The Power of Poo

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Is cattle dung a useful tool for managing animal production and grazing in your business?

Looking at your cattle’s dung can give you an indication of the quality of feed they have available to them, flat and sloppy versus hard and mounded. However, to get a really good indication of diet quality the use of NIRS (Near Infrared Reflectance Spectroscopy) technology is the key.

Photo: The key to a good sample – Fresh is best! 

With the information from an NIRS analysis producers can implement appropriate and timely supplementation programs to their herds. An NIRS analysis and interpretation can give an indication of 

  • Dietary crude protein
  •  Dry matter digestibility
  •  Faecal nitrogen concentration
  •  Non-grass proportion of diet
  •  Phosphorus availability; and
  •  Growth rate

Dung sampling and NIRS analysis have been used over the last few years at ‘Ninderra’ Injune to ensure that the supplementation program in place was appropriate and cost effective. A side by side paddock comparison was conducted looking at the production impact of supplementation versus no supplement over the dry season (this work was carried out as part of the Climate Clever Beef Project). 

Dung was analysed over the three years, at different times of the season for both paddocks. Supplement intake and animal performance were also monitored. From this work the supplementation program has become timelier and is adjusted from paddock to paddock depending on the pasture type (Biloela or Gayndah Buffel grass) and the rainfall received. 

Dung analysis continues to be an important tool, with sampling carried out over other parts of the property before any supplementation begins. 

More information can be found at Futurebeef 
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