A THREE-year research project at Hamilton will look at the effect of a ewe’s nutrition on the quality of her lambs.
The project — the first research at the new Hamilton Red Meat Innovation Centre — will look for links between a ewe’s diet during gestation and the body composition and productivity of their lambs.
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh, visiting Sheepvention on Tuesday, said the project would involve 20 to 25 research scientists, most based at the Hamilton Department of Primary Industries research farm.
The research is being jointly funded by the state government and Meat and Livestock Australia, with the government contributing $4 million. As part of the project, pregnant ewes will be fed three different levels of nutrition to determine the impact of gestational nutrition on their lambs.
Ewes will have been artificially inseminated to nine different sires selected for high, medium and low meat yield.
After weaning, lambs will be finished on rations with different levels of energy and protein. Male lambs will be processed and measured for factors such as lean meat yield, tenderness and intramuscular fat content.
In addition to the research at Hamilton, seven Victorian lamb producers are taking part in on-farm projects.
On each farm, about 600 ewes will be artificially inseminated with eight sires selected for lean meat yield and eating quality.
The resultant male lambs will be followed through the value chain to help further increase the understanding of genetic impacts on lean meat yield, intramuscular fat and eating quality.
It is hoped the research will allow producers to use nutrition to influence the quality of their end product and maintain Australia’s position as a producer of reliable, predictable quality lamb.
Mr Walsh said that, under the Growing Food and Fibre initiative, a total of $9 million over four years was being spent to target the beef and lamb sectors.
“Beef and lamb producers are experiencing strong export demand. Now is the ideal time to make a strategic investment, boost output and lift productivity growth.”