Easy P phosphorus supplementation producer demonstration site

Region: Greater Darwin, Katherine Region, Barkly Region, Central Australia | Topic: Livestock
May 2021

Cattle eating the supplement

Caption: Cattle eating supplement.

The Department of Industry Trade and Tourism (DITT) is seeking expressions of interest for properties to host a producer demonstration site (PDS).

The PDS program is aimed at increasing adoption of phosphorous (P) supplementation by comparing an easy to implement P supplementation strategy (known as Easy P) to current management.

What is Easy P?

The Easy P supplementation strategy involves including P in dry season supplement and putting bulk wet season P supplement out before the beginning of the wet season. No supplement delivery is required during the wet season. Easy P is an easy to implement strategy designed for properties where providing feeding supplement during the wet season is difficult.

What is an Easy P PDS?

The Easy P project is funded by Meat and Livestock Australia’s (MLA) PDS program and is a collaboration between the Northern Territory (NT) DITT, Queensland (Qld) Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, and Western Australia (WA) Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, aimed at increasing adoption of P supplementation across northern Australia.

There will be two PDS sites in Qld, three in WA and one in the NT. They enable producers to collaborate in research and development by hosting a research trial on their property. Regionally relevant findings from each of the PDS sites will be shared and presented at annual field days to facilitate peer-to-peer learning between host stations and neighbouring properties.

What is the purpose of the Easy P PDS?

Recent research has shown great benefits from feeding P supplement to breeding females in P-deficient areas, with increased weaning rates, weaner weights, cow weights and reduced mortality rates all combining to give an excellent return on investment from money spent on P supplementation.

Adoption of P supplementation is still relatively low in northern Australia. The Easy P project aims to increase adoption by demonstrating the benefits of P supplementation through a strategy that is easy to implement, even where wet season supplementation may been considered to be too difficult in the past.

What is involved?

The PDS will start with maiden heifers due to be mated for the first time over the 2021 to 2022 wet season.Their performance will be monitored over four years. Over that time, they will have the opportunity to have three calves DITT Principal Livestock Researcher, Tim Schatz, will manage the project and assist with data collection.

The host property must have two similar paddocks in P-deficient country that are secure and where the trial animals can remain for the 4‑year duration of the PDS. DITT staff will conduct soil testing to determine P deficiency. The Easy P strategy will be implemented in one paddock and the other paddock will be managed in the way the host property normally does it, either receiving the normal station supplementation program over the wet season or no supplementation over the wet season.

The host property needs to also:

  • have adequate stock handling equipment and data recording facilities, including vet crush and weighing equipment
  • conduct two musters per year of the PDS paddocks (for example, May and September) to enable pregnancy testing, data collection and weaning of calves
  • be willing to implement the supplementation strategies involved in the PDS (the supplement fed in the Easy P paddock may be sponsored)
  • be willing to share data collected during the project with industry and host field days to allow other producers to come and view the PDS and project findings.

DITT staff will record and analyse the data and can provide pregnancy testing if necessary. They will also help organise and run the field day with the cost covered by project funds.

What are the benefits to the host property?

You will get to test the Easy P strategy in your own environment and find out how it compares to current management.

You will also gain:

  • increased knowledge of cattle performance on your property through rigorous data collection and analysis
  • free soil and blood sample testing, free data recording and likely sponsorship of the supplement used in the Easy P strategy (to be confirmed)
  • interaction with neighbouring properties and other PDS host properties
  • participation in the research development and extension process for the improvement of the northern beef industry.

More information

Expressions of interest or enquiries can be made to:

Tim Schatz
Phone: 08 8999 2332 or 0429 677 833

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