North East & Goulburn Murray Farmer - - FRONT PAGE -

CANOLA meal may soon be­come an ad­di­tional sta­ple for beef pro­duc­ers if re­sults from a re­cent trial are any­thing to go by.

Al­though full de­tails won’t be avail­able till later this year, the 60day trial saw 20 steers fed a sup­ple­men­tary ra­tion of canola meal and an­other 20 steers fed pel­lets.

Run by Charles Sturt Univer­sity Bach­e­lor of An­i­mal Sci­ence (Hon­ours) stu­dent, Emma Lynch, the study looked at ways for beef pro­duc­ers to cap­i­talise on the cheaper al­ter­na­tive of feed­ing canola.

“The steers were weighed ev­ery 14 days to com­pare growth rates and we also col­lected sam­ples to study the fatty acids in the blood, in par­tic­u­lar Omega-3,” Ms Lynch said.

“The canola meal we have used is a by-prod­uct of oil pro­duc­tion and in re­cent years, it’s been a cheaper op­tion than the pel­lets pro­duc­ers of­ten use to sup­ple­men­tary feed their cat­tle.

“There is an in­creas­ing de­mand for grass-fed beef that com­plies with the Pas­ture Fed Cat­tle As­sur­ance Sys­tem (PCAS) - the ad­van­tage of us­ing canola meal, rather than sup­ple­men­tary feed­ing with a tra­di­tional fin­ish­ing grain diet, is that pro­duc­ers can still meet those PCAS guide­lines.”

The steers were fed a sup­ple­ment of canola meal – sourced from North­ern Vic­to­ria – at a rate of 2.5kg a day for 60 con­sec­u­tive days.

Pre­lim­i­nary data showed no weight gain dif­fer­ences be­tween those fed canola meal and those fed a grain based sup­ple­ment.

Slaugh­tered last month, Ms Lynch said she was also happy with the qual­ity of the meat pro­duced.

“There have been no neg­a­tive im­pacts on meat or fat colour,” she said.

Feed­ing canola meal has been fairly stan­dard in the poul­try in­dus­try for the last 10 years, and many in the pork and dairy in­dus­try use sup­ple­ments based on al­ter­na­tive oils.

Aside from be­ing a cheaper feed, a study by Agri­cul­ture Vic- to­ria re­search sci­en­tists within the De­part­ment of Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment, Jobs, Trans­port and Resources (DED­JTR) found that feed­ing nat­u­ral feed ad­di­tives also helped re­duce the car­bon foot­print of meth­ane emis­sions, par­tic­u­larly in the dairy in­dus­try.

The project, headed by Dr Richard Eckard of the Univer­sity of Mel­bourne, in­ves­ti­gated sev­eral waste prod­ucts that were high in oil – in­clud­ing canola meal.

“For ev­ery one per cent of oil added to the ru­mi­nant’s diet, it trans­lates to a three and a half per cent re­duc­tion in meth­ane emis­sions,” he ex­plained dur­ing the time of the study.

Dr Peter Moate is a re­searcher with Agri­cul­ture Vic­to­ria re­search di­vi­sion of DED­JTR, and said while adding fats and oils to the di­ets of cat­tle ap­peared to be a promis­ing way to in­crease pro­duc­tion and re­duce meth­ane emis­sions, its value was lim­ited to when pas­ture was nu­tri­tion­ally poor.

“In spring, our rye­grass gets up to around 5 per cent oil, so you don’t have as much value (adding oil),” said Dr Moate.

“If you feed a high fat feed, when the pas­ture al­ready has a high fat per­cent­age, the fats can cause di­ges­tion prob­lems; you don’t want it much higher than around 6 per cent.

“But in sum­mer you might have pas­ture with only 1.5 per cent oil, so that gives you a big­ger win­dow.

“In that sce­nario, adding 5.5 per cent oil could re­duce emis­sions by 15–20 per cent - it would also in­crease milk pro­duc­tion due to the slow-re­lease en­ergy pro­vided by oil.”

The re­search re­sults could have im­pli­ca­tions for other live­stock pro­duc­ers as well, ac­cord­ing to Dr Moate.

“This rate of meth­ane pro­duc­tion ap­plies to a wide range of com­mon di­ets re­gard­less of whether cows are in early or late lac­ta­tion, and this re­la­tion­ship also ap­plies to beef cat­tle,” he said.

Dr Martin Auld­ist is se­nior re­search sci­en­tist - dairy nutrition with the Agri­cul­ture Vic­to­ria re­search di­vi­sion of DED­JTR.

He is cur­rently in the mid­dle of an ex­per­i­men­tal trial that looks at the ben­e­fits of feed­ing canola meal to graz­ing dairy cows.

“Over­all, we find that the canola in­creases the in­cli­na­tion of the cows to eat,” he said.

“Not only do they eat more sup­ple­ments, but they are more in­clined to graze upon re­turn­ing to the pad­dock.

“We are con­fi­dent that this ex­tra in­take is one of the main rea­sons for the in­creased milk yield we also see when canola is added to the ra­tion.”

In some in­stances, Dr Auld­ist said the pro­duced milk had in­creased sub­stan­tially, com­pared to cows fed the same amount of en­ergy but on a ce­real and hay diet.

“Other rea­sons that canola could be hav­ing these ef­fects in­clude the pos­si­bil­ity that it pro­vides a more bal­anced sup­ply of amino acids - lead­ing to more milk and an in­creased ap­petite,” Dr Auld­ist said.

“( There can be) in­creased buffer­ing ca­pac­ity in the ru­men, and there­fore less vari­able ru­mi­nal pH - lead­ing to im­proved di­ges­tion and/or less in­ter­fer­ence with milk fat syn­the­sis - and less pro­pi­onate be­ing pro­duced in the ru­men com­pared to when ce­real grain is fed and thus the par­tial re­moval of sati­ety sig­nals.”

Ad­vanta Seeds canola busi­ness man­ager, Justin Kud­nig, is re­spon­si­ble for lead­ing the way in canola crop­ping.

Ear­lier this year, his com­pany re­leased two new va­ri­eties, un­der its Hy­ola brand, for the Aus­tralian mar­ket.

Al­though Mr Kud­nig is not in­volved in what hap­pens af- ter canola is grown, his com­pany’s con­fi­dence in de­vel­op­ing the crop speaks vol­umes.

“The fu­ture of canola both in Vic­to­ria and across Aus­tralia is look­ing very strong on the back of solid on­go­ing com­mod­ity pric­ing lead­ing to op­ti­mi­sa­tion of farm prof­itabil­ity and the canola crop com­po­nent be­ing an ef­fec­tive dis­ease and weed break crop for many win­ter crop­ping ro­ta­tions,” he said.

“I ex­pect the over­all canola crop size and im­por­tance to Aus­tralian grow­ers to re­main at a very high level for the fore­see­able fu­ture.”

It is the farmer con­fi­dence in canola crops that will po­ten­tially see canola meal pro­duc­tion also in­crease.

If you would like to stay up to date with the beef feed­ing trial be­ing run by the Charles Sturt Univer­sity, go to their web­site at http://news.csu.

BRIGHT FU­TURE: Is canola meal the beef sup­ple­ment of the fu­ture? Ad­vanta Seeds con­tin­ues to in­vest money in the crop, and this year re­leased two new va­ri­eties. Pic­tured is Ad­vanta Seeds’ canola man­ager, Justin Kud­nig.

PAVING THE WAY: Charles Sturt Univer­sity Bach­e­lor of An­i­mal Sci­ence (Hon­ours) stu­dent, Emma Lynch, re­cently fin­ished a trial that looked at ways for beef pro­duc­ers to cap­i­talise on the cheaper al­ter­na­tive of feed­ing canola, rather than a more tra­di­tional grain diet.

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