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Testing Time for Stockfeed with Pork CRC’s AusScan Technology

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article image AusScan technology uses new Near Infrared Spectroscopy for grain quality testing

New AusScan technology from Pork CRC is helping to improve the transparency of grain quality between buyers and sellers of stockfeed.  

Technology commercialised as AusScan by Australia’s Pork Cooperative Research Centre (Pork CRC) is successfully using new Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIR) tests to test various cereal grains used as stockfeed.  

Given that energy grains such as wheat and barley are critical to livestock feeding systems and producers are experiencing narrowing margins, such an innovation will improve returns and reduce cost of production.  

AusScan Program Manager, John Spragg says that with the commercialisation of new NIR calibrations, instruments could now determine the energy content of grain for particular animal types.  

He explains that many livestock producers and their nutritionists currently assume certain book values for the energy content of cereal grains but when these grains are added to other ingredients in a ratio, the feed is often deficient or excessive in the required energy target.  

Dr John Black, nutritionist and Pork CRC supported researcher with the AusScan project says that the variability of available energy of cereal grains differed in ruminants such as cattle, goats and sheep as well as monogastric animals such as pigs and poultry.  

Citing an example, he said that when wheat and barley are fed to pigs and poultry, available energy can vary three megajoules per kilogram of dry matter or 20 to 30 percent.  

However, when wheat and barley are fed to dairy and beef cattle, the energy content varies only one megajoule or seven to eight percent.  

Dr Black says that quality indicators currently used by grain buyers include test weight, screenings and degree of sprouting but the results are a very weak indication of the energy content animals ultimately derive from the grains.  

Mr Spragg said the NIR technology, commercialised by Pork CRC as AusScan has already been adopted by grain marketers, feed mills and livestock end users.  

Additionally, the technology is being used by seven commercial analytical laboratories to provide grain testing services.  

Mr Spragg added that longer term benefits are likely to emerge when AusScan is used in grain breeding programs, providing a tool to select plant breeding lines that provide higher available energy grains.  

Dr Brett Thomson, General Manager, Milling and Technology with AusScan licensed service provider Milne AgriGroup said that AusScan’s software allowed Milne to achieve a better and quicker assessment of the energy content of cereal grains.    

Mr Spragg said AusScan was now turning its attention to protein meal quality with NIR calibrations being developed to assess the quality of canola and soybean meals.

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