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TAS Country : January 26th 2012
10 Tasmanian Country Friday, January 27, 2012 News Course adds to cropping income EMMA HOPE Colin Seis AN innovative land management system where cropping and grazing are combined into a single technique with each enterprise enhancing the other economically and environmentally, will be shown off in Kempton next month. The free introductory pasture cropping course, on February 14-15, will be led by Colin Seis. He runs 4000 merino sheep on his 2000-acre property in central NSW and augments income from wool production with annual cropping of oats, wheat and cereal rye. He alternates his paddocks between grazing and cropping, first grazing the paddocks, then sowing cereal crops directly into the pasture. His technique is becoming so popular it is now used on more than 1500 farms across Australia. Mr Seis first used the technique in 1992 and has been working with it ever since, growing a range of winter and summer crops improving the perennial pasture base. ''Originally we sowed oats into a dormant stand of summer- growing native grass as an inexpensive method of growing stock feed,'' Mr Seis said. ''But we quickly realised that there were other benefits, including an immediately apparent enhancement of the pastures.'' Some of the benefits of pasture cropping include reduced input costs, pasture rejuvenation, improved pasture diversity, improved soil structure, increased beneficial soil fungi, increased soil water-holding capacity, nutrient recycling, fewer pasture weeds, and increased profitability. NRM South will bring Mr Seis to Tasmania to demonstrate the technique and its practices to farmers. A group of 10 Oatlands farmers have been testing the technique with about 200ha sown in 2011. Information sharing through pasture-cropping group activities has helped farmers to share experiences and speed up the improvement process. The introductory pasture cropping course includes discussions and a paddock walk. For more information or to register phone 6221 6117 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Raising bar on quality Grading program big plus KIM WOODS QUALITY CONTROL: Producers are being encouraged not to turn off cattle too early. SUPERMARKET chains and proces- sors are continuing a nationwide push to have beef producers up to scratch with Meat Standards Australia. Woolworths has already introduced certified MSA graded Australian beef in an attempt to give customers confidence in the consistency of eating quality. The MSA grading program is de- signed to guarantee tenderness and involves all sections of the beef chain from paddock to plate. It is the world's only consumer-based eating quality grading system. The MSA grade can be three, four or five- stars and includes primal quality grades, ageing requirements and cook- ing method. In 2010-11, 1.4 million cattle were processed for MSA grading -- a 10 per cent increase on 2009-10. Cattle producers are increasingly being encouraged to become MSA registered. To comply, cattle should not be mixed with unfamiliar mobs and they must be on the vendor's property for a minimum of 30 days before slaughter. Maintaining glycogen (energy) levels in the animals is the key to meeting meat pH and colour standards. Ideally, meat pH needs to be 5.7 or below. Above that level results in a ''dark cutting'' carcass. High pH prod- uct has a high water-holding capacity, meaning lower eating quality, cooking inconsistencies and higher spoilage. Steaks with a high pH appear rarer, leading to consumer dissatisfaction. A high plane of nutrition and a low iron diet may result in less pigment or lighter-coloured meat. Other factors affecting beef-eating quality are cut and cooking, tropical breed content, maturity, weight for age, carcass hanging, marbling and ageing. Producers can avoid animal stresses caused by mustering and yarding. Young animals stressed by mixed penning can break down glycogen at 11 per cent an hour. Lairage results in a glycogen break- down at less than 0.1 per cent an hour. Long-distance transport usually in- volves a small depletion of glycogen but this quickly rises when the truck is stopped, or is unloading. A minimum of two days on feed is needed to restore energy levels. The entire mob can take up to five days to recover. Producers need to identify any sick or injured cattle, and draft off those before dispatch. They also need to identify any cattle of poor tempera- ment and remove them. One of Australia's largest processors, Teys Australia, has been encouraging producers to become MSA registered. One of the key issues is bruising which can take five days to appear in the chiller after slaughter. Teys livestock executive director Geoff Teys advises producers to make sure loading ramps are designed to avoid bruising. Aside from bruising, other areas of non-conformance are caused by cattle being turned off too early, later- maturing cattle, poor nutrition, weath- er extremes and pre-slaughter stress. The pre-slaughter stress includes using electric prodders and dogs, poor transport and loading yard design, mixing unfamiliar mobs, lack of water and poor handling. Cootamundra livestock agent Col Harris says too many producers fail to accustom cattle to humans. ''A lot of people drive around the cattle and never get out. If the cattle come into the yards, the moment a human walks into the yards, they are scared,'' he says. ''It is important for the wellbeing of the cattle to walk around and it makes a huge difference to how they load on to a truck.'' Behaviour learnt during yard wean- ing can provide cattle with a greater acceptance to new and different environments. Regular handling up to nine months and beyond will permanently reduce the fear of humans. Stockyards should be laid out in a herringbone layout with a one-way traffic flow. Curved race systems work best. Using hormonal growth promotants can improve growth rates, reduce the cost of weight gain, and improve feed conversion efficiency. HGPs, however, will restrict mar- bling and reduce eating quality. MSA research studied up to seven HGP treatment or implants in steers and heifers in southern and northern Australia. The cattle were either grass or grain fed, and were bos taurus and bos indicus breeds. The study revealed no significant difference in eating quality among products. Within the next 12 months, a ques- tion on the HGP status of consigned stock will be included on MSA vendor declarations. HGP-treated cattle will still be eli- gible for MSA grading but may receive penalties. Weekly Times
January 13th 2012
February 2nd 2012