• Validation and Improvement of the Beef Production Sub-index in Ireland for Beef Cattle

      Drennan, Michael J; McGee, Michael; Clarke, Anne Marie; Kenny, David A.; Evans, R. D.; Berry, Donagh (Teagasc, 2008-01-01)
      The objectives of the following study were to: a. Quantify the effect of sire genetic merit for BCI on: 1. feed intake, growth and carcass traits of progeny managed under bull or steer beef production systems. 2. live animal scores, carcass composition and plasma hormone and metabolite concentrations in their progeny. b. Compare the progeny of : 1. Late-maturing beef with dairy breeds and 2. Charolais (CH), Limousin (LM), Simmental (SM) and Belgian Blue (BB) sires bred to beef suckler dams, for feed intake, blood hormones and
    • Variation in the quality of meat from Irish steers at the time of slaughter.

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

      Troy, Declan J.; Joseph, Robin; European Union; AIR-CT94-1881 (Teagasc, 2001-07)
      Very fast chilling (VFC) of beef reduces the temperature to -1ºC after 5 hours post mortem throughout its mass. The process has many potential benefits (Joseph,1996) including the production of tender meat and greater process efficiency in the meat plant.
    • Viability of in vitro produced cattle embryos.

      Morris, Dermot G.; Diskin, Michael G.; Sreenan, J.M. (Teagasc, 2001-06-01)
      Embryo transfer is being increasingly used in the cattle industry. As well as direct embryo transfers, many embryo-based biotechnologies have the potential to improve cattle production efficiency through enhanced breeding strategies, by facilitating the introduction of desirable traits such as disease resistance and through the production of desirable medical or pharmaceutical products in the milk. These biotechnologies are, however, dependent on a supply of viable in vitro produced (IVP) embryos. While the in vitro fertilization rate is high (80%) in cattle, only about 30 transferable embryos, or blastocysts, are produced from every 100 fertilized oocytes. A major factor affecting the viability of IVP embryos is their failure, in a high proportion of cases, to undergo normal development to the blastocyst stage in the manner of in vivo embryos. The major problem relates to a failure of the cells of IVP embryos to form a compact cell mass when they are 5 - 6 days old. This ultimately leads to developmental problems and compromised viability. Cell compaction is recognized as a critical event in early embryo development and has been associated with marked changes in protein synthesis and phosphorylation in the embryos of some species. This report is the first, to our knowledge, to describe the rate and pattern of protein synthesis and phosphorylation before, during and after compaction in both in vivo and in IVP cattle embryos. The main results are summarised below.
    • The virulence of E. coli 0157:H7 isolated from Irish sheep and pigs to humans

      Lenahan, Mary; Sheridan, James J.; O'Brien, Stephen (Teagasc, 2008-02)
      Investigations were carried out at five sheep and five pig export abattoirs situated in the Republic of Ireland to determine the prevalence of E. coli O157:H7 in these animals at slaughter. This is the first study for the presence of E. coli O157:H7 on sheep and pigs to be carried out in Ireland. Faeces and pre- and post-chill carcass swabs were collected from pigs over a one year period between January and December 2004. Samples were collected from sheep over a 13-month period between February 2005 and February 2006. The pig study recovered E. coli O157:H7 from 0.24 % (n=4) of 1680 porcine samples while the sheep study isolated the pathogen from 2.1 % (n=33) of 1600 ovine samples. PCR analysis of E. coli O157:H7 isolates determined that they carried the virulence genes vt1, vt2, eaeA and hlyA typically associated with clinical illness in humans. The results presented indicate that Irish sheep and pigs are reservoirs for E. coli O157:H7 which may be potentially harmful to humans.
    • Visual Environmental Data on Soils and Land Use

      Coulter, B.S.; McDonald, E.; Murphy, W.E.; Lee, J. (Teagasc, 1999-05-01)
      This project was established to develop a computer based system to view, manipulate and store data on soils, environment and land use in electronic map form for environmental decision support. It was designed to produce new information, charts and maps by combining features from the captured data, and to develop networking systems to allow exchange of data with other Teagasc centres, local and national government and the EU. The current report presents maps and tabular data of particular relevance to the environment. It includes information and maps on the total stocking density of livestock in different parts of Ireland. This is relevant to the nutrient loadings that soils and the environment are subject to from normal farming operations. It also includes maps and tabular information on phosphorus and potassium levels in soils and the recommended manure and fertiliser application given by Teagasc for grassland and cropping on these soils. In addition, it also describes and illustrates with tables and maps, a computerised programming approach for mapping phosphorus and potassium levels in soils at a detailed level by using the farmer’s address to locate samples at townland or DED level.
    • Weaning Mart Survey

      Prendiville, Daniel J.; Earley, Bernadette (Teagasc, 2001-04-01)
      The weanling survey was carried out for the period January 1998 to December 1999. * There were 123,259 weanling surveyed. * The distance travelled to the mart ranged from 1.4 to 216 km. * All weanlings travelled < 4 h to the mart. * The majority of weanlings travelled < 50 km to and from the mart. * The distance travelled from the mart ranged from 2.1 to 364km. * Only 32 weanlings travelled > 500 km on the combined jour neys to and from the mart. * The longest distance travelled on the combined journey to and from the mart was 579 km. * The number of weanlings that remained within the county where the marts were located ranged from 23.5% to 99.5%. * No animals travelled for > 8 h. * There are no welfare issues involved in the selling of weanlings through Irish marts.
    • Web-based Tools for the Analysis of DNA Microarrays

      Geeleher, P.; Golden, A.; Hinde, J.; Morris, Dermot G. (Teagasc, 2008-01-01)
      DNA microarrays are widely used for gene expression profiling. Raw data resulting from microarray experiments, however, tends to be very noisy and there are many sources of technical variation and bias. This raw data needs to be quality assessed and interactively preprocessed to minimise variation before statistical analysis in order to achieve meaningful result. Therefore microarray analysis requires a combination of visualisation and statistical tools, which vary depending on what microarray platform or experimental design is used.Bioconductor is an existing open source software project that attempts to facilitate analysis of genomic data. It is a collection of packages for the statistical programming language R. Bioconductor is particularly useful in analyzing microarray experiments. The problem is that the R programming language’s command line interface is intimidating to many users who do not have a strong background in computing. This often leads to a situation where biologists will resort to using commercial software which often uses antiquated and much less effective statistical techniques, as well as being expensively priced. This project aims to bridge this gap by providing a user friendly web-based interface to the cutting edge statistical techniques of Bioconductor.
    • Weed control in glyphosate tolerant sugar beet.

      Mitchell, B.J. (Teagasc, 2000-12-01)
      Between 1997 and 1999 weed control trials were carried out with sugar beet tolerant to glyphosate. Glyphosate was applied at a total dose of 1620.0, 2160.0, 3240.0 and 4320.0 g a.i. ha-1 in two and three applications. These were compared with a standard and double standard three spray sugar beet herbicide programme. In all seasons application of the lowest dose of glyphosate, 1620.0 g a.i. ha-1 gave marginally better control of weeds than the standard herbicide programme. Herbicide timing was more flexible with glyphosate and only two weeds, Polygonum convolvulus and Lamium purpureum required more than one application to kill all the weeds. In most cases no significant difference in weed control was observed between the glyphosate treatments after the second and third applications but the three spray programmes were marginally better than the two spray in 1997 and 1998. In 1997 the sugar beet strain was not totally tolerant to glyphosate and a reduction in plant numbers was recorded after the initial glyphosate application. The strain used in subsequent years was fully tolerant and no plant loss occurred even at the highest glyphosate dose. At harvest most of the root yields in the glyphosate treatments were significantly higher than the yields from the standard herbicide comparison treatments. Crop vigour was not affected by any of the treatments in 1997 but in 1998 and 1999 the two standard herbicides reduced crop vigour by 10 and 20 per cent respectively.
    • 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.
    • The Welfare of Animals Transported From Ireland to Italy.

      Earley, Bernadette; Farrell, J.A.; Murray, Margaret; Nolan, Michael; Prendiville, Daniel J.; O'Riordan, Edward G. (Teagasc, 2004-03-19)
      The overall objective of the present study was to investigate the physiological, haematological and immunological responses of weanling bulls transported to Italy under present EU legislation and to evaluate the implications in terms of animal welfare.
    • The welfare of animals transported from Ireland to Spain AND The Physiological haematological and immunological responses of 9-month old bulls (250kg) to transport at two stocking densities (0.85m2 and 1.27m2 /250kg animal) on a 12-hour journey by road.

      Earley, Bernadette; Farrell, J.A.; Murray, Margaret; Prendiville, Daniel J.; O'Riordan, Edward G. (Teagasc, 2003-01-01)
      Fifty-two weanling continental x beef heifers (mean liveweight 269kg) were transported from Ireland to France on a roll-on roll-off ferry (RO-RO), and onwards by road for 3-hours to a French lairage, rested for 24 hours at a staging post and taken by road on an 18-hour journey through France to a feedlot in Spain. Animals transported to France lost 7.6 % of their bodyweight, and gained 3.3 % of their bodyweight by time of arrival in Spain and recovered to pre-transport liveweight values by day 6. Although there was some evidence that transport affected physiological and immunological variables, there was no evidence to suggest that it adversely affected the health or the performance of the animals post transport. Creatine kinase activities were increased but values were still within normal acceptable ranges. Increases in non-esterified fatty acids, beta-hydroxybutyrate and urea concentrations suggested that the animals' normal pattern of feeding was disrupted during transport. Increases in albumin, total plasma protein and osmolality would indicate slight dehydration during transit. However, albumin concentrations returned to control levels by day 38 of the study. While haematocrit values were decreased, they are within the range of normal referenced data (24 - 48%). Similarly, changes in the RBC numbers and haemoglobin were within the normal blood referenced ranges ((RBC; 5.0 – 10.0 x106 /ml) and (haemoglobin 8-14 g%)(Schalm, 1961)). The only time at which white blood counts increased above the upper limit of 12, was 12 hours after arrival at the French lairage. The aspartate transaminase concentrations for the transported animals at arrival in France and Spain were not significantly different from their pre-transport concentrations but were increased at day 11 when compared with baseline levels. Concanavalin-A induced interferon-g levels were lower on arrival in the Spanish feedlot and on Day 11 of the study, when compared with pre-transport baseline levels. Compared with pre-transport levels, keyhole limpet haemocyanin-induced interferon-g levels for the transported animals were significantly decreased on the day of arrival in France, with no significant difference on the day of arrival in Spain or on day 11 of the study. Interferon-g is produced by activated T lymphocytes and natural killer cells in response to antigen. The percentage (%) of lymphocytes decreased and the % neutrophils increased post-transport indicating a shift in the population of these blood cells relative to pre-transport baseline values. There was no significant change in plasma cortisol concentrations in transported animals at arrival in France and in Spain. On Day 11, the plasma cortisol concentrations of transported animals were significantly higher than control animals. There were significantly higher glucose concentrations on arrival in France, and in samples taken at 12 and 24 hours post-arrival in France, on arrival in Spain, and on days 7 and 11 compared with control levels. Transported animals had significantly higher glucose levels at sample 2 on the day of arrival in France compared with their pre-transport values. Transported animals had significantly higher fibrinogen levels at arrival in France compared with their pre-transport baseline concentrations. Inflammation resulting from stress can cause the release of acute phase proteins such as haptoglobin and fibrinogen, and acute phase proteins in cattle have been associated with immunosuppression, however, much higher levels have been reported in inflammatory conditions. Transported animals had significantly higher non-esterified fatty acid (NEFA) levels on arrival in France and Spain and on day 11 compared with their pre-transport baseline concentrations. Control animals had significantly higher levels on day 5 compared with their pre-transport baseline NEFA concentrations. However, all levels were within the normal acceptable ranges. The study concluded that transport had no adverse effect on animal welfare based on the physiological, immunological and haematological measurements made.
    • WEMAC Project

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

      Dwyer, Elizabeth; O'Halloran, Grainne R.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Teagasc, 1999-01)
      For pizza production, the flour quality values identified for the wheat cultivars, Promessa, Quintus (spring), and Soissons (winter) should be used as guidelines in selecting new cultivars and in the development of flour specifications. Similarly for biscuit production, compositional and rheological data for the cultivars, Riband,Woodstock (soft-milling) and Brigadier (hardmilling) should be used for identifying biscuit flours. The rheological properties of dough (as measured by the alveograph, extensograph and farinograph) did not relate to the baking quality for some wheat cultivars. However the rheological properties of the gel protein prepared from these flours explained their baking quality. The very high elastic moduli of these gels explained the basis of shrinkage of pizza bases produced from Baldus and Lavett flours and biscuits produced from Ritmo flour.
    • Winter Housing and Feeding System for Small to Medium Sized Dairy Farms

      Crosse, Seamus; Kearney, S.; Markey, A.; Phelan, James (Teagasc, 1999-04-01)
      A survey of 190 dairy farms in a co-operative area in the south of Ireland served as the main source of data in the present study. Eight farms representative of the different types of dairy farms were chosen and their data were analysed using the Finpack financial analysis program. These eight case studies were analysed using alternative funding strategies to determine the effect of alternative funding strategies for farm buildings on net farm income. The data obtained were extrapolated to the national dairy herd. There are some 14,050 dairy farms with quotas of less than 15,000 gallons and 40% of these were classified as non viable. The corresponding figures for other quota categories are as follows: 8,150 farms with quotas of 15,000-25,000 gallons with 40% non-viable; 7780 farms with quotas of 25,000-40,000 gallons with 20% nonviable; and 8,535 farms with quotas >40,000 gallons with 10% nonviable. Non-viable dairy farms were those with low income, low contact with advisory services, low household dependence on farm income, a poor attitude to development and expansion and generally inadequate farm facilities. Non-viable dairy farms should consider changing from dairying into a suckler and/or beef enterprise and should be assisted to do so by the advisory service. They should be considered for a suckler quota unit for each 987 gallons of milk they had been producing. They should consider using income assistants, e.g., REPS, Early Retirement Scheme and/or unemployment benefits as relevant. Training schemes should be targeted at young farmers and their spouses who are not working so that they have a better chance of offfarm employment, when relevant. Potentially viable and viable dairy farms should be assisted on a sliding scale depending on their quota size, as follows: Grant aid for upgrading milking facilities, grant aid for milking and milk cooling equipment, interest subsidies on interest payment on money borrowed for agricultural development, the smallest milk quota farms should be considered the priority for milk quota reallocation, quota purchase should be subsidised if possible, quota leasing should be subsidised for the smallest quota category (<15,000 gallons), installation Aid should be introduced for all viable and potentially viable dairy farms.
    • β-Lactoglobulin: A Whey Protein Fraction with Enhanced Functionality

      Mehra, Raj; Raggett, Elaine; O'Kennedy, Brendan; Kelly, Philip; Rawle, Donal (Teagasc, 2001-08-01)
      Infant formula manufacturers are progressively moving towards the development of the next generation of infant milk formula based on the inclusion of α-lactalbumin-enriched ingredients in order to further ‘humanise’ baby milk, as well as to reduce the allergenicity associated with the presence of β-lactoglobulin ( β-lg). Since α-lactalbumin represents one of the two major whey protein fractions in bovine milk, the viability of new fractionation processes currently under development will depend inter alia on the functional value that will attach to the remaining fraction, namely β-lg. Since this protein fraction influences whey protein functionality for the most part, it is to be expected that its availability in an enriched form should lead to further enhancement of its key functional properties, and stimulate further market opportunities. It is therefore imperative that attention is given to the processes and functionality of β-lg produced by different processing approaches. Hence, the overall objective of the project was: - To source and/or produce sufficient quantities of β-lg-enriched ingredients obtained through whey protein fractionation using different technologies, and to evaluate their functionality in model and food systems. - To investigate the influence of thermal treatments and ionic environment on the molecular structure of purified β-lg in order to understand their effect on protein functionality (gelation). - To improve the water-holding capacity of β-lg-enriched fraction so that it could compete more favourably with carbohydrate hydrocolloids in food applications. Downstream processing of β-lg was manipulated to influence the composition, and hence the functional properties of β-lg-enriched fractions. * β-Lg-enriched fractions had enhanced functional properties compared to WPC 75 and WPI. * β-Lg-enriched fraction has clear advantages over conventional whey protein products (WPC, WPI), in that it can be tailor-made to have specific functional properties desired in particular food products. * Water-binding properties of β-lg-enriched fraction could be improved by multi-stage heating.