Feeding nitrates to beef cattle in northern Australia

Whole farm systems analysis from the WFSAM project

Urea supplementation for beef cattle is common in the drier tropical rangeland systems of Australia to improve efficiency of utilisation of the poor quality forage on offer. Nitrate has been suggested as an alternative source of nitrogen for the rumen microbiota by recent research, and has the added benefit of reducing methane production in the rumen.

This study used a Longreach case study farm to examine the profitability of feeding nitrates as a CFI / Emissions Reduction Fund offset method. The results show that nitrate supplementation of beef herds on low protein diets, typical of the drier tropical rangeland systems of Australia, is marginally viable at a high carbon prices, but only where nitrate directly replaces a currently used urea supplement at no or little change in implementation costs. However, if the nitrate did not replace a urea supplement, the cost of the supplement is 10 times more expensive than the most optimistic CFI gross income scenario.

Primary researchers


Cottle D, Eckard RJ (2014). Modelling the reduction in enteric methane from voluntary intake versus controlled individual animal intake of lipid or nitrate supplements. Animal Production Science, 54, 2121-2131, http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/AN14464.

More information

Research Theme


Project Status


Project Leadership

Dr Christie Ho
  • Dr Christie Ho
  • Senior Research Scientist
  • Agriculture Victoria

Richard Eckard
  • Professor Richard Eckard
  • Director
  • Primary Industries Climate Challenges Centre

Richard Rawnsley
  • Dr Richard Rawnsley
  • Senior Research Scientist
  • Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture

Fact Sheet

Project Team

  • Dr Brendan Cullen
    University of Melbourne
  • Dr Matthew Harrison
    Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture
  • Dr Alexandria Sinnett
    Agriculture Victoria
  • Karen Christie
    Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture
  • Natalie Doran-Browne
    University of Melbourne

Funding Organisations

  • Agriculture Victoria
  • Australian Wool Innovation Limited
  • Dairy Australia
  • Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
  • Meat and Livestock Australia
  • Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture
  • University of Melbourne

Collaborating Organisations

  • Agriculture Victoria
  • Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture