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 Second edition (2023). 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


Lindsey Perry
E: lperry@mla.com.au

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 it's subsidiary companies, MLA also accelerates innovation across the value chain and delivers the industry’s integrity and on-farm quality assurance programs. Care is taken to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in all eLearning modules. However, MLA cannot accept responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of the information or opinions contained in the training packages. You should make your own enquiries before making decisions concerning your interests. MLA accepts no liability for any losses incurred if you rely solely on this material and excludes all liability as a result of reliance by any person on such information or advice. Apart from any use permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, all rights are expressly reserved. Requests for further authorisation should be directed to the Content Manager, PO Box 1961, North Sydney, NSW 2059 or info@mla.com.au. © Meat & Livestock Australia 2020 ABN 39 081 678 364. MLA acknowledges the matching funds provided by the Australian Government to support the research and development detailed in this eLearning module.

36 Training packages

Open Registration

Training package Includes

  • 7 Items
  • 4 Quizzes