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Virginia Cooperative Extension - Knowledge for the CommonWealth

The Virginia Phosphorus (P) Feeding Incentive Program Continues to Grow

Dairy Pipeline: October 2006

Charlie Stallings
Extension Dairy Scientist, Nutrition & Forage Quality
(540) 231-3066;

Monetary support of this project comes from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and Virginia’s Department of Conservation and Recreation in cooperation with Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Virginia Tech Department of Dairy Science.

Three groups of farms have started the program and are sending TMR and feed samples for testing on a bimonthly basis. This represents 146 herds or 19% of the Virginia Grade A herds to date. A fourth group is being signed up now for start in mid October.

A “P Report” is prepared by us that contains grams of P needed per cow and per herd and also the projected grams of P consumed. Dividing the P consumed by the P required we get the supplied amount expressed as a % of the required.

We have observed individual farm P status from 90% to 200% of required. Between a quarter to one third of “P Reports” are 115% or less. This level of feeding qualifies for an incentive payment if it continues for a year.

What have we learned? First, it takes a lot of man and woman power to conduct a project of this nature. We have an excellent team of Extension agents and specialists, professors, a graduate student, field technicians, and technical assistants working on this project. As a result we are able to visit farms yearly, provide the “P Reports” from feed analyses, conduct nutritionist and producer meetings, publish a newsletter twice a year, and summarize results to monitor who qualifies for payment.

Also, we’ve noticed that the level of P feeding seems to be less than was observed over five years ago when a survey revealed overfeeding of P in Virginia dairy herds. We think previous efforts along with the current project have created an awareness so steps are being taken to address overfeeding. As more herds have phosphorus based nutrient management plans, we feel feed management is one option that needs to be considered to control nutrient output.

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