ABC Radio: Slimy algae offers cheaper and quicker cattle feed supplement in dry weather

New technology could allow cattle graziers to grow their own feed supplements deep in the murky waters of an algae pond.

The University of Queensland has set up a pilot pond near Brisbane, in conjunction with Meat and Livestock Australia and other groups, to create a quick and cheap source of protein in dry times.

Head researcher Professor Peer Schenk says it’s not a new concept, but the latest research offers a farm-ready solution.

He says they’ve simplified the process for farmers to grow and harvest algae in one-acre ponds using any type of water, aided by only sunshine.

The algae settles overnight and is then removed and dried with an electricity-free solar dryer, before being turned into storable dry powder.

It can be harvested every few days.

But the all-important question: how does it taste?

“It’s an acquired taste, but in the end, they (the cattle) really like it,” Professor Schenk said.

During the research, scientists have dealt with interference from cane toads and ducks, and destruction from a small protozoa that feeds on algae, which has been controlled by changing nutrient composition.

Professor Schenk says he’s already received enquiries, and hopes to deliver the new technology on the ground very soon.

The pilot pond is also being used to produce biofuel.