Published online by Cambridge University Press: 21 August 2012
The objective of the current study was to evaluate the utilization of calcium (Ca) and phosphorus (P) in growing sheep consuming increasing amounts of dicalcium phosphate. Eighteen growing sheep, aged 8 months, were fed a basal diet supplemented with 0, 12·5 and 25 g of dicalcium phosphate/day. During the experiment, animals were injected intravenously with 7·4 MBq of 45Ca and 32P and samples of plasma, faeces and urine were subsequently taken daily for 1 week after injection. Rumen fluid was sampled on days 4–7 after injection. Specific radioactivity in plasma and in faeces were used to determine true absorption of Ca and P, whereas plasmatic and ruminal specific radio-activities were used to determine endogenous P flow into the rumen and turnover time of rumen P. Increasing dicalcium phosphate intake led to linear increases in faecal excretion of endogenous Ca and P (P<0·05), suggesting that surpluses of ingested Ca and P were voided through secretion to the gut. True absorption coefficients for 0, 12·5 and 25 g of dicalcium phosphate ingested daily were 0·54, 0·41 and 0·38 for Ca, and 0·66, 0·62 and 0·64 for P, respectively. Flows of endogenous P into the rumen increased linearly and ruminal turnover time of P decreased linearly (P<0·01) as P intake was increased. Concentrations of Ca and P in bone were not affected by the increased amounts of these minerals ingested (P<0·05). In conclusion, increasing ingestion of dicalcium phosphate increases faecal excretion of Ca and P, thus decreasing the efficiency of utilization of both minerals. Moreover, increasing levels of dietary P increased endogenous P excretion, contributing to the amount of P disposed of in the environment.