There is plenty of ground breaking progress being made in further afield farming regimes. Alex Robinson highlights some of the recent research.
With antibiotics resistance in animals becoming an ever growing concern, the Agriculture Research Institute (AGI) have teamed up with California State University to study the potential use of probiotics as an alternative method of treatment.
With many large-scale companies adhering to antibiotic-free livestock policies, the pressure on producers to find alternatives for maintaining animal health and feed efficiency is mounting.
Conducted on poultry flocks, the research suggests good bacteria can be added to livestock feed to improve resistance to bacteria and promote healthy growth. When declaring a product ‘antibiotic free’, producers and retailers are usually committing to omitting drugs from all growth production processes.
Danish biotechnology giant Novozymes is currently working on further enzyme treatments for poultry, attempting to expand the number of microbial solutions available on the market.
A Portuguese farmer has made an innovative discovery when looking to turn his dry nitrogen-lacking land into a fertile grassland for his herds.
While visiting Australia, David Crespo noticed farmers had managed to recover damaged soils which had been worn out by an excessive cereal cultivation by growing legume species to improve pasture.
Back in Portugal, Mr Crespo considered the advantages of including legumes in his grasslands to respond to the variability of soil and climate conditions. The first pasture was recorded to be four times richer in soil of organic matter.
According to Mr Crespo, permanent grasslands play a key role in conserving ecosystems, producing meat and milk of high quality, increasing farmers’ profits and therefore keeping human populations in rural areas.
A second study conducted by AGI has advanced on previous projects to look at the potentially stressful implications of regrouping cattle. When an animal is moved from one group to another a new social order must be established and this can be reflected by a period of increased competitive behaviour over resources, such as feed and laying space.
Most regrouping occurs during the calving season as cows make the transition from the non-lactating to the lactating group. At this time cows are most at risk to infectious and metabolic diseases, so the behavioural consequences of regrouping may be amplified, including a potential reduction in milk production.
The study has provided Californian dairy farmers with information and strategies which they can use to improve farm productivity.