Strong pulse for goat production
Tropical legumes may be used to help improve goat meat production in a James Cook University project.
JCU researchers will conduct a study using tropical legumes as feed supplements to improve goat meat production in northern New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory.
The project aims to improve productivity in the goat industry by measuring the effectiveness of feeding tropical legumes: Desmanthus, Gliricidia and Leucaena, to goats during gestation, lactation and growth.
The project team includes Dr Glen Walker, Chris Gardiner, Associate Professor Tony Parker and Professor Lee Fitzpatrick from JCU’s School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences.
Animal Nutrition Lecturer and Principal Investigator, Dr Glen Walker, Production, said the study expects to improve the nutrition of goats on rangelands in northern Australia.
“Tropical grasses typically supply less protein and energy than required to meet the needs of small ruminants at some life stages, meaning the supplementation of tropical grasses with tropical browse legumes in rangeland grazing systems has the potential to be a cost effective method to increase the number of kids that are weaned, improve health of does and kids and increase rates of liveweight gain,” he said.
“There is currently a lack of understanding with regard to what characteristics of tropical legumes improve growth of livestock. This makes it difficult for livestock producers to make sound economic decisions about whether or not to feed supplements or to invest in pasture improvement programs to improve livestock productivity.”
Livestock Production Lecturer, Chris Gardiner, developed new varieties of the tropical legume Desmanthus at JCU, which was commercialised under the name Progardes in 2012.
“The choice of tropical legumes reflects their suitability to a broad range of production environments with Desmanthus well suited for pasture improvement across the semi-arid rangelands of northern NSW, Queensland and the Northern Territory, while Gliricidia and Leucaena are already well utilised in tropical production systems with higher rainfall,” he said.
Dr Walker said despite the focus on using three legume species and goats for meat production, the research will be generally applicable to a range of tropical legumes available to livestock producers utilising sheep or goats in rangeland systems across northern Australia.
The project will run for three years with findings presented regularly in industry newsletters and at industry events.
For more information about Progardes visit: http://www.progardes.com.au/
JCU Communications Officer, Gemma Bauman
(07) 4781 4990
0402 864 636
Issued April 15, 2014