Tropical Grasslands (2000) Volume 34, 230–239

Faecal NIRS — what does it offer today's grazier?

D.B. COATES

CSIRO Tropical Agriculture, Davies Laboratory, Townsville, Queensland, Australia

Abstract

Faecal NIRS (the analysis of faeces by near infrared reflectance spectroscopy) is being developed for application in the cattle grazing industry of northern Australia. Calibration equations have been developed for predicting dietary crude protein, digestibility, proportion of non-grass in the diet and faecal nitrogen concentration. Other equations are being developed to predict dietary neutral detergent fibre, acid detergent fibre, digestible organic matter intake and rate of gain in growing cattle. The technology lends itself to commercial adoption because of the simplicity of sampling and analytical procedures, the rapid turnaround between sampling and availability of results, the range of attributes that can be predicted from a single analysis and low cost compared with conventional laboratory analysis. Faecal NIRS is described primarily as a decision support tool via the ability to capture relevant quantitative information on dietary nutritional status and growth performance of grazing cattle as well as via an improved knowledge and understanding of the nutritional aspects and complexities of rangeland systems. Perceived benefits and current limitations are described.

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