Moorepark Dairy Production Research Center

Fermoy, Ireland

Moorepark Dairy Production Research Center

Fermoy, Ireland
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Keane O.M.,Teagasc | Budd K.E.,Teagasc | Flynn J.,Moorepark Dairy Production Research Center | McCoy F.,Teagasc
Veterinary Record | Year: 2013

Rapid and accurate identification of mastitis pathogens is important for disease control. Bacterial culture and isolate identification is considered the gold standard in mastitis diagnosis but is time consuming and results in many culture-negative samples. Identification of mastitis pathogens by PCR has been proposed as a fast and sensitive alternative to bacterial culture. The results of bacterial culture and PCR for the identification of the aetiological agent of clinical mastitis were compared. The pathogen identified by traditional culture methods was also detected by PCR in 98 per cent of cases indicating good agreement between the positive results of bacterial culture and PCR. A mastitis pathogen could not be recovered from approximately 30 per cent of samples by bacterial culture, however, an aetiological agent was identified by PCR in 79 per cent of these samples. Therefore, a mastitis pathogen was detected in significantly more milk samples by PCR than by bacterial culture (92 per cent and 70 per cent, respectively) although the clinical relevance of PCR-positive culture-negative results remains controversial. A mixed infection of two or more mastitis pathogens was also detected more commonly by PCR. Culture-negative samples due to undetected Staphylococcus aureus infections were rare. The use of PCR technology may assist in rapid mastitis diagnosis, however, accurate interpretation of PCR results in the absence of bacterial culture remains problematic.


Berry D.P.,Moorepark Dairy Production Research Center | Good M.,Kildare St | Mullowney P.,Kildare St | Cromie A.R.,Irish Cattle Breeding Federation | More S.J.,University College Dublin
Livestock Science | Year: 2010

Paratuberculosis, also referred to as Johne's disease, is a contagious and chronic disease in ruminants caused by Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP). Few estimates of the genetic variation in measures of susceptibility to MAP are available in the literature and even less have attempted to elucidate the genetic associations between measures of susceptibility to MAP and performance in dairy cattle. The objectives of this study were to estimate the genetic variation in serological response to MAP in 4789 Holstein-Friesian dairy cows from 44 Irish dairy herds, and to quantify its genetic association with performance traits measured in the first three lactations of genetically related animals. Univariate mixed linear and threshold animal models were used to estimate variance components and genetic correlations were estimated using bivariate animal linear mixed models; MAP serological response was treated as a continuous variable and dichotomous variable. The prevalence of MAP in the sample population was 4.4%. This figure cannot be extrapolated to the national dairy herd as the sample population was biased towards herds with increased likelihood of MAP infection. Estimates of heritability for MAP serological response varied from 0.07 to 0.15 depending on the model of analysis and whether serological response was treated as continuous or binary; standard errors varied from 0.024 to 0.062. Genetic correlations between MAP serological response and lactation milk, fat and protein yield were negative or close to zero although not always more than two standard errors from zero; stronger negative genetic correlations were evident in older parity animals. Serological response to MAP was not genetically correlated with milk fat concentration but was positively genetically correlated with milk protein concentration in first lactation and negatively correlated with calving interval. There was little or no genetic association between serological response to MAP and survival. Results from this study corroborate previous international suggestions that selection for reduced serological response to MAP is possible, although this does not necessarily imply a concurrent selection for either reduced prevalence of clinical disease or increased resistance to MAP infection. © 2010.


Berry D.P.,Moorepark Dairy Production Research Center | Kearney J.F.,Irish Cattle Breeding Federation | Roche J.R.,DairyNZ Ltd.
Theriogenology | Year: 2011

There is a paucity of estimates of genetic variation for secondary sex ratio (i.e., sex ratio at birth) in dairy cattle. The objective of this study was to estimate the direct and maternal genetic variance as well as maternal permanent environmental variance for offspring sex in dairy herds. The data consisted of 77,508 births from 61,963 dams and 2,859 sires in 1,369 Irish dairy herds across the years 2003 to 2008, inclusive. Mixed models were used to estimate all parameters. Significant genetic variation in sex ratio existed, with a heritability for secondary sex ratio estimated at 0.02; the genetic standard deviation was 0.07 percentage units. No maternal genetic effects on secondary sex ratio were identified but the proportion of phenotypic variance in secondary sex ratio attributable to maternal permanent environmental effects was similar to that attributable to the additive genetic variance (i.e., 0.02). These results, therefore, suggest that the paternal (genetic) influence on secondary sex ratio is just as large as the maternal (non-genetic) influence, both of which are biologically substantial. The results from this study will be useful in generating a sample population of divergent animals for inclusion in a controlled experiment to elucidate the physiological mechanism underpinning differences in secondary sex ratio. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.


O'Driscoll K.,Moorepark Dairy Production Research Center | O'Brien B.,Moorepark Dairy Production Research Center | Gleeson D.,Moorepark Dairy Production Research Center | Boyle L.,Moorepark Dairy Production Research Center
Applied Animal Behaviour Science | Year: 2010

The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of milking frequency (MF) at two nutritional levels (NL) on grazing behaviour of dairy cows. Animals (n = 48) were randomly assigned to one of four treatments from calving in a 2 × 2 factorial design for an entire lactation: once (OAD) or twice (TAD) a day milking at high (herbage allowance: 30.9 kg dry matter/cow/day) or low (18.8 kg DM/cow/day) NL. Grazing behaviour was recorded using IGER grazing behaviour recorders on three occasions at approximately 95, 157 and 208 days in milk. Data were analysed using the mixed procedure of SAS. OAD cows spent more time grazing than TAD cows (P < 0.05), and had a higher number of grazing bouts (P < 0.01). The initial grazing bout after morning milking was longer in TAD than OAD cows (P < 0.001), and in low NL compared to high NL (P = 0.01) cows. Twice daily milking disrupted grazing in the afternoon, indicated by shorter grazing bouts for these cows when initiated at 1300 (P < 0.05) and 1400 (P < 0.01). TAD cows initiated more grazing bouts at 1600 than OAD cows. Neither MF nor NL had an effect on time spent ruminating (P > 0.05). As the grazing season progressed, cows increased the duration of the morning grazing bout, increased their bite rate, and decreased their mastication rate, probably as a result of decreasing grass quality. The additional time spent grazing after morning milking in the TAD and low NL cows likely reflects differences in hunger status between them and the OAD and high NL cows, respectively. The OAD cows had more time at pasture than the TAD cows and so were able to spend more time grazing than the TAD cows, and had less disturbance to their natural grazing pattern. This, combined with a lower milk production, could have resulted in them being less hungry. Although the behaviour of TAD cows was disturbed in the afternoon, cows were able to adapt to maintain daily grazing time budgets similar to OAD cows. This study provides valuable information about how dairy cows can adjust their grazing behaviour to cope with management strategies such as once a day milking. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


PubMed | Moorepark Dairy Production Research Center
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Animal : an international journal of animal bioscience | Year: 2012

Recent publications indicate that the prevalence of perinatal mortality has increased in some dairy industries and an increased proportion of this loss is not associated with the traditional risk factors for perinatal mortality. The objectives of this study were to establish the prevalence of perinatal mortality (calf death within 24 h of calving) in Irish dairy herds and to determine the current significance of putative risk factors in pasture-based management systems. A total of 182 026 records of full-term calvings from Holstein-Friesian dams served by artificial insemination (AI) sires of seven breeds in herds of 20 calvings or more per year were available from the Irish national breeding database over 4 years (2002 to 2005). The prevalence of perinatal mortality was 4.29% (7.7% in primiparae and 3.5% in pluriparae). The likelihood of perinatal mortality increased between 2002 and 2005 and was greatest in June and in winter. There was an interaction (P < 0.001) between the effect of calving assistance and parity with the effect of dystocia on perinatal mortality being greater in primiparae. The odds of perinatal mortality were greater in male (OR = 1.12; P < 0.001) and in twin calves (OR = 5.70-13.36; P < 0.001) and in dams that had perinatal mortality at the previous calving (OR = 4.21; P < 0.001). The logit of the probability of perinatal mortality increased by 0.099 per unit increase in sire predicted transmitting ability (PTA) for direct perinatal mortality. The probability of perinatal mortality increased at an increasing rate in primiparae as animals calved at a younger age relative to the median age at first calving. The only herd-level factor examined, herd size did not affect the odds of perinatal mortality. These data indicate that the prevalence of perinatal mortality in this cattle population is similar to that in other pasture-based dairy systems worldwide. The putative exposures and attributes traditionally associated with perinatal mortality were associated with perinatal mortality in this pasture-based dairy cow population. The practical implication of these results is that as many of the significant risk factors are largely not under management control (year of calving, month of calving, twin calving, primiparity, previous perinatal mortality and foetal gender), herd owners must focus on the significant determinants under their control (age at first calving, sire genetic merit for direct perinatal mortality and both the extent of calving supervision and the degree of assistance), in order to reduce the prevalence of perinatal mortality and improve perinatal welfare.


PubMed | Moorepark Dairy Production Research Center
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Animal : an international journal of animal bioscience | Year: 2012

Wood-chip pads represent a low-cost alternative to housing for cattle during the winter. Considering the negative welfare implications associated with housing indoors on concrete, they may also offer welfare benefits to replacement dairy heifers. However, these animals may not be able to withstand winter weather conditions on a grass silage diet. The aim of this experiment was to evaluate behaviour, limb injuries, dirtiness scores, performance and climatic energy demand (CED) of yearling dairy heifers on two levels of nutrition kept outdoors on a wood-chip pad or indoors in cubicles during the winter. Ninety-six 10-month-old heifers were blocked and assigned in groups of eight, to one of the following four treatments in a 2 2 factorial design: (a) indoors, silage only; (b) indoors, silage plus concentrate; (c) outdoors, silage only; and (d) outdoors, silage plus concentrate. There were three replicate groups per treatment. All animals were inspected for skin lesions and were weighed and body condition scored (BCS) at the beginning and end of the trial. Instantaneous scan sampling and continuous all-occurrence behaviour sampling were used to collect behaviour data during two 24-h periods. Animals were also dirtiness scored and group feed intakes were recorded during the trial. Significantly more comfort, social and play behaviours were recorded outdoors (P < 0.05) while trips, slips and falls were only recorded indoors (P < 0.001). Groups outdoors had significantly lower limb lesion scores at the end of the experiment (P < 0.05) and fewer groups outdoors were affected by all categories of limb lesions. However, they were consistently dirtier than animals indoors (P < 0.001). Low-nutrition animals had lower feed intakes, smaller BCS changes and lower average daily weight gains than high-nutrition animals (P < 0.01). Heifers outdoors had significantly lower average daily weight gains and BCS changes (P < 0.05) explained by lower feed intakes (P < 0.01). However, outdoor heifers on both the high- and low-nutrition diets and indoor animals on the low-nutrition diet had lower UFL (feed unit for maintenance and lactation (Irish Republic)) intakes (-0.36, -0.35 and -0.22, respectively) than that required to meet the daily live-weight gains they achieved. Heifers indoors on the high-nutrition diet gained 0.98 kg per day but consumed 0.17 UFL more than what would be recommended to achieve a daily weight gain of 1.0 kg. The CED for outdoor heifers was higher than that of indoor heifers (6.18 v. 5.47 MJ/day per m2 body surface area; P < 0.001, s.e.d. 0.044). However, CED did not exceed heat production in any treatment. Although animal performance was reduced outdoors, the wood-chip pad was associated with welfare benefits compared with cubicle housing.


PubMed | Moorepark Dairy Production Research Center
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Animal : an international journal of animal bioscience | Year: 2012

The milk production, energy balance (EB), endocrine and metabolite profiles of 10 New Zealand Holstein Friesian (NZ) cows and 10 North American Holstein Friesian (NA) cows were compared. The NA cows had greater peak milk yields and total lactation milk yields (7387 v. 6208 kg; s.e.d. = 359), lower milk fat and similar protein concentrations compared with the NZ cows. Body weight (BW) was greater for NA cows compared with NZ cows throughout lactation (596 v. 544 kg; s.e.d. = 15.5), while body condition score (BCS) tended to be lower. The NA strain tended to have greater dry matter intake (DMI) (17.2 v. 15.7 kg/day; s.e.d. = 0.78) for week 1 to 20 of lactation, though DMI as a proportion of metabolic BW was similar for both strains. No differences were observed between the strains in the timing and magnitude of the EB nadir, interval to neutral EB, or mean daily EB for week 1 to 20 of lactation. Plasma concentrations of glucose and insulin were greater for NA cows during the transition period (day 14 pre partum to day 28 post partum). Plasma IGF-I concentrations were similar for the strains at this time, but NZ cows had greater plasma IGF-I concentration from day 29 to day 100 of lactation, despite similar calculated EB. In conclusion, the results of this study do not support the premise that the NZ strain has a more favourable metabolic status during the transition period. The results, however, indicate that NZ cows begin to partition nutrients towards body reserves during mid-lactation, whereas NA cows continue to partition nutrients to milk production.


PubMed | Moorepark Dairy Production Research Center
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Animal : an international journal of animal bioscience | Year: 2012

This research compared three wood-chip out-wintering pad (OWP; an unsheltered OWP; a sheltered OWP (both with a concrete feed apron); and an unsheltered OWP with silage provided directly on top of the wood-chip bedding (self-feed OWP)) designs and cubicle housing with regard to dairy cow performance during the pre-partum period, and for 8 weeks post partum. Data were compared during 2 years. In Year 1, the unsheltered (space allowance = 12 m2 per cow) and sheltered (6 m2 per cow) OWPs were compared with cubicle housing (n = 49 cows per treatment). In Year 2, all three OWP designs (12 m2 per cow) were compared with cubicle housing (n = 24 cows per treatment, split into two replicates). Animals were dried off and assigned to treatment in the autumn, and remained there until calving in spring. Subsequently, they were managed at pasture during lactation. Outcome measures for analysis during the pre-partum period were feed intake, live weight, body condition score (BCS), heat production and heat loss, and post-partum were live weight, BCS, milk yield and milk composition. In Year 1, all cows had a similar live weight, but both pre-partum and at calving cows on the unsheltered OWP had a lower BCS than cows in cubicles (P < 0.05). However, in Year 2, there were no differences in either live weight or BCS. In Year 1, cows in the unsheltered OWP produced less heat than in cubicles (P < 0.05), but in Year 2, there was no treatment effect. In both years, cows in unsheltered OWPs lost more heat than cows in the sheltered OWP (P < 0.001). Treatment had no effect on milk composition either year. However, in Year 2, cows in the self-feed OWP had higher milk yields than the other treatments (P < 0.05). The lower BCS and heat production values in unsheltered treatments during Year 1 were probably because of higher rainfall and wind-speed values of that year. However, in both years, live weight in all treatments increased pre partum, and BCS did not decrease, indicating that unsheltered cows did not need to mobilise body reserves. Thus, OWPs could be a suitable pre-partum alternative to cubicle housing for dry dairy cows with regard to some aspects of dairy cow productive performance. However, further research should be carried out to investigate longer-term effects.


PubMed | Moorepark Dairy Production Research Center
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Animal : an international journal of animal bioscience | Year: 2012

The aim of the present study was to determine the effect of the genetic group of the Holstein-Friesian (HF) and pasture-based feeding system (3 2 factorial arrangement) on locomotion score (six gait aspects scored from one to five), clinical lameness and hoof disorders within a seasonal calving milk production system. The three genetic groups compared had an average Economic Breeding Index (EBI) value of 40, 70 and 80: representing the Irish national average genetic merit (LOW-NA), high EBI genetic merit of North American ancestry (HIGH-NA) and high EBI genetic merit of New Zealand ancestry (HIGH-NZ), respectively. Two feed systems were compared: a high grass allowance, low-concentrate system typical of spring-calving herds in Ireland (control) and a high-concentrate system. Data from 126 cows collected across a complete lactation period were analysed using generalised estimating equations and survival analysis. Genetic group of HF had a significant effect on locomotion score, clinical lameness and hoof disorders. Higher EBI cows (HIGH-NA and HIGH-NZ) had lower hazard of poor locomotion score in some gait aspects (e.g. spine curvature) and lower odds of clinical lameness in the first 200 days post-calving (Odds ratios 0.08 and 0.24, respectively, relative to the LOW-NA) and some hoof disorders (e.g. traumatic lesions) compared with LOW-NA cows. The high-concentrate feed system showed a higher incidence and severity of digital dermatitis (P < 0.01). Thus, high EBI cows have better locomotion, fewer cases of clinical lameness and less-severe hoof disorders (i.e. digital dermatitis, white line disease and traumatic lesions) than low EBI cows. These findings have important implications for cow welfare and productivity.


PubMed | Moorepark Dairy Production Research Center
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Animal : an international journal of animal bioscience | Year: 2012

This study investigated the physiological basis of differences in nutrient partitioning between the North American (NA) and New Zealand (NZ) strains of Holstein-Friesian cattle by determining the responses to homeostatic challenges at two stages of lactation. Glucose tolerance tests, epinephrine challenges and insulin challenges were carried out on consecutive days commencing on day 32 0.48 (mean s.e.) of lactation (T1) and again commencing on day 137 2.44 of lactation (T2). The insulin and non-esterified fatty acid (NEFA) responses to glucose infusion did not differ between the strains. The NZ strain had a greater clearance rate (CR) of glucose (2.04% v. 1.66%/min) and tended to have a shorter (34.4 v. 41.1 min) glucose half-life (t) at T2 when infused with glucose. The NA cows had a greater glucose response to epinephrine infusion across T1 and T2, and tended to have a greater insulin response to epinephrine infusion. Plasma NEFA concentration declined to similar nadir concentrations for both strains at T1 in response to insulin, though from a higher basal concentration in NA cows, resulting in a greater (-2.29 v. -1.38) NEFA area under the response curve for NA cows. Glucose response to insulin varied with time, tending to be greater for NA at T1, but tending to be lower for NA at T2. The results indicated that NA cows had a greater glycogenolytic response to epinephrine, but both strains had similar lipolytic responses. The results also imply that higher basal circulating NEFA concentrations in the NA strain in early lactation were not due to diminished adipose tissue responsiveness to insulin. There were indications that glucose CR was greater in NZ cows in mid-lactation, and may form the basis of increased body tissue accretion during mid- to late-lactation in this strain.

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