Charles Sturt University
Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation

Livestock systems

Overall outcome:

Profitable and sustainable sheep and beef enterprises through improved management.

Research Pathway Leader: Professor Bruce Allworth

Focus Areas:

  • Livestock production (nutrition and reproduction, with focus on beef and sheep)
  • Health and welfare (disease prevention, on-farm biosecurity, animal welfare practices)
  • Member Projects
  • Postgraduate Student Projects

NB List is sorted alphabetically by Researcher.

AgriBenchmark 2016-2018

This project annually reviews the global comparative performance of beef and sheep farms from Australia's predominant production regions as part of the international agri benchmark network. Biophysical and economic performance of farming systems are analysed using an internationally standardised methodology of comparing typical farms. The information is used to support on-farm and policy analysis, and inform agribusiness and industry of key developments in both competing and importing countries. The project also reviews current market trends and developments in both exporting and importing countries. The agri benchmark network currently covers 90% of global beef and 80% of global sheep meat production (view map). Australia has been part of the network since 2008 and MLA annually produces a Red Meat Market Report highlighting key findings. [Ref: 101781]

Contact: Dr Karl Behrendt Funding Source: MLA

Effect of short term supplementation of 25 hydroxyvitamin 03 (HyD®) on Calcium and Phosphorus utilisation in wethers

Calcium (Ca) and Phosphorus (P) are important macro minerals that need to be in adequate levels for various bodily functions. This project aims to determine the effect of HyD® supplementation on Ca and P utilisation in wethers, and compares the effect of vitamin D3 vs HyD® on Ca and P metabolism. It is hypothesised that short-term HyD® supplementation will improve Ca absorption and P retention thereby improving the availability of these minerals. [Ref: 101704]

Contact: Dr Marie Bhanugopan Funding Source: DSM Nutritional Products

Cattle and sheep grazing.Pharmacokinetics, residue kinetics and residue depletion studies for Lignocaine and Bupivacaine in sheep and cattle

Tens of thousands of animals are subjected to surgical husbandry procedures (eg. dehorning cattle), without pain relief. The only registered local anaesthetic for use in animals is lignocaine. For lignocaine to be specifically registered for dehorning and other procedures, withholding periods (WHPs) and Export Slaughter Intervals (ESIs) need to be established. This research will measure drug residues in tissues using the new sensitive technologies employed by our export markets. This is the first step for full registration of lignocaine, and the longer acting local anaesthetic bupivacaine. When local anaesthetics are registered, MLA and the Australian Veterinary Association can push for compulsory use of local anaesthetics when surgical procedures are conducted on livestock, with the assurance that our export markets will not be jeopardised by meat residues. [Ref: 101507]

Contact: Dr Scott Edwards Funding Source: MLA

SheepDeveloping a mixed farming systems RD&A program

This project will propose a clear investment plan for future research, development and extension to bring forth improvements gained by integrating livestock production with cropping.  The aim is to improve farm financial performance by ensuring a consistent supply of meat from areas operating mixed farming systems. The project will include a multidisciplinary review, identification of ideal crop-livestock integration systems and practices, whole-farm modelling and broad consultation with farmers, consultants and researchers. [Ref: 101786]

Contact: Professor Michael Friend Funding Source: MLA

Fail safe guides to grazing pregnant and lambing ewes on cereals - Phase II

This project will initially measure the changes in mineral status of ewes grazing cereal crops during the last third of pregnancy and determine if direct measures of mineral composition of the crops, the mineral status in ewes and other factors can be used to predict the risk of metabolic disease. The work will be completed on at least 15 commercial farms of which most will be in NSW. The outcomes from this work will inform the development of mineral supplements to decrease the incidence metabolic disorders. [Ref: 101720]

Contact: Professor Michael Friend Funding Source: MLA

Photo courtesy of Toni Nugent: ewe and lambs.Managing metabolic disorders in pregnant ewes to improve lamb production and survival

This project will address the effects of subclinical hypocalcaemia and hypomagnesaemia in sheep through a two-stage approach.  Flocks across NSW, Victoria, SA and WA will be assessed with the work being complemented by a controlled feeding study where Ca and Mg levels are manipulated in the diet of ewes in late pregnancy.  Should the first stage of the project show significant impact on dystocia, the second stage will investigate options for manipulating Ca and Mg status on-farm to improve lamb survival. [Ref: 101926]

Contact: Professor Michael Friend Funding Source: AWI

Step Changes in Meat Production Systems from Dual-Purpose Crops in the Feed-Base

This project will carry out a series of interlinked grazing experiments along with modelling to explore how integration of dual-purpose cereal and Brassica crops with a pasture feedbase can be used to achieve significantly more meat production with manageable or lower business risk. [Ref: 100203]

Contact: Professor Michael Friend Funding Source: MLA

Q fever: How common is it and how can we best prevent it? Research to inform vaccine policy for Australia and internationally

Q fever is a ubiquitous zoonotic disease of worldwide importance. It has special significance for Australia, where the causative organism Coxiella burnetii was discovered, and the only available vaccine was licensed in 1989. This project aims to address four major research gaps in our knowledge of Q fever disease and prevention: accurate estimates of burden and risk groups; longevity of immunity following vaccination; knowledge of and attitudes towards the need for vaccination and risk of vaccine-related adverse events.  Addressing these areas is critical to the formulation of appropriate policies for the control of Q fever. [Ref: 100457]

Contact: Dr Jane Heller Funding Source: NHMRC

Impact of lung abscesses on feedlot performance and carcass characteristics (bovine respiratory disease)

Bovine respiratory disease (BRD) is the most prevalent and costly disease of Australian feedlot cattle. The disease results in lung damage of feedlot cattle with adhesions and abscesses commonly evident at slaughter. Research conducted in the United States reports that cattle with lung abnormalities have decreased carcase weight and fatness (including marbling). This project will generate data to quantify the economic impact of BRD to Australian feedlots via an analysis of feedlot induction records, BRD treatment records and lung abnormalities at slaughter.

Contact: Dr Marta Hernandez-Jover Funding source: MLA

Biosecurity in peri-urban area of Sydney - Social research study

The overall aim of this project is to gather information to enable DPI and LLS staff and other stakeholders to improve community engagement in biosecurity management in the Greater Sydney peri-urban area. The project will investigate peri-urban landholders' current biosecurity knowledge and practices, identify the social and institutional factors that influence peri-urban landholders' adoption of recommended biosecurity practices and develop a set of priorities and recommendations that DPI and LLS can use to promote change in peri-urban landholders' biosecurity knowledge and practices. [Ref: 101867]

Contact: Dr Marta Hernandez-Jover Funding Source: NSW DPI

Photo courtesy of Toni Nugent: steers in yards.Cross Industry biosecurity and EAD awareness

This project is raising awareness of on-farm biosecurity practices and EAD preparedness arrangements in new, emerging and maturing industries. The project aims to gain a better understanding of these industries, their animal health and biosecurity concerns and  involvement with biosecurity extension programs. The project also investigates the biosecurity practices among producers in the different industries. Outcomes of this project will include recommendations in relation to best strategies for engaging the industry and its producers with biosecurity and EAD management. [Ref: 101648]

Contact: Dr Marta Hernandez-Jover Funding Source: RIRDC

Development of a national guide for small livestock producers

This aim of this project is to assist small livestock producers to understand and meet their legal obligations under the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for The Land Transport of Livestock. The outcome of the project will be a simple clear guide to animal welfare (on-farm and during transport) standards and guidelines which is easily understood by small producers and hobby farmers including those without a rural or English background. [Ref: 101964]

Contact: Dr Marta Hernandez-Jover Funding Source: MLA

Farm Biosecurity Practices and the Management of Emergency Animal Disease

The aim of this project is to provide a comparative understanding of how beef producers in Australia's Northern and Southern beef zones recognise and manage emergency animal disease, and to determine the most efficient and effective strategies for communicating with them to improve on-farm biosecurity practices. [Ref: 100473]

Contact: Dr Marta Hernandez-Jover Funding Source: DAWR

Improved surveillance, preparedness and return to trade for emergency animal disease incursions using FMD as model

A nationwide outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD) would devastate Australia's agricultural industry and economy. This project aims to broadly strengthen preparedness and facilitate a rapid return to trade for Australia in the event of any emergency animal disease (EAD) incursion, yielding substantial industry and social benefits. Reducing Australia's vulnerability to EAD incursions will increase the security and growth prospects of a wide range of animal production and associated industries. This project will address three priority areas: biosecurity, advanced technology and adoption of R&D. As part of this project researchers at CSU in conjunction with CSIRO and ABARES are working on developing a farmer-led partnership for improved surveillance, enhancing the capacity of the country to early detect disease incursions and minimize disease spread. [Ref: 101905]

Contact: Dr Marta Hernandez-Jover Funding Source: Dept of Agriculture & Water Resources

Monitoring General Surveillance

Australia depends on passive, general surveillance for prompt detection of significant animal disease events. This project will monitor the efficacy of investments in general surveillance by repeat modelling of the sensitivity of the general surveillance system utilising Australia's' General Surveillance Assessment Tool (GSAT), assessing FMD. The aim is to investigate the impact of surveillance investments in the efficacy of the current general surveillance system since 2011, when an initial assessment was undertaken. [REF: 102240]

Contact:Dr Marta Hernandez-Jover Funding Source: Animal Health Australia

Modelling the probability of introduction and establishment, via beef of Salmonella subtypes of biosecurity concern

This project will assess and model the probability that importation of beef could lead to introduction and establishment of S. Typhimurium DT104 in humans, cattle, chickens and pigs. It will provide a resource for assessing the risk of entry of other Salmonella that have emerged as issues in trade and public health that have acquired severe forms or antimicrobial resistance or invasiveness traits. The focus of the assessment concerns importation of beef from five applicant countries: Japan, New Zealand, the Netherlands, the United States, and Vanuatu. [Ref: 101980]

Contact: Dr Marta Hernandez-Jover Funding Source: Dept of Health

Review of food safety and market access risk in supply chains

This research project will conduct a food safety risk profiling exercise, providing an up-to-date review of the food safety risks posed by microbiological, chemical and physical hazards affecting the Australian red meat industry. Outcomes of this project will provide the industry with strong evidence to support market access and direction for future research to assess hazards posing the highest food safety risk. [Ref: 101859]

Contact: Dr Marta Hernandez-Jover Funding Source: MLA

Photo courtesy of Toni Nugent: ewe and lambs.Supplementation of sheep with 1,25 (OH) 2 D3 (HyD) in southern NSW

The annual cost of hypocalcaemia to the sheep industry in Australia is estimated at $11.6 million. This project aims to identify the benefits of HyD® (a secondary metabolite of Vitamin D3) supplementation of sheep during late pregnancy through to lactation. Susceptibility to hypocalcaemia increases from about 6 weeks prior to lambing to about 3 to 4 weeks after lambing. Most cases occur in the last few weeks of gestation when the fetal skeletons are mineralising. The hypothesis is that supplementation will improve sheep health and lamb survival through benefits to calcium status. The research will identify "best" regimen for supplementation of reproducing ewes and test that regimen across multiple farms with larger numbers of ewes to identify production benefits.[Ref: 102803]

Contact Dr Shawn McGrath Funding source: MLA Donor Company and DSM

Remote calving alert for beef cattle - Technology development (Phase 3)

Neonatal calf losses adversely affect weaner outputs, especially in first-calf heifers. Recent data suggests that losses between pregnancy diagnosis and weaning may exceed 20% in many extensive breeding herds in northern Australia.  Technology that could identify both time and location of a calving event will enhance research efforts to determine the major causal factors of neonatal calf deaths.  Phase 1 of this project produced an intravaginal device suitable for pregnant cows that lasts for at least 6 months without interfering with cow health or gestation. Phase 2 optimised the location and power requirement of the Calf Alert receivers, and Phase 3 built software to monitor the reception from each receiver and interpret the data. A workable device has been produced as a tool for investigating calf losses. The current project is refining the prototype developed by further improving signal reception, and ensuring it is suitable for use in maiden heifers. [Ref: 101769]

Contact: Assoc Prof Scott Norman Funding Source: MLA

Reducing induction stress in the Australian feedlot system

Feedlot induction represents one the greatest potential commercial risk check points in the beef  value chain. Animals arriving at the feedlot have unknown health status and those with clinical or  subclinical illness cannot be easily identified with current protocols. Stress from  transport and mixing at induction has been shown to be a major cause of immune compromise
during the induction period, and likely contributes to the increased susceptibility to disease
shown at this time. This project aims to reduce stress at feedlot induction, improve animal welfare and reduce disease incidence during  this critical phase. [REF 101997]

Contact Assoc. Prof. Jane Quinn Funding source MLA Donor Company

Sheep grazingUnderstanding Photosensitization in Livestock Grazing the Pasture Legume Biserrula Pelecinus

This project aims to determine the aetiology of Biserrula photosensivity in sheep, the prevalence, pathogenesis, and the responsible toxin. Studies will involve controlled feeding trials using different genotypes of animals with pure or mixed stands of biserrula, grazing trials at different seasons through the year, measuring both animal and plant parameters. A Survey of producers who are known to have sown Biserrula has also been undertaken to gain information on the circumstances (time on pasture, plant growth phase, stock type, soil and fertilizer) when photosensitivity has occurred in the past. Finally, isolation and identification of the toxic constituent will be achieved using a bioassay-based approach by metabolomics profiling with Professor Leslie Weston (CSU) and structural elucidation using NMR in conjunction with collaborators at the ANU. [Ref: 100731]

Assoc. Prof. Jane Quinn Funding Source: MLA

Production and financial impact of Vitamin & Mineral supplementation in sheep in NSW

The aim of this research is to provide better understanding of (1) what mineral and/or vitamin supplements NSW sheep producers use, (2) the health and production effects of supplements, and (3) benefit/cost of any supplementations. The project involves a survey of sheep producers via a questionnaire and field trials on 10 commercial sheep farms in southern NSW, including wool, meat and mixed enterprises with spring and autumn lambing. Five commercially available mineral and vitamin supplements are trialled to assess their effect on production and health parameters on sheep over 12 months post weaning. [Ref: 101169]

Contact: Luzia Rast Funding Source: NSW Sheep Industry Fund

Parasitism and control strategies in domesticated buffalo populations

Of the endemic diseases that affect livestock in Australia, parasitic diseases have the largest financial impact on farm productivity. It is estimated that losses total as much as $ 2.1 billion annually across animal industries. Given the economic impact of parasitism in other ruminant livestock species, investigation into parasitism of buffalo is warranted. This project aims to investigate prevalence, effective management, and anthelmentic control in Australian buffalo populations. Outcomes from the project will result in an increase understanding of parasitisma dn parasite control in australian buffalo. This will provide new, specific information for buffalo management in northern and southern Australia.  [Ref: 101915]

Contact: Dr Shokoofeh Shamsi or Thomas Williams Funding Source: RIRDC

Preclinical investigation of glycans for cognitive development

This project aims to elucidate the molecular and cellular mechanisms whereby Sia-glycans can improve structural neurodevelopment and cognitive function in postnatal piglets, an animal model of the human infant. The project will seek to define the role of key Sia-glycans in early neurodevelopment and cognition. The detailed analyses will include MRI & MRS, neural biochemistry and molecular genetics, and a learning paradigm to assess cognition and memory. These studies seek to translate present and new information into the applications. [Ref: 101506]

Contact: Professor Bing Wang Funding Source: Fonterra

Biosecurity engagement of small-scale pig producers

The project aims improve the engagement of small scale pig producers with biosecurity. It will identify the strategies that have been implemented following recommendations of previous ABCRC research projects, map a network of communication channels among small scale pig producers and obtain information about biosecurity practices and attitudes among producers who are not part of the PigPass NVD system. Recommendations for specific, targeted extension strategies will also be developed.

Contact: Dr Rob Woodgate Funding Source: APL