Northern beef producers can now sign up for Meat & Livestock Australia's 2020 Phosphorus Challenge, an initiative to benchmark the importance and impact of phosphorus supplementation on industry productivity.
Following the highly successful pilot program in 2019 involving 68 properties, the 2020 phosphorus challenge is seeking 105 northern beef producers to get involved - 35 each in Queensland, the NT and WA.
It will lead to an assessment of the P status of northern herds and help demonstrate that supplementation provides a cost benefit.
MLA grassfed productivity program manager Dr Nigel Tomkins said 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," Dr 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."
To be eligible, producers should 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 120kg 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.
Interested producers will need to meet criteria to ensure blood sampling is consistent across all mobs. Samples must be collected between February and June 2020 (depending on seasonal conditions).