NEW FUNDING: AgForce policy officer, Marie Vitelli, says research into worsening Pimelea poisoning was vital.
NEW FUNDING: AgForce policy officer, Marie Vitelli, says research into worsening Pimelea poisoning was vital. Joshua Macree

New hope for our graziers

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 $1.5million

in funding to advance

the development of a vaccine.

AgForce policy officer Marie Vitelli provided an update on the pimelea research at the Dirranbandi Landcare Group's 'Tips and Topics' day, while a group of cattle producers took part in a 'Think Tank' event in Roma yesterday to consider key questions to help guide future research.

Ms Vitelli said primary producers across Australia had lost hundreds of cattle to pimelea poisoning in recent years, and the problem was getting worse, so this national research project was vitally important to arrest the stem of cattle deaths.

"Pimelea is a native, toxic plant that occurs over one third of Australia's pastoral area across five states, causing seasonal cattle deaths 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, and we are pleased that MLA is providing an additional $1.5million in funding.

"In the first stage, researchers collected more than 100 stomach-fluid samples from animals grazing on pimelea-infected pasture, as well as 100kg 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. In addition, research is also 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.”

Ms Vitelli was encouraged by the action taken by producers to stem the damage from Pimelea.

"We collected from 41 producers over $100,000 for year 1 to help co-fund some of the research and we were able to lever that to gain extra funds and grants to get the work up and running,” she said.

"Now, the cattle industry through Meat and Livestock Australia are going to conduct further work looking into poisonous plants that include Pimelea.

"The researches have started that work as of now, and hopefully we'll find a potential solution to overcome the rumen toxicity.”

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