• Evaluation of Milking Systems in Terms of Mastitis Risk, Teat Tissue Reactions & Milking Performance.

      O'Callaghan, Edmond J; Gleeson, David E (Teagasc, 2000-11-01)
      Measurements of milking vacuum recorded on a flow simulator can provide guidelines for optimum design of milking units. • Increasing the bore of the short milk tube above the recommended diameter or claw volume above 150ml does not improve milking efficiency. • Increasing the long milk-tube bore from 13.5mm to 16mm increased the level of milking vacuum. • The milking vacuum was highest with wide-bore tapered liners and simultaneous pulsation. • The minimum vacuum was increased with narrow-bore liners and alternate pulsation. • The milk yield with wide-bore tapered liners in heavy 3-kg clusters and using simultaneous pulsation was 5% higher than with light clusters (1.65 kg) with alternate pulsation. • The milk yield depressions obtained with light clusters were similar in short and long term experiments and increased with the magnitude of the milk yield per milking. • The teat condition scores were not affected by the magnitude of vacuum fluctuations.
    • Evaluation of mix specification and PFA as a cement replacer in concretes used in silage storage structures.

      Lenehan, J.J.; O'Kiely, Padraig (Teagasc, 1999-09-01)
      At present, concrete for silage storage structures is specified by the Irish Farm Development Service (DAFF, 1992) in terms of a characteristic 28 day crushing strength of 40 N/mm2 and a minimum cement content of 350 kg/m3. In addition, the maximum aggregate size used must not exceed 20 mm and the slump of the unplasticised concrete must not exceed 75 mm. There is no stipulation on the maximum water to cement ratio to be used. This specification represents a high strength concrete for agricultural use and has been upgraded to this level in an attempt to improve the material’s resistance to corrosion by silage effluent. A cement content of 350 kg/m3 is regarded as a relatively high cement content and may promote thermal cracking in the structures (Blackledge, 1990). This would result in a concrete which would be more susceptible to attack by corrosive effluent. A system of carrying out accelerated durability tests on concrete specimens under controlled conditions has been developed by Teagasc and University College Dublin (O’Donnell, C., 1993). Trials carried out by O’Donnell, indicated that cement content had little influence on the durability of concretes exposed to silage effluent for the ranges of mixes examined, but the use of excess water resulted in marked increases in deterioration. The present study aims to further examine the effect of (i) cement content and (ii) the use of PFA as a cement replacer.
    • Evaluation of on-farm labour saving strategies for optimisation of herd size that could be managed by one operator

      O'Brien, Bernadette; Gleeson, David E; Shalloo, Laurence (Teagasc, 2009-06-01)
      Alternative milking frequencies Once a day (OAD) milking throughout lactation of a herd (over 2 years, incorporating 24% heifers) resulted in loss in milk solids (MS) production of 17% per cow.  Milking cows OAD in their 1st lactation does not adversely impact on milk production in the second lactation, when changed to twice a day (TAD) milking but may lead to a higher mastitis incidence.  Changeover in milking frequency in mid lactation resulted in a similar yield of MS per cow for TAD milking for the full lactation (474 kg) and the TAD OAD group (TAD for the first 110 days and OAD for the remainder of the lactation) (469 kg).  Thirteen times weekly milking in late lactation (omitting the Sunday evening milking) compared to twice daily milking every day had no effect on milk yield or composition and maximum SCC observed during the trial was 270x103 cells/ml.  Once daily milking did not adversely affect the processability of milk.  Once daily milking did not significantly increase milk SCC levels. Alternative calf rearing systems  The improved efficiency increased herd size may be due to less use of buckets for calf feeding together with more frequent use of teat feeding from a container, automatic feeders and ad libitum feeding  A study on OAD calf feeding (whole milk) demonstrated that calves can be reared with a OAD milk feeding system and weaned early (42 days) without adversely affecting performance  There was no difference in the live-weight gain of calves on once daily feeding, twice daily feeding or once daily feeding going outdoors after 28 days  Calf liveweight gain was greater with once daily feeding with milk replacer compared to once daily feeding with whole milk or once daily feeding with milk replacer going outdoors after 28 days Economic analysis of alternative milking systems  When deciding on the type, size and level of technology in the milking parlour, the trade-off between labour requirement and cost and the initial capital investment requirement should be key in making the decision.
    • Evaluation of Parasite Control Programmes in Beef Cattle

      Hickey, Mary-Clare; Earley, Bernadette; French, Padraig; Keane, Michael G. (Teagasc, 2002-06-01)
      The objective of this project was to examine the effect of methods of animal management in a dairy calf to beef (Study 1) and a suckler beef (Study 2) production system on parasitic burdens of calves and accompanying animals. Parasitic burdens were defined by quantifying faecal egg counts and plasma pepsinogen levels (concentrations greater than 1U/l are an indicator of a possible heavy parasitic burden). In the first study three different grazing systems for dairy calves and steers, were investigated. The leader follower system (L-F1) was described by calves grazing ahead of steers; the separate (S) system was described by calves and steers grazing separate areas and thirdly the combined (T) system where both calves and steers grazed together. In the second study, two different grazing systems for suckler cows and calves, and yearling animals were examined. The leader follower (L-F2) system was described by yearlings grazing ahead of suckler cows with calves at foot or a conventional (C) system where the cows and calves grazed areas separate to the yearlings.
    • The evaluation of phosphorus sources for nutrient budgeting on organic farms.

      MacNaeidhe, F. S.; O'Sullivan, A. N. (Teagasc, 1999-02-01)
      The use of synthetic P fertilisers such as superphosphate is not permitted by regulation on organic farms. The use of basic slag and rock phosphate is permitted by regulation but the effects of the application of these compounds on the soil and herbage concentrations of phosphorus (P) on organic farms has not been assessed. Experiments were carried out from 1994 to 1997 on the effect of basic slag and rock phosphate on the concentrations of P in four different soil types and on herbage in organic grassland. Superphosphate was included in some of the experiments as a comparison. The investigations showed that: Superphosphate applied at equivalent rates of elemental P gave the largest initial increase in soil and herbage concentrations of P but was no more effective at raising the soil and herbage concentrations of this element than basic slag or rock phosphate in the long term. The application of basic slag and rock phosphate gave increases in soil and herbage concentrations of P which were comparable to those obtained with superphosphate but were more slow acting Basic slag gave an increase in the concentration of P in an organic soil which was high in P (> 10 mg/kg) but gave only a slight increase of P in the herbage. Basic slag gave an increase in soil P concentration in a range of soils and was more persistent in these soils than superphosphate. Basic slag gave an increase in herbage yield which was equivalent to that given by superphosphate in a low P soil. Rock phosphate gave a larger herbage yield increase in a low P soil than superphosphate or basic slag. Rock phosphate is a more persistent source of P in low P soils than superphosphate or basic slag. In soils with a high pH rock phosphate may be less effective as a phosphatic fertilizer than superphosphate or basic slag.
    • Evaluation of rape-seed oil production, extraction and use as fuel in modified diesel engines

      Rice, B.; Sustainable Energy Ireland (Teagasc, 01/09/2009)
      It is now well established that rape-seed oil can provide a sustainable source of renewable fuel for diesel engines. The main problem is a high viscosity and vaporisation temperature, which could lead to pumping, atomisation and combustion difficulties. These problems can be overcome in either of two ways: by further processing of the oil to improve its pumping and combustion properties (usually achieved by esterification and layer separation to produce biodiesel) or by some peripheral modifications to the engine to allow it to cope with the more viscous fuel. Engine conversion kits for this purpose are widely available. The second option has attractions in Ireland, at least in the short-term, for a number of reasons. Plants can be established quickly, and so could make an immediate if small contribution to the achievement of Ireland’s substitution target in the Transport Biofuels Directive (Commission of European Communities, 2003). The small operating scale of coldpressing oil extraction plants could be achieved without undue difficulty, and the capital investment required to launch such a project is relatively low. In the event of a biodiesel plant being established at some stage in the future, the option of sourcing some of the oil requirement from these extraction plants would still be available.
    • Evaluation of supply control options for beef

      Dunne, William; O'Connell, John J.; Shanahan, Ultan; Drennan, Michael J; Keane, Michael G. (Teagasc, 01/07/2009)
      The incomes of Irish cattle farmers benefited greatly from the reform of the CAP for beef and cereals in 1992 and more recently under Agenda 2000. In both of these reforms the institutional support prices were reduced and direct payments (DPs) were used to compensate farmers for the price reductions
    • Evaluation of the Effect of Tocopherols on the Stability of Biodiesel

      Frohlich, A. (Teagasc, 2005-04-01)
      A comprehensive study was carried out on the effects of naturally occurring tocopherols and carotenoids on the stability of biodiesel-grade methyl esters. Commercially available tocopherols and carotenoids, α-, γ- and δ-tocopherol, carotene and asthaxanthin, were added to destabilised methyl esters and the solutions were exposed to air at 65oC. The stabilising effect of the added tocopherols and carotenoids was determined from the number of days needed to reach the same increase of viscosity as destabilised methyl ester without tocopherols after 1 day. All three tocopherols stabilised methyl esters; γ- being the most effective and α- the least. The stabilising effect of tocopherols increased with concentration up to an optimum level. Concentrations above this level did not improve stability significantly. The stabilising effect of the tocopherols also depended on the composition of the methyl ester; they were most effective in tallow methyl ester, and had the least effect on sunflower methyl ester. Carotene and asthaxanthin had no effect on the stability of the methyl esters. However an unidentified carotenoid in rape methyl ester changed the oxidation pattern by reducing rates of peroxide and viscosity increase, without affecting overall stability.
    • Evaluation of the Progeny of Beef Sires Differing in Genetic Merit

      Keane, Michael G.; Diskin, Michael G. (Teagasc, 2005-11-01)
      The objectives of the project were (i) to compare progeny of bulls of high and low growth genetic index, for growth, feed intake, slaughter traits and carcass traits, (ii) to partition the extra live weight of progeny of high growth index bulls into carcass and non-carcass parts, and (iii) to partition any extra carcass weight of progeny from high growth index bulls into its component fat, muscle and bone fractions.
    • Evaluation of the Progeny of Beef Sires Differing in Genetic Merit

      Keane, Michael G.; Diskin, Michael G.; European Union (Teagasc, 2005-11-01)
      The Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) publishes breeding values (BVs) for beef bulls. Historically, BVs were expressed in index form relative to the base population. Sometime ago this changed to expression in units of measurement of trait. This change occurred in the course of this project and was accompanied by some re-ranking of bulls. BVs are published for growth, carcass grades and calving traits. Growth BV is expressed as carcass weight but there is no indication if this results from higher live weight gain or from a higher kill-out proportion and there is no indication of any consequences for feed intake or efficiency. • The objectives of the project were (i) to compare progeny of bulls of high and low growth genetic index, for growth, feed intake, slaughter traits and carcass traits, (ii) to partition the extra live weight of progeny of high growth index bulls into carcass and non-carcass parts, and (iii) to partition any extra carcass weight of progeny from high growth index bulls into its component fat, muscle and bone fractions
    • Examination of Production Systems for Mushroom Cultivation in Ireland

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

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

      Hennessy, Thia; Shrestha, Shailesh; Shalloo, Laurence; Wallace, Michael; Butler, Anne Marie; Smyth, Paul (Teagasc, 31/12/2008)
      The aim of the project was to produce quality, scientific based policy advice on the most efficient means for the transfer of milk quota between dairy farmers. The main objective of the project was to identify milk quota transfer mechanisms that would ensure the viability of the maximum number of farmers in Ireland while still supporting an internationally competitive agricultural sector. During the course of the project the Irish Department of Agriculture introduced a new milk quota transfer scheme. The milk quota exchange scheme was launched in November 2006. At this stage the objectives of the project were altered to be more policy relevant. Rather than exploring the efficiency of various milk quota transfer models, the aim of the project was redirected to explore the efficiency of the scheme as it was operated in Ireland. The rationale for this change was to provide relevant and timely feedback to policy makers on the operation of the new scheme. While the MTR agreement guaranteed the continuation of the EU milk quota regime until 2014/15, it also made provisions for a review of the milk quota system to be conducted in 2008. Clearly any changes to EU milk quota policy would have implications for farmers in Ireland. A second objective of this project was to explore some policy scenarios that may transpire from the milk quota review and to estimate the implications for farmers in Ireland.
    • An examination of the molecular mechanisms controlling the tissue accumulation of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in cattle

      Waters, Sinead M.; Hynes, A.C.; Killeen, Aideen P.; Moloney, Aidan P; Kenny, David A. (Teagasc, 01/12/2008)
      Long chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) have demonstrable and potential human health benefits in terms of preventing cancer, diabetes, chronic inflammation, obesity and coronary heart disease. Supplementation of cattle diets with a blend of oils rich in n-3 PUFA and linoleic acid have a synergistic effect on the accumulation of ruminal and tissue concentrations of trans vaccenic acid (TVA), the main substrate for ?-9 desaturase which is responsible for de novo tissue synthesis of the cis 9, trans 11 isomer of CLA. This dietary strategy translates into increases in milk concentrations of CLA in dairy cows; however, concentrations in the muscle of beef animals have not always been increased. There is an apparent paradox in that n-3 PUFA supplementation enhances ruminal synthesis of trans-vaccenic acid (TVA), but then inhibits its conversion to CLA possibly through altering the activity of ?-9 desaturase. Recently, the promoter regions of the bovine ?- 9 desaturase gene has been isolated and analysed and has been shown to contain a conserved PUFA response region.
    • An Examination of the Productivity of Irish Agriculture in a Decoupled Policy Environment

      Carroll, James; Thorne, Fiona; Newman, Carol (Teagasc, 01/09/2008)
      The Single Farm Payment (SFP) scheme came into effect in the EU from the first of January 2005. This scheme replaced the many ‘coupled’ livestock and arable aid schemes available to farmers and was heralded as a significant move towards decoupling. This thesis explores the initial effects of this policy on total factor productivity (TFP) and its components (technical efficiency change, technical change, and scale efficiency change) in the main farming sectors in Ireland.
    • Examining the Relative Competitiveness of Irish Agriculture (1996 – 2003/4)

      Thorne, Fiona (Teagasc, 2007-01-01)
      This paper examines the competitiveness of Irish agriculture compared to that of other EU and non-EU countries. The analysis was based on two main data sources – the Farm Accountancy Data Network (FADN) for years 1996-2003 and the International Farm Comparisons Network (IFCN) for 2003 for beef production and for 2004 for milk production. Results showed that the Irish competitive position compared to other EU and non-EU countries was positive when total cash costs were considered indicating a positive outlook for Irish milk production in the short to medium term. However, as the opportunity costs of owned resources are not included in ‘cash cost’ calculations, total economic costs which include imputed charges for owned resources were considered to examine the longer term outlook for the competitiveness of the sector. Using this measure, the competitive ranking for Irish agriculture slipped relative to the other countries. It was found that the main reason for the relatively high economic costs on Irish farms was due to the high imputed land and labour costs. These findings could be considered as a warning signal for the future competitive performance for the average sized Irish farm. However, based on FADN data the competitive position of ‘larger’ Irish dairy farms (in the 50-99 dairy cow size category) did manage to maintain their competitive position within Europe even when total economic costs were considered. Hence, it could be concluded that part of the explanation of the deterioration of competitive ranking for the average Irish dairy farm when total economic costs are considered relates to the relatively low scale of primary agricultural activity in Ireland during this period.
    • Exploration of flowering control in Lolium perenne L.

      Byrne, Stephen; Mur, Luis AJ; Donnisson, Iain; Guiney, Emma (Teagasc, 01/08/2009)
      Flowering or heading in Lolium perenne (perennial ryegrass) is induced by a period of vernalization, followed by long days at higher temperatures. When heading occurs there is a reduction in the feed quality of the forage and therefore extending the period of vegetative growth or eliminating heading during the growing season will improve the potential of perennial ryegrass in agriculture. Conversely, a better control of flowering time and increased heading will lead to higher seed yield for commercial producers. The aim of this project was to investigate the underlying genetic control of flowering time in perennial ryegrass. An F1 population was created by crosspollinating two lines with different heading dates and a genetic linkage map was constructed using Simple Sequence Repeat (SSR) markers. The population and genetic linkage map was then used to identify Quantitative Trait Loci (QTL) associated with heading date, spike length and spikelets per spike. A number of QTL were identified for all traits, some of which had not previously been identified in perennial ryegrass. A Suppression Subtractive Hybridization (SSH) study was also employed to identify genes differentially expressed between an extremely late flowering line and earlier flowering sibling line. Expression analysis of a number of identified genes through floral induction was performed using real time RT-PCR. This revealed a number of transcripts with expression profiles indicative of a role to play in floral induction.
    • Extending the season for prime lamb production from grass

      Grennan, Eamonn J. (Teagasc, 2001-01-01)
      In recent years there has been some interest shown by exporters in acquiring younger lambs than those remaining from the normal springlambing flocks involved in mid-season or store lamb production systems, to supply niche markets in the November to February period. Lambing ewes later in the year, i.e. April to June, offers an opportunity to supply such niche markets with younger lamb. Two farmlet systems were each operated over two years with 59 to 69 ewes on 4.5 ha of pasture in an all-grass production system. The objectives were: to assess the overall performance of flocks in late-lambing systems, to monitor lamb growth rates and drafting pattern, to monitor carcass quality in terms of weight, conformation and fatscore, and to identify any difficulties that may be associated with late lambing systems.
    • Extending the shelf life of fresh sliced mushrooms

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

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