Recent upgrades of the dairy at the Tasmanian Dairy Research Facility have provided TIA with the capability to conduct a range of research and development work in the area of animals and animal nutrition. With the completion of upgrades to the feeding system, milk monitoring system, and inclusion of auto-drafting and auto-weighing, research into the effect of variable rate feeding on performance and gazing behaviour is now possible. One project that is about to commence will examine the effect of different levels of concentrates, offered in the bail, on the cows' performance and on their grazing behaviour. Cows will be provided with GPS collars to assist with assessing the impact of the level of concentrate feeding on the timing and duration of grazing events.
A PhD study at the TIA Dairy Research Facility on omega- 3 oil supplementation to improve dairy cow reproductive performance has commenced. 20 heifers in their first season have been selected to be part of four treatment levels with concentrates boosted with canola oil (a rich source of omega -3's). The treatment levels are high, medium, low and control (no omega -3 supplementation); the heifers are fed 3 kg of their 6 kg daily grain allocation at each milking. The heifers are strip grazing ryegrass-white clover mix paddocks and are allocated 14 kg of pasture DM daily.
Supplementing with higher than normal levels of omega-3 oils should result in increased cholesterol in the follicular fluid and therefore a rise in progesterone, a key hormone for ovulation and establishment of pregnancy.
Blood samples are being taken weekly to determine if the addition of omega-3 oil in the diet has an effect upon the messenger RNA gene expression, particularly for those genes responsible for reproductive performance.
The daily performance of each heifer is followed over the 60 day period of the initial trial to determine if the supplementation of differing levels of omega-3 oil has any effect upon liveweight gain, milk volume and milk solids production.
This project is being undertaken by John Otto, a PhD student from the University of Tasmania. For more information contact Mark Freeman.
In 2009 Dairy Australia and GRDC commissioned the TIA Dairy Research Facility and Melbourne University to conduct a series of experiments, each to build upon the last, to determine if there was measurable problem with feeding red wheat to dairy cows. It had been reported, and was widely regarded, that the feeding of red wheats to cows normally adjusted to white wheat diets caused serious declines in milk production. This information was unsubstantiated but was having an effect upon wheat growers as the demand for red wheat was rapidly declining.
This project was funded by Dairy Australia, Grain Research & Development Corporation, University of Melbourne, and TIA Dairy Centre. For more information and to access a copy of the summary of the project, click on the link below:
For more information regarding this project, please contact Mark Freeman.