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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Assessing Atmospheric Emissions from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations in the Pacific Northwest

Location: Northwest Irrigation and Soils Research

Title: Feed management practices to reduce manure phosphorus excretion in dairy cattle

Authors
item Kebreab, Ermias -
item Hansen, Anja -
item Leytem, April

Submitted to: ADVANCES IN ANIMAL BIOSCIENCES
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 23, 2013
Publication Date: September 27, 2013
Citation: Kebreab, E., Hansen, A.V., Leytem, A.B. 2013. Feed management practices to reduce manure phosphorus excretion in dairy cattle. Advances in Animal Biosciences. 4(s1):37-41.

Interpretive Summary: Phosphorus (P) is an essential mineral that needs to be supplied in sufficient quantities for maintenance and growth and milk production in dairy cattle. However, over 60% of the P consumed can be excreted in faeces with a potential to cause environmental pollution. Concern over higher levels of P in intensively managed livestock systems has led to legislation such as the Water Framework Directive in the European Union. A major source of environmental P pollution has been overfeeding P mainly due to addition of ‘safety margin’ over the animal’s requirement and concerns related to fertility. Matching the animal’s requirement and feeding in groups so that animals at the same physiological status are fed according to their requirement has a potential to reduce P excretion significantly. Phosphorus can also be reduced by matching available P with the metabolizable energy content of the diet because more P can be incorporated into milk when P is utilized by rumen microbes, which are limited by energy. Plants contain phytate bound P which need to be broken up before they can be absorbed by the animal. Although ruminants can digest phytate, use of phytase enzyme could help either directly by acting on phytate P or improvement of feed digestibility. Pasture management can lead to improved nutrient cycling, particularly if the soil is deficient in P. However, over-fertilizing pasture could result is higher runoff of dissolved reactive P. Management practices that leave adequate forage residue on the surface such as rotational grazing will improve infiltration and decrease runoff, reducing nutrient losses.

Technical Abstract: Phosphorus (P) is an essential mineral that needs to be supplied in sufficient quantities for maintenance and growth and milk production in dairy cattle. However, over 60% of the P consumed can be excreted in faeces with a potential to cause environmental pollution. Concern over higher levels of P in intensively managed livestock systems has led to legislation such as the Water Framework Directive in the European Union. In this manuscript, several methods of reducing P pollution are discussed. A major source of environmental P pollution has been overfeeding P mainly due to addition of ‘safety margin’ over the animal’s requirement and concerns related to fertility. Matching the animal’s requirement and feeding in groups so that animals at the same physiological status are fed according to their requirement has a potential to reduce P excretion significantly. Phosphorus can also be reduced by matching available P with the metabolizable energy content of the diet because more P can be incorporated into milk when P is utilized by rumen microbes, which are limited by energy. Plants contain phytate bound P which need to be broken up before they can be absorbed by the animal. Although ruminants can digest phytate, use of phytase enzyme could help either directly by acting on phytate P or improvement of feed digestibility. Pasture management can lead to improved nutrient cycling, particularly if the soil is deficient in P. However, over-fertilizing pasture could result is higher runoff of dissolved reactive P. Management practices that leave adequate forage residue on the surface such as rotational grazing will improve infiltration and decrease runoff, reducing nutrient losses.

Last Modified: 10/21/2014
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