NEW ZEALAND – Answering what causes an unknown condition linking swede grazing with illness and death in dairy cattle is months away, according to a group of experts.
Research and discussion into the swede condition has prompted experts to join forces in hope of finding an answer to Southland’s mystery condition.
A cross-sector working group met for the first time this week, chaired by DairyNZ advisor for Southland Richard Kyte aiming to form advice for farmers.
He said: “Evidence and science-based information is crucial,” adding that testing and measuring crops is currently being undertaken.
“It is challenging because measuring and testing for different compounds in these swede crops is not straightforward. We are working with scientists to understand this.”
This follows an email survey delivered to more than 2,600 Southland and South Otago farmers and advice urging vigilance to those grazing stock on swede.
Local veterinarian Mark Bryan said the group has already learn a lot in the process.
"We will be pulling all the different strands of this together into a wider epidemiological study to look at patterns, causes and effects.
“We're unlikely to get any answers quickly. I think work will have to continue on this for at least another six months, until after mating.”
According to DairyNZ advisor Craig McBeth, Swedes are a ‘critical’ forage to many feed plans in the region and plans for next crops are forming already.
“We all know that farmers will be starting to make decisions on planting next winter's crops,” said Mr McBeth.
“All the parties involved want to understand why this has happened, and learn how we can avoid a similar event happening again.”
Top image via Shutterstock