Elite Research Scholarships

Improving the utilisation of red wheat by lactating dairy cows

Improving the utilisation of red wheat by lactating dairy cows

Tasmanian dairy farmers have a perception that red varieties of wheat depress milk yield and so prefer to use white varieties that are imported at considerable expense from the Australian mainland. Tasmanian grain growers see the bias against red wheat varieties as unfair since it is based on only a few anecdotal field observations. The purpose of this study is confirm whether or not common varieties of red compared to white wheats depresses milk yield in dairy cows, and if so, to understand the mechanisms involved and evaluate potential strategies to more cost effectively incorporate red wheat varieties into the diets of high producing cows. Preliminary research has identified that there is an extreme range in starch contents to be found both red and white wheat varieties. The PhD project will evaluate implications of this variability in starch content for digestive (rumen) and metabolic health of dairy cows and contribute at the very fundamental level to new guidelines for dietary formulation. This project also links to research on Remote Sensing by involving the innovative use of remotely linked pH and temperature probes that can be located within the gut of the cow to, in real-time, indicate the effects of varying dietary starch levels. The project is a collaboration between the Tasmanian Institute of Agricultural Science Dairy Centre and the University of Melbourne and the Victorian DPI.

More Information: www.agsci.utas.edu.au
Contact: Dr David McNeill
David.McNeill@utas.edu.au