Phosphorus, the Keystone of Mineral Nutrition
Although there are many mineral elements which must be included in any balanced ration, nutritionists are constantly faced
with the importance of Phosphorus. It is the element most commonly lacking, and therefore must be considered the most
plants that the farm animals eat. And, the phosphorus content of these plants drop still further as the plants mature.
Phosphorus is also the most expensive mineral element needed in quantity, and therefore is the most important factor in the
economics of formulating and feeding mineral.
The function of Phosphorus
As with practically all mineral elements, the functions of phosphorus are numerous and varied. In fact, more functions are
tied to phosphorus and its compounds than are produced by any other one nutrient. However, they might be divided into
four general areas:
1.The simplest and most obvious use of phosphorus by the animal is to build strong bones and teeth. About 80%
of the phosphorus in an animal's body can be found in the skeleton and teeth. An important factor is to have
enough phosphorus to balance the calcium required for skeleton growth. Ninety-nine percent of the calcium in an
animals bones is intimately bound with phosphorus, and good growth depends upon a proper calcium phosphorus
ratio in total ration.
2.A more complex but vital function of phosphorus is the conversion of all nutrients for energy and growth.
Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins are changed into “fuel” and “building blocks” by processes that depend upon
3.The third key role of phosphorus is in the development of body proteins for sound, fast growth. The nucleus of
every body cell contains proteins, and adequate phosphorus is essential for cell manipulation (growth)
4.Finally, phosphorus is about the only mineral known to be vital to proper reproduction in livestock.
Phosphorus Deficiency Symptoms
One of the first signs of deficiency of phosphorus is loss of appetite. Depraved appetites in both cattle and hogs causing
them to eat wood, dirt, and other debris, is another of the signs indicating a lack of phosphorus, resulting in poor feed
efficiency and lowered resistance to infectious diseases. Stiff or swollen joints, loss of hair, poor growth and low rate of
conception are still other signs of a deficiency of this important element.
Many minerals mixtures on the market do not contain enough available phosphorus. Darling's Nutrition Mineral Line is
specifically formulated to your cattle to ensure proper phosphorus levels.
Grains and common pasture plants are lower in their total phosphorus content than is required for efficient utilization of the
other nutrients. Furthermore; phosphorus in plant life is in the form of Phytim (bound) phosphorus. Studies show the the
phytin phosphorus is generally considered to be 70% unavailable to an animal. It is also know from average analysis that
there is less phosphorus in corn now then there was 50 years ago.
It should be noted that the phosphorus deficiency is more serious with pasture plants than with grains. In spite of this fact,
the farmer is more likely to feed minerals along with grain in the winter feedlot, neglecting the use of minerals in the summer
when his animals are on pasture where the amount of phosphorus is much lower and not readily available.
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