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'Desperate' farmers feed cattle wine industry leftovers

Published on 7 January, 2007, Last updated at 12:33 GMT

ABC News

A growing number of South Australian cattle farmers are using the wine industry's leftovers to feed stock, because of a shortage of more traditional types of food.

Farmers are feeding animals grape marc, which is the skins and seeds that wineries do not want in their final product.

Chris Zajac, who runs the company TARAC Technologies, which processes grape marc, says he is getting inquiries from farmers every day.

"Certainly during the drought there's certainly a lot more of a demand for the spent marc, which is the marc that's left over from our process after we've extracted the ethanol and other goodies out of the marc," he said.

"There's certainly a marked increase in the spent marc this year."

But the South Australian Farmers Federation (SAFF) is warning cattle farmers to do their homework before using alternative feed sources.

SAFF Livestock Committee spokesman Dale Perkins says farmers need to check the nutritional value of alternative types of food.

But he says the wine industry's leftovers have been a useful food source in previous drought periods.

"It's very desperate at the moment - there's not a lot of hay or silage about," he said.

"The normal feed stuffs, also paddock feed has also become almost non-existent in a lot of areas.

"So those ... traditional feed sources have become very expensive and so justifiably farmers are looking at other feed sources."


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