• Early Lamb Production Systems

      Flanagan, S. (Teagasc, 1999-03-01)
      A number of feeding and management options for early lambing flocks were evaluated at the Knockbeg Sheep Unit, Carlow. Results and recommendations for on-farm adoption are summarised in this report. The ultimate objective was to develop cost-effective early lamb production systems in synchrony with the high price season from late March to early May. Studies were focused on the two main phases of lamb growth. Firstly, the period from birth to 6 weeks of age which coincides with the critical period of lamb survival and peak lactation in the ewe and, secondly, the finishing stage from 6 weeks until slaughter. Flock size was 230 to 250 ewes sponged in July/August for lambing in January and managed on 12.6 ha of grass and forage. The results provide options in feeding and management for programmed lamb production in synchrony with early season prices. The production technologies are effective, e.g. out-of-season breeding, grass utilisation, planned schedules for achieving high levels of feed intake and lamb performance, drafting procedures for selecting high quality lambs (Fat class 3, Conformation classes U and R). On-farm planning for feeding, housing and labour is essential.
    • Easy Feeding of Housed Sheep.

      Flanagan, S. (Teagasc, 2002-06-01)
      In recent years sheep producers have emphasised the amount of labour required for managing sheep enterprises. In particular, the winter management of the flock during the past 25 years has been concentrated on silage, housing and associated labour inputs. One approach to reducing dependence on silage is the practice of extended grazing. On intensively stocked farms, however, the scope for this practice is limited. An alternative approach is the use of complete concentrate diets as substitutes for silage. A trial was conducted at the Knockbeg Sheep unit, Carlow for the purpose of examining the feasibility of feeding complete concentrate diets to ewes housed during late pregnancy and early lactation. A flock of ewes managed for lambing in January was divided into three groups at time of housing in November, each allocated to one of three diets: silage ad libitum plus concentrate supplements, a cereal-based loose mix concentrate or a pelleted concentrate diet. Levels of feeding offered in late pregnancy and early lactation were calculated to satisfy the energy requirements of 70 kg twin-bearing ewes. In addition to the dietary comparisons for ewes the resulting lamb crop provided the opportunity to compare two feeding systems for finishing, namely, early weaning onto grazed grass plus creep feed and early weaning onto a complete concentrate diet. Results on the components of ewe productivity, i.e. litter size, lamb survival rate and number of lambs reared, were similar on all three diets. Lamb birth weight was significantly heavier (0.4 to 0.6 kg) in the progeny of ewes offered the complete concentrate diets compared with the progeny of ewes offered silage. Nevertheless, the birth weight resulting from the ewes fed the silage diet was similar to results in previous years and, as a consequence, was considered satisfactory. Growth rate to 5 weeks of age in the progeny of the ewes offered the concentrate diets was relatively low due to an outbreak of pasteurellosis. Following recovery, compensatory growth was evident from 5 weeks to sale with the effect that the progeny of the three ewe diets were finished for slaughter at similar weights and ages. Ewes offered the complete concentrate diets increased significantly in liveweight and most of the increase was observed in ewes rearing singles. It is recommended that when feeding complete concentrate diets to ewes during late pregnancy and early lactation, single and twin bearing ewes should be accommodated separately and offered concentrate allowances appropriate to their requirements. Labour demand for feeding was highest on the silage diet and lowest for the pelleted formulation. Labour demand for feeding silage and concentrate supplements can be halved by using a pelleted concentrate diet. At 2001 prices the difference in costs between the silage and loose mix concentrate diets was small. When this factor is combined with reduced labour demand, it is considered that loose concentrate mixes offer an attractive alternative to silage feeding. There was no evidence in favour of early weaning of lambs onto grazed grass plus creep feed compared with the conventional system of early weaning indoor onto complete concentrate diets.
    • An Econometric Model of Irish Beef Exports

      Hanrahan, Kevin (Teagasc, 2001-01-01)
      This report summarizes research that the author undertook as part of his doctoral studies in the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Missouri- Columbia.† The policy environment within which the Irish beef sector operates is changing such that the demand for Irish beef will increasingly be of a market rather than a policy determined nature. This changing environment makes knowledge concerning the demand for Irish beef important to understanding the economic prospects of the sector. The objectives of this research were thus two fold. The first objective was to investigate the demand for Irish beef in the UK. The second objective relates to how such consumer demand models are econometrically estimated. The empirical results show that the demand for beef in general in the UK is not price elastic and that the demand for Irish beef in the UK is price inelastic. The expenditure elasticity of demand for beef in the UK is also inelastic. The implications of this result for the Irish beef industry are as follows Decreases in the price of beef in the UK will not lead to large increases in British demand for beef. Increases in expenditure on meats will see expenditure on beef increase but to a lesser extent than other meats. Increases in the price of Irish beef relative to the prices of other beef products on the UK market will not lead to a large decrease in the market share of Irish beef. The relative insensitivity of demand for Irish beef in the UK to changes in its relative price also implies that attempts to increase the Irish share of the UK beef market will require very large reductions in the price of Irish beef. Given the current dependence of the Irish beef industry on subsidized exports to non-EU markets, the results of this research imply that attempts to re-orientate the Irish industry more towards servicing EU beef markets will require either large price decreases, with the consequent impacts on the market based revenue of the Irish beef industry and farmers, or alternatively, a movement towards the production of beef products that appeal to the non-price concerns of EU consumers and away from the production of a commodity product.
    • Econometric modelling of the EU agri-food sector through co-operation with partners in the EU-AG-MEMOD Project

      Donnellan, Trevor; Hanrahan, Kevin; Riordan, Brendan (Teagasc, 2005-04-01)
      This research project set out to build an EU agricultural policy modelling system involving participants from right across the enlarged EU. Policy Analysis is conducted at an aggregate commodity level for the main sectors of EU agriculture. The work summarised here took place over the period 2001 to 2004. The implementation of the Luxembourg Agreement and the Enlargement of the EU will lead to significant changes to the way in which agriculture operates in the EU25. Under the reform, direct payments that have been linked to production are to be decoupled to varying degrees across the Union. Enlargement will mean that agriculture in several New Member States (NMS) will come under the EU system of payments, supply constraints and market price supports for the first time. In light of the above, the most common current approach to agriculture commodity modelling and policy analysis - that which treats the entire EU as a single entity - faces a considerable challenge. Given the heterogeneity of EU agriculture and agricultural policy across the enlarged EU, it is increasingly the case that ‘the devil is in the detail’. From a scientific perspective, country level policy analysis is important in order to capture the consequences of this heterogeneity. Moreover, at a political level, policy makers realise that policy proposals either sink or swim on the basis of the perception of their expected future impact at a national level. Hence, it is important to be able to inform and facilitate a debate on the relative merits of particular reform proposals by having national (or even sub-national) level analysis to hand. The case for national level modelling across the EU is easily made, but few practitioners have taken up the challenge it presents.i Key problems include funding constraints, the absence of reliable national data sources, difficulties in agreeing and co-ordinating a consistent modelling approach and, perhaps most importantly, the absence of an integrated network of economists with knowledge of local level agriculture and agricultural policy across the enlarged EU.
    • Economic Analysis of Policy Changes in the Beef and Sheep Sectors.

      Binfield, Julian; Hanrahan, Kevin; Henchion, Maeve (Teagasc, 2001-06-01)
      The work reported in this document commenced in 1997 under the auspices of the FAPRI-Ireland Partnership. It documents the development of aggregate commodity level models for the beef and sheep sectors, and their subsequent simulation under different policy and macroeconomic environments. Companion reports document the development of similar models for other commodities, and of farm level models.
    • Economic Analysis of Policy Changes in the Dairy Sector

      Donnellan, Trevor; Fingelton, William (Teagasc, 2001-04-01)
      This study examines the effect of changes in agricultural policy and other important economic factors on the outlook for milk production in Ireland in future years. The analysis is conducted at an aggregate milk and dairy commodity level. A companion report provides similar detail on related farm level work. Following an initial period of development, the analysis summarised here took place over a period of three years. The potential effect of the European Commission’s proposed changes to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) under Agenda 2000 are examined, as is the eventual Agenda 2000 Agreement produced in Berlin in March of 1999. The implications for the dairy sector of differing future euro/dollar exchange rate paths are also analysed. A series of interlinked economic models capable of projecting key price and output variables were built for the main Irish agricultural commodities, including the dairy sector, and these in turn were linked with models for the EU and the World. It was thus possible to estimate the implications for the Irish dairy sector of supply, demand and policy changes at a world and EU level. It was found that the reform of the CAP in the dairy sector would lead to a reduction in the Irish milk price of 11 per cent relative to the outcome if the reforms were not introduced. However, increases in quota and the availability of compensation following from the Berlin Agreement should offset much of this decline. The effect of the future exchange rate between the euro and the US dollar was of significant importance. Other things being equal, a weaker euro made EU dairy exports more competitive outside of the EU, resulted in less pressure on the CAP budget and ultimately would produce more favourable milk prices than would be the case under a stronger euro. The analysis shows that a difference of 20 per cent in the euro/dollar exchange rate would result in a 7 per cent difference in milk price.
    • Economic aspects of the production and marketing of hardy nursery stock

      Maher, M.J.; Roe, G.; Twohig, D.; Kelly, P.W. (Teagasc, 1999-01-01)
      A census of the Nursery Stock industry, carried out in autumn 1997, valued the sales of plants produced by the industry in 1996 at £18.8m. In the period since a previous census in 1994 field production of nursery stock expanded by 17% while the production of container plants shifted towards the greater use of protected cultivation. Employment in the industry rose by 28% to 912 full time equivalent jobs. Kildare was predominant in the production of containerised plants while Tipperary was the most important county for field production. Together, these two counties produced nearly half the value of the industry. Together with Cork, Dublin, Kilkenny and Wicklow they accounted for three quarters of the value of the industry. The industry was concentrated in that the largest 10% of the nurseries produced 59% of the value of the industry. As nursery size increased, the value of sales output per person rose sharply. Larger nurseries were also more productive per unit area. Exports were valued at £3.45m and imports at £2.22m. The main lines exported were ornamental shrubs followed by liners and deciduous trees. Two thirds of the exports were destined for Great Britain with the remainder going to Northern Ireland. Exporting was even more concentrated than production with the largest 10% of the nurseries providing 83% of the exports. The main imports were deciduous trees and liners. Two thirds of the imports originated from the continent and the remainder were from Great Britain. Small nurseries reported that capital and profitability were the principal factors limiting expansion of their nurseries. Larger nurseries however placed the availability of suitable staff as the main limiting factor. The most common difficulty reported by exporters was the cost of transport and a number of problems relating to the difficulties that individual nurseries or small groups have in supplying a large, discerning and relatively distant market. This underlined the need for increased co-ordination and co-operation in the future.
    • Economic Impact on Irish Dairy Farms of Strategies To Reduce Nitrogen Applications

      Lally, Breda; Riordan, Brendan (Teagasc, 2001-11-01)
      Economic research reported here analysed the likely impact on farm incomes of policies aimed at reducing nitrogen (N) applications on farms. Three types of policy were considered. First was a restriction of the intensity of livestock production to control amounts of organic nitrogenous material going on the land. That in the EU Nitrates Directive of 170 kg N per hectare was used (equivalent to 2 dairy cows per hectare). To this was added a restriction on the total amount of nitrogen applied of 260kg N/ha reflecting rules in the Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS). The third measure considered was a 10 percent tax on sales of manufactured nitrogenous fertilisers. These measures to address nitrate pollution are under discussion in Ireland as the concentration of nitrates in waters in some areas has increased significantly. Particular attention was paid to estimating the impact of the three constraints on specialist dairy farms, as they were most likely to have to restrict applications of N to comply. Many of these farms were in the five Munster counties selected for the study, namely Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford. In these counties 39 percent of specialist dairy farms would have been affected both by Nitrates Directive restrictions on applications of nitrogen as organic material (animal wastes) and REPS rules on the total amount of nitrogenous material spread on farm land. A further 30 percent of these farms would be affected only by the restriction on total applications of N, as in the REPS rules. The remaining 31 percent of the specialist dairy farms would not have been affected by restrictions on N use under either the Nitrates Directive or REPS rules. The potential economic impact of policies to constrain nitrogen use was simulated for a sample of specialist dairy farms in Munster. All of these farms started with levels of N applications in excess of one or both of the restrictions being considered. This policy simulation was carried out using individual farm Positive Mathematical Programming (PMP) models. The results showed that compliance with restrictions on N use would reduce income on all of the selected farms. The results also indicate that these farms could partly or wholly offset the loss by increasing the efficiency of N use, or by increasing milk production per cow. However, the more a farm was above the regulation 2 Livestock Units (dairy cows) per hectare the larger the potential loss of income and the more difficult it would be to make good this loss. Farms starting with fewer than 2 LU/ha but applying in total more than 260 kgN/ha (REPS rule) would find that meeting this target would cause a lesser reduction in income. This loss would also be easier to offset by efficiency increasing measures. With regard to the third scenario of imposing a 10% tax on sales of manufactured N fertilizers, the results showed this to be very ineffective in reducing the amounts used. In some cases the imposition of a tax would have no effect whatsoever on the amount of N used yet would slightly reduce incomes on all of the nation's farms
    • Economic Performance in Irish Sheep Production

      Connolly, Liam (Teagasc, 2000-04-01)
      The objectives of this project were to identify and quantify the factors affecting the profitability of the main systems of sheep production; to identify the factors responsible for the wide variation in output between sheep farms and to assess the impact of EU policy measures on Irish sheep production.
    • Economic Projections for the Dairy and Pig Sectors

      Donnellan, Trevor (Teagasc, 2002-12-01)
      This study examines the effect of changes in agricultural policy and other important economic factors on the outlook for milk and pig production in Ireland in future years. The analysis is conducted at an aggregate commodity level for the dairy and pig sectors. Companion reports provides similar detail on other agriculture sectors (including beef, sheep and cereals) and for the outlook at farm level. The analysis summarised here took place in 2001 and 2002. The potential effect of a change in international trade policy under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreement is examined. Specifically, the analysis assumed two different possibilities for the reduction and the elimination of export subsidies. Subsequently, the impact of a change in the EU’s extensification regime is examined. A series of interlinked economic models capable of projecting key price and output variables were built for the main Irish agricultural commodities, including the dairy and pig sectors, and these in turn were linked with models for the EU and the World. It was thus possible to estimate the implications for the Irish dairy sector of supply, demand and policy changes at a world and EU level. The Baseline analysis showed that under a continuation of current policy that by 2010, the Irish milk price is projected to decline to just over 25 euro per 100 kg. It was found that relative to the Baseline outcome for 2010: • a reduction in EU export subsidies in the dairy sector equivalent in scale to those introduced in the Uruguay Round Agreement would lead to a reduction in the Irish milk price of seven per cent by 2010 • an elimination of EU export subsidies in the dairy sector would lead to a reduction in the Irish milk price of 20 per cent by 2010 The Baseline analysis showed that, under a continuation of current policy, by 2010 the Irish pig sector value was projected to decrease by four per cent relative to its 2000 level. It was found that relative to the Baseline outcome for 2010: • a reduction in EU export subsidies in the agriculture sector equivalent in scale to those introduced in the Uruguay Round Agreement would lead to a reduction in Irish pig sector output value of less than two per cent • an elimination of EU export subsidies in the agriculture sector would lead to a reduction in Irish pig sector output value of eight per cent The implications of a reform of the extensification regime were not substantial. It was found that they fell for the most part on the beef and sheep sectors. The effect on milk and pig production was negligible.
    • Economics of Cattle Production Systems Post CAP Reform.

      Dunne, William; O'Neill, Ronan G.; McEvoy, Oliver (Teagasc, 2001-01-01)
      The radical reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in the early 1990’s impacted directly and indirectly on most of the farm enterprises in Ireland. The direct focus of the reform was largely confined to the cereal and beef enterprises. The reforms consisted of: • A phased reduction in the institutional support prices for cereals and beef of the order of 30 per cent • A phased switch to a direct payment system of farm income support to compensate for the product price reductions. Most farms in Ireland have a cattle enterprise, either alone or in combination with other land using enterprises. Therefore, the reforms of the CAP affected almost all the farms in the country either directly or indirectly. For cattle farmers, the potential consequencee of these changes could be far reaching in terms of their magnitude and their permeation into the details of the husbandry practices of the production system(s) themselves. These changes clearly impact on the economic efficiency of beef systems without necessarily affecting technical efficiency of the systems. The economic optimum cattle production systems would thus be achieved by using the best mix of feed resource costs, carcass values and direct payments. The purpose of the study was to: • determine the economic impact on the cattle enterprise of the switch to: • lower EU prices for beef • lower EU prices for cereals and as a consequence a lower price for concentrate feeds • the direct payment system of income support • identify the economic optimum cattle production system(s) that would arise from these changes • quantify the sensitivity of the economic optimum system to key policy, economic and technical production variables.
    • The effect of abrupt weaning of suckler calves on the plasma concentrations of cortisol, catecholamines, leukocyte, acute-phase proteins and in vitro interferon-gamma production.

      Hickey, Mary-Clare; Drennan, Michael J; Earley, Bernadette; European Union (Teagasc, 2005-12-01)
      The objective of this study was to examine the effect of abrupt weaning (inclusive of social group disruption and maternal separation) on the physiological mediators of stress and measures of immune function. Thirty-eight male and 38 female continental calves were habituated to handling for two weeks prior to bleeding. Calves were blocked on sex, weight and breed of dam and randomly assigned, within block, to either a control (cows remain with calves) or abruptly weaned group (calves removed from cows). Animals were separated into the respective treatment groups at weaning (0 h). Calves were bled at – 168 h, 6 h (males only), 24 h, 48 h and 168 h post weaning. At each sampling time an observer scored the behavioural reaction of calves to sampling. Blood samples were analysed for cortisol, catecholamine concentrations (not sampled at –168 h) and in vitro interferon-gamma production, neutrophil :lymphocyte ratio and acute phase protein concentrations. All continuous data were analysed using a split-plot ANOVA, except that collected at 6 h, which was analysed using a single factor ANOVA model. The effects of weaning, calf sex and time and respective interactions were described. Disruption of the established social groups at 0 h, increased (p<0.001) the plasma cortisol concentration and neutrophil: lymphocyte ratio and reduced the leukocyte concentration (p<0.001) and the in vitro interferon-gamma response to the mitogen concanavalin-A (p<0.001) and keyhole limpet haemocyanin (p<0.001) for weaned and control animals, when compared with –168h. Plasma adrenaline and noradrenaline concentrations were not affected by group disruption. There was no effect of weaning or sex on calf behavioural reaction to handling during blood sampling. Plasma cortisol and adrenaline concentrations were not affected by weaning or sex. Plasma noradrenaline concentration was influenced by weaning x sex (p<0.05) and time x sex (p<0.05). The response increased for male calves with weaning and increased with each sampling time post weaning. For heifers the response was not affected by weaning and plasma concentrations decreased at 168 h post weaning. There was no effect of weaning or sex on leukocyte concentration. The neutrophils : lymphocyte ration increased post weaning (p<0.01) and was affected by sex (p<0.05). Weaning decreased (p<0.05) the in vitro interferon-gamma response to the antigen KLH. There was a time x weaning x sex (p<0.05) interaction for fibrinogen concentration but no effect of treatment on haptoglobin concentration. Abrupt weaning increased plasma cortisol and nor-adrenaline concentrations, which was accompanied by attenuation of in vitro interferon gamma production to novel mitogen and antigen complexes up to 7 days post weaning.
    • Effect of Agricultural Practices on Nitrate Leaching

      Ryan, Michael; McNamara, Kevin; Brophy, C.; Connolly, John; Carton, Owen T.; Richards, Karl G.; Environmental Protection Agency (Teagasc, 01/12/2005)
      A farm-scale study, carried out at Teagasc, Moorepark (Curtin’s farm), examined the effect of four managements (treatments) on nitrate-nitrogen (NO3-N) leaching over the period 2001-`05. Leaching was measured in these treatments: (T1) plots receiving dirty water and N fertilizer which were grazed; (T2) 2-cut silage and grazing plots receiving slurry and fertilizer N; (T3) grazed plots receiving fertilizer N and (T4) 1-cut silage and grazing plots receiving slurry and fertilizer N. The soil is a free-draining sandy loam overlying Karstic fissured limestone. The mean direct N inputs (kg/ha) for T1-T4 in 2001-`04 were 311, 309, 326, 331, respectively, with stocking rates (LU/ha) of 2.12 - ~2.47. Eight ceramic cups per plot, in 3 replicate plots of each treatment, were used to collect water, on a weekly basis, from 1.0 m deep using 50 kPa suction. There were 33, 37, 26 and 24 sampling dates in the 4 years, respectively. The NO3-N and NH4-N concentrations (mg/l) were determined in the water samples. The annual average and weekly concentration of these parameters was statistically analysed for all years, using a repeated measures analysis. The aggregated data were not normally distributed. There was an interaction between treatment and year (p<0.001). Significant differences (p=0.05) in NO3-N concentrations showed between the treatments in years 1, 2, 4 but not in year 3. For the NH4-N data there was no interaction between treatment and year, p=0.12, or main effect of treatment, p=0.54 but there were differences between years, p=0.01. Mean weekly concentrations were analysed separately for each year. For NO3-N, in years 1, 2 and 4 there was an interaction between treatment and week (p<0.001). With NH4-N, there was an interaction between treatment and week in all 4 years. Dirty water was significantly higher than grazed and 1 cut silage in NO3-N concentrations in year 1; in year 2, dirty water and 2 cut silage were significantly higher than the other treatments while in year 4, dirty water and grazed were significantly higher than the other two treatments. The overall four-year weighted mean NO3-N and NH4-N concentrations were 8.2 and 0.297 mg/l. The NCYCLE (UK) model was adapted for Irish conditions as NCYCLE_IRL. The NCYCLE empirical approach proved to be suitable to predict N fluxes from Irish grassland systems in most situations. Experimental data appeared to agree quite well, in most cases, with the outputs from NCYCLE_IRL. The model was not capable of predicting data from some of the leaching experiments, which suggests that the observed leaching phenomena in these experiments could be governed by non-average conditions or other parameters not accounted for in NCYCLE_IRL. An approach that took into account denitrification, leaching and herbage yield would probably explain the differences found. NCYCLE_IRL proved to be a useful tool to analyse N leaching from grazed and cut grassland systems in Ireland.
    • Effect of Agricultural Practices on Nitrate Leaching.

      Ryan, Michael; McNamara, Kevin; Brophy, C.; Connolly, John; Carton, Owen T.; Richards, Karl G. (Teagasc, 2005-12-01)
      A farm-scale study, carried out at Teagasc, Moorepark (Curtin’s farm), examined the effect of four managements (treatments) on nitrate-nitrogen (NO3-N) leaching over the period 2001-`05. Leaching was measured in these treatments: (T1) plots receiving dirty water and N fertilizer which were grazed; (T2) 2-cut silage and grazing plots receiving slurry and fertilizer N; (T3) grazed plots receiving fertilizer N and (T4) 1-cut silage and grazing plots receiving slurry and fertilizer N. The soil is a free-draining sandy loam overlying Karstic fissured limestone.
    • Effect of cattle enterprise type on the rate of disclosure of TB reactors and the geographical distribution of the Irish cattle population.

      Fallon, Richard J.; Hammond, R.F. (Teagasc, 1999-05-01)
      The prevalence of tuberculin reactors in the Irish cattle population has remained constant over the past 20 years. During each year some 30,000 reactors have been identified annually. • A study of the national cattle herd, over a 6-year period (1988-1993), was undertaken to determine the association between enterprise type and the prevalence of tuberculin reactors adjusted for herd size and geographical region. • The data were examined on a herd (n=165,000) basis according to the following enterprise types: Dairy - herds with a milk ring test result and no cows eligible for beef cow premia in 1993; Suckler - herds eligible for beef cow premia; Drystock - herds without cows but with other cattle. Other - herds with cows but not categorised as dairy or beef. • Herd size (no. of cattle) was categorised as: Small (<30), Medium (30 to 59), Large (60 to 99) and Very large (>100). Regional categorisation was: West (Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon, Galway and Clare), South West (Limerick, Kerry, Cork, Waterford and South Tipperary), East (Louth, Meath, Dublin, Kildare, Wicklow and Wexford) and Midland (Cavan, Monaghan, Longford, Westmeath, Offaly, Laois, Kilkenny, Carlow and North Tipperary). • Enterprise type had no effect on the prevalence of tuberculin reactors for any herd size. The number of tuberculin reactors annually per 1000 animals was greatest in the Midland (7.3) and lowest in the South West (3.8). • It is concluded that the incidence of tuberculin reactors was independent of enterprise type within each of the four regions.
    • The effect of different levels of spring grass supply and stocking rate on the performance and intake of cows in early lactation

      O'Donovan, Michael; McEvoy, Mary; Kennedy, Emer; Delaby, Luc; Murphy, John (Teagasc, 2008-11-01)
      Grazed herbage can supply nutrients to dairy cows at a lower cost than alternative feeds (Shalloo et al., 2004). Therefore, the objective of pasture-based systems must be to maximize the proportion of grazed grass in the diet of the dairy cow (Dillon et al., 2005). The extension of the grazing season into the early spring period can be facilitated by ceasing grazing of pastures earlier in autumn which allows grass to accumulate, thereby ensuring an adequate herbage supply in early spring when animal demand exceeds grass growth/supply (O’Donovan, 2000). Grazing pastures in early spring has previously been shown to increase herbage utilization and condition swards for subsequent grazing rotations (O’Donovan et al., 2004; Kennedy et al., 2006).
    • Effect of early sowing on the growth, yield and quality of sugar beet.

      Fortune, R.A.; Burke, James I.; Kennedy, T.F.; O'Sullivan, Eugene (Teagasc, 1999-12-01)
      Experiments have shown that yield of sugar is closely related to the amount of solar radiation intercepted by a sugar beet crop. Early sowing increases leaf area from May onwards when radiation is at its maximum and provides a basis for increasing yields. In the past, bolting has been an undesirable consequence of early sowing but some modern cultivars have good bolting resistance and can be sown early with a limited risk of bolting. This study, conducted from 1994 to 1998, compared the performance of two cultivars, Celt and Monofeb, at three sowing dates and three harvest dates. In replicated experiments, plant establishment, crop development, and root yield and quality were assessed. The effect of sowing date on solar radiation interception was studied. Effects of in-furrow pesticide application on pest numbers and plant damage were also measured. Plant establishment was influenced by sowing date with the early sowings generally giving lower plant numbers than the later ones. The cultivar Celt produced higher populations than Monofeb at all sowing dates. Early sowing increased the leaf area index (a measure of the ratio of leaf to land area) and consequently the amount of solar radiation intercepted. This was particularly so in June when solar radiation levels are highest. Early crop establishment provides the opportunity to exploit good weather conditions which may occur in April or May. Pest numbers generally were small at all the sites. Insecticide had a greater effect on pest numbers and plant damage than it had on plant establishment; the beneficial effects of pesticide were slightly more pronounced for the early and mid-season sowings than for later-sown beet. Seedling diseases were not a problem at any time of sowing. Poor emergence, where it occurred, was not associated with pre-emergence disease. Early to mid-March sowings produced significantly higher yields of roots and sugar than the early or late April sowings over the period of the experiment. Even in years when plant populations from the first sowings were much lower than subsequent sowings, yields tended to be at least equal to those of later sowings. Monofeb produced a slightly higher root yield than Celt, but because it had lower sugar contents there was no difference in sugar yields. Harvesting extended over the period from early October to mid-November and root growth and sugar production increased over that period irrespective of sowing date. Bolting was a problem in 1996 on the early-sown plots, particularly with the cultivar Celt.
    • Effect of Feeding Mixed Forage Diets on Milk Production

      Fitzgerald, J.J.; Murphy, J.J. (Teagasc, 1999-02-01)
      For dairy farmers involved in winter milk production a high intake of forage is required by autumn calved dairy cows to produce a high milk yield with a moderate level of concentrate supplementation. Since intake of grass silage is often limiting, alternative forages or feeds may be needed to maximise forage intake. In areas not suitable for growing maize alternative forages need to be considered. These could include limited amounts of very high quality grass silage (DMD 750-800 g /kg), grazed autumn pasture or bulky by-product feeds, e.g. superpressed sugar beet pulp. An experiment was conducted involving 5 treatments in which a standard good quality grass silage (S) was partially replaced with either very high quality grass silage, which was either unwilted (U) or wilted (W), ensiled pressed sugar beet pulp (P) or with autumn pasture (G). These additional feeds were fed at a level of 5 kg DM/day to autumn calved cows in early lactation over a period of 8 weeks from late October to late December. The pressed pulp diet (P) included 0.5 kg DM soyabean meal to increase its protein level. The autumn grass was cut daily and fed indoors. The additional feeds were fed on top of the standard silage in individual feeding boxes and the standard silage was fed ad libitum to cows on all treatments. The cows were fed concentrates at 6 kg/day in two feeds on all treatments. The digestibility of the standard grass silage (754 g DMD/kg) was higher than planned and was only slightly less than that of the high quality supplementary silages (783 g DMD/kg). Feeding the U and W silages did not increase total forage intake but did increase milk yield by 1.7 - 1.9 kg/day compared with silage S alone. Milk fat and protein concentration tended to be reduced on the diets containing U and W silages, consequently yield of fat and protein were not significantly increased compared with silage S. Forage intake was increased by 8% (0.8 kg DM/day) when silage S was supplemented with autumn grass and milk yield was increased by 1.5 kg/day without affecting milk composition. Intake of silage was reduced by 37% by feeding grass. Feeding the pressed pulp supplement (P) increased intake of forage (+1.1 kg DM/day), increased milk yield by 2.7 kg/day and also improved milk protein concentration and yield (+121 g/day). Cows gained in liveweight to a similar extent on all diets. It was concluded that feeding pressed pulp with a good quality grass silage had the greatest effect on forage intake and milk production whereas feeding high quality grass silages or autumn grass had a smaller effect. Larger increases in intake and milk production would be expected from these feeds if the standard grass silage was of lower digestibility (~700 g DMD/kg), similar to average quality first cut silage.
    • Effect of Genetic Merit for Milk Production, Dairy Cow Breed and Pre-Calving Feeding on Reproductive Physiology and Performance.

      Mee, John F; Snijders, Sylvia M. E.; Dillon, Pat (Teagasc, 2000-10-01)
      The overall objective of this project was to determine, following four experiments, the effects of genetic merit for milk production, dairy cow breed and prepartum feeding on reproductive physiology and performance. In the present experiments, the high proportion of Holstein- Friesian genes played a more important role in reducing reproductive performance than milk production. Significant breed differences in reproductive performance were detected.
    • The effect of grass genotype and spring management on the nutritive value of mid-summer ryegrass swards

      O'Donovan, Michael; Hurley, Grainne; Gilliland, Trevor (Teagasc, 2008-07-01)
      The objective of this project was to investigate the environmental, morphological and management factors that control reproductive initiation and development in Lolium perenne L. (perennial ryegrass) and their influence on mid-season sward quality. These factors were assessed on eight perennial ryegrass cultivars through spaced plant and plot studies. The first part of this project determined the effects of meteorological conditions and latitude on reproductive initiation and ear emergence of cultivars over two consecutive years. It was concluded that the critical day length requirement for reproductive initiation varies between perennial ryegrass cultivars and is independent of latitude and the normal range of conditions. Using this information a strong correlation (r2 = 0.94) was found between the critical day length for ear initiation and the ten year standardised ear emergence dates of the cultivars. This correlation was sufficiently robust to predict the critical initiation date for any perennial ryegrass cultivar on a UK recommended list or on the EU common catalogue by using their heading dates from the UK Plant Breeders Rights trials at Crossnacreevy. Large variation was observed for secondary initiation and re-heading between cultivars of similar and varying maturity, which is a major factor reducing mid-season sward quality. The propensity for initiation of re-heading was strongly influenced by the severity of defoliation (intense to very lax), but there was also evidence to suggest that critical day length post-solstice, may determine the latest date when further reproductive initiation could occur. Differences in plant growth modes were clearly evident as the sward structure, plant morphology and nutritive compositions differed significantly between cultivars during the mid-season. Defoliation management also significantly affected mid-season sward structure, morphology and nutritive composition. While the effect of defoliation height on the sward physical and chemical compositions was inconclusive, an intensive (30 mm) defoliation resulted in plants returning to a vegetative growth mode earlier compared to a lax (60 mm) defoliation treatment. It was observed that defoliation at a critical growth stage can significantly affect subsequent sward structures. Delaying initial spring defoliation resulted in a greater leaf proportion and swards of greater herbage quality in the plot study. This study, therefore, established the need for more detailed evaluation of cultivars by national testing authorities to allow farmers to select cultivars for grazing use that will optimise animal intake and performance.