Livestock research shared at Victoria River Research Station

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About 70 producers, advisors, consultants and government staff travelled to Victoria River Research Station on 15 and 16 August for a highly successful field day and BeefUp Forum.

Victoria River Research Station (VRRS), also known as Kidman Springs, is the Territory’s principal pastoral research station and occupies 31,400 hectares in the heart of the Victoria River District. Field day attendees heard from some of the department’s livestock scientists and pastoral officers about the research projects currently underway at VRRS and other department research farms, as well as industry presentations and updates.

Some of the Department of Primary Industry and Resources-led livestock research projects based at VRRS that were presented on the first day included:

  • how fire management recommendations from a shruburn trial that was established in 1993 have been implemented at Kidman Springs, burning every 4 years late in the dry followed by wet season spelling
  • self-herding principles and how they can be applied in extensive grazing systems, and a new self-herding trial that recently started at Kidman Springs to see if grazing behaviours can be modified to achieve more even use of the paddock
  • the Senepol cross-breeding program, where Senepol are crossbred with Brahman to try and produce animals with improved meat quality and, in return, increase producers potential marketing options
  • how Phosphorus (P) supplementation is dramatically improving the performance of cows grazing on P deficient country. Cows receiving P supplement are producing significantly more calves each year than cows that don’t receive any
  • a Brahman herd that has been selected for fertility is playing a key role in a collaborative project across northern Australia, which aims to improve the accuracy of selection for fertility through identifying superior animals and genotyping them.

Other presentations and demonstrations included an update on the potential for a future donkey industry in the NT, an ovarian scanning demonstration, upcoming calf mortality research, the dry season weight gain for weaner heifers at Katherine Research Station, assessment of the cost/benefit of increasing the weight and subsequent value of cull cows using different methods, and an extremely interesting and informative post-mortem demonstration by two of the department’s veterinarians.

The second day was the MLA BeefUp Forum, where MLA and industry presentations included:

  • Veterinarian Dr Ross Ainsworth gave insights into South East Asia cattle numbers, management and animal welfare
  • David Johnston, Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit at the University of New England, gave a Repronomics project update that re-enforced the importance of utilising data for bull and female selection
  • Robert Wyld from Sapien Technology drove home the message of “if you don’t measure it you cant manage it”, providing an overview of the products they produce and a practical demonstration of the use of the Sapien data recording systems in the yards
  • Ted Parish from MLA gave an overview of currently MLA and MDC funded projects in northern Australia
  • Producers had an opportunity to provide input into research priority areas going forward through the MLA priority setting session with Barb Bishop.

The VRRS Field Day and BeefUp Forum was supported by Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) and organised by the Department of Primary Industry and Resources Livestock Industries Development team and MLA BeefUp coordinator Barb Bishop.

The Wednesday evening dinner function was kindly sponsored by MLA and Sapien Technology.

Attendees at the VRRS field listen to Whitney Dollemore (DPIR) talk about ovarian scanning
Attendees at the VRRS field listen to Whitney Dollemore (DPIR) talk about ovarian scanning

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