The Clutha Agricultural Development Board's latest project,
on the value of probiotics to calves in their first few weeks
of life, is believed to be of national and possibly
The project involved about 300 calves on three farms in the
In New Zealand, only one limited study of the possible weight
gain and health benefits to calves has been done previously,
and the board was thought to be undertaking a "significant
study of national and perhaps international importance", the
Calves have been paired in groups of between 12 and 20, one
group receiving 20ml per calf per day of a probiotic
supplement, and a matched group in terms of starting weights
and birth dates acting as a control group.
The project team used a fresh probiotic supplement, which has
millions of lactobacilli per dose.
There were 10 such grouped pairs on farms in West Otago, near
Clinton and near Balclutha. All calves were being weighed
weekly on each farm.
"Each farm has a slightly different calf-rearing system, but
we have tried to match supplement and control groups so that
the probiotic has been the only variable," the board's
projects manager, Malcolm Deverson, said.
The trial is funded by the Sustainable Farming Fund and
The completed seven weeks of data would be in the hands of
the science analysts soon and results were likely to be
available in the new year, he said.