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Breeding values for feed intake and feed efficiency in beef cattle are generally derived indoors on high-concentrate (HC) diets. Within temperate regions of north-western Europe, however, the majority of a growing beef animal’s lifetime dietary intake comes from grazed grass and grass silage. Using 97 growing beef cattle, the objective of the current study was to assess the repeatability of both feed intake and feed efficiency across 3 successive dietary test periods comprising grass silage plus concentrates (S+C), grazed grass (GRZ) and a HC diet. Individual DM intake (DMI), DMI/kg BW and feed efficiency-related parameters, residual feed intake (RFI) and gain to feed ratio (G : F) were assessed. There was a significant correlation for DMI between the S+C and GRZ periods (r = 0.32; P < 0.01) as well as between the S+C and HC periods (r = 0.41; P < 0.001), whereas there was no association for DMI between the GRZ and HC periods. There was a significant correlation for DMI/kg BW between the S+C and GRZ periods (r = 0.33; P < 0.01) and between the S+C and HC periods (r = 0.40; P < 0.001), but there was no association for the trait between the GRZ and HC periods. There was a significant correlation for RFI between the S+C and GRZ periods (r = 0.25; P < 0.05) as well as between S+C and HC periods (r = 0.25; P < 0.05), whereas there was no association for RFI between the GRZ and HC periods. Gain to feed ratio was not correlated between any of the test periods. A secondary aspect of the study demonstrated that traits recorded in the GRZ period relating to grazing bite rate, the number of daily grazing bouts and ruminating bouts were associated with DMI (r = 0.28 to 0.42; P < 0.05 - 0.001), DMI/kg BW (r = 0.36 to 0.45; P < 0.01 - 0.001) and RFI (r = 0.31 to 0.42; P < 0.05 - 0.001). Additionally, the number of ruminating boli produced per day and per ruminating bout were associated with G : F (r = 0.28 and 0.26, respectively; P < 0.05). Results from this study demonstrate that evaluating animals for both feed intake and feed efficiency indoors on HC diets may not reflect their phenotypic performance when consuming conserved forage-based diets indoors or when grazing pasture.
The importance of spring grass in the diet of early lactation dairy cows has been widely acknowledged. Numerous studies completed on a plot/paddock basis have identified methods of increasing herbage availability in spring, but little focus was placed on how this impacts animal production. The aim of the current study was to investigate the impact of opening farm cover (OFC; grass availability on farm at turnout in spring; 1036 (high), 748 (medium) and 544 (low) kg DM/ha) and spring rotation length (fast – 56 days and normal – 63 days) on animal performance in early lactation and herbage production and quality. Spring rotation length had little effect on animal performance, herbage variables or sward composition. High OFC increased pre-grazing herbage mass, allowing for increased daily herbage allowance (DHA) compared to medium and low OFC. There was a reduced proportion of leaf in the sward of the high OFC compared to the low OFC, resulting in lower organic matter digestibility. Despite the reduction in sward quality observed as a consequence of achieving high OFC in spring, the greater DHA available to animals increased milk production (+1.4 kg milk/cow/day). Additionally, animals grazing a medium or low OFC had a greater requirement for silage supplementation in spring (+1.3 kg DM/cow/day). The benefits of the higher DHA highlighted in the current study suggest that autumn grazing management must be adapted to increase herbage availability in spring. However, the benefits observed in milk production did not persist beyond the first grazing rotation.
A two-year (2015 and 2016) grazing study was established to compare ewe and lamb performance when grazed on a perennial ryegrass only sward compared to more diverse sward types. In that study four sward types were investigated: a perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) only sward receiving 163 kg nitrogen per hectare per year (N/ha/yr) (PRG); a perennial ryegrass and white clover (Trifolium repens) sward receiving 90 kg N/ha/yr (PRGWC); a six species sward (two grasses (perennial ryegrass and timothy (Phleum pratense)), two legumes (white and red clover (Trifolium pratense)) and two herbs (ribwort plantain (Plantago lanceolata) and chicory (Cichorium intybus)) receiving 90 kg N/ha/yr (6S); and a nine species sward containing cocksfoot (Dactylis glomerata), greater birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus pedunculatus) and yarrow (Achillea millefolium) in addition to the six species listed above, receiving 90 kg N/ha/yr (9S). Each sward type was managed as a separate farmlet and stocked with 30 twin-rearing ewes at a stocking rate of 12.5 ewes/ha under rotational grazing management from turnout post-lambing until housing. Lamb live weight was recorded fortnightly and lambs were drafted for slaughter at 45 kg. Ewe live weight and body condition score (BCS) were recorded on five occasions annually. Lamb faecal egg count (FEC) was recorded fortnightly and lambs were treated with anthelmintics when mean lamb FEC per sward type was above 400 eggs per gram. Ewes grazing the 6S and 9S swards had heavier (P < 0.01) live weights and BCS throughout the study than the ewes grazing the PRG sward. Lambs grazing the 6S sward were heavier than lambs grazing all other sward types of 14 weeks old (P < 0.05). Lambs grazing the PRG sward required more days to reach slaughter weight than lambs grazing all other sward types (P < 0.001). Lambs grazing the 6S and 9S swards required fewer anthelmintic treatments than lambs grazing the PRG or PRGWC swards. In conclusion, grazing multispecies swards improved ewe and lamb performance and reduced the requirement for chemical anthelmintics.
A detailed survey was undertaken to assess the rate of production and current management practices on Irish sheep farms and quantify their associations with flock size and ewe breed type. A total of 39 questions relating to the farm production system and farm management practices were devised, including: producer age, location, farm size, livestock numbers and type, in addition to flock management data such as flock breeding policy, lamb finishing strategy, flock health, lambing date, winter housing and feeding practices. A total of 717 sheep producers were surveyed across 45 different discussion groups. The surveyed respondents were sub-divided into four groups depending on flock size (very small, small, medium and large) and into three groups depending on ewe breed type (maternal, terminal and hill). The average survey respondent was 48 years old, with a flock size of 150 breeding ewes on a farm size of 58 ha. The average stocking rates were 6·55 and 3·14 ewes/ha and weaning rates were 1·44 and 1·02 lambs per ewe joined to the ram for the lowland and hill flocks, respectively. Relative to very small flocks (<62 ewes), larger flocks (>190 ewes) had higher stocking rates (6·98 v. 5·66 ewes/ha) and ewe to ram ratios (40 v. 30), and tended to lamb later in the year. The rate of technology adoption such as faecal egg sampling and pregnancy scanning was greater on larger flocks compared with smaller flocks. Flocks with maternal ewe breeds had higher scanning and weaning rates, and drafted a greater proportion of lambs off grass compared with flocks with terminal and hill ewe breeds. Flocks with maternal and terminal ewe breed types were more likely to winter house ewes, lamb indoors, test silage quality and have a handling unit compared with flocks with hill-type ewe breeds. Results from the present study provide a bank of knowledge on current Irish sheep industry performance and show that flock size and ewe breed type have a significant impact on key flock performance variables.
An experiment was conducted to determine: (1) the effect of excess maternal I supplementation on the thyroid hormone status of the ewe and her progeny; (2) potential mechanisms underpinning the failure of passive transfer associated with excess I and (3) the growing lambs’ response to natural gastrointestinal infection. Twin-bearing ewes received one of two treatments (n 32/treatment group): basal diet (C) or C plus 26·6 mg of iodine/ewe per d (I), supplied as calcium iodate. Ewes were individually fed from day 119 of gestation to parturition. Progeny of I ewes had lower (P<0·01) serum IgG concentrations from 24 h to 28 d postpartum but higher serum IgG concentrations at day 70 postpartum (P<0·05). I supplementation increased the relative expression of Fc receptor, IgA, IgM high affinity and polymeric Ig receptor in the ileum of the lamb at 24 h postpartum; however, thyroid hormone receptor-β (THRB) and β-2-microglobulin (B2M) expression declined (P<0·05). Progeny of I ewes had higher growth rates to weaning (P<0·05) and lower faecal egg count (FEC) for Nematodirus battus (P<0·05) between weeks 6 and 10 postpartum. In conclusion, excess maternal I supplementation negatively affected the thyroid hormone status, serum IgG concentration, ileal morphology and the gene expression of THRB and B2M in the ileum and ras-related protein (RAB) RAB25 and the mucin gene (MUC) MUC1 in the duodenum of the lamb postpartum. These effects were followed by an enhancement of average daily gain and lower N. battus FEC in the pre-weaning period of I-supplemented lambs.
The objective of this experiment was to compare the effects of two concentrate feeding strategies offered with a grass silage and maize silage diet on the dry matter (DM) intake, milk production (MP) and estimated energy balance of autumn calved dairy cows. Over a 2-year period, 180 autumn calving Holstein Friesian cows were examined. Within year, cows were blocked into three MP sub-groups (n=9) (high (HMP), medium (MMP) and low (LMP)) based on the average MP data from weeks 3 and 4 of lactation. Within a block cows were randomly assigned to one of two treatments (n=54), flat rate (FR) concentrate feeding or feed to yield (FY) based on MP sub-group. Cows on the FR treatment were offered a fixed rate of concentrate (5.5 kg DM/cow per day) irrespective of MP sub-group. In the FY treatment HMP, MMP and LMP cows were allocated 7.3, 5.5 and 3.7 kg DM of concentrate, respectively. The mean concentrate offered to the FR and FY treatments was the same. On the FR treatment there was no significant difference in total dry matter intake (TDMI, 17.3 kg) between MP sub-groups. In the FY treatment, however, the TDMI of HMP-FY was 2.2 kg greater than MMP-FY, and 4.5 kg greater than LMP-FY (15.2 kg DM). The milk yield of LMP-FR was 3.5 kg less than the mean of the HMP-FR and MMP-FR treatments (24.5 kg). The milk yield of the HMP-FY treatment was 3.6 and 7.9 kg greater than the MMP-FY and LMP-FY treatments, respectively. The difference in MP between the HMP sub-groups was 2.6 kg, which translates to a response of 1.4 kg of milk per additional 1 kg of concentrate offered. There was no significant difference in MP between the two LMP sub-groups; however, MP increased 0.8 kg per additional 1 kg of concentrate offered between cows on the LMP-FR and LMP-FY treatments. The estimated energy balance was positive for cows on the LMP-FR treatment, but negative for cows on the other treatments. The experiment highlights the variation within a herd in MP response to concentrate, as cows with a lower MP potential are less responsive to additional energy input than cows with a greater MP potential. Cows with a greater MP capacity did not substitute additional concentrate for the basal forage, which indicates an additional demand for energy based on ability of individual cows to produce milk.
Excess iodine intake by the pregnant dam reduces lamb serum antibody concentration, specifically immunoglobulin G (IgG). An experiment was conducted to investigate the mechanisms under pinning the reduced serum IgG concentration at 24 h postpartum in the progeny of iodine supplemented dams. Forty-five mature twin bearing ewes (n=15/treatment) were allocated to one of three dietary treatments as follows: basal diet (Control); basal diet plus 26.6 mg of iodine per ewe per day as calcium iodate (CaIO3); or potassium iodide (KI). Ewes were individually housed and fed from d 119 of gestation until parturition. All lambs received colostrum at 1, 10 and 18 h postpartum via stomach tube. At 1 h postpartum lambs from the control and an iodine supplemented treatment (n=10 per treatment from control and CaIO3) were euthanised before colostrum consumption and ileal segments isolated to determine the gene expression profile of a panel of genes identified as having a role in antibody transfer. Preceding euthanasia, lambs were blood sampled for determination of serum IgG, total thyroxine and free tri-iodothyronine concentrations. Progeny of CaIO3 supplemented dams had lower tri-iodothyronine concentrations (P<0.01) at 1 h postpartum and lower serum IgG concentrations (P<0.001) at 24 h postpartum when compared with the progeny of control dams. Iodine (CaIO3) supplementation of the dam increased the relative expression (P<0.05) of the B2M, PIGR and MYC genes in the ileum of the lamb, before colostrum consumption; while the expression of THRB declined when compared with the progeny of C dams (P<0.01). In conclusion, the results of this study show that it is the actual inclusion of excess iodine in the diet of the ewe, regardless of the carrier element, that negatively affects passive transfer in the newborn lamb. This study presents novel data describing the relationship between maternal iodine nutrition and its effect on the thyroid hormone status and subsequent gene expression in the newborn lamb; which results in a failure of passive transfer and a decline in serum IgG concentration.
The objective of this study was to investigate the immediate and carryover effects of imposing two post-grazing sward heights (PGSH) for varying duration during early lactation on sward characteristics and dairy cow production. The experiment was a randomised block design with a 2×2 factorial arrangement of treatments. A total of 80 spring-calving (mean calving date – 6 February) dairy cows were randomly assigned, pre-calving, to one of the two (n=40) PGSH treatments – S (2.7 cm) and M (3.5 cm) – from 13 February to 18 March, 2012 (P1). For the subsequent 5-week period (P2: 19 March to 22 April, 2012), half the animals from each P1 treatment remained on their treatment, whereas the other half of the animals switched to the opposing treatment. Following P2, all cows were managed similarly for the remainder of the lactation (P3: 23 April to 4 November, 2012) to measure the carryover effect. Milk production, BW and body condition score were measured weekly, and grass dry matter intake (GDMI) was measured on four occasions – approximately weeks 5, 10, 15 and 20 of lactation. Sward utilisation (above 2.7 cm; P1 and P2) was significantly improved by reducing the PGSH from 3.5 (0.83) to 2.7 cm (0.96). There was no effect of PGSH on cumulative annual grass dry matter (DM) production (15.3 t DM/ha). Grazing to 2.7 cm reduced GDMI by 1.7 and 0.8 kg DM/cow in P1 and P2, respectively, when compared with 3.5 cm (13.3 and 14.0 kg/cow per day, respectively). Cows grazing to 2.7 cm for both P1 and P2 (SS) tended to have reduced cumulative 10-week milk yield (−105 kg) and milk solids yield (−9 kg) when compared with cows grazing to 3.5 cm for both periods (MM; 1608 and 128 kg/cow, respectively). Treatments that alternated PGSH at the end of P1, SM and MS had intermediate results. There was no interaction between P1 and P2 treatments. There was also no carryover effect of early lactation grazing regime on milk and milk solids production in P3, given the reduction in early lactation milk yield. The results indicate that the diet of dairy cows should not be restricted by imposing a severe PGSH for all of the first 10 weeks of lactation, cows should graze to 3.5 cm for at least 5 of these weeks.
The frequency of full syndromal and subsyndromal delirium is understudied.
We conducted a point prevalence study in a general hospital.
Possible delirium identified by testing for inattention was evaluated regarding delirium status (full/subsyndromal delirium) using categorical (Confusion Assessment Method (CAM), DSM-IV) and dimensional (Delirium Rating Scale-Revised-98 (DRS-R98) scores) methods.
In total 162 of 311 patients (52%) screened positive for inattention. Delirium was diagnosed in 55 patients (17.7%) using DSM-IV, 52 (16.7%) using CAM and 58 (18.6%) using DRS-R98⩾12 with concordance for 38 (12.2%) individuals. Subsyndromal delirium was identified in 24 patients (7.7%) using a DRS-R98 score of 7–11 and 41 (13.2%) using 2/4 CAM criteria. Subsyndromal delirium with inattention (v. without) had greater disturbance of multiple delirium symptoms.
The point prevalence of delirium and subsyndromal delirium was 25%. There was modest concordance between DRS-R98, DSM-IV and CAM delirium diagnoses. Inattention should be central to subsyndromal delirium definitions.
The prediction of grass dry matter intake (GDMI) and milk yield (MY) are important to aid sward and grazing management decision making. Previous evaluations of the GrazeIn model identified weaknesses in the prediction of GDMI and MY for grazing dairy cows. To increase the accuracy of GDMI and MY prediction, GrazeIn was adapted, and then re-evaluated, using a data set of 3960 individual cow measurements. The adaptation process was completed in four additive steps with different components of the model reparameterised or altered. These components were: (1) intake capacity (IC) that was increased by 5% to reduce a general GDMI underprediction. This resulted in a correction of the GDMI mean and a lower relative prediction error (RPE) for the total data set, and at all stages of lactation, compared with the original model; (2) body fat reserve (BFR) deposition from 84 days in milk to next calving that was included in the model. This partitioned some energy to BFR deposition after body condition score nadir had been reached. This reduced total energy available for milk production, reducing the overprediction of MY and reducing RPE for MY in mid and late lactation, compared with the previous step. There was no effect on predicted GDMI; (3) The potential milk curve was reparameterised by optimising the rate of decrease in the theoretical hormone related to secretory cell differentiation and the basal rate of secretory cell death to achieve the lowest possible mean prediction error (MPE) for MY. This resulted in a reduction in the RPE for MY and an increase in the RPE for GDMI in all stages of lactation compared with the previous step; and (4) finally, IC was optimised, for GDMI, to achieve the lowest possible MPE. This resulted in an IC correction coefficient of 1.11. This increased the RPE for MY but decreased the RPE for GDMI compared with the previous step. Compared with the original model, modifying this combination of four model components improved the prediction accuracy of MY, particularly in late lactation with a decrease in RPE from 27.8% in the original model to 22.1% in the adapted model. However, testing of the adapted model using an independent data set would be beneficial and necessary to make definitive conclusions on improved predictions.
A grazing study was undertaken to examine the effect of maintaining three levels of pre-grazing herbage mass (HM) on dairy cow performance, grass dry matter (DM) production and output from perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) pastures. Cows were randomly assigned to one of three pre-grazing HM treatments: 1150 – Low HM (L), 1400 – Medium HM (M) or 2000 kg DM/ha – High HM (H). Herbage accumulation under grazing was lowest (P<0.01) on the L treatment and cows grazing the L pastures required more grass silage supplementation during the grazing season (+73 kg DM/cow) to overcome pasture deficits due to lower pasture growth rates (P<0.05). Treatment did not affect daily milk production or pasture intake, although cows grazing the L pastures had to graze a greater daily area (P<0.01) and increase grazing time (P<0.05) to compensate for a lower pre-grazing HM (P<0.01). The results indicate that, while pre-grazing HM did not influence daily milk yield per cow, adapting the practise of grazing low HM (1150 kg DM/ha) pasture reduces pasture DM production and at a system level may increase the requirement for imported feed.
Predicting the grass dry matter intake (GDMI), milk yield (MY) or milk fat and protein yield (milk solids yield (MSY)) of the grazing dairy herd is difficult. Decisions with regard to grazing management are based on guesstimates of the GDMI of the herd, yet GDMI is a critical factor influencing MY and MSY. A data set containing animal, sward, grazing management and concentrate supplementation variables recorded during weeks of GDMI measurement was used to develop multiple regression equations to predict GDMI, MY and MSY. The data set contained data from 245 grazing herds from 10 published studies conducted at Teagasc, Moorepark. A forward stepwise multiple regression technique was used to develop the multiple regression equations for each of the dependent variables (GDMI, MY, MSY) for three periods during the grazing season: spring (SP; 5 March to 30 April), summer (SU; 1 May to 31 July) and autumn (AU; 1 August to 31 October). The equations generated highlighted the importance of different variables associated with GDMI, MY and MSY during the grazing season. Peak MY was associated with an increase in GDMI, MY and MSY during the grazing season with the exception of GDMI in SU when BW accounted for more of the variation. A higher body condition score (BCS) at calving was associated with a lower GDMI in SP and SU and a lower MY and MSY in all periods. A higher BCS was associated with a higher GDMI in SP and SU, a higher MY in SU and AU and a higher MSY in all periods. The pre-grazing herbage mass of the sward (PGHM) above 4 cm was associated with a quadratic effect on GDMI in SP, on MY in SP and SU and on MSY in SU. An increase in daily herbage allowance (DHA) above 4 cm was associated with an increase in GDMI in AU, an increase in MY in SU and AU and MSY in AU. Supplementing grazing dairy cows with concentrate reduced GDMI and increased MY and MSY in all periods. The equations generated can be used by the Irish dairy industry during the grazing season to predict the GDMI, MY and MSY of grazing dairy herds.
Grazing pastures to low post-grazing sward heights (PGSH) is a strategy to maximise the quantity of grazed grass in the diet of dairy cows within temperate grass-based systems. Within Irish spring-calving systems, it was hypothesised that grazing swards to very low PGSH would increase herbage availability during early lactation but would reduce dairy cow performance, the effect of which would persist in subsequent lactation performance when compared with cows grazing to a higher PGSH. Seventy-two Holstein–Friesian dairy cows (mean calving date, 12 February) were randomly assigned post-calving across two PGSH treatments (n = 36): 2.7 cm (severe; S1) and 3.5 cm (moderate; M1), which were applied from 10 February to 18 April (period 1; P1). This was followed by a carryover period (period 2; P2) during which cows were randomly reassigned within their P1 treatment across two further PGSH (n = 18): 3.5 cm (severe, SS and MS) and 4.5 cm (moderate, SM and MM) until 30 October. Decreasing PGSH from 3.5 to 2.7 cm significantly decreased milk (−2.3 kg/cow per day), protein (−95 g/day), fat (−143 g/day) and lactose (−109 g/day) yields, milk protein (−1.2 g/kg) and fat (−2.2 g/kg) concentrations and grass dry matter intake (GDMI; −1.7 kg dry matter/cow per day). The severe PGSH was associated with a lower bodyweight (BW) at the end of P1. There was no carryover effect of P1 PGSH on subsequent milk or milk solids yields in P2, but PGSH had a significant carryover effect on milk fat and lactose concentrations. Animals severely restricted at pasture in early spring had a higher BW and slightly higher body condition score in later lactation when compared with M1 animals. During P2, increasing PGSH from 3.5 to 4.5 cm increased milk and milk solids yield as a result of greater GDMI and resulted in higher mean BW and end BW. This study indicates that following a 10-week period of feed restriction, subsequent dairy cow cumulative milk production is unaffected. However, the substantial loss in milk solid yield that occurred during the period of restriction is not recovered.
The objective of this experiment was to investigate the effect of four perennial ryegrass cultivars: Bealey, Astonenergy, Spelga and AberMagic on the milk yield and milk composition of grazing dairy cows. Two 4 × 4 latin square experiments were completed, one during the reproductive and the other during the vegetative growth phase of the cultivars. Thirty-two Holstein–Friesian dairy cows were divided into four groups, with each group assigned 17 days on each cultivar during both experiments. Within each observation period, milk yield and milk composition, sward morphology and pasture chemical composition were measured. During the reproductive growth phase, organic matter digestibility (OMD) was greater for Bealey and Astonenergy (P < 0.001; +1.6%). AberMagic contained a higher stem proportion (P < 0.01; +0.06) and a longer sheath height (P < 0.001; +1.9 cm). Consequently, cows grazing AberMagic recorded a lower milk yield (P < 0.001; −1.5 kg/day) and a lower milk solids yield (P < 0.001; −0.13 kg/day). During the vegetative growth phase, OMD was greater (P < 0.001; +1.1%) for Bealey, whereas the differences between the cultivars in terms of sward structure were smaller and did not appear to influence animal performance. As a result, cows grazing Bealey recorded a higher milk yield (P < 0.001; +0.9 kg/day) and a higher milk solids yield (P < 0.01; +0.08 kg/day). It was concluded that grass cultivar did influence milk yield due to variations in sward structure and chemical composition.
There is a continual requirement for grass-based production systems to optimize economic and environmental sustainability through increased efficiency in the use of all inputs, especially nitrogen (N). An N balance model was used to assess N use efficiency and N surplus, and to predict N losses from grass-based dairy production systems differing in the length of the grazing season (GS). Data from a 3-year grazing study with a 3×3 factorial design, with three turnout dates (1 February, 21 February and 15 March) and three housing dates (25 October, 10 November and 25 November) were used to generate estimates of N use efficiency and N losses. As the length of the GS increased by a mean of 30 days, milk production, milk solids production and milk N output increased by 3, 6 and 6%, respectively. The increase in milk production as the length of the GS increased resulted in a 2% decline in N surplus and a 5% increase in N use efficiency. Increasing GS length increased the proportion of grazed grass in the diet, which increased N cycling within the system, resulting in an 8% increase in milk solids/ha produced/kg of surplus N. The increased cycling of N reduced the quantity of N partitioned for loss to the environment by 8%. Reducing fertilizer N input by 20% increased N use efficiency by 22% and reduced total N losses by 16%. The environmental and production consequences of increased length of the GS and reduced N loss are favourable as the costs associated with N inputs increase.