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The need for phosphorus

For many regions in northern Australia, phosphorus (P) deficiency is a serious nutritional issue for beef herds and can cause major losses in productivity and profitability.

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
  • increasing feed intake.

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 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.

Figure 1: How phosphorus is used in beef cattle

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