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Delivery of NIRS to improve cattle nutrition

Project start date: 01 July 2001
Project end date: 15 September 2009
Publication date: 01 December 2009
Project status: Completed
Livestock species: Grassfed cattle, Grainfed cattle
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The project analysed over 1500 fresh faecal samples from 119 land types, grouped into 11 land systems, on 151 properties over three years across Queensland and the Northern Territory. The project demonstrated that the F.NIRS results were sufficiently reliable in predicting diet quality for cattle over a wide range of seasons and land systems for producers to better manage their herds' nutritional requirements. The nutritional parameters analysed were crude protein (CP%), dry matter digestibility (DMD%), non-grass proportion (NG%) and faecal nitrogen (FN%). 
An experimental analysis of liveweight gain prediction was also included. This study found that F.NIRS is a rapid and inexpensive tool that can be used by producers to more accurately measure their herds' diet quality and assist them to make more informed decisions on the nutritional management of their cattle.  It appears to be far better than any other technology previously used to measure diet quality of grazing cattle.  The calibration equations used in F.NIRS predictions were developed by CSIRO (D Coates) across a limited range of vegetation communities. Limitations of F.NIRS across the wide range of land systems in northern Australia therefore needs to be identified through on-property monitoring across a range of pasture types, seasons and classes of cattle.

More information

Project manager: Mick Quirk
Primary researcher: Department of Primary Industries