Postpartum Reproductive Performance in Dairy Cows in Relation to Phosphorus Status

Fruktbarhetsresultater hos ku relatert til fosfornivå


The levels of inorganic phosphorus in blood samples from two cow populations were related to reproductive performance. Group I comprised 305 dairy cows from 17 herds with normal fertility. The herds were visited every 2–4 weeks. Blood samples were collected from animals between 4 weeks prior to expected calving and subsequent confirmed pregnancy.

The individual mean plasma phosphorus level in samples collected from 0–90 days after calving in cows which conceived following insemination (n = 262) was related to reproductive performance.

Group II comprised cows from 47 herds with reproductive problems. The herds were visited once during the indoor season for blood sampling. Mean herd serum phosphorus levels were related to herd reproductive performance registered during a period from 6 months before to 9 months after the time of blood sampling. Overall mean herd phosphorus levels were 1.51 ± 0.08 mmol/1 plasma (±SD) (Group I) and 1.77 ± 0.16 mmol/1 serum (±SD) (Group II). In Group I (indivu-dual cows), the coefficient of correlation between phosphorus levels and elapsed time from calving to pregnancy was low (r = 0.10, p<0.1). In Group II (herds) significant correlations were observed between the fertility status index (FS), the average number of days from calving to last insemination and phosphorus levels (rs = 0.32, P <0.05 and rs p <0.05, respectively).

The mean herd phosphorus levels were within normal limits in both groups. Although increased phosphorus levels were associated with lower fertility in both groups, the amount of the total fertility variation which could be explained by phosphorus levels was small.


Nivåene av uorganisk fosfor ble related til fruktbarhetsresultater i to grupper. Gruppe I omfattet 305 kyr fra 17 besetninger med normale fruktbarhetsresultater. Besetningene ble besøkt hver andre til fjerde uke, og det ble tatt blodprøve fra kyr fra 4 uker før forventet kalving til konstatert drektighet.

Gjennomsnittlig fosfornivå i plasma for prever samlet i perioden 0–90 dager etter kalving hos kyr som ble drektige (n = 262), ble relatert til fruktbarhetsresultatene hos enkeltkyr. Gruppe II omfattet 47 besetninger med fruktbarhetsproblemer. Det ble tatt blodprøver i besetningene en gang i løpet av innefôringsperioden. Fruktbarhetsresultatene for besetningene ble registrert i en periode fra 6 måneder før til 9 måneder etter at blodprøver ble tatt. Gjennomsnittlig fosfornivå for besetningene var 1.51 ±0.08 mmol/l plasma (±SD) (Gruppe I) og 1.77±0.16 mmol/l serum (±SD) (Gruppe II). Det var en tendens til negativ sammenheng mellom fruktbarhet og fosfornivå i Gruppe I. I Gruppe II var det signifikante korrelasjoner mellom FS-tall, gjennomsnittlig avstand fra kalving til siste inseminasjon og fosfornivå (henholdsvis rs = -0.32 p <0.05 og rs = 0.31 p <0.05).

Det blir konkludert med at gjennomsnittsnivåene for fosfor i besetningene i begge grupper var innenfor det normale variasjonsområdet. Selv om det var tendens i begge grupper til en negativ sammenheng mellom fosfornivå og fruktbarhet, var det bare en liten del av den totale variasjon som kunne forklares med fosfornivå.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. Bogin E, Avidar Y, Davidson M, Gordin S, Israeli B–A: Effect of nutrition on fertility and blood composition in the milk cow. J. Dairy Res. 1982, 49, 13–23.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Carstairs JA, Morrow DA, Emery RS: Postpartum reproductive function of dairy cows as influenced by energy and phosphorus status. J. Anim. Sci. 1980, 51, 1122–1130.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Cates WF, & Christensen DA: The effect of nutrition on conception rate in beef cows at Cumberland House, Saskatchewan. Canad. vet. J. 1983, 24, 145–147.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Eckles CH, Palmer LS, Gullickson TW, Fitch CP, Boyd WL, Bishop L, Nelson JW: Effects of uncomplicated phosphorus deficiency on oestrus cycle, reproduction and composition of tissues of mature dairy cows. Cornell vet. 1935, 25, 22–43.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Hewett C: The relationship between level of fertility and variations in the blood profile. In: On the causes and effects of variations in the blood profile of Swedish dairy cattle. Thesis, Stockholm 1974, 126–136.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Hignett SL, Hignett PG: The influence of nutrition on reproductive efficiency in cattle I. The effect of calcium and phosphorus intake on fertility of cows and hiefers. Vet. Rec. 1951, 63, 603–609.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Hignett S, Hignett PG: The influence of nutrition on reproductive efficiency in cattle II. The effect of the phosphorus intake on ovarian activity and fertility of heifers. Vet. Rec. 1952, 64, 203–206.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Larsson LL, Marbruck HS, Lowry SK: Relationship between early postpartum blood composition and reproductive performance in dairy cattle. J. Dairy. Sci. 1980, 63, 283–289.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Lotthammer K-H: Haufige Futterungsfehler als Ur-sache der Herden Sterilität. (Feeding failure as a cause of infertility in dairy herds). Der praktische Tierarzt 1974, 38–42.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Lotthammer K-H: Umweltbedingte Fruchtbarkeits-störungen. (Environmental causes of infertility). In: E. Grunert & M. Berchthold (ed): Fertilitats-störungen beim weiblichem Rind. Paul Parey, Berlin 1982, 390–432.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Morrow DA: Phosphorus deficiency and infertility of dairy heifers. J. Amer. vet. med. Ass. 1969, 154, 761–768.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. Noller CH, Castro AG, Wheeler WE, HillDJ, Moel-lerNJ: Effect of phosphorus supplementation on growth rate, blood minerals, and conception rate of dairy heifers. J. Dairy Sci. 1977, 60, 1932–1940.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Parker BNJ, Blowey RW: Investigation into the relationship of selected blood components to nutrition and fertility of the dairy cow under commercial farm conditions. Vet. Rec. 1976, 98, 394–404.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Reisshauer K: Klinisch-Chemische Untersuchung zur Problematik der Fruchtbarkeitsstörungen bei Rinden. (Clinical-chemical investigations in the diagnosis of reproductive disorders in cattle). Dtsch. tierärztl. Wschr. 1971, 78, 512–516.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. Rogers PAM, Power EP, Poole DBR: The phosphorus status of cattle blood in the Munster area. Irish vet. J. 1986, 40, 176–182.

    Google Scholar 

  16. SAS Institute Inc.: SAS User’s guide: Statistics. SAS Institute Inc., Cary N.C. 1985.

  17. Simesen MG: Calcium, phosphorus and magnesium metabolism. In: J. J. Kaneko (ed): Clinical Biochemistry of Domestic Animals. Academic Press, New York 1980, 575–648.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Svanberg O, Sandstedt H: Om alimentära fertilitets-rubbningar hos notkreatur, med särskild hansyn til fosfatfaktorns betydelse. (On alimentary causes of disturbances of fertility in cattle, with special regard to the importance of the phosphate factor.) Svensk Vet.-Tidn. 1944, 384–509.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Theiler von A: Das Phosphordefizit und die Un-fruchtbarkeit des Rindes. (Phosphorus deficiency and infertility in cattle). Schweiz. Arch. Tier-heilk. 1933, 75, 47–66.

    Google Scholar 

Download references


The authors wish to thank S. R. Eriksen, K. Soren-sen, and B. Johansson for excellent analytical and technical assistance.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to E. Ropstad.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Ropstad, E., Ormsettrø, S.I. & Refsdal, A.O. Postpartum Reproductive Performance in Dairy Cows in Relation to Phosphorus Status. Acta Vet Scand 29, 347–356 (1988).

Download citation


  • inorganic phosphorus
  • cattle
  • fertility.