Livestock R&D within the Extensive Agriculture Centre covers both sheep and beef issues across a range of production systems.
Tasmanian, and interstate producers, have identified a number of issues that require further R&D to assist them in their enterprises. Three particular issues have been taken up by the Centre.
Firstly, the management of animal health issues in sheep is an area EAC staff perform a key role in researching control methods and management of external pest such as lice and flystrike (see link to www.flyboss.com.au and www.liceboss.com.au).
These two programs have national significance for wool producers in addressing some of the major expensive disease treatment and management issues of the industry. Our researchers have developed decision support packages for producers and agribusiness to direct/guide/focus their decision making when planning control or management programs.
These projects are funded by the Sheep CRC and Australian Wool Innovation.
The second sheep project, located at the Cressy Research Station, and entitled "Evaluation of animal performance and plant production of new and existing Tasmanian grass and legume cultivars under Tasmanian conditions." This project has provided an opportunity to explore animal health issues as well as animal production. While live-weight production and condition score changes in lambs are the focus of this project, data is also being collected on the propensity of particular grazing species/cultivars to produce faecal contamination (' dags'). Species with reduced dag production will provide an important tool for producers to reduce their reliance on chemical for fly control, and reduce costs in crutching. [More details].
Lastly, EAC staff have developed a model of the wool sheep breeding industry and a method to optimise the structure of the breeding system, taking into account the use of artificial insemination and other alternative breeding methods. This work has been extended with further studies in collaboration with genomics researchers at The University of New England in Armidale. The model of the sheep breeding industry structure is being updated to optimise sheep breeding program design, including the use of current DNA technology. This work will assist in the optimisation of sheep breeding systems using additional genomic information. This work was funded by the Sheep CRC.
The More Beef from Pastures program is currently conducting a producer demonstration trial at Ringarooma in Tasmania's North East, investigating the value of legume in pastures. The trial Ringarooma towards 2000 with legumes has a nominal aim of achieving 2000 kg of live-weight gain per hectare per annum.
This work builds on earlier trials in which 1981 kg live-weight per ha per year was achieved at Winnaleah, using rotational grazing, high rates of nitrogen applied as urea and seasonal irrigation.
The current work is seeking to determine how much of this potential gain can be realised by managing for adequate legume composition.
The site at Peter Berwick's property, "Daisy Banks", is located on a highly fertile krasnozem soil and comprises five pastures sown to Banquet II perennial ryegrass, either with or without pasture legumes.
Measures of Live-weight gain commenced in 2011 following the establishment of the pastures and adequate legume compositions.
Early results have indicated that the best clover plots increased production by 25% over grass only pastures which received either no applied nitrogen or 60kg/ha of nitrogen applied as urea. The 2000 target however remains unmatched, with a more modest 1052 kg of live-weight gain per ha per year being achieved.
The next steps are to compare the legume pastures against higher rates of applied nitrogen.
This trial is funded by Meat and Livestock Australia as part of national network of producer demonstration sites. The site is managed in cooperation with the NE discussion group, coordinated by TIA board member Leon Quilliam.