Cutting Phosphorus in Dairy Cattle Feed Will Save Money, Help Environment
ARS News Service
Agricultural Research Service, USDA
Linda McGraw, (309) 681-6530, firstname.lastname@example.org
July 16, 1999
Feeding dairy cows 20 percent less phosphorus could save U.S. dairy
producers $100 million a year and improve water quality, according to an
Agricultural Research Service dairy scientist in Madison, Wis. Excess
phosphorus in water--runoff from fields--can boost algae and aquatic plant
growth in streams and lakes.
Dairy producers have been overfeeding phosphorus to dairy cows. The National
Research Council has recommended that dairy cows be fed about 3.8 grams of
phosphorus per kilogram of feed dry matter. An average cow eats about 20
kilograms of dry matter per day.
About a year ago, ARS dairy scientist Larry D. Satter conducted a telephone
survey of more than 30 dairy nutritionists, extension specialists, feed
industry representatives and nutrition consultants. He concluded that, in
practice, dairy producers were feeding an average of 4.8 grams of phosphorus
per kilogram of dry matter. That's 20 percent more than the typical dairy
Over the last 20 years, ARS and other research institutions have conducted
13 studies of nearly 800 milk-producing cows eating both high- and
low-phosphorus diets. From these studies, Satter concludes, contrary to
common belief, that cows fed high amounts of phosphorous had no enhanced
reproductive performance compared to animals fed low phosphorus.
Satter, based at the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center in Madison will
present these findings at the 1999 Four-State Applied Nutrition and
Management Conference in LaCrosse, Wis., August 2-4. Conference attendees
include dairy producers and representatives of the feed industry from
Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. California, Wisconsin, New York,
Minnesota and Pennsylvania are among the top dairy producing states.
ARS is the chief scientific research agency for the U.S. Department of
Scientific contact: Larry D. Satter, ARS U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center,
Madison, Wis., phone (608) 264-5353, fax (608) 264-5147,
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