The national standards used to predict energy requirements and intake for sheep are being evaluated to improve the accuracy of on-farm economic predictions for sheepmeat producers.
Meat & Livestock Australia is leading the research and development project addressing components of the Australian Feeding Standards for Ruminants, the national standards which describe the nutrient requirements and the response of ruminants to changes in their feed supply.
The project is being undertaken in collaboration with Murdoch University, the South Australian Research and Development Institute and Agriculture Victoria at Hamilton.
MLA sheep R&D program manager Richard Apps said the project would redefine key aspects of the AFSR related to intake capacity and energy use for non-Merino or maternal ewes.
‘‘The AFSR in their current form were developed from Merino-based systems but don’t work for modern maternal genetics,’’ Mr Apps said.
‘‘Lambs from non-Merino or maternal ewes are an important part of the sheepmeat industry, accounting for about 40 to 45 per cent of total lamb supply.
‘‘The AFSR need to be redefined to accurately determine the economic optimum condition score profiles for a range of production systems.
‘‘The new feeding standards we’re working on will be a long-term enabling tool for the sheep industry when doing on-farm modelling to help boost productivity and profitability.’’