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Rangelands Mineral Testing
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Rangelands Mineral Testing
Lead organisation: University of Adelaide
Hub members and partners involved: Talking Livestock
Project Category: Hub Projects
Project summary: 

Meeting the macro and micro mineral requirements for cattle is essential for growth, health and reproduction. However, Australian soils are commonly deficient in several of these critical minerals with cattle requiring nutritional supplementation to ensure they meet minimum requirements. Research in other states has demonstrated the health and productivity benefits of correcting mineral deficiencies, particularly Phosphorous, although this work is yet to be adequately validated across the South Australian rangelands.

Based on the work from other states we believe that identifying mineral deficiencies and applying appropriate and targeted nutritional supplementation of these minerals can improve growth rates, increase pregnancy rates and increase weaning rates and weaner liveweights.

Project description: 

This is a pilot project is aimed at determining the distribution and severity of mineral deficiencies in South Australian rangeland cattle, whilst identifying what additional research and engagement is required in this area.

Methodology:

  • An expression of interest (EOI) will go out to producers across the SA pastoral regions. Up to 4 properties will be selected from 3 regions of the pastoral zone: Flinders, Marree – Birdsville Track, and Oodnadatta. If appropriate properties cannot be found through this EOI SA Drought Hub Node Coordinators and/or project team members will approach producers directly.
  • Sampling of shortlisted properties will be undertaken.
    • Blood samples will be collected from growing heifers (25 animals/property) and tested for mineral status. Body condition scores for sampled animals will also be collected.
    • Faecal sample will be collected from blood sampled heifers and analysed for faecal NIR and wet chem.
    • Soil samples will be collected to ensure all soil types are covered (up to 4 per property).
  • Participating properties will complete a questionnaire relating to past production outcomes and herd management.
  • Results will be analysed to determine the relative mineral status of each of the animals and properties.
  • Results will be distributed to individual producers and, where necessary, suggestions for further testing and/or supplementation will be developed based on research and field trials from other states (to be tested in a future project).
  • Opportunities for further research and/or extension work in mineral supplementation of South Australian rangeland cattle will be explored, if necessary.
  • Results and progress of the project would also be presented and promoted through the SA Drought Hub networks and at any relevant field days, workshops or other events in the SA Rangelands by hub Adoption Officers and Node Coordinators.
  • A final report will be developed with potential benefits and specific property recommendations for supplementation based on research and the field trials.