Animal Production Science Animal Production Science Society
Food, fibre and pharmaceuticals from animals
REVIEW

Utilising mobilisation of body reserves to improve the management of phosphorus nutrition of breeder cows

R. M. Dixon A I , L. J. Kidd B , D. B. Coates C G , S. T. Anderson D , M. A. Benvenutti E H , M. T. Fletcher F and D. M. McNeill B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

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

B School of Veterinary Science, The University of Queensland, Gatton, Qld 4343, Australia.

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

D School of Biomedical Sciences, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Qld 4072, Australia.

E Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, Centre for Animal Science, The University of Queensland, PO Box 6014, Gayndah, Qld 4625, Australia.

F Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, Centre for Animal Science, The University of Queensland, HFSI, Qld 4108, Australia.

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

H Present address: Qld DAF, Gatton, Qld 4343, Australia.

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

Animal Production Science 57(11) 2280-2290 https://doi.org/10.1071/AN17324
Submitted: 15 May 2017  Accepted: 26 July 2017   Published: 31 August 2017

Abstract

Phosphorus (P) deficiency is a major constraint to the productivity of breeder herds grazing low-P rangelands due to adverse effects on growth and fertility. However, P supplementation during the wet season, when additional dietary P is most needed, is often difficult due to practical constraints. Body P reserves in breeders can be mobilised and alleviate dietary P deficiency within an annual cycle. Approaches to estimate bone P reserves and net mobilisation or replenishment of P from the analysis of rib and hip (tuber coxae) biopsies are discussed. In at least some circumstances, breeder cows grazing P-deficient pastures mobilise bone P to alleviate the effects of diet P deficiency. Recent experiments with breeders have investigated mobilisation of body P to alleviate the adverse effects of dietary P deficiency during pregnancy and early lactation, and subsequent replenishment of body P reserves. Both mature cows and first-calf cows (FCC) calving in a high P status and fed severely P-deficient diets during lactation were able to mobilise sufficient body P reserves to provide milk for moderate calf growth (viz. 0.6–0.8 kg liveweight (LW)/day for 3 months), but this was associated with rapid cow-LW loss and markedly decreased bone P content. First-calf cows appear to have lesser capacity than mature cows to mobilise body P. FCC fed P-adequate diets during late pregnancy maintained high voluntary intakes and had higher LW and bone P reserves at calving. When fed a P-deficient diet during early lactation, these greater bone P reserves were utilised. Bone P reserves can be replenished by P-adequate diets fed post-weaning. Breeder management that relies more on mobilising body P reserves when P demands are high and on replacing these body P reserves when P demands are lower offers an opportunity to alleviate the effects of dietary P deficiencies during the early wet season in situations where P supplementation is not possible.

Additional keywords: bone, body P reserves, P mobilisation, P accretion.


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