Phosphorus requirement of finishing feedlot calves

G. E. Erickson, T. J. Klopfenstein, C. T. Milton, D. Brink, M. W. Orth, K. M. Whittet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Dietary P supplied to feedlot cattle is important because an inadequate supply will compromise performance, whereas excess P may harm the environment. However, P requirements of feedlot cattle are not well documented. Therefore, 45 steer calves (265.2 ± 16.6 kg) were individually fed to determine the P required for gain and bone integrity over a 204-d finishing period. The basal diet consisted of 33.5% high-moisture corn, 30% brewers grits, 20% corn bran, 7.5% cottonseed hulls, 3% tallow, and 6% supplement. Treatments consisted of 0.16 (no supplemental inorganic P), 0.22, 0.28, 0.34, and 0.40% P (DM basis). Supplemental P was provided by monosodium phosphate top-dressed to the daily feed allotment. Blood was sampled every 56 d to assess P status. At slaughter, phalanx and meta-carpal bones were collected from the front leg to determine bone ash and assess P resorption from bone. Dry matter intake and ADG did not change linearly (P > 0.86) or quadratically (P > 0.28) due to P treatment. Feed efficiency was not influenced (P > 0.30) by P treatment and averaged 0.169. Plasma inorganic P averaged across d 56 to 204 responded quadratically, with calves fed 0.16% P having the lowest concentration of plasma inorganic P. However, plasma inorganic P concentration (5.7 mg/dL) for steers fed 0.16% P is generally considered adequate. Total bone ash weight was not influenced by dietary P for phalanx (P = 0.19) or meta-carpal bones (P = 0.37). Total P intake ranged from 14.2 to 35.5 g/d. The NRC (1996) recommendation for these calves was 18.7 g/d, assuming 68% absorption. Based on performance results, P requirements for finishing calves is < 0.16% of diet DM or 14.2 g/d. Based on these observations, we suggest that typical grain-based feedlot cattle diets do not require supplementation of inorganic mineral P to meet P requirements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1690-1695
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2002


  • Cattle
  • Feedlots
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Phosphorus


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