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The competitiveness and sustainability of low input cost dairy production systems are generally supported by efficient use of pasture in the diets. Therefore, pasture intake directly affects overall efficiency of these systems. We aimed to assess feeding and grazing management main factors that affect pasture dry matter intake (DMI) in commercial dairy farms during the different seasons of the year. Fortnightly visits to 28 commercial dairies were carried out between June 2016 and May 2017 to record production and price, supplement offered and price, pasture access time (PAT), herbage mass (HM) and allowance (HA). Only farms with the most contrasting estimated pasture DMI per cow (eDMI) were compared as systems with high (HPI; N = 8) or low (LPI; N = 8) pasture DMI. Despite a lower individual milk production in HPI than LPI (19.0 v. 23.3 ± 0.7 l/cow, P < 0.01), daily margin over feeding cost was not different between groups (3.07 v. 2.93 ± 0.15 U$S/cow for HPI and LPI, respectively). During autumn and winter, HPI cows ingested more pasture than LPI cows (8.3 v. 4.6 and 5.9 v. 2.9 ± 0.55 kg DM/cow per day, respectively, P < 0.01) although PAT, HM and HA were similar between groups. Both groups offered high supplementation levels during these seasons, even though greater in LPI than HPI (14.7 v. 9.7 ± 0.7 kg DM supplement/cow per day, respectively, P < 0.01). On the other hand, differences between groups for both pasture and supplement DMI were more contrasting during spring and summer (13.1 v. 7.3 ± 0.5 and 4.0 v. 11.4 ± 0.4 kg DM/cow per day for HPI and LPI, respectively, P < 0.01), with higher PAT in both seasons (P < 0.05) and higher HA during summer in HPI than LPI (P < 0.01). Unlike LPI, during these seasons HPI adjusted offered supplement according to HA, achieving a higher pasture eDMI and making more efficient use of available pastoral resource than LPI. As there was no grazing limiting condition for pasture harvesting in either group, the main factor affecting pasture DMI was a pasture by supplement substitution effect. These results reinforce the importance of an efficient grazing management, and using supplements to nutritionally complement pasture intake rather than as a direct way to increase milk production.
We determined how pasture and grazing management practices affected the number of days hay was fed to cattle by season. Data were collected from a survey of Tennessee cattle producers. Days of cattle on hay varied across seasons because of variations in forage production and weather. The number of days hay was fed to cattle varied with pasture-animal management practices such as rotating pastures, forage mixtures, and weed management strategies. Having mixtures of cool- and warm-season grasses reduced the number of days on hay in the winter, spring, and summer months indicating benefits from diversified forages.
Little is known about the implications of accessing an outdoor range for broiler chicken welfare, particularly in relation to the distance ranged from the shed. Therefore, we monitored individual ranging behaviour of commercial free-range broiler chickens and identified relationships with welfare indicators. The individual ranging behaviour of 305 mixed-sex Ross 308 broiler chickens was tracked on a commercial farm from the second day of range access to slaughter age (from 16 to 42 days of age) by radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. The radio frequency identification antennas were placed at pop-holes and on the range at 2.7 and 11.2 m from the home shed to determine the total number of range visits and the distance ranged from the shed. Chickens were categorised into close-ranging (CR) or distant-ranging (DR) categories based on the frequency of visits less than or greater than 2.7 m from the home shed, respectively. Half of the tracked chickens (n=153) were weighed at 7 days of age, and from 14 days of age their body weight, foot pad dermatitis (FPD), hock burn (HB) and gait scores were assessed weekly. The remaining tracked chickens (n=152) were assessed for fear and stress responses before (12 days of age) and after range access was provided (45 days of age) by quantifying their plasma corticosterone response to capture and 12 min confinement in a transport crate followed by behavioural fear responses to a tonic immobility (TI) test. Distant-ranging chickens could be predicted based on lighter BW at 7 and 14 days of age (P=0.05), that is before range access was first provided. After range access was provided, DR chickens weighed less every week (P=0.001), had better gait scores (P=0.01) and reduced corticosterone response to handling and confinement (P<0.05) compared to CR chickens. Longer and more frequent range visits were correlated with the number of visits further from the shed (P<0.01); hence distant ranging was correlated with the amount of range access, and consequently the relationships between ranging frequency, duration and distance were strong. These relationships indicate that longer, more frequent and greater ranging from the home shed was associated with improved welfare. Further research is required to identify whether these relationships between ranging behaviour and welfare are causal.
The aim of this study was to determine how cows with different genetic merit behave and perform when grazing biodiverse and heterogeneous mountain pastures with different slopes. Three groups of 12 cows in late lactation, each composed of four Holstein, four Montbéliarde and four Valdostana Red Pied cows, breeds of increasing presumed robustness and decreasing milk yield (MY) potential. Cows grazed without concentrate either on a low-diversity flat pasture or on two species-rich mountainous pastures having slopes of either 7° or 22°. Milk yield, BW and grazing behaviour were monitored two times in the first and once in the second grazing cycle. Cows of different breeds had similar behaviour on all pastures. The Montbéliarde cows performed close to their production potential; Holstein and Valdostana cows produced less milk than anticipated. No breed difference in terms of BW loss was found. The Valdostana cows exhibited the least selective behaviour with respect to plant species and plant growth stage. Still, all cows searched for the most palatable vegetation regardless of pasture diversity. On the steep pasture, cows optimised the trade-off between ingesting and saving energy to obtain feed. They remained longer at the lowest zone and selected forbs, whereas cows on the flatter pasture went to the upper zone to select grasses. The present study gave no evidence for a superior short-term adaptation to harsh grazing conditions through an optimised feeding behaviour of the Valdostana breed compared to Montbéliarde and Holstein cows.
In terms of animal welfare, farming systems of dairy cows are perceived positively by consumers when compared to pigs or poultry. A main reason is that the majority of consumers associate dairy farming with pasture, which in turn they relate with benefits for animal health and welfare. However, holistic scientific assessments of the effects of pasturing on animal welfare are rare. Hence, it was the aim to study the animal welfare level in 61 German loose housing dairy farms by using the measures of the Welfare Quality® protocol for dairy cattle (WQP). Data were collected twice per farm at the end of the pasture season (July to October) and approximately 6 months later at the end of the barn season (December to April). Farms were classified based on the duration cows had access to pasture per day during the pasture season: group 1 (G1)>10 h; group 2 (G2) 6 to 10 h; group 3 (G3)<6 h and group 4 (G4) without pasture access. The average herd size was 129 Holstein-Friesian or Red-Holstein cows (range 58 to 527). In addition to WQP data, performance data were gathered from routine herd data recordings. The indicators were aggregated to criteria applying the scoring system of the WQP. G4 received lower scores at the first than at the second visit for the criterion absence of hunger, while there were no differences between visits in the other groups (P=0.58 – group×farm visit effect). All pasturing groups were scored better at the end of the pasture season than G4 for the criterion comfort around resting (P<0.01). Compared with G1 for both farm visits and G2 for the end of the barn season, G4 reached inferior scores for the criterion absence of injuries, including indicators such as hairless patches, lesions, and swellings and lameness. At both assessments G2 was scored higher than the other groups for the criterion absence of diseases (P=0.04). In conclusion, pasture access had positive effects only on selected welfare indicators, however, these effects were not maintained throughout the barn season.
The commercially available collar device MooMonitor+ was evaluated with regards to accuracy and application potential for measuring grazing behavior. These automated measurements are crucial as cows feed intake behavior at pasture is an important parameter of animal performance, health and welfare as well as being an indicator of feed availability. Compared to laborious and time-consuming visual observation, the continuous and automated measurement of grazing behavior may support and improve the grazing management of dairy cows on pasture. Therefore, there were two experiments as well as a literature analysis conducted to evaluate the MooMonitor+ under grazing conditions. The first experiment compared the automated measurement of the sensor against visual observation. In a second experiment, the MooMonitor+ was compared to a noseband sensor (RumiWatch), which also allows continuous measurement of grazing behavior. The first experiment on n = 12 cows revealed that the automated sensor MooMonitor+ and visual observation were highly correlated as indicated by the Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient (rs) = 0.94 and concordance correlation coefficient (CCC) = 0.97 for grazing time. An rs-value of 0.97 and CCC = 0.98 was observed for rumination time. In a second experiment with n = 12 cows over 24-h periods, a high correlation between the MooMonitor+ and the RumiWatch was observed for grazing time as indicated by an rs-value of 0.91 and a CCC-value of 0.97. Similarly, a high correlation was observed for rumination time with an rs-value of 0.96 and a CCC-value of 0.99. While a higher level of agreement between the MooMonitor+ and both visual observation and RumiWatch was observed for rumination time compared to grazing time, the overall results showed a high level of accuracy of the collar device in measuring grazing and rumination times. Therefore, the collar device can be applied to monitor cow behavior at pasture on farms. With regards to the application potential of the collar device, it may not only be used on commercial farms but can also be applied to research questions when a data resolution of 15 min is sufficient. Thus, at farm level, the farmer can get an accurate and continuous measurement of grazing behavior of each individual cow and may then use those data for decision-making to optimize the animal management.
Although food from grazed animals is increasingly sought by consumers because of perceived animal welfare advantages, grazing systems provide the farmer and the animal with unique challenges. The system is dependent almost daily on the climate for feed supply, with the importation of large amounts of feed from off farm, and associated labour and mechanisation costs, sometimes reducing economic viability. Furthermore, the cow may have to walk long distances and be able to harvest feed efficiently in a highly competitive environment because of the need for high levels of pasture utilisation. She must, also, be: (1) highly fertile, with a requirement for pregnancy within ~80 days post-calving; (2) ‘easy care’, because of the need for the management of large herds with limited labour; (3) able to walk long distances; and (4) robust to changes in feed supply and quality, so that short-term nutritional insults do not unduly influence her production and reproduction cycles. These are very different and are in addition to demands placed on cows in housed systems offered pre-made mixed rations. Furthermore, additional demands in environmental sustainability and animal welfare, in conjunction with the need for greater system-level biological efficiency (i.e. ‘sustainable intensification’), will add to the ‘robustness’ requirements of cows in the future. Increasingly, there is evidence that certain genotypes of cows perform better or worse in grazing systems, indicating a genotype×environment interaction. This has led to the development of tailored breeding objectives within countries for important heritable traits to maximise the profitability and sustainability of their production system. To date, these breeding objectives have focussed on the more easily measured traits and those of highest relative economic importance. In the future, there will be greater emphasis on more difficult to measure traits that are important to the quality of life of the animal in each production system and to reduce the system’s environmental footprint.
Atmospheric emissions of nitrogen (N) from New Zealand dairy farms are significant but have the potential to be affected by manure management prior to land application. The current work examined whether reducing cattle manure dry matter (DM) from 0.16 high DM (HDM) to 0.06 low DM (LDM), to enhance infiltration and reduce ammonia (NH3) emissions when applied to grassland, would affect nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions. Pasture was cut, simulating grazing, and either amended with HDM (173 kg N/ha) or LDM manure (48 kg N/ha) or left unamended. Ammonia emissions from HDM manure were higher than from LDM manure, as a flux or as a percentage of total ammoniacal nitrogen (TAN, i.e. NH3 + NH4+) applied, due to more TAN being retained near the soil surface and the higher soil surface pH under HDM manure treatment. Cumulative N2O emissions over 37 days from HDM plots were higher than from the control but not from the LDM plots. After 5 days, the daily N2O emission rate was larger from HDM plots than from LDM and control plots. The N2O fluxes from LDM and HDM treatments did not differ, either as a proportion of TAN applied or as a proportion of total-N applied. Increasing DM contributed to reductions in both oxygen (O2) availability and relative gas diffusivity, and thus potentially N2O production. Under the conditions of the current study, lower manure DM content reduced NH3 emissions but did not increase cumulative losses of N2O.
Limited research has suggested that higher lambing densities increase interference from foreign ewes at lambing which disrupts the ewe-lamb bond and compromises lamb survival. This may be particularly evident in mobs of twin-bearing ewes compared to single-bearing ewes because a greater number of lambs are born per day. Therefore, we hypothesised that; (i) decreasing the mob size of ewes at lambing has a greater impact on the survival of twin-born lambs than single-born lambs; (ii) the relationship between mob size and lamb survival can be explained by differences in the rate of interaction with foreign ewes and lambs at lambing; and (iii) ewes will utilise a limited area of the paddock at lambing and thus lambing density will be defined by the distribution of ewes in the paddock rather than the paddock area. Merino ewes were allocated into a 2×2 factorial combination of ewe pregnancy status (single- or twin-bearing) and mob size (high (n=130 ewes) or low (n=50 ewes)) on day 140 from the start of joining. Each treatment had two replicates excepting the low mob size for twins which had a third replicate. Ewes lambed at a stocking rate of 11 ewes/ha. Feed-on-offer during lambing exceeded 2400 kg dry matter (DM)/ha. Ewe-lamb behaviour was observed and dead lambs were autopsied over 11 days during the peak of lambing. The distribution of ewes in each paddock was recorded every 2 h during daylight hours by counting the number of ewes occupying 2500 m2 grids. The proportion of ewes and their newborn progeny which interacted with foreign ewes at lambing did not differ between the high and low mob sizes for single- (24.9% v. 20.8%) or twin-bearing ewes (14.3% v. 19.6%; P=0.74). Similarly, interaction with foreign lambs did not differ between the high and low mob sizes for single- (14.5% v. 25.2%) and twin-bearing ewes (34.5% v. 26.4%; P=0.44). The distribution of ewes within the paddock did not differ between treatments (P=0.95). On average, single-bearing ewes which lambed at the high and low mob sizes occupied 34% and 36% of the paddock during daylight hours, and the corresponding values for twin-bearing ewes were 40% and 43%. Survival of twin-born lambs was lower than single-born lambs (75.3% v. 87.9%; P<0.01), however, lamb survival was not influenced by mob size regardless of birth type. These results suggest that higher mob sizes may not compromise lamb survival when feed-on-offer during lambing exceeds 2400 kg DM/ha.
Precision technologies and data have had relatively modest impacts in grass-based livestock ruminant production systems compared with other agricultural sectors such as arable. Precision technologies promise increased efficiency, reduced environmental impact, improved animal health, welfare and product quality. The benefits of precision technologies have, however, been relatively slow to be realised on pasture based farms. Though there is significant overlap with indoor systems, implementing technology in grass-based dairying brings unique opportunities and challenges. The large areas animals roam and graze in pasture based systems and the associated connectivity challenges may, in part at least, explain the comparatively lower adoption of such technologies in pasture based systems. With the exception of sensor and Bluetooth-enabled plate metres, there are thus few technologies designed specifically to increase pasture utilisation. Terrestrial and satellite-based spectral analysis of pasture biomass and quality is still in the development phase. One of the key drivers of efficiency in pasture based systems has thus only been marginally impacted by precision technologies. In contrast, technological development in the area of fertility and heat detection has been significant and offers significant potential value to dairy farmers, including those in pasture based systems. A past review of sensors in health management for dairy farms concluded that although the collection of accurate data was generally achieved, the processing, integration and presentation of the resulting information and decision-support applications were inadequate. These technologies’ value to farming systems is thus unclear. As a result, it is not certain that farm management is being sufficiently improved to justify widespread adoption of precision technologies currently. We argue for a user need-driven development of technologies and for a focus on how outputs arising from precision technologies and associated decision support applications are delivered to users to maximise their value. Further cost/benefit analysis is required to determine the efficacy of investing in specific precision technologies, potentially taking account of several yet to ascertained farm specific variables.
Cultivated pastures in southern China are being used to improve forage productivity and animal performance, but studies on grazing behaviour of goats in these cultivated pastures are still rare. In the current study, the grazing behaviour of Yunling black goats under low (5 goats/ha) and high (15 goats/ha) stocking rates (SRs) was evaluated. Data showed that the proportion of time goats spent on activities was: eating (0.59–0.87), ruminating (0.05–0.35), walking (0.03–0.06) and resting (0.01–0.03). Compared with low SR, goats spent more time eating and walking, and less time ruminating and resting under high SR. Goats had similar diet preferences under both SR and preferred to eat grasses (ryegrass and cocksfoot) more than a legume (white clover). The distribution of eating time on each forage species was more uniform under high v. low SR. Bites/step, bite weight and daily intake were greater under low than high SR. Results suggest that the SR affects grazing behaviour of goats on cultivated pasture, and identifying an optimal SR is critical for increasing bite weight and intake.
Alpine transhumance or droving livestock to mountainous areas during summer months is highly relevant for Austrian agriculture but also for other countries in Alpine regions. Access of rearing stock to mountain pastures is often claimed to be beneficial with respect to health and longevity, but the robust evidence is scarce. Therefore, its effect was tested by including it in the routine genetic evaluation data set for longevity. Alpine transhumance records from 2004 to 2013 were used. After several plausibility checks and restriction to animals with sire and dam known, records of 871 287 dual-purpose Fleckvieh cows sired by 9953 bulls were available. Data were analysed by means of survival analysis accounting for the time-dependent fixed effects of region-year-season, relative performance within herd, change of herd size, and Alpine pasturing of cows, the fixed effects age at first calving and Alpine pasturing of rearing stock, the random time-dependent effect of herd-year and the random genetic effects of sire and maternal grandsire. Fleckvieh cows that had access to Alpine pasture during their rearing period at least once for a minimum of 60 days had functional longevity that was nearly 2 months prolonged compared with cows that had always stayed on the farms as calves or heifers. In a more detailed analysis, the lowest relative culling risk among the significant estimates was observed for cows that had been Alpine pastured in years 1 and 3; it was about 15% below that of cows that never had access to mountain grazing. Evidence for the beneficial effect of Alpine pasturing of rearing stock on the animals’ later fitness, indicated by longevity, could thus be provided.
Excessive flavour in lamb meat is undesirable for consumers and can prompt purchase resistance. Volatile indoles responsible for off-flavours accumulate more in the fat of lambs on pasture than on grain and are enhanced when lambs graze alfalfa. Here, we investigated whether barley supplementation of lambs grazing alfalfa influences meat sensory quality. Using three groups of 12 male Romane lambs, we compared three feeding regimes: alfalfa grazing (AG), alfalfa grazing + daily supplementation with barley (29 g/kg live weight0.75, AGS) and stall feeding with concentrate and hay (SF). As some of the compounds involved in meat sensory traits may act as dietary biomarkers, we also investigated potential implications for meat authentication. Although barley represented 38% of the diet in AGS lambs, it did not offer any advantage for animal average daily gain or parasitism level. Animal performance, carcass weight and fatness did not differ between feeding regimes. Dorsal fat firmness tended to be greater in AG than AGS and greater in AGS than SF. Skatole and indole concentrations in perirenal and dorsal fat were lower in SF lambs than in AG and AGS lambs (P<0.01 to P<0.0001), but did not differ between AG and AGS lambs. Yellowness, chroma and hue angle of perirenal fat were lower in SF lambs than in AG and AGS lambs (P<0.001), but did not differ between AG and AGS lambs. Absolute value of the mean integral for both perirenal fat and subcutaneous caudal fat (AVMIPF and AVMISC), quantifying the intensity of light absorption by carotenoids in perirenal and subcutaneous caudal fat, respectively, were lower in SF lambs than in AG and AGS lambs (P<0.0001 for both comparisons), but did not differ between AG and AGS lambs. Meat colour was unaffected by the treatment. We confirm that lambs grazing alfalfa accumulate high levels of volatile indoles in their fat, but we show that barley supplementation to lambs grazing alfalfa is not effective in reducing fat volatile indoles concentration and excessive odour/flavour in the meat. We also confirm that both perirenal fat skatole concentration and AVMIPF are of interest for discriminating lambs that grazed alfalfa from lambs that were stall-fed, and we show that they are not effective for discriminating supplemented from non-supplemented grazing lambs.
The current study aimed to test whether organic matter intake by free-ranging ruminants could be estimated from the amount of nitrogen (N) excreted in faeces and to compare this approach to conventional techniques. An equation describing the relationship between excreted N and nutrient intake was developed in indoor digestibility trials conducted with male sheep (n = 36) and cattle (n = 24) housed in metabolism cages and solely fed hay harvested from a local rangeland. Faecal N excretion was linearly related to organic matter (OM) intake without a significant animal species effect. To evaluate the linear equation, data from free-ranging trials conducted with sheep and cattle were used. The faecal N approach was compared with either in situ digestibility plus external marker (n = 123) or n-alkanes (n = 272) to estimate OM intake and digestible OM intake. Estimates obtained through the faecal N approach did not closely fit those obtained with either conventional technique for any variable. Averaging all individual values, the supply of metabolizable energy (ME) estimated through faecal N was similar to the required level, whereas both the in situ and n-alkanes techniques overestimated ME supply. In conclusion, OM intake by free-ranging sheep and cattle can be estimated based on the amount of N excreted in faeces with some advantages over conventional techniques: knowledge about herbage attributes is not required and it accounts for individual variability on selectivity and digestion processes.
Cogongrass is commonly found in disturbed areas in Florida, where it is increasingly becoming a problem in bahiagrass pastures. Soil pH has been suggested as a possible mechanism for this invasion; to evaluate this, replacement series competition studies were conducted under greenhouse conditions at two soil pH levels: pH 4.5, or pH 6.8. Cogongrass ramets and bahiagrass seedlings were planted at proportions of 0:40, 1:20, 2:10, 4:1, and 8:0, respectively. Aboveground biomass was measured after 8 weeks and used to calculate relative yield, relative crowding coefficients, and aggressivity values. At soil pH 4.5, the relative competitiveness of cogongrass and bahiagrass was similar, with both species contributing equally to relative yield. At soil pH 6.8, bahiagrass seedlings showed greater competitive ability than cogongrass ramets. Relative crowding coefficient and aggressivity values supported this, with bahiagrass showing increased competitiveness under higher soil pH. This indicates that decreases in soil pH, often associated with poor soil fertility, is likely a contributing factor for cogongrass invasion into bahiagrass pastures. Soil amendments to raise pH may provide a cultural management tool for cogongrass infestations in pastures.
Modifying finishing strategies within established production systems has the potential to increase beef output and farm profit while reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Thus, the objectives of this study were to investigate the effects of finishing duration on animal performance of Holstein-Friesian (HF) bulls and steers and evaluate the profitability and GHG emissions of these finishing strategies. A total of 90 HF calves were assigned to a complete randomised block design; three bull and three steer finishing strategies. Calves were rotationally grazed in a paddock system for the first season at pasture, housed and offered grass silage ad libitum plus 1.5 kg DM of concentrate per head daily for the first winter and returned to pasture for a second season. Bulls were slaughtered at 19 months of age and either finished indoors on concentrates ad libitum for 100 days (19AL), finished at pasture supplemented with 5 kg DM of concentrate per head daily for 100 (19SP) or 150 days (19LP). Steers were slaughtered at 21 months of age and finished at pasture, supplemented with 5 kg DM of concentrate per head daily for 60 (21SP) and 110 days (21LP) or slaughtered at 24 months of age and finished indoors over the second winter on grass silage ad libitum plus 5 kg DM of concentrate per head daily (24MO). The Grange Dairy Beef Systems Model and the Beef Systems Greenhouse Gas Emissions Model were used to evaluate profitability and GHG emissions, respectively. Average daily gain during the finishing period (P<0.001), live weight at slaughter (P<0.01), carcass weight (P<0.05) and fat score (P<0.001) were greater for 19AL than 19SP and 19LP, respectively. Similarly, concentrate dry matter intake was greater for 19AL than 19SP; 19LP was intermediate (P<0.001). Live weight at slaughter (P<0.001), carcass weight (P<0.001), conformation score (P<0.05) and fat score (P<0.001) were greater for 24MO than 21SP and 21LP, respectively. During the finishing period concentrate dry matter intake was greater for 21LP than 21SP with 24MO intermediate; 542, 283 and 436 kg DM, respectively. Although pasture-based finishing strategies had lower gross output values, concentrate feed costs were also reduced thus net margin was greater than indoor finishing strategies. Reducing concentrate input increased GHG emissions for bulls and steers slaughtered at the same age, respectively. Although prolonging the finishing duration reduced GHG emissions for bull and steer production systems, finishing bulls and steers over a longer period at pasture did not enhance animal performance and profit.
Carotenoid pigments signature in the fat using visible reflectance spectroscopy has shown high potential for distinguishing pasture-fed (P) from stall concentrate-fed (S) lamb carcasses. However, a recent study demonstrated a between-breed variability in the digestive and metabolic fate of carotenoids pigments. The present study was therefore designed to investigate the extent to which this between-breed variability may affect the reliability of diet authentication using visible spectroscopy of the fat. We used 1054 male lambs from three breeds (Romane (ROM), Ile-de-France (OIF) and Limousine (LIM)). The breed-feed breakdown was 148 P and 258 S ROM, 102 P and 92 S OIF and 168 P and 286 S LIM lambs. The reflectance spectrum of perirenal fat was measured at 24 h postmortem at wavelengths between 400 and 700 nm. We quantified light absorption in the 450 to 510 nm area by calculating a traceability index (AVMI450 to 510) considered as an indicator of the carotenoid concentration in the fat (method 1) and we performed a multivariate analysis over the full set of reflectance data between 400 and 700 nm (method 2). The reliability of method 1 proved very variable across breeds, with a percentage of correctly classified lambs reaching 95.3%, 90.5% and 79.4% in ROM, LIM and OIF lambs, respectively. Despite these between-breeds differences, the threshold of the linear discriminant analysis performed on AVMI450 to 510 was fairly similar between breeds; when all the data for the three breeds were pooled, the threshold cut-off value was 224 units and the method correctly classified 90.2% of the 1054 lambs. Using the full range of reflectance data (method 2) enabled to significantly increase the proportion of correctly classified lambs for both OIF and LIM breeds, but not for ROM breed. It enabled to correctly classify 96.1%, 94.5% and 94.8% of the ROM, LIM and OIF lambs. The reliability of the discrimination was not significantly different when pooling all lambs for the three breeds than when using a breed-specific database (93.9% and 95.2%, respectively).
Concentrates-fed lamb meat is often associated with an unfavourable lipid profile (high levels of saturated and/or n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids; SFA and PUFA). For this reason, Spanish sheep producers from Mediterranean areas are turning to traditional grazing by ewes to obtain healthier lamb meat. The objective of this research was to determine the effects of maternal grazing on the fatty acid (FA) composition of weaned lamb meat. The ewes (Segureña breed) were allocated to two different rearing systems during pregnancy (5 months) and lactation (45 days): (i) feeding indoors on barley grain and lucerne pellets; (ii) grazing on cereal stubble, fallow land and seasonal pastures consisting of Mediterranean shrubs, herbs and trees. Two groups of 20 autumn and spring lambs were sampled. The lambs were weaned at 13.1±0.9 kg and 45.0±4.1 days age and fed on grain-based concentrates until they reached 24.8±2.1 kg live weight (light lambs slaughtered at 98.3±3.6 days of age). The FA content was determined in the intramuscular loin fat by gas chromatography using a flame ionization detector. The ewe diet did not affect the levels of the main lamb FAs (C18:1c+t, C16:0 and C18:2c), and so did not provide any additional reduction in fat saturation. Saturated fatty acids represented around 40% of total FAs determined in the meat. Ewe grazing acted as an n-3 PUFA-promoting diet, providing a lamb meat with a lower n-6/n-3 ratio. Spring lamb meat had higher proportions of n-3 PUFA (C18:3n-3, C20:5, C22:5 and C22:6) and conjugated linoleic acid (C18:2c9t11+c11t9) to the detriment of the n-6 PUFAs (C20:4, C20:2 and C22:4), while autumn lamb meat also had higher levels of C18:3n-3 and C18:3n-6, and lower level of C20:4, which points to little seasonal differences. The n-6/n-3 ratio achieved by ewe grazing fell from 8.2 to 4.1 (Spring) and from 7.6 to 5.5 (Autumn), values which are close to those recommended in human diet for good cardiovascular health. These n-6/n-3 reductions were associated with lower levels of total PUFA and C20:4n-6. Our research concluded that grazing on stubble and Mediterranean shrubland by ewes, a sustainable rearing practice involving local agro resources, contributed to obtaining weaned lamb meat with a more favourable lipid profile and so can be recommended to sheep farmers.
Although the rumen fluke, Calicophoron daubneyi is now very common and widespread throughout Western Europe, reports of clinical cases are still rare. This study explores the epidemiological background to a severe rumen fluke outbreak in 6-month-old heifers on a dairy farm in Ireland. Sequence analysis of the cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (Cox1) gene of the rumen fluke metacercariae on pasture failed to identify predominant, possibly pathogenic subtypes. However, estimates of metacercarial load indicated that the animals were exposed to a daily dose of about 5334 C. daubneyi metacercariae for a period of 3 weeks resulting in the build-up of very large numbers of immature worms in the small intestine. It is hypothesized that specific environmental conditions may favour this parasite over its competitor, the liver fluke, Fasciola hepatica, possibly by allowing it to emerge earlier. The possibility that C. daubneyi may be better adapted to the Irish climate than F. hepatica together with the fact that selective treatment against F. hepatica effectively frees the niche for C. daubneyi, may result in the gradual replacement of F. hepatica by C. daubneyi.
The performance of early-maturing breed sired suckler bulls finished at pasture, with or without concentrate supplementation, at 15 or 19 months of age was evaluated. In total, 60 Aberdeen Angus-sired bulls were assigned to a two (slaughter age (SA): 15 (S15) or 19 (S19) months)×two (finishing strategies (FS): grass only or grass+barley-based concentrate) factorial arrangement. There were no (P>0.05) SA×FS interactions. Increasing SA increased carcass weight (265 v. 355 kg), kill-out proportion (542 v. 561 g/kg), conformation (6.7 v. 8.3, 1 to 15) (P<0.001) and fat (5.8 v. 6.8) scores (P<0.01), and resulted in yellower subcutaneous fat (‘b’ value, 6.6 v. 8.3) and darker muscle (‘L’ value, 30.0 v. 28.3) (P<0.01). Supplementation reduced estimated herbage intake by 0.60 and 0.47 kg dry matter (DM)/kg DM of concentrates for S15 and S19, respectively. Supplementation increased carcass weight (+6.7%, P<0.001) and kill-out proportion (+1.8%, P=0.06) but had no effect on carcass fat and conformation scores or fat and muscle colour. In conclusion, carcasses were adequately finished, with or without concentrates for S19, but not for S15. Supplementation had no effect, and age had relatively minor effects, on fat and muscle colour.