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Back to Research & Development

Seed contamination of carcases

Grass seeds can cost producers and their sheep:

  • seedy carcases are downgraded and can incur financial penalties of up to $2/kg
  • seedy sheep have lower growth rates and fail to thrive
  • seedy carcases can threaten market access.

Awareness of grass seeds and knowing how to manage them is essential to profitability.

Problem species

A number of plant species cause grass seeds problems including:

  • Barley grass
  • Brome grass
  • Chilean needle grass
  • Erodium
  • Silver grass
  • Spear grass
  • Wire grass

Different species are present in different areas. Find out which species may be present in your area.

See pages 10-17 of the Winning against seeds manual for descriptions of problem species.

Management options

Successful producers develop an integrated approach to tackle grass seeds that is suited to their property and business goals.

There is no single strategy that can be applied to all situations so it is important to look at all the management strategies available

 Strategies for managing grass seeds

Options for when risk is imminent

This is the high risk period when seed has set - around spring

Short-term options

Two or more months before seed set - around autumn/winter/early spring

Medium to long-term options

Three or more months before seed set - summer/autumn

Management strategies at this time include:

  • selling lambs earlier
  • stock movement
  • feedlotting
  • harrowing and slashing
  • fodder conservation

Management strategies at this time include:

  • premature shearing
  • winter cleaning*
  • confinement/forage crops
  • spray grazing*
  • strategic grazing
  • spray topping*
  • irrigation

Management strategies at this time include:

  • genetics
  • pasture improvement
  • flock structure
  • lambing time

*Check out MLA's weed control hub for information relating to these management strategies.

More information

  • Watch this video* to find out more about the impact of grass seeds at processing, what producers can do on-farm and the National Grass Seed Action Plan.

*This video was produced by Meat & Livestock Australia and supported by the South Australian Sheep Advisory Group. Please note: the dollar figures mentioned in this video relating to processor discounts and the cost to industry are no longer accurate in terms of current market value.