Seaweed for cattle health

11 Sep, 2009 04:00 AM

FEEDING seaweed to cattle is a good animal health practice regardless of whether it also lowers methane, according to Ian Heres, manager of kelp harvester TasKelp.

Mr Heres said as a result of feeding kelp to a test herd of Angus cattle, the herd’s annual health bill had dropped from $23 per head to 80 cents through improved calving, milking and general fertility.

He claims that in cattle and other livestock, kelp promotes the development of valuable gut microbes that help the animal more fully digest the nutrients in its food.

For the same reason, he believes sea plants will become a valuable tool for reducing methane output.

“The more efficiently an animal digests its food, the less methane is produced, and the more beef and milk,” said Mr Heres, whose company harvests the kelp blown up on Tasmania’s west coast during winter storms.

He doesn’t see any logistical challenges to the widespread use of sea plants in Australia’s extensive beef industry, because they can be rendered into liquids and administered at watering points through an automatic dosing system.

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Rear View
15/09/2009 10:50:55 AM

Can we have some costings around this debate? Many initiatives sound great in principle but once costed are not viable.
16/09/2009 10:55:31 AM

Yes costing would be great to give a baseline to work with. I have moved my cattle from the Riverina area, which has so many trace elements in water and soil you hardly need licks at all. They are now at Gloucester, NSW, and I have found them struggling. I feel trace elements eg selenium copper and colbalt are the problem which I understand are leached with high rain fall maybe the sea weed which I under stand has it all may be the way to go. Given that we primary producers have overheads that make the job difficult to ask ourselves why we do it so if the cost factor is managable that would be good. I await feedback.


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