Livestock

Salt boost for lambs

By Country News

A supplement of salt could help lamb producers make better use of dryland lucerne according to research from the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation.

The research, conducted by Charles Sturt University’s Bachelor of Agricultural Science Honours student Matt Champness and supervised by Dr Jeff McCormick and Dr Shawn McGrath, identified sodium deficiency in dryland lucerne and showed a supplement of salt could boost the growth of lambs grazing these pastures.

‘‘Lucerne is an important pasture in Australian mixed-faming systems providing high-quality feed in spring and summer,’’ Dr McCormick said.

‘‘Research in New Zealand identified extensive sodium deficiency in lucerne and salt is commonly supplemented to increase lamb liveweight.

‘‘In comparison in Australia it is rare for livestock grazing lucerne to be supplemented with salt.’’

Mr Champness conducted a survey of sodium concentration in lucerne pastures and examined the impact of giving lambs grazing dryland lucerne a supplement of salt (NaCl).

‘‘Our research found that 96 per cent of the dryland lucerne samples from southern Australia had sodium concentrations below the levels needed for growing lambs,’’ Mr Champness said.