Managing the diets of sheep to boost human health and keep stock in prime condition will be on the menu when NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) researchers present their latest findings at a Graham Centre sheep forum in Wagga Wagga on Friday July 7.
NSW DPI livestock researcher, Edward Clayton, has investigated ways to lift omega-3 fatty acid levels in lamb to deliver human health benefits, which could decrease risks of cardiovascular disease and treat inflammatory conditions, including eczema and arthritis.
“Omega-3 fatty acid, found in high concentrations in oily fish, is also a component of red meat and levels can be altered considerably through the animal’s diet,” Dr Clayton said.
“This research is particularly relevant to domestic markets, as red meat consumption contributes significantly to omega-3 intake in Australia.
“Current research has shown high quality forage helps maximise omega-3 levels in red meat and algal supplements can have a positive effect when quality feed is not available.
“Variability in omega-3 levels in beef and lamb produced under feedlot and grass-fed situations in Australia is largely unknown and is worthy of future research.”
With flocks grazing crops to fill winter feed gaps, advice to reduce sheep health risks in cereal crops will be timely for many local producers.
NSW DPI livestock researcher, Gordon Refshauge, said cereal crops offer increased animal growth and production per hectare, greater rest periods for pastures and an overall boost to farm profits.
“My focus is on sheep health and minimising the risks of milk fever, caused by low blood calcium levels and rickets, low vitamin D levels, both of which can lower profitability and increase animal mortality,” Dr Refshauge said.
“We advise producers to provide calcium and magnesium supplements for all stock grazing cereal crops to address the risk of these metabolic diseases, which are caused by mineral imbalances in the plants.
“Vitamin D3 shots are advisable for ewes and lambs on oats for long periods of time and are particularly important for lambs which are left to graze oat crops after weaning.”
- NSW DPI’s research will be presented at a sheep forum delivered through the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, an alliance between NSW DPI and Charles Sturt University (CSU), at the CSU Convention Centre from 8.30am until 1pm.