Research holds the key to increasing weight gain in cattle

PROMISING NEW RESEARCH: Dr Jeff McCormick from CSU’s School of Agricultural and Wine Sciences.
PROMISING NEW RESEARCH: Dr Jeff McCormick from CSU’s School of Agricultural and Wine Sciences.

New research from the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation has shown an inexpensive mineral supplement can have a big impact on the weight gain of cattle grazing wheat crops.

The research by Dr Jeff McCormick and Dr Shawn McGrath from Charles Sturt University (CSU) examined the daily growth rates of beef steers grazing a drought stressed wheat crop in 2017.

“We compared the growth rates of steers that had access to a loose-lick mineral supplement of salt, magnesium oxide and lime to steers that didn’t,” Dr McCormick said. 

“We found that the weight gain of steers that had access to the mineral supplement was 32 per cent higher than the control group,” he said. 

“This is significant because a cheap supplement has the potential to have a big impact on the weight gain of cattle and therefore the profits of producers.”

“The impact of the supplements was greater early in the grazing cycle and we saw that as leaf availability decreased, the steer growth rate was limited due to low protein in the wheat.

“This grazing trial was conducted in late August, later than the normal grazing window for dual-purpose wheat due to dry seasonal conditions. The situation was similar to grazing out a moisture stressed crop,” Dr McCormick said.

The research will be presented at the Graham Centre’s livestock forum on Wednesday July 4 as part of the Animal Production 2018 conference.

Other sessions throughout the day will focus on the economics of sheep and cattle production, sheep health and innovation in the meat processing sector.

The $55 cost for producers includes morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea. Register to attend the livestock forum by Saturday 23 June here.

Dr McCormick is from CSU’s School of Agricultural and Wine Sciences and Dr McGrath is from the Fred Morley Centre.

The Graham Centre is a research alliance between Charles Sturt University (CSU) and the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI).