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.

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Recently completed on-farm R&D final reports

This project aimed to identify the importance of saving labour in the sheep enterprise, the critical periods of the year in which saving labour has the highest value and the relative importance of specific management and genetic interventions to improve labour efficiency and its impacts on profitability.

The project findings included that reducing labour input for most general tasks in the great southern of WA and south west Victoria leads to large profit increases. Sheep monitoring and grain feeding led to the biggest increase in profit across all regions. Reducing labour input for pasture monitoring was also of high value in the great southern region of WA and southwest Victoria. Efficiencies in mustering and administration were of high value in most scenarios examined. Easycare sheep and lick feeders were shown to be high value strategies primarily because they led to reductions in the requirement for labour across many periods of the year. Employing contractors to undertake husbandry tasks like dipping and jetting were of lower benefit because they free up labour in only a small number of periods.

The objective measurement of disease organisms in the environment and in animals will help livestock owners manage disease. Current methods for assessing gastrointestinal nematode parasites on sheep properties are not ideal, and we have undertaken work to improve the assessment of these important disease organisms, in particular, assessing the amount of parasites from different species using a DNA-based method (qPCR). The tests can identify and quantify barber’s Pole, small brown stomach and black scour worms in faeces samples. The tests have been rigorously evaluated and are ready for pilot usage by diagnostic laboratories and managers of sheep grazing properties.

This residue depletion study was required to establish a meat withholding period (WHP) and export slaughter interval (ESI) to satisfy product registration requirements. The GLP (Good Laboratory Practice) study described in this report determined the meloxicam tissue residue depletion profile in cattle following buccal administration of a meloxicam formulation (10 mg meloxicam/mL) at the maximum proposed dose rate of 0.5 mg meloxicam per kg bodyweight.

Bovine anaemia caused by Theileria orientalis is a tick borne disease which has been identified as the cause of significant morbidity and mortality of cattle, particularly in eastern Australia. Buparvaquone (BPQ) is expected to be a highly effective chemotherapeutic which is supported by previous MLA efficacy studies. Currently BPQ is not registered for use in Australia. This tissue depletion study provides data that could be used by industry to establish a withholding period for BPQ. Detectable residues were present in meat, back fat and perirenal fat up to 119 days post treatment. Quantifiable residues were still present in liver, kidney and neck muscle (site of administration) 147 days post treatment.

Data generated by the National Sheep Health Monitoring Survey identified a high prevalence of sheep measles (Taenia ovis) infection in slaughtered sheep from all sheep producing areas of Australia. Sheep measles has also been identified by processors as causing major financial losses to the Australian sheep meat industry. This study investigated on-farm transmission risk factors for sheep measles, the role of wild and domestic canids in transmission and the financial impact of sheep measles to processors. Throughout the study great emphasis was placed on use of the media to pass information back to producers. The study showed domestic and wild dogs appear not to have a major role in transmission but identified the, hitherto unrealised, role of foxes in transmission. The study also generated data on processor losses due to sheep measles. The results of this study highlighted the need to modify current control strategies and incorporate direct protection of sheep through vaccination. A highly effective experimental vaccine exists but is currently unregistered for commercial use. Controlling sheep measles would conservatively save the Australian sheep meat industry several million dollars per year.

MLA acknowledges the matching funds provided by the Australian Government to support its research and development portfolio.


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