Bull Kelp is a fast growing, brown macroalgae (seaweed). It can grow 10-14 cm per day. It does not have flowers, seeds or roots like other plants. Instead, the plants fix themselves to rocks using a root-like structure called a ‘holdfast’ to prevent being swept away. These are remarkably strong, but some kelp plants can still be found washed up on the shore after strong storms.
Bull Kelp form the basis of important ecosystems on the southern coast. These are highly productive areas that expand the food web of rocky reef communities. Bull Kelp grows in large groups called ‘forests’ that become important nursery areas and sanctuaries for many species of fish, crustaceans, suspension feeders and other invertebrates including sea urchins, sea stars and crabs, by providing shelter from predators and currents.
Bull Kelp is a good source of many trace minerals that well-up from the bottom of the sea. It is harvested for use in medicine (it is particularly popular in natural medicines), as a fertilizer, a stock supplement and as feed in aquaculture. Aboriginal people in Tasmania used dried Bull Kelp to transport water and food. The species name came from this use: potatorum means ‘to drink’ in Latin.
Like any plant, Bull Kelp uses photosynthesis to grow, and its fronds ‘thallus’ can reach a length of eight metres.
Bull Kelp dominates exposed rocky coasts in the Southern Ocean. The plants can live intertidally where waves give them moisture between the high and low tides. They can live for up to eight years.
Bull Kelp is threatened by climate change. Even small increases in water temperature have resulted in its distribution contracting further south. The distribution of Bull Kelp has already retreated 50 km south since 1940 from New South Wales to Victoria due to global warming. Further warming in the oceans could lead to it retreating further south, or even disappearing from our coasts altogether.
Commercial harvesting, though regulated, is also a potential threat. Pollution coming into the ocean via storm-water is another threat to its health.
Ironclad Goodness Premium Kelp Meal is a general purpose supplement ,made from fresh Tasmanian seaweed that has been potable water washed before drying. It is high in vitamins and minerals and recommended by farmers, stock breeders and equestrians. Studies carried out on the use of seaweed as part of the food ration in livestock have established that it provided significant benefit to animal health by the provision of minerals, vitamins, alginate and osmoregulatory compounds called betaines, that enhance beneficial gut bacteria so that food nutrients are really absorbed and better utilized. Read More
Kelp Meal can be included in dry feed at relative low levels (20kg per tonne) to increase the production efficiency by improved utilisation of feed consumed due primarily to betaine activity, enhancing beneficial gut bacteria to maximise food conversion and nutrient absorption. Kelp is available from Taskelp.com.au