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Food, fibre and pharmaceuticals from animals
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Bone mineral density in the tail-bones of cattle: effect of dietary phosphorus status, liveweight, age and physiological status

D. B. Coates A F , R. M. Dixon B I , R. M. Murray C G , R. J. Mayer D and C. P. Miller E H
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Formerly CSIRO Ecosystems Sciences, ATSIP, PMB, PO Aitkenvale, Qld 4814, Australia.

B Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI), Centre for Animal Science, The University of Queensland, PO Box 6014, Rockhampton, Qld 4702, Australia.

C Formerly Biomedical and Tropical Veterinary Sciences Department, James Cook University, Townsville, Qld 4814, Australia.

D Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Maroochy Research Facility, PO Box 5083, SCMC, Nambour, Qld 4560, Australia.

E Formerly Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, PO Box 1054, Mareeba, Qld 4880, Australia.

F Present address: 35 Dunbil Avenue, Ferny Hills, Brisbane, Qld 4055, Australia.

G Present address: 72 Ann Street, Aitkenvale, Townsville, Qld 4814, Australia.

H Present address: 8 Haines Close, Woolgoolga, NSW 2456, Australia.

I Corresponding author. Email: r.dixon77@uq.edu.au

Animal Production Science - https://doi.org/10.1071/AN16376
Submitted: 10 June 2016  Accepted: 17 October 2016   Published online: 9 December 2016

Abstract

In three grazing experiments in the seasonally dry tropics of Australia, growing steers (Experiment 1), first-calf cows (Experiment 2) and mature breeder cows (Experiment 3), ingested diets for 12–17 months, which were either adequate or severely deficient in phosphorus (P) (Padeq and Pdefic, respectively). Bone mineral density (BMD) at the proximal end of the ninth coccygeal vertebra (Cy9) was measured at intervals using single photon absorptiometry (SPA). Liveweight (LW) and plasma inorganic phosphorus (PIP) concentrations were monitored at intervals and rib-bone cortical bone thickness (CBT) of biopsy samples was measured at the end of Experiments 1 and 3. Measurements of LW change, PIP concentrations and CBT confirmed that diet P intakes of cattle in the Padeq treatments were adequate whereas there was severe and chronic P deficiency in the Pdefic treatments. In Experiment 1 BMD in Padeq steers increased with LW and age from ~0.25–0.27 g/cc (8 months, 200 kg LW) to ~0.34 g/cc (32 months, 490 kg LW), whereas in Pdefic steers BMD decreased progressively to ~0.23–0.24 g/cc. Although BMD decreased in the Pdefic steers bone volume of Cy9 (calculated from tail-bone thickness) increased, and some net bone deposition in the Cy9 continued. Rib-bone CBT and tail-bone BMD at the end of Experiment 1 were closely correlated (r = 0.93). In Experiment 2 BMD was initially 0.33 g/cc (~25 months, 400 kg LW) and did not change through pregnancy and lactation in Padeq cows. However, in the Pdefic cows there was a gradual decline in BMD to ~0.25 g/cc. There was no change in dimensions of the Cy9 so the decreases in BMD involved net demineralisation of bone. In Experiment 3 BMD was less responsive to P deficiency than in Experiments 1 and 2. Only after ~11 months was BMD reduced (P < 0.05) in the Pdefic cows, and then only by 15%. In contrast, rib-bone CBT decreased by 30% due to P deficiency, and BMD was poorly correlated with CBT (r = 0.4). The effects of animal weight, age and maturity on tailbone BMD of P-adequate animals, and the different responses to P deficiency observed in young growing steers, first-calf cows and mature breeders are discussed in relation to the use of SPA measured tail-bone BMD to diagnose P deficiency in grazing cattle.

Additional keywords: bone mineral concentration, bone mineral mass, cortical bone thickness, phosphorus deficiency.


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