NORTHERN cattle producers are being encouraged to take a hard look at the value of inorganic feed phosphorus (IFP) being fed to livestock.
Townsville-based feed industry identity Peter McHugh, Causeway Beef Nutrition, said while inorganic phosphorus (P) was commonly supplied to herds across the north, there were significant digestibility variations in chemically manufactured IFP.
Mr McHugh said there were not only variations between P classes, but also variations within P classes, because of differing quality control and manufacturing methods.
Data from the European Union showed up to a 30 per cent quality variation within the same class of P from 20 various manufacturers, he said.
"Phosphorus is essential for building bones and teeth, metabolising fat, carbohydrates and protein, producing milk and for efficient feed utilisation, which has major increases in calving percentage and natural growth in the herd.
"But it isn't the percentage of phosphorus fed to cattle that matters, but rather the amount that can be absorbed by an animal.
"This has been a problem for many years as the percentage of P is still being used in the formulation of some feeds, rather than the far more effective calculation of the percentage of digestible P.
"Ideally producers should be have access to a certificate of analysis and a certificate of origin for the IFP used in livestock feeds so they know exactly what they are feeding their cattle."
Inorganic phosphorus used in Australia includes: monoclacium phosphate MCP, monodicalcium phosphate MDCP, dicalcium phosphate (hydrous), DCP anhydrous, and tricalcium phosphate TCP. Even falsely branded lines of rock phosphate were available, he said.
Mr McHugh said it could be very difficult to determine "true" absorption levels as there were no regulations on the import of inorganic phosphorus used for livestock.
"The reality is any type of inorganic feed phosphorus can be imported into Australia on the basis of a manufacturer's declaration, with no regard for actual quality of the P digestibility or the biosecurity quarantine risk, including levels of heavy metals," he said.
"Reports out of the Victorian livestock feed industry show there is no federal or state regulation standards for Australian livestock feeds, which are now being reviewed by the Federal Government."
Mr McHugh said there was an urgent need to significantly increase the regulations surrounding the importation of the critical livestock chemically formulated inorganic feed phosphate, to at least the standards required for agricultural phosphate.
"Livestock producers need to know what they are feeding to their cattle; whether it is of value and whether or not there is a potential risk in the foodchain," he said.
Mr McHugh said Causeway used an EU legislated and certified inorganic phosphorus with guaranteed quality standards, which was manufactured in Spain, in its feed supplements.
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