Don’t Forget the Phosphorus

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When considering mineral supplementation, one of the more costly nutrients is phosphorus. One may be tempted to skimp on the phosphorus level in a mineral, thinking that forages will make up for it. That can be a costly decision when you consider that phosphorus has a significant role in reproductive efficiency, and it’s the most prevalent mineral deficiency in grazing livestock.

Phosphorus plays a number of important roles in the body. The most commonly known functions are the formation and strength of teeth and bone. Phosphorus also has a vital role in energy utilization (growth and performance) as well as reproduction. Rumen microbes require phosphorus for growth and metabolism.

Research conducted by USDA, from the Gulf Coast region of Texas, showed that cows supplemented with phosphorus had calves with higher weaning weights than non-supplemented cows. The same study also showed an increase in the percentage of cows that calved in consecutive years when they received supplemental phosphorus. A review of several studies concluded that a phosphorus deficiency can cause lowered conception rates, irregular estrus (heat), anestrus (no heat), decreased ovarian activity, increased incidence of cystic follicles and generally depressed fertility. In addition to the reproductive issues, cattle deficient in phosphorus will have decreased weight gain and conditioning, resulting from decreased appetite.

Producers may gamble on cattle getting adequate phosphorus from forages. However, phosphorus levels vary depending on plant maturity, weather conditions, soil and fertilizer used. In 1999, USDA conducted a forage survey with 709 samples from 23 states. The phosphorus level for all samples ranged between 0.17% and 0.30% on a dry matter basis. At these levels, pregnant or lactating cows are likely to not receive adequate phosphorus.

Bridging the gap on phosphorus is simple with CRYSTALYX® Brand self-fed supplements. CRYSTALYX® CRYSTAL-PHOS®, Phos-Lyx®, Fescue-Phos®, Mineral-lyx®, and Breed-Up™ MAX deliver phosphorus to carry your cattle through gestation and lactation as well as the rest of the production year. In addition, all products have a balanced trace mineral profile, with CRYSTAL-PHOS®, Phos-Lyx®, Fescue-Phos® and Breed-Up™ MAX adding the benefits of organic trace minerals from Zinpro®. Research proven consistent intake across the herd means all your cattle will get the phosphorus they need. Visit our website at for more information on low moisture block intake research and all CRYSTALYX® Brand Supplements.

Zinpro® is a registered trademark of Zinpro Corporation, Eden Prairie, MN

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dennis bauer    
ainsworth nebraska  |  August, 24, 2011 at 03:03 PM

This article is mis-leading as the requirements for pregnant and or lactating beef cows ranges from .15 to .23% P. according to the NRC. Most forages tested in Nebraska test high enough to meet P needs most of the year. Also when producers feed any distillers grain, gluten feed, or soybean meal based supplements the P needs are also met even when the forage fed is low in P as these supplements are quite high in P. Thisarticle is in fact very mis-leading.

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