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Compensatory growth is the "better than expected" growth performance seen in animals following a period of very low weight gain or weight loss when nutrient levels return to sufficient amounts. During a stressful period, an animals maintenance requirements will lower to aid survival which means that their growth efficiency and protein deposition potential increase. When they are given access to a higher quality feed, they experience fantastic compensatory growth. Cattle may experience compensatory gain only for a short period of time before they plateau and grow at similar rates to other stock that did not undergo nutrient restriction.

This principle refers to the nutrient that must be supplied first in order to improve production. The most commonly limiting nutrient in northern Australia is phosphorus, but other minerals such as salt, copper, cobalt and selenium have been identified as deficient in some regions. Commonly presented as Liebig?۪s barrel analogy, the image below demonstrates that the nutrient that is most deficient in the diet must be met before substantial production gains may occur.

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