start of the harvest season and improved yield and quality of several important brassicas including swede, cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage. These container grown plants (modules) enables crops to be grown for part of the life cycle under protection in early spring and transplanted outside in March/April when conditions become favourable.
    • Reduced Fungicide Inputs in Winter Wheat

      Dunne, B. (Teagasc, 1998-09-01)
      Nine trials were conducted over three years at three sites to evaluate the efficacy of reduced rates of various fungicide products for their biological efficacy in controlling stem, foliar and ear diseases of winter wheat as well as their effects on yield and grain quality, and to compare the relative profitability of full and reduced rates of fungicides. The results show that the use of half rates can give an economic benefit over that of full rates in many situations. In circumstances where variety or seasonal factors resulted in low to moderate foliar disease pressure the use of half rates gave similar yields to that of full rates. Where foliar disease pressure was high, half rates generally gave lower yields than full rates but the amount of the reduction varied with the fungicide product used. The use of spray additives improved the yield response of the half rate treatments in most cases. Disease levels (septoria) were higher in treatments where half rates were used, compared with the corresponding full rates, but the used of spray additives improved the disease control in the half rate treatments. The timing of spray applications is critical when half rates of fungicides are being used. Reduced rate treatments need to be applied more frequently. In these trials reduced rate treatments were applied as a three-spray programme rather than the conventional two-spray programme.
    • Effect of Peat Grade, Irrigation System and Nutrition on the Production of Nursery Stock in Closed Systems

      Maher, M.J.; Kirkland, C. (Teagasc, 1998-09-01)
      Containerised nursery stock plants in Ireland are almost exclusively produced in peat growing media using controlled release fertilisers and are irrigated by means of overhead spraylines with the drainage water going to waste. Concern about nutrient pollution and the need to use water and nutrients more efficiently may lead in the future to regulations about capturing and re-cycling drainage water. This would particularly apply where nutrients are incorporated in the irrigation as in liquid feeding or where hard water is being acidified to neutralise bicarbonate. These experiments were started to study the performance of nursery stock plants in closed systems and to compare ebb and flood and capillary irrigation with overhead spraylines. A comparison of a liquid feeding regime as against the use of controlled release fertilisers was also included. The use of fractionated peat allows peat substrates with a wide range of physical properties to be prepared by using graded fractions or blends. It was thought desirable to include these in the experiments as there may well be interactions between irrigation systems and substrate properties
    • The development of an organic farming system (OFC) based on best practices with an organice farmer pilot group, End of Project Reports, Teagasc, 1998.

      MacNaeidhe, F.S.; Murphy, W.; Lynch, M.; Codd, F. (Teagasc, 1998-09-01)
      The farming system was developed with the assistance and co-operation of ten pilot farmers during the period March 1993 to March 1997. The purpose of the project was to develop a method which would enable farmers to practice a system of farming which was sustainable and friendly towards the environment. This was achieved by way of three major objectives. These were: (A) The production of high quality and healthy pasture and livestock. (B) Development of a fertile soil and a clean environment. (C) Production of a diverse flora and attractive landscape. These objectives were achieved by the application of three basic husbandry practices which were combined in a complementary way into a single farming system. These were: (a) Multifunctional Grassland Management (MGM) to achieve objective A (b) Ecological Nutrient Management (ENM) to achieve objective B (c) Ecological Infrastructural Management (EIM) to achieve objective C. Four criteria were used to evaluate the applicability of the husbandry practices and their success. These were: (1) Is it ready for use. (2) Is it acceptable to the farmer. (3) Is it manageable for the farmer. (4) Is it effective. The investigation showed that • The use of pilot farmers is an effective method of developing practical organic farming systems and disseminating information on these systems among farmers. • Application of multifunctional grassland management (MGM) gave better health in sheep and cattle through better pasture hygiene. • Of the three basic husbandry practices which were used the advantages of ecological nutrient management (ENM) was the most easily understood and most readily applied by the farmers. • Grassland fertility was maintained by grazing and cutting in a l t e rnate years and by recycling measured amounts of farmyard manure on to silage land. • There is little or no risk of environmental pollution with the application of the farming system which was developed during the investigation. • The advantages of ecological infrastructural management (EIM) was least readily understood and applied by the pilot farmers. • The application of EIM was slower to yield positive results compared with MGM and ENM. • The presence of good hedgerow networks on most of the farms reduced the need for a strong programme of EIM.
    • Nutrient management planning on Irish dairy farms

      Mounsey, J.; Sheehy, J.; Carton, Owen T.; O'Toole, P. (Teagasc, 1998-09-01)
      The objective of the work undertaken was to investigate nutrient use on intensive dairy farms. A survey of 12 dairy farms was undertaken in 1997 to determine nutrient management practices. These were compared with current nutrient advice and recommended practices. Data recording was completed by the farmer and supplemented by regular farm visits to assist with and validate the process. The mean farm size was 64.8 ha with an average of 128 cows and an annual milk yield per cow of 5594 kg. The mean stocking rate was 2.58 Livestock Units/ha. Dairy cows accounted for highest proportion of the total livestock with most of the younger stock consisting of dairy replacements. Approximately 80% of soil P levels were greater than 6 mg/l while 67% of soils had soil K levels in excess of 100 mg/l. The mean soil P and K levels on the grazing and silage areas were 11 and 128 mg/l, 12 and 117 mg/l, respectively. The mean farm nutrient balance (inputs - outputs) established an annual surplus of N, P and K of 304, 18 and 53 kg/ha, respectively. The adoption of nutrient management plans instead of current practice would reduce N, P and K inputs on average by 44, 13 and 24 kg/ha, respectively. The use of the Teagasc revised P nutrient advice would further reduce the P input requirements by 2 kg/ha. On average the farms had 90% of the 16 week slurry storage capacity. Approximately 14, 42, 14 and 31% of the slurry was applied in spring, summer, autumn and winter, respectively. In all cases there was significant between farm variability. The soil P fertility on the survey farms is skewed towards index 3 and 4 when compared with the average for all samples received at Johnstown Castle. There is no agronomic advantage in terms of crop or animal production for soils to have P levels in excess 10 mg/l. This result indicates that P inputs to farms of this type can be reduced in many cases without prejudicing production potential. The nutrient balance conducted highlighted the extent of the nutrient surpluses and the between farm variability. The data suggest that there is not a serious nutrient surplus on the survey farms, which would require the use of additional off-farm land for slurry recycling, as obtains on pig and poultry farms. The study also indicates that although farm unit cost savings may be small in adopting nutrient management planning, overall farm savings may be significant. For example on the survey farms, savings of up to £2,000 can be achieved apart from the obvious positive environmental impact.
    • Development and Evaluation of Caseins/Caseinates for use as Ingredients in Food Products

      Mehra, Raj; Walsh, Daniel; O'Kennedy, Brendan; Kelly, Phil (Teagasc, 1998-09-01)
      The overall objective of this project was to investigate the effects of key processing steps in the industrial production of acid casein on the characteristics and functionality of sodium caseinate with particular emphasis on analytical/functionality testing and seasonal/lactational effects on the original milk. The main conclusions were as follows: The most significant result indicates that drying and concentration after washing of the acid casein curd are responsible for alterations in the structure of casein, which result in sodium caseinates with different properties. This was confirmed in the case of two acid casein plants investigated which showed similar results even though using different washing and drying technologies. This difference due to the drying step may be further amplified depending upon whether commercial sodium caseinate is manufactured from acid casein in the dried or wet curd state. The analytical and functional testing methodology adapted in our laboratory proved effective in predicting the effects of processing steps on the functionality of sodium caseinate. In particular, the ability to detect the presence of aggregate formation was particularly important. The database generated subsequently helped an acid casein manufacturer in modifying its process(es) to manufacture experimental sodium caseinate for specific food end-uses. Progress was greatly facilitated by the collaboration of individual manufacturers in the sourcing of problem samples from previously manufactured codes, and facilitating access to process plant during production. In a commercial application of the database, confidential work was undertaken on behalf of a client. Experimentally-produced sodium caseinate ingredients were evaluated using our adapted functionality testing methods and based on the results, the company was able to modify its process(es) to produce sodium caseinates with functionality for specific food end-users. It was concluded that while processing parameters in the production of acid casein can have a significant effect on the functional behaviour of the resultant sodium caseinate, the ability to assess this change in functional behaviour, through relevant functional testing, was equally important.
    • Factors affecting the composition and use of camelina

      Crowley, J.G.; Fröhlich, A. (Teagasc, 1998-09-01)
      Camelina (Camelina sativa), a member of the mustard family, is a summer annual oilseed plant. Winter hardy types also exist. False flax and Gold of Pleasure are the popular common names for the crop. The crop was widely grown in Eastern Europe and Russia up to the early 1940’s but was replaced with the introduction and widespread use of oilseed rape. The revival of interest in camelina oil is due to its high linolenic acid (38%) content. Linolenic acid is one of the OMEGA-3 fatty acids which are generally found in substantial quantities only in linseed and fish oils. Camelina offers an opportunity to supply the growing demand for high quality edible oils rich in OMEGA-3 fatty acids. A three year study established that camelina is a very suitable crop to grow in Ireland, producing 2.5 t/ha of high quality seed (42-47%) with no agrochemical inputs required. The oil contains 35 to 40% linolenic acid compared to 8% in rape and soya oils. The oil does not deteriorate during refining or storage and can be used in a number of oil based products such as spreads and salad dressings.