Research & development
MLA conducts research and development (R&D) throughout the red meat supply chain to achieve the core activity of enhancing competitiveness and sustainability and to develop a competitive advantage for the industry.
MLA's R&D programs cover a range of on-farm and off-farm topics. The company also delivers a wide variety of extension and training opportunities. These programs are undertaken by MLA alone, or in partnership with government and industry.
Search on-farm R&D projects
Recently completed on-farm R&D final reports
Preliminary investigation of prickly acacia (Acacia nilotica)
Prickly acacia is a weed of national significance which significantly impacts on the grazing industry across northern Australia. A dieback phenomenon has been reported to occur in some locations where this woody weed exists. 150 fungal isolates were collected from field sampling of dieback-affected prickly acacia plants. The majority of these were found to mainly belong to the genus Botryosphaeria. Insect damage was also associated with dieback symptoms in the field, while anecdotal information suggested that climate and location were contributing factors. Laboratory and glasshouse testing of these isolates found that the most promising agents belonged to the genus Botryosphaeria which were able to both kill seedlings and induce dieback symptoms in juvenile trees. These preliminary studies have provided a firm platform for ongoing studies that seek to develop prickly acacia dieback into a management tool for use in the grazing industry.
Leucaena in southern inland Queensland
This project aimed show graziers in southern inland Queensland where leucaena would grow, how to grow it, varieties to use, what companion grasses to use, and how to manage it. It also aimed to confirm site selection criteria, cultural requirements, row spacing, animal management and performance including stocking rates.
Established demonstration sites were monitored for 3 years. This results showed that, in general, leucaena in 5-8 m rows wide with vigorous grass between the rows, will carry at least 2 AE per ha over about 170 days from late October until late May. In cooler and drier years, lower stocking rates can be expected.
Leucaena in this region will be of greatest benefit when grown in preferred sites, providing a very reliable, drought-tolerant, long- lasting summer-growing forage system that can replace annual summer growing forage crops and supplement winter growing oats.
Systematic literature review: Association between soil and clinical expression of Johne’s disease
The aim of this review was to assess whether there was an association between soil type (in particular soil pH) and the occurrence of Johne's disease in sheep or cattle. A comprehensive and systematic literature review of the role of soil type in clinical expression of Johne's disease was conducted. Over nearly a century, a large amount of literature exploring the association between Johne's disease/Mycobacterium avium ssp. Paratuberculosis (Mptb) and soil has been published. However objective evidence to assess the association between soil and Johne's disease is limited. Several hypotheses were mentioned in the literature that sought to explain observed or perceived associations. Some have little support whilst others may be plausible but are supported by just one observational study..
Factors associated with divergent post-weaning liveweight gain in northern Australian beef cattle
This project examined factors associated with divergence in post-weaning growth in Bos indicus steers in northern Australia. A range of factors that may be associated with the divergence in liveweight gain evident in weaner cattle in northern Australian beef herds were examined. The project found that the reasons for divergence in liveweight gain post-weaning are likely to be related to variability in responses to marking and weaning, grazing behaviour or supplement intake rather than genetics or health status.
Potential industry impact: Management of non-Merino ewes
The full potential of non-Merino ewes as prime lamb dams is an untapped resource which provides an opportunity to make transformational changes to the productivity of the prime lamb industry. This project provided the foundations to develop next generation, genotype specific guidelines for the management of non-Merino ewes.
A search for datasets containing both Merino and non-Merino genotypes was undertaken in order to determine the magnitude of difference in efficiency of nutrient utilisation. The review concluded that non-Merino ewes have a lower feed requirement per kg bodyweight than Merino ewes. Matching inputs to the actual needs of non-Merino ewes has the potential to increase stocking rates or decrease supplementary feeding costs by 14%, increase reproductive efficiency and increase turn-off rates thereby reducing cost of production.
Endophyte metabolites associated with severe cases of perennial ryegrass toxicosis
In this project the concentration of endophyte metabolites was analysed to investigate the unique, severe expression of perennial ryegrass toxicosis (PRGT) in SE Australia. PRG was monitored at 4 Victorian sites, at Lincoln NZ and on VIC/TAS farms with stock experiencing perennial ryegrass toxicosis (PRGT). The 2010-11 summer in Vic was atypically moist. Lolitrem B was consistently high at Lincoln and 2-3 times that observed in Victorian samples of iso-genetic PRG, or in PRG causing PRGT. It was a most significant toxin in 2011; in 2012 toxicosis was primarily ergovaline-based. Lolitrem B precursors were less concentrated in Victoria than in NZ PRG and in 2011-12 ergovaline concentrations were greater in Vic. Some unidentified metabolites were noted in both regions. High solar radiation and its interaction with ingestion of vaso-constrictive ergot alkaloids, is considered important re PRGT in Australia.
- All MLA R&D projects completed in 2011-12
Off-farm and nutrition R&D projects can be found at:
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MLA acknowledges the matching funds provided by the Australian Government to support its research and development portfolio.