Feeding & nutrition

What animals eat has a major impact on performance, profitability and quality of the end product. For intensive livestock (pigs, poultry and sheep and cattle in feedlots), cereals, legumes and protein meals make up the majority of the diet and are formulated to meet diet specifications. For extensive animals, quality of pastures and year-round supply become major issues.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development supports the livestock industry by conducting a range of research activities, often in collaboration with industry and scientific groups. This research concentrates on determining nutrient requirements, evaluating feed ingredients and studying product quality (for example, eating quality of meat). The identification of alternative feed ingredients is an important activity, since the demand for more traditional feedstuffs will increase.


  • Western Australian agriculture experiences variability in its winter growing season (May–October): late starts, early finishes and 'dry seasons' with rainfall low enough to cause serious crop stres

  • The Pastures from Space service generates maps to estimate pasture feed on offer (FOO) as kilograms of dry matter per hectare, and plant (pasture and crop) growth rates (PGR) as kilograms of dry ma

  • When sheep need to be supplementary fed, either in a confined space or in a paddock, there are different ways to ensure that they are receiving the correct quantities of feed and wastage is reduced

  • Grain overload is also known as acidosis or grain poisoning.

  • Applying nitrogen fertiliser to pasture in winter can increase dry matter production of grasses and broadleaf weeds and help reduce feed shortages in winter.

  • These tools and calculators are designed to help producers manage their ewe flock more effectively and make better management decisions about feed budgeting and grazing.

  • This pasture condition guide can be used from the web pages or by downloading the attached documents.

  • Effective grazing management in combination with efficient supplementary feeding will ensure the profitability and sustainability of the sheep enterprise.

  • In Australia it is illegal to feed animal matter to cattle, sheep, goats, deer, alpacas and other ruminant animals. These restrictions are a key part of Australia's ruminant feed ban.

  • Grazing annual pastures in autumn can potentially lead to a significant reduction in pasture seedling density, especially within the first 12 days after the break of season.


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