• On farm welfare assessment of beef cattle using an environmentally-based welfare index and investigation of the human-animal relationship.

      Earley, Bernadette; Mazurek, Mickael; Murray, Margaret; Prendiville, Daniel J. (Teagasc, 2009-01-01)
      Study 1. Animal welfare index (AWI): an on-farm survey of beef suckler farms in Ireland Summary The objectives were to (i) examine the welfare status of Irish beef suckler herds using an animal welfare index (AWI) adapted from a previously validated welfare assessment method (TGI); (ii) determine the influence of the stockpersons’ status (full: FT or part-time: PT), their interest in farming and herd size on the AWI; and (iii) compare the AWI with the TGI. Beef suckler farms (196 throughout 13 counties) were assessed once with housed cattle and once with cattle at grass using the AWI. Twenty-three of the 196 farms were revisited a year after using the AWI and the TGI. Thirty-three indicators were collected in five categories: locomotion (5 indicators); social interactions (7), flooring (5), environment (7) and stockpersonship (9). Three indicators relating to the size of the farm were also collected. The mean AWI was 65% and ranged from 54% to 83%. The grass period represented 16.5% of mean total points of the AWI. Seventy percent of the farms were rated as “Very Good” or “Excellent”. There was no difference (P > 0.05) in AWI between FT and PT farmers. PT farmers had greater (P = 0.01) “social interactions”: calving (P = 0.03) and weaning (P < 0.001) scores. FT farmers had cleaner animals (P = 0.03) and less lameness (P = 0.01). The number of animals and the interest of the stockperson were negatively and positively correlated (P = 0.001), respectively, with the AWI. A hierarchical classification was performed to examine how the indicators influenced the AWI. Farms could be categorized into three classes, the most discriminating factors for the classes were the interest of the farmer (higher scores when the farmer was more interested in farming) and the number of animals (higher scores when the herds were smaller). Study 2. Investigation and specificity of behavioural fear responses of heifers to different fear-eliciting situations involving humans. Summary This study investigated the specificity of fear responses in housed beef heifers’ over time using four behavioural tests; flight, docility, fear and chute tests. The flight, (time to join peers and avoidance distance), docility (isolation and handling) and fear (4 phases; responses of isolated heifers in (i), the absence (ii), the presence, of food and responses to a stationary human (iii) without and (iv) with visual contact of their peers) tests were carried out over three consecutive days, in that order, commencing on day 30 and again on day 80 post-housing. The chute test (movement through a race and agitation of heifers during blood sampling) was performed on day 84 post-housing. Scores (higher scores meant less fearful animals) were assigned to the fear responses. Heifers had the lowest (P < 0.05) scores during phases (i) and (iii) of the fear test and the highest (P< 0.05) during phase (iv). The most docile heifers during the docility test were the most agitated during the chute test (P < 0.001). The fear scores were sTable over time for the docility test but decreased for the fear test. The fear scores when restrained (chute test) were not correlated with other scores except for the agitation. A PCA showed that two components (avoidance of stimulus and general agitation explained 49% of the total variation. In conclusion, this study showed that fear responses of heifers can vary over time and that fear is not unitary but multidimensional. Consequently, fear responses are condition specific and tests assessing fear should consider their specificity.
    • On-line Sensor Control for Milk Powder and Cheese Manufacture.

      O'Callaghan, Donal; Schulz, Daniela; O'Donnell, Colm P.; Duffy, Arthur; Hade, John; Howard, Vincent (Teagasc, 2001-08-01)
      This project investigated the use of on-line sensors of rheological characteristics which can be measured during the manufacture of milk powder and cheese. The objective is to use on-line measurements to fine tune each process, so as to compensate for the variability of milk.
    • Opportunities in the Irish foodservice sector for small manufacturers

      O'Connell, Sinead; Henchion, Maeve; Collins, Alan (Teagasc, 2004-09)
      The foodservice sector offers significant opportunities for some small-scale food manufacturers. This research provides information to help them exploit this opportunity through a survey of 100 food buyers in the hotel sub-sector.
    • Optimal use of animal slurries for input reduction and protection of the environment in sustainable agricultural systems.

      Carton, Owen T.; Lenehan, J.J.; Ryan, Declan (Teagasc, 1998-09-01)
      The objectives of manure management in sustainable agricultural systems are to optimise nutrient recovery by the crop and to reduce nutrient losses to the environment. However, farmers still have many practical problems in adopting and applying the research developed for improving manure management strategies. This project identified and addressed three of these problems. These concerned the provision of decision support in relation to environmental risk assessment and application decision strategies; determining the nutrient value of slurry and the development of manure application technology.
    • Optimisation of Cattle Housing Systems for Beef Farmers

      Lenehan, J.J. (Teagasc, 2003-05-01)
      The provision of animal accommodation and feed storage is essential for the efficient management of a beef herd. Housing should provide living conditions that are conducive to good animal health and efficient production while optimising labour efficiency and minimising the potential for negative impacts to the environment. This report compares the merits of a number of systems.
    • Optimisation of Ingredient Formulation in Processed Meat Products.

      O'Kennedy, Brendan; Neville, Denis P.; Kelly, Philip (Teagasc, 2000-10-01)
      Reformed and restructured meat are two major categories of processed meat products. Reformed meat products require intact meat pieces to bind together while restructured meat products are extensively minced prior to restructuring. Salts such as sodium chloride and phosphates together with mechanical treatment and heat, have been used to bind meat pieces together. In the process the proteins in muscle become soluble, bind large amounts of water and gel on heating. While heat-induced gelation of soluble meat protein provides binding in reformed meat products and reduces cook losses in restructured meat products, no binding occurs in raw meat systems. Non-meat proteins, especially soya protein, are routinely used in processed meat products, often in conjunction with salts, to increase water and fat binding during the cooking process. However, such proteins do not bind intact meat pieces in either the raw or cooked state. Transglutaminase (TGase) is a food-grade commercially available enzyme which can crosslink suitable proteins leading to the formation of a protein matrix (gel) and immobilisation of large quantities of water. This property could improve the water-binding properties of non-meat proteins in restructured meat products. The prospect of crosslinking native meat proteins and non-meat proteins or native meat proteins on adjacent meat pieces would make salt-free reformed meat products a realistic objective. Hence, the main objective of this project was to study protein-protein interactions in reformed and restructured meats, especially between meat proteins and added non-meat proteins in the absence of salts but in the presence of a protein crosslinking enzyme.
    • Optimisation of Nutrient Supply for Beef Cattle Fed Grass or Silage.

      Moloney, Aidan P; O'Kiely, Padraig; Hickey, Mary-Clare; Adams, L.A. (Teagasc, 2001-05-01)
      Since forage forms a large part of growing ruminant rations in Ireland, the trust of this project was to examine the effect of ensilage on ruminal digestion of grass and to examine ruminal microbial protein and intestinally absorbable protein supplied by grass and/or clover. A range of in vitro and in vivo techniques were employed and strategies used by commercial beef producers to optimise cattle growth (and nutrient supply) were also documented. To accomplish the aims of this project, a range of methodology developments/ modifications in vitro and in vivo was carried out. From in vitro methodology development it was concluded that : (i) Compared with fresh silage, drying per se may give artifically higher rates of dry matter (DM) digestion. (ii) Greater experimental precision can be obtained by ensuring a greater substrate surface area to reaction volume ratio in each reaction vessel. (iii) For studies where the rate of digestion is of greatest importance, pre-incubation of frozen inoculum in a nutrient medium best simulated the cellulolytic activity of unfrozen inoculum. In studies that require large volumes of inoculum for extended work, freezing directly is justified. (iv) Neutral detergent extraction altered in vitro digestion characteristics of silage. The residue after washing with water at 70°C has a high residual fibre concentration and is more representative of the structural components of silage ingested by ruminants. (v) A semi-continuous culture system developed at Grange Research Centre can successfully model in vitro ruminal digestion of fibre and starch-based diets in a controlled environment. From in vivo methodology development it was concluded that : (i) Oven drying at 60°C and correction for loss of volatiles gives a good estimation of DM concentration of ruminal particulate digesta. This procedure has the added advantage that drying at 60°C allows the residual materials to be analysed for fibre fractions without concern for heat damage which can occur at a higher drying temperature. (ii) A naso-ruminal sampling device can be used to measure the relative patterns of fermentation of contrasting diet types when in situ for up to 7 days. (ii) Application of a vacuum to withdraw samples had no negative effect on ruminal fluid variables. From in vitro studies on grass digestion, it was concluded that : (i) Ensiling of grass decreased the apparent extent of digestion of cell walls when in the presence of the whole plant and that this largely reflected an increase in the lag time before digestion commenced. (ii) Ensiling of grass did not negatively affect the digestion of isolated cell walls. (iii) There is a negative impact of ensiling on microbial protein production from the water soluble carbohydrate fraction of grass. (iv) Supplementation with the water soluble fraction of grass significantly improved the apparent extent of digestion for ensiled forages when compared with the supplementation of the post-ensiling fraction in a batch culture system. (v) There is a negative impact of maturity on the pattern of cell wall fermentation and that this impact can be decreased by ensiling method. From studies on herbage digestion in vivo it was concluded that : (i) Grass silage type had a greater effect than the rate of concentrate fermentation on ruminal microbal protein synthesis. (ii) Harvesting time had a bigger impact on nutrient supply from herbage than sward type (grass or grass/clover). (iii) Increasing clover content in the herbage decreased the biological value (g nitrogen retained/kg absorbed) of dietary protein. Diverse stratgies were used on commercial beef farms to optimise nutrient supply and animal growth. Average animal performance on individual farms was not better than would be typically recorded in a research environment. There was scope on many of the farms to improve technical performance and to decrease the costs of production.
    • Optimising Nutrition Of Containerised Nursery Stock

      Maher, M.J.; Prasad, M.; Campion, Jerry; Mahon, Marie (Teagasc, 2008-08-01)
      Irish peat, used as a growing medium in horticulture, tends to have a higher state of decomposition and a higher potential buffering capacity than some of the younger peats from Scandinavian or Baltic countries. Particularly where hard water, with high bicarbonate content, is used for irrigation this could be an important property in giving the peat greater stability with respect to pH levels throughout the cropping period. It may also influence the optimum rate of lime to be applied to adjust the pH prior to cropping. The effect of peat type on the performance of nursery stock plants, Azalea and Hebe in 2-litre containers, was studied when irrigated with both soft and hard water and with different rates of lime in the peat growing medium. When irrigated with hard water, the rate of pH increase was less with relatively decomposed Irish peat than with younger Baltic peats. Using Irish peat, a rate of dolomitic lime addition to the peat of 4 kg/m3 was best for Hebe when irrigated with soft water. Irrigating with hard water the lime rate could vary between 2 and 4 kg/m3 without affecting plant performance. With the Baltic peats, increasing the rate of lime addition above 2 kg/m3 tended to reduce growth of Hebe. Azalea gave better results when irrigated with soft water. In hard water areas therefore it is advisable, if possible, to collect rain water from a greenhouse roof for irrigation purposes. A zero rate of lime gave inferior results with Azalea. With hard water a rate of 1 kg/m3 was optimum. With soft water this could be increased to 2 kg/m3 without damage. New formulations of the controlled release fertiliser (CRF) have been introduced recently. An experiment was carried out to evaluate the CRFs available in Ireland for the production of containerised nursery stock over a 12 month period. The effect of rate of CRF was also studied. Experiments were also located in the Colleges of Horticulture in Warrenstown and Kildalton. All the CRFs in these experiments produced acceptable results in terms of plant performance. There were differences between the CRFs but these were not consistent between the experiments. The vigorous species Lonicera pileata and Escallonia macrantha responed positively to rates of CRF up to 8 kg/m3. The conifer, Thuja plicata gave no response to rates above 6 kg/m3. In an experiment over two seasons using 20 nursery stock species, a liquid feeding system resulted in heavier plants of most species than did one based on a controlled release fertiliser.
    • Optimising sward structure and herbage yield for the performance of dairy cows at pasture.

      Casey, Imelda A.; Brereton, A. J. (Teagasc, 1999-12-01)
      The basic unit of intake is the bite. The total daily intake of grazed grass is determined by the number of bites taken and the weight of the average bite. In this project the focus was on sward structure (architecture) and its effects on bite volume and weight. There were two objectives. The first was to determine the plant growth mechanism responsible for variations in sward structure. The investigation was carried out at The Queen’s University in Belfast and involved microscopic study of leaves from plants grown under controlled conditions. The second objective, to determine how bite volume and mass was affected by differences in sward structure was a field study using fistulated cows and was done at Moorepark.
    • Optimisng the Reponse to Supplementary Concentrates by Beef Cattle in Winter.

      Keane, Michael G.; Drennan, Michael J; Moloney, Aidan P (Teagasc, 2008-01-01)
      Concentrates are a major component of feed costs in winter finishing of beef cattle. Two separate experiments were carried out to evaluate the response to increasing supplementary concentrate level with grass silage and the effects of feeding the silage and concentrates separately or as a total mixed ration (TMR).
    • Overview of seafood research at Ashtown food research centre (1990 - 2007)

      Gormley, Ronan T.; Downey, Gerard (Teagasc, 2008-02)
      In recent years, the Irish seafood industry has faced stringent quotas and dwindling fish stocks. The introduction of fish farming added a new dimension but falling prices also created difficulties for this sector. However, the recent report of the Seafood Industry Strategy Group on ‘Steering a New Course’ and the Sea Change Programme of the Marine Institute will add new impetus to the industry. The current report summarises R&D on seafood conducted at Ashtown Food Research Centre (AFRC) in the period 1990-2007 and represents a major portion of seafood R&D conducted nationally during that period.
    • Overview of Seafood Research at Ashtown Food Research Centre (1990 - 2007)

      Gormley, Ronan T.; Downey, Gerard (Teagasc, 01/02/2008)
      In recent years, the Irish seafood industry has faced stringent quotas and dwindling fish stocks. The introduction of fish farming added a new dimension but falling prices also created difficulties for this sector. However, the recent report of the Seafood Industry Strategy Group on ‘Steering a New Course’ and the Sea Change Programme of the Marine Institute will add new impetus to the industry. The current report summarises R&D on seafood conducted at Ashtown Food Research Centre (AFRC) in the period 1990-2007 and represents a major portion of seafood R&D conducted nationally during that period.
    • Pathways for nutrient loss to water with emphasis on phosphorus

      Tunney, Hubert; Kiely, Gerard; Morgan, Ger; Moles, Richard; Byrne, Paul; Jordan, Philip; Daly, Karen M.; Doody, Donnacha G.; Kurz, Isabelle; Bourke, David; et al. (Teagasc, 01/06/2007)
      The main objective of this project was to study phosphorus (P) loss from agricultural land under a range of conditions in Ireland, to quantify the main factors influencing losses and make recommendations on ways to reduce these losses. This report is a synthesis of the main conclusions and recommendations from the results of the studies. The final reports from the individual sub-projects in this project are available from the EPA (www.epa.ie).
    • Pathways for Nutrient Loss to Water; Slurry and Fertilizer Spreading

      Ryan, T. Declan; Holden, Nicholas M.; Carton, Owen T.; Fitzgerald, D.; Murphy, F.; Environmental Protection Agency (Teagasc, 08/07/2008)
      There are almost 150,000 farms in Ireland and these contribute substantial quantities of N and P to inland and coastal waters. Some of these nutrients are carried from wet soils by overland flow and by leaching from dry soils. Farm practice can reduce the loss from farms by judicious management of nutrients. Improvements are required to diminish export of nutrients without impairing operations on the farm. Literature regarding nutrient loss from agriculture was reviewed in this project and maps were prepared to predict best slurry spreading times around Ireland. Two further maps were prepared to show slurry storage requirement on farms.
    • Pathways for Nutrient Loss to Water; Slurry and Fertilizer Spreading.

      Ryan, Declan; Holden, Nicholas M.; Carton, Owen T.; Fitzgerald, D.; Murphy, F. (Teagasc, 2008-07-08)
      The objectives of this work were as follows: • To critically review information in existing literature and data. This would help to develop an improved understanding of the factors contributing to pollution by P and N. • To identify regional opportunities for spreading slurry • To estimate the regional opportunities for storing slurry These objectives were pursued in the following way. The first target was addressed by literature review, by an in-depth review of the Fertiliser Use Survey (Coulter et al., 2002) and by a revised statistical analysis of nutrient loss data from former trials at Johnstown Castle. For objective 2, a mapping exercise, using detailed rainfall data, indicated the climate risk element of slurry spreading. A similar approach was adopted for the third objective where climate and other data were used to plot maps of slurry storage requirement.
    • The Performance of Cannabis Sativa (HEMP) as a Fibre Source for Medium Density Fibre Board (MDF).

      Crowley, J.G. (Teagasc, 2001-05-01)
      Industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa) was successfully grown over a three-year period without the use of agrochemicals, and with a relatively low input of nitrogen fertilizer at 120 kg/ha (96 units/ac). The yields achieved were encouraging at an average of 12.5 t/ha of whole stems at 15% m.c. over the three years. Sowing in early- to mid-April at a seed rate of half the conventional recommended rate of 50 kg/ha proved to be sufficient to achieve the maximum yield of stems where long fibre yield and finess (quality) are not required. For this study the hemp was produced as a raw material for the fibre board industry, where the whole stem and not just the long blast fibre is required. Hemp is relatively disease-free with Botrytis and Sclerotinia the only diseases encountered. For both, spraying is not possible due to the height of the crop. Infection rarely causes economic losses. Harvesting hemp proved difficult with conventional farm harvesting equipment. The development of the hemp crop as an industrial raw material will require the development of harvesting, chopping and storage techniques that can cope with the height, bulk and fibrous nature of the crop.
    • Phosphorus loss from soil to water.

      Tunney, Hubert; Carton, Owen T.; O'Donnell, T.; Fanning, A. (Teagasc, 1998-12-01)
      The work described under this project covers field work on phosphorus(P) loss from soil to water under field conditions. In addition two International Workshops on P loss to water, held in Ireland in 1995 and 1998, are also covered under this project. The results indicate that P loss to water is a complex process and it is influenced by a number of factors, including hydrology of the soil, rates and timing of P application and soil P levels. Most work on this subject indicates that there is a positive relationship between soil test P levels and P loss to water. There is need for further work to establish the relative contribution of the different variables involved in P loss from soil to water for different soils and farming conditions. This should help provide answers to the most sustainable methods to minimise losses of P to water and ensure that agricultural production is compatible with good water quality.
    • Phosphorus Retention and sorption by constructed wetland soils.

      Dunne, E.; Culleton, Noel; O'Donovan, Grace; Harrington, Rory (Teagasc, 2005-01-01)
      Phosphorus plays a major role in the eutrophication of freshwater systems. Wetland systems either natural or constructed have an inherent ability to cycle and retain P. Physical, chemical and biological processes regulate P retention in wetland soils and sediments. Of those processes, sorption and precipitation are important in retaining P. Sorption is typically greater under aerobic soil/sediment conditions than anaerobic conditions. Under anaerobic conditions, Fe plays a major role in P dynamics, whereas Al is not affected by changes in redox. Precipitation of P as insoluble Ca bound P is a dominant transformation at high pH. Long-term P retention by wetland systems includes accretion and decomposition of organic and detrital material, and its associated P content. Case studies reviewed illustrated that P retention in natural and constructed wetland systems can vary by several orders of 30 magnitude depending on site-specific factors. The literature reviewed also indicates that using wetlands to retain P from agricultural practices is significant and variable.
    • Physical Impact of Livestock on the Hill Environment.

      Walsh, Michael; Collins, J.F.; Guinan, L.; Clavin, D.J.; Nixon, D. (Teagasc, 2001-06-01)
      The overall objective of this work was to provide quantitative and objective information on the role of livestock on changes over time in vegetation and soils in the hill areas and to develop a suitable monitoring programme.
    • Physiological and behavioural aspects of housing stress in cattle.

      Earley, Bernadette; Gupta, Sandeep; Murray, Margaret; Prendiville, Daniel J. (Teagasc, 2008-12-01)
      The effect of various space allowances on pituitary, adrenal, immune responses and performance was investigated in 72 Holstein x Friesian bulls.The effect of transporting bulls for 12-h by road previously housed for 96 days at three space allowances (1.2, 2.7, 4.2 m2 per bull) on adrenal, haematological, immune responses, body temperature and performance was investigated. The effect of repeated regrouping and relocation (R&R) on behaviour of steers was investigated. The effect of repeated regrouping and relocation (R&R) of cattle on hypothalamicpituitary- adrenal (HPA) axis, immune function, blood biochemical, hematological variables and ADG, was investigated.