• Phosphorus supplementation of replacement heifers in the Northern Great Plains

      Karn, J. F. (Society for Range Management, 1995-11-01)
      Studies were initiated in 1980 and 1984 to compare animal performance, dietary P levels, and serum mineral levels of P supplemented and unsupplemented replacement beef heifers (Bos taurus). Phosphorus supplementation levels averaged 4 g day-1 from 14 November 1980 and 24 January 1984, respectively, until 1 September 1980 and 15 October 1984, respectively, when supplemental P was raised to 6 g day-1. Heifers in both studies received mixed hay, primarily smooth bromegrass (Bromus inermis Leyss.), and rolled oats during their first winter and hay only the second winter. During the summer they grazed on native pastures which contained primarily western wheatgrass (Pascopyrum smithii (Rydb.) A. Love), needleandthread (Stipa comata Trin. and Rupr.), green needlegrass (S. viridula Trin.), blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis (H.B.K.) Griffiths), and upland sedges (Carex spp.). Hereford and Hereford-Angus cross heifers in the first study showed no weight gain or serum P response to supplemental P, but conception rate over the 2 studies was lower (P<0.05) for the unsupplemented heifers and 75% of the open heifers occurred in the first study. Hereford-Simmental heifers used in the second study demonstrated an immediate weight gain response (P<0.06) to supplemental P which persisted to the end of the study in 1985, but there was only 1 open heifer in the unsupplemented group in this study, compared to 3 in the first study. Serum P was higher (P<0.06) for P supplemented than control heifers only when they were removed from summer pasture in the second study. Diet P (2.10 g kg-1) for unsupplemented Hereford-Simmental heifers during the winter of 1984 was mar- ginal, but diet P (2.53 g kg-1) for unsupplemented Hereford and Hereford-Angus heifers during the winter of 1980-1981 was clearly above recommended levels. Modest weight gain differences in the second study, serum P data and differences in conception rate suggest that Northern Great Plains forages are marginal to deficient in P for replacement beef heifers, but P supplementation would be expected to produce small and variable benefits