Ruminant nutrition research is aimed primarily at the optimal utilization of available raw materials to increase the production efficiency of cattle, sheep and goats. There is a strong focus on rumen metabolism and roughage fermentation rates. Aspects such as the effect of rumen pH and particle size on ruminal fibre digestion are being investigated, as well as combinations of different forage and energy sources to increase microbial efficiency. The use of exogenous fibrolytic enzymes to increase the digestibility of roughage has been a focus of research over the past 6 years.
Regarding small stock, the focus is on the efficient production of lambs and sheep in intensive and extensive production systems. For the intensive systems, the research focus is directed to both the pre-weaning (creep diets) and post-weaning (finishing diets) stages, and focuses on optimising diets for amino acid, non-structural carbohydrate, fibre and mineral content. Attention is also given to alternative feedstuffs, such as silage as a component of feedlot diets or medics grazing as a basis for the fattening of lambs for the market. Where possible, meat quality aspects are assessed, as this is of importance to consumer demands for healthy meat that has been produced in an environmentally friendly manner.