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Are you up for the 2019 phosphorus challenge?

14 February 2019

Northern beef producers can sign up for MLA's 2019 Phosphorus Challenge, an initiative to benchmark the importance and impact of phosphorus (P) supplementation on industry productivity.

The challenge needs 100 producers who will participate in blood sampling of nominated mobs to determine their P status. It will lead to an assessment of the P status of northern herds and help demonstrate that supplementation provides a cost benefit.

To be eligible, producers must be able to:           

  • yard stock at a time nominated for sampling OR can organise a technician, extension officer or vet to collect the samples during routine husbandry practices before the end of May
  • have adequate stock handling equipment, such as a vet crush
  • have young breeders, heifers OR steers on a good plane of nutrition.

Producers should also meet at least two of the following criteria:

  • have cattle grazing in a known P deficient region OR an old cropping paddock
  • steers/heifers achieving annual growth of less than 120 kg or a record of poor reproductive performance
  • understand they’re managing P deficient country and feed P (but want to know if supplementation is sufficient)
  • new to the industry and keen to manage any P deficiency to improve production.

Interested producers will need to meet criteria to ensure blood sampling is consistent across all mobs.   Samples must be collected between February and June 2019 (depending on seasonal conditions). Once collected, blood samples need to be   sent to the laboratory for analysis.

Ongoing investment for P supplementation research continues to validate and refine previous findings on the physiology and production benefits.

"Phosphorus deficiencies may be present in unexpected areas, such as old cropping country in the Brigalow-Belah belt," MLA's Project Manager – Research & Development Grassfed Beef, Dr Nigel Tomkins, said.

"Recent trials have clearly shown the levels of P in the blood closely mirror the amount ingested; especially when animals have a high demand due to growth, lactation or pregnancy.

"There’s demonstrated value in obtaining blood samples to determine the P status of grazing cattle. In most cases, producers only need to establish the P status of a paddock once."

How to get involved

Producers interested in the 2019 P Challenge should contact their local Regional Beef Research committee chair through Northern Australia Beef Research Council (NABRC). You can find the contact details for your region here.

Each NABRC chair will then forward the details of up to 10 properties in their region to MLA for participation in the Challenge. Applications close 21 March. MLA will contact producers over the next two months to coordinate sampling.

More information:

Dr Nigel Tomkins
MLA Project Manager – Research & Development Grassfed Beef