Phosphate deficiency blamed for dairy herd problems
Fertiliser restriction to 'send costs rocketing'
RESTRICTIONS on fertiliser use under the Nitrates Directive are causing a serious mineral deficiency problem in the dairy herd, an animal nutrition expert has warned.
Animal nutritionist David Thompson claims the reduction in the application of phosphate (P) is set to "send costs rocketing" on thousands of dairy farms.
In a detailed submission to Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith, Mr Thompson claims a dramatic increase in Aphosphorous in dairy cows is leading to cow deaths on some farms.
He has called on the minister to reverse the restriction on P use, which he claims is the cause of the serious depletion of phosphate in the main source of animal feed, grass.
Mr Thompson's claims have been backed up by Cork-based consultant nutritionist Pat Byrne.
Mr Byrne said: "In my work as an agricultural consultant I have watched the phosphorus levels in grass silages drop in 2009 to an average of 0.25pc and the grazing swards in 2010 to 0.27pc."
He warns that the average requirements for the lactating cow during the first three months of production is 0.4pc -- 50pc above the levels which have been recorded in the silage and grass being fed to cows this year.
There have been numerous reports from around the country of phosphate deficiency becoming a major problem this year, leading to lower milk yield, infertility and lameness.