DAFM Regional Veterinary Laboratories (RVLs) report a marked prevalence of seasonal phosphorus deficiency in blood samples from certain dairy herds. Of the 73 bovine bloods tested for inorganic phosphorous (Pi) in Athlone RVL in April 2021, 47% had Pi values that were low/below the normal range.
The recent dry weather decreases the ability of pasture to uptake phosphorus, also observed in a similar prolonged dry spell in April and May 2020. Phosphorus deficiency in cattle is associated with weakness, decreased milk yield, infertility, haemoglobinuria and ‘pica’ or depraved appetite (a craving to lick/eat abnormal items such as stones).
Veterinary practitioners have been alerted and they will consider seasonal phosphorus deficiency in herds where these signs occur, and will confirm this by blood samples sent to the nearest Regional Veterinary Laboratory.
People are advised to contact their vet for treatment advice if they suspect this condition in their herd. They should discuss preventive measures with their vet or Teagasc advisor.