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Unlocking feed energy

New research on feed digestability is being developed by a student at Dookie.

November 13, 2012 4:05am

A Benalla PhD student is hoping to reduce farmers’ feed bills by finding a way to unlock the energy in sorghum feed that livestock is unable to digest.

University of Melbourne Dookie campus student Natalie Bootes is aiming to hand in the results of her research next year.

Ms Bootes hopes soon to begin animal-based studies to determine if there is a way to process sorghum feed to harness the 80 per cent of energy that’s lost when livestock eat it.

She said she wanted to enhance the digestibility of sorghum because it was cheaper to produce than wheat.

‘‘And sorghum can be grown in drought where wheat would fail — it’s a low-risk crop,’’ Ms Bootes said.

Originally driven by an interest in animal science, Ms Bootes said she was now more focused on agriculture.

She grew up on a hobby farm and hopes long-term to work with farmers one-on-one to improve their farms’ efficiency.

Ms Bootes was one of dozens of postgraduate students eager to discuss their research at the university’s School of Land and Environment 10th Graduate Research Conference last week.

During conference conversations — which resembled a speed-dating set-up — students got a chance to network and find research links among staff and fellow students.

Student Fan Liu, from China, is studying the effect of heat stress on livestock, while Ruzana Sanusi is interested in urban forestry.

Ballarat student Tarnya Kruger has been speaking to firefighters across Australia to learn more about how they approach fires in different landscapes.

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