Phosphate supplementation to prevent and treat respiratory disease in feedlot calves

Project Details

Status: Completed
Investment: $143,986
Commodity: Beef Cattle
Organization: Alberta Veterinary Laboratories
Investigator: Merle Olson

Approximately 60% of stressed and sick beef and dairy cattle are hypophosphatemic (reduced blood phosphorus).

Why is this research important for Alberta ag?

Approximately 60% of stressed and sick beef and dairy cattle are hypophosphatemic (reduced blood phosphorus). Hypophosphatemia in beef cattle results from reduced feed intake/anorexia that occurs in a number of management practices (weaning, auction market mixing, transportation, and feedlot mixing). Hypophosphatemia also occurs following disease (pneumonia, foot rot, and arthritis). Clinical signs of hypophosphatemia are muscle weakness and reduced feed intake, which can further exacerbate the condition. It's well known that one of the major difficulties in feedlots is getting cattle to eat on arrival and following treatment/recovery from disease.

It's theorized that phosphate supplementation in feedlot calves on arrival will improve feed intake and reduce respiratory disease. Provision of phosphate supplementation as an adjunct to antibiotics will improve clinical outcomes and reduce mortalities in feedlot calves with respiratory disease.

What benefits can producers expect from this research?

This research will demonstrate the economic benefits of using phosphate supplementation for anorexic and stressed cattle. This can potentially result in improved treatment outcomes, fewer losses to chronic disease, and reduce treatment expenses. Producers will have reduced cost of treatments for respiratory disease as well as other feedlot disease where cattle become anorexic, such as foot rot and arthritis.

How will these research findings reach producers on-farm?

Results will be published in peer reviewed journals. AVL/Solvet veterinarians will share the results of the studies with veterinarians and producers via site visits, technical bulletins, and trade magazine articles. Provincial and federal agriculture departments will also be notified of the results and be encouraged to disseminate the information from the studies.

Funded in part by the Government of Canada under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.