Grass seeds have been an issue for sheep husbandry throughout history, and are the wolves in today’s Australian sheep industry.
After hooking onto sheep fleece, grass seeds can migrate through wool and penetrate the skin, lodging in muscle, fat, and connective tissue, causing a potentially lethal condition known as Grass Seed Infestation (GSI
It is by far the most widespread and serious problem found in lambskins and meat today. Wool quality is degraded, and values of severely contaminated skins and carcasses are cut in half, causing damage to the tune of AUD $47.5MM yearly losses in the Australian market alone. Slowed meat processing times and damaged trust between producers and processing represent two other indirect costs of GSI also.
Grass Seed Infestation (GSI) is the migration of sharp seeds from problem weed species and some pasture grasses into the wool, hide and meat of sheep. GSI causes significant financial impact on the entire front end of the value chain, especially to producers and processors and negatively affects animal welfare.
The spring flowering of grasses (or significant rain events after drought) leads to the production of seeds. By late spring and early summer, these seeds dry out and harden sufficiently to move through wool and penetrate the hide surface. Eventually, they migrate deep into the hide and into the muscle, fat and connective tissue of the animal. This results in a whole host of problems for producers, processors, and sheep alike.
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