Brochure helps combat lack of phosphorus

An image from Meat and Livestock Australia's new brochure.
Camera IconAn image from Meat and Livestock Australia's new brochure. Credit: Meat and Livestock Australia

Phosphorus deficiency is a serious nutritional issue for many northern cattle herds and can cause major losses in productivity and profitability.

To help northern beef producers identify and combat phosphorus deficiency in their herds, Meat & Livestock Australia has developed a new eight-page brochure ‘Why do cattle need phosphorus? A guide for northern beef producers’.

It includes advice on how to identify a phosphorus deficiency, what the impact is, and how to develop a P supplementation plan on extensive grazing properties.

MLA grassfed beef research and development program manager Nigel Tomkins said some beef producers may not realise their herd is phosphorus deficient or be aware of the benefits of supplementation.

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“Cattle need phosphorus for almost every vital function of the body. It’s used for building bones and teeth; metabolising fat, carbohydrates and protein; producing milk and influencing feed intake,” Dr Tomkins said.

“Deficiencies often arise in northern production systems because ... soils have lower available soil phosphorus compared with southern Australia.

“This means there is often insufficient phosphorus in the pasture to meet animal requirements.

“The cattle that have the highest phosphorus requirements are growing stock, late-pregnant heifers and cows, and lactating cows.”

Dr Tomkins said the brochure has the latest research findings into phosphorus and highlights the benefits of supplementing cattle.

“Several trials have demonstrated the benefits of phosphorus intake including a 15 to 30 per cent increase in weaning rates, potentially 6 to 12 per cent increase in birth weights, up to 130kg increases in breeder cow live weights, and significant improvements in breeder survival,” Dr Tomkins said.

To find out more about phosphorus and to download a copy of the brochure, visit mla.com.au/phosphorus/.

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