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The effect of dietary intake of calcium and dry matter on the absorption and excretion of calcium and phosphorus by growing lambs

  • A. C. Field (a1), J. A. Woolliams (a2) and R. A. Dingwall (a1)

The isotope dilution technique was used to measure endogenous faecal excretion and absorption of dietary Ca and P by growing lambs. Groups of four lambs were given 0·8 or 1·2 kg/day of a pelleted barley and soya-bean diet containing 4·2 g P/kg D.M. and supplemented to contain 1·79, 3·52 or 4·67 g Ca/kg D.M.

At the lowest dietary concentration of Ca, absorption of Ca was insufficient to meet the Ca required for deposition in the newly formed bone matrix of the skeleton; retention was 0·39, 1·16 and 1·12 g/day with increasing dietary Ca concentration. The proportion of dietary Ca absorbed decreased (P < 0·001) with increasing Ca intake, ranging from 0·85 to 0·44. Endogenous faecal excretion of Ca was independent of the absorption of dietary Ca, but increased (P < 0·05) from 17·2 at the lower to 21·1 mg/kg live weight/day at the higher D.M. intake. Plasma concentration of Ca was higher for the female (2·51) than the male (2·33 mmol/1) lambs and increased linearly (P < 0·001) with dietary concentration of Ca from 2·31 to 2·52 mmol/l.

The retention of P increased with Ca and D.M. intake. On the other hand, the proportion of dietary P absorbed (0·85) was independent of Ca intake and hence of P retention. Increases in P retention were reflected by decreases in urinary P, but not in endogenous faecal excretion. Endogenous faecal excretion of P increased with D.M. or P intake from 17·9 at the lower to 33·5 mg/kg live weight/day at the higher intake.

The results are discussed in relation to dietary allowances of Ca and the mechanism of P homoeostasis.

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