Pictured from left are Cameron Marshall, Matt Beck, Professor Pablo Gregorini, Cristian Moreno and Konagh Garrett

Study to improve livestock production

by Mike Isle

Lincoln University PhD students are looking at using benefits from the natural environment to enhance future livestock production systems.

The young team of researchers want to provide better diets and grazing environments for cattle, sheep and deer in the agricultural sector, which will help improve the animals’ lives.

Lincoln University Livestock Production Professor Pablo Gregorini, who is supervising the students, says the importance of animal welfare cannot be overstated.

“People who pay for meat, and would pay more, want to know the animals have a life worth living.

“These students are putting in a lot of hard work to help provide farmers with nutritional and grazing management tools to enhance their livestock’s good lives as much as possible.”

PhD student Konagh Garrett, who has a particular interest in nutritional ecology, is looking at how a diverse, varied diet for animals can positively affect welfare and environmental impact while maintaining or increasing animal production. She is using sheep and deer as models. One of Konagh’s fellow PhD colleagues, Matt Beck, is concerned with increasing dietary biochemical diversity for livestock. He’s working with Callaghan Innovation and Agriseeds on promoting better health and nutrition for dairy cows, sheep and deer.

Cristian Moreno is interested in the use of native vegetation for grazing beef cattle.

His aim is to tackle farmers’ concerns about caring for New Zealand’s rangelands while producing natural beef cattle. Moreno has been granted research funds from the Miss EL Hellaby Indigenous Grasslands Research Trust and received support and collaboration from the New Zealand Hereford Association.

Cameron Marshall is studying a divergent genetic line for a trait in dairy cows that leads to less nitrogen in urine.