RESEARCH into preventing cattle being poisoned by toxic pimelea plants is entering a new stage this year with a spotlight on pasture management and Meat and Livestock Australia providing an additional $1.5 million in funding to advance the development of an inoculum.
AgForce policy officer Marie Vitelli will provide an update on pimelea research at Dirranbandi Landcare Group's 'Tips and Topics' day tomorrow while a group of cattle producers will take part in a think tank in Roma on Thursday to help guide future pasture management and cattle nutrition research.
Mrs Vitelli said primary producers across inland Australia had lost hundreds of cattle to pimelea poisoning in recent dry years, and the problem was getting worse, so this national research project was vitally important.
"Pimelea is a native, toxic plant that occurs over one third of Australia's pastoral area across five states causing seasonal cattle deaths, reduced weight gain in surviving cattle and rendering large pasture areas too risky for grazing," she said.
"An initial six-month research project began last year after producers pledged cash and in-kind support to leverage matching funding from MLA's Donor Company, and we are pleased MLA is providing an additional $1.5 million funding over three years to continue research into plant toxins.
"The first stage has seen researchers from the University of Queensland and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries collect more than 100 stomach fluid samples from animals grazing on Pimelea-infected pasture, as well as 100 kilograms of pimelea plant material.
"Researchers will use the material gathered to look at ways to break down or block the toxins in the rumen (part of the cow's stomach) before it affects the small intestine and is fully absorbed by the cattle. In addition, research is also now being scoped into how best to manage pimelea in the paddock.
"This project demonstrates how empowered producers can influence research direction and be actively involved in the research and development journey. AgForce is thankful to all of the various individuals and organisations who have thrown their support behind this research."