Green solution from the sea

A TASMANIAN wool producer has joined a growing number of farmers looking at methods to help reduce carbon emissions from livestock.

Midlands woolgrower Simon Cameron has recently completed a trial on a small flock of sheep using the seaweed Asparagopsis.

The seaweed has been proven to help reduce methane emissions from livestock.

It is now also being used in trials with dairy cows, including one being conducted in Tasmania by Fonterra, and in some feedlots.

The trial on Mr Cameron’s property was supported by menswear retailer M. J. Bale as part of its carbon-neutral program.

“It was great to be offered the opportunity,” Mr Cameron said.
“The sustainability credentials of wool are being questioned by animal activists and others. I see this project as a step towards pushing back and actually getting onto the front foot to improve wool’s sustainability rating as well as reducing methane emission.

”The seaweed project was designed with assistance from the University of Tasmania.

The trial saw a small trial mob of sheep being fed a very small amount of Asparagopsis, mixed with barley.

The sheep were fed the supplement daily for 300 days and a similar-sized control mob was also included in the trial and they were fed plain barley.

Every sheep in the trial has individual electronic identification so the recorded results can be specific.

Wool from the sheep was harvested a couple of weeks ago and samples are now being prepared for analysis by UTAS honours student, Bree How.

Pasture samples from the duration of the project will also be assessed.

“What we have seen is that the sheep involved are fine and the wool produced is visually normal, two fundamental requirements,” Mr Cameron said.
“There is now a lot of analysis to be done around the wool itself and the pasture and the grain consumed in producing it.”
Not only are we after reducing the level of methane in wool production but also potential benefits such as reduced feed intake.”

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