Focus on phosphorus deficiencies in northern beef herds

Focus on phosphorus deficiencies in northern beef herds


New brochure hones in on managing P deficiency


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

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

The easy-to-read, eight-page brochure includes advice on how to identify a P deficiency, what the impact is, and how to develop a P supplementation plan on extensive grazing properties.

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

MLA's Dr Nigel Tomkins.

MLA's Dr Nigel Tomkins.

"Cattle need P 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 most Australian soils have lower available soil P compared with southern Australia. This means there is often insufficient P in the pasture to meet animal requirements.

"The cattle that have the highest P requirements are growing stock, late-pregnant heifers and cows, and lactating cows."

Dr Tomkins said the new brochure contains the latest research findings into P and highlights the benefits of supplementing cattle with P.

"The brochure summarises the key points of the second edition of the longstanding MLA Manual 'Phosphorus management of beef cattle in northern Australia', " Dr Tomkins said.

"MLA has placed a high level of importance on P research over the years. Supplementation throughout the year to animals that need P the most has been proven to boost productivity and reproductive performance in northern beef herds.

"Several trials have demonstrated the benefits of P intake including a 15 to 30 per cent increase in weaning rates, potentially 6 to 12pc increase in birth weights, up to 130 kilogram increases in breeder cow live weights, and significant improvements in in breeder survival."

For more information on phosphorus and to download a copy of the brochure, visit

The story Focus on phosphorus deficiencies in northern beef herds first appeared on Farm Online.


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