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Technology Solves Feed Problem

More than two years of research work by a Waikato farmers group has led to a major breakthrough involving a computer model and infra-red technology to overcome seasonal feed quality problems.

The West Waikato Feed Quality Study Group's 29-month project has been a key driver in boosting feed quality and achieving high value markets for the group's beef and lamb stock.

"We have successfully developed methods of identifying the impact of lower summer-autumn feed quality on livestock performance and identified strategies to significantly reduce this impact," group spokesman Lachie Johnstone says.

"One key outcome has been the development of a computer program that includes a measure of the nutrient value of the pasture or alternative forage/feed."

The group has gained considerable knowledge and confidence to grow livestock through a period that would normally have resulted in livestock losses, rather than gains.

"We also used a new technology - the near infra-red spectrometer - to measure this value and used a computer program called Stockpol to explore alternative livestock systems that reduce the impact of the summer-autumn on livestock performance," Mr Johnstone says.

The group found that using the vaccine Androvax significantly improved ewe fertility, despite poor feeding conditions.

"Results show that by using the vaccine we were able to return up to $6 for every $1 spent," Mr Johnstone says. "We also employed a facial eczema control and toxin-free forages, silage and grain that have lifted the return from a breeding ewe by up to $12 a head."

A final report on the project is being prepared but Mr Johnstone says there is no doubt the research work and subsequent new management strategies have been invaluable in markedly improving business's financial performance.

Technology New Zealand - part of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology -supported the project through the Technology for Business Growth scheme. AgResearch was the main technology provider.


Contacts: * Lachie Johnstone, West Waikato Feed Quality Study Group, Ph: (07-825-451). Email: * Tony Hadfield, Technology New Zealand at the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology 04 917 7800 or 025 454 095, or 021 454-095. Website:

Prepared on behalf of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology by ID Communications. Contact: Ian Carson (04) 477-2525,

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