Training package


Cattle need phosphorus (P) for almost every vital function of the body. Deficiencies often arise in tropical production systems because most northern soils have lower available soil P compared with southern Australia. This means there’s often insufficient P in the pasture to meet animal requirements. For many regions in northern Australia, P deficiency is a serious nutritional issue for beef herds and can cause major losses in productivity and profitability.

This module is designed as a guide for northern beef producers. It outlines why phosphorus is important, what the research has revealed about phosphorus supplementation, how to identify a phosphorus deficiency in your herd and how to supplement for P-deficient beef herds.

Additional resources and further reading are available in the Materials tab.

Learning objectives

At completion of this module, you will:

  • understand why cattle require phosphorus
  • understand how to identify a phosphorus deficiency 
  • understand the impact of a phosphorus deficiency in beef herds 
  • be able to identify the best options for phosphorus supplementation.

Additional resources 

Phosphorus management of beef cattle in northern Australia (2012). Meat & Livestock Australia

Quigley, S., Poppi, D., and Schatz T. (2015). Validation and demonstration of a diagnostic tool for phosphorus status of beef cattle. MLA Final Report, Meat & Livestock Australia

Schatz, T. and McCosker, K. (2018). Phosphorus supplementation of Brahman heifers in phosphorus deficient country in the NT. Proceedings Australian Society of Animal Production, Category Animal Nutrition, Ref 2695

Dixon, R., Anderson, S., Kidd, L., and Fletcher, M. (2020). Management of phosphorus nutrition of beef cattle grazing seasonally dry rangelands: a review. Animal Production Science, CSIRO

Dixon, R., Fletcher, M., Anderson, A., Kidd, L., Benvenutti, M., Mayer, B., McNeill, D. and Goodwin, L. (2020). Improved management of cattle phosphorus status through applied physiology. MLA Final Report, Meat & Livestock Australia


Nigel Tomkins

About Instructor

Meat & Livestock Australia

MLA’s purpose is to foster the long-term prosperity of the Australian red meat and livestock industry by investing in research and marketing activities. Through our subsidiary companies, we also accelerate innovation across the value chain and deliver the industry’s integrity and on-farm quality assurance programs.

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Training package Includes

  • 7 Items
  • 4 Quizzes