The product has recently been renamed Fortress+ after it won the Established Prototype Award at the Fieldays Online Innovation Awards in July under the name BioactiveN.
Agrisea business development manager Clare Bradley said it should be in commercial production next year, following a two-and-a-half-year development.
At the same time, Lincoln University PhD student Matt Beck is studying its effects. His entire doctorate is based on the development and testing of this product.
That study is currently being peer reviewed, she said.
“It’s been a long development and a long testing,” Clare said.
Clare describes Fortress+ as a liquid formula that is a fermentation of a combination marine and land-based plants.
It acts at a microbiotic level in the animal’s rumen with the seaweed ingredient acting as a food source for good bacteria,” she explained.
“It also improves feed efficiency in the animal – it stops cows from milking off their backs, if you like, and keeps that condition score on.”
They have tested it on both dairy cows and sheep and believed it had a broad use for farming both from an animal health and environmental perspective.
“The key benefits are around not only the health and productivity of the animal but there are also environmental benefits,” Clare said.
It helps animals improve their body condition score and be more resistant to diseases due to its antioxidants and reduce urinary nitrogen by 18-20%, she said.
“That equates to a 25% reduction in N leaching which is like cutting your cow numbers by 25%, in terms of the effect on the environment.”
Agrisea general manager Tane Bradley said they hoped it would become a mainstay for farmers, particularly as tighter regulations come into force around environmental mitigation.
“It’s exciting. It’s actually going to support our farmers,” he said.
New Zealand is home to around 900 of the 10,000 species of seaweed in the world.
The seaweed used in Fortress+ is Ecklonia radiata – a brown seaweed that is a different species to the native red seaweed (Asparagopsis armata) which the Cawthron Institute is studying to see if it can reduce livestock emissions.
It is administered to livestock at around 5ml per animal per day in a variety of ways, being sprayed onto feed for feedpads or through dosing machines into water troughs.
Cost-wise, it equated to about 3.5c a day per animal.
Ideally, it could be used in the leadup to a period when the cow might be put under stress, such as pre-calving.
“Oxidative stress is responsible for almost all metabolic issues so disease prevention is really important,” Clare said.
Testing by Beck showed the animals received an optimum health result when given 5ml, but an additional study revealed the environmental mitigation effects when administered at 100ml/cow/day.
The work has captured the interest of some of the country’s main milk companies and Clare has done presentations to these companies on Fortress+ and the research behind it.
“We see it as an all year-round multi-health supplement for the animal,” Tane said.
Clare said it was always their aim to provide farmers with the right tools needed to farm into the future.
“There’s no point in continually beating farmers over the head for what they were told to do for generations,” she said.
“It’s up to companies like us to come up with tools to help them because there just aren’t many proven on-farm tools for farmers to use.”