High calcium to phosphorus ratio impairs growth and bone mineralization in Pekin ducklings

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Two experiments were conducted to investigate the effect of high dietary calcium (Ca) level on growth performance, Ca and phosphorus (P) metabolism, and nutrient utilization in ducklings subjected to normal and low P levels in diets. A completely randomized design was used with a factorial arrangement of 2 total dietary P levels [normal-P (0.60%) and low-P (0.45%) groups] × 4 dietary Ca levels [low-Ca (0.55%), normal-Ca (0.75%), medium-Ca (0.95%) and high-Ca (1.15%) groups)]. Compared to normal-P group, low-P group had lower (P < 0.05) final body weight (BW), average daily gain (ADG), and average daily feed intake (ADFI) and reduced (P < 0.05) serum Ca and P levels, bone Ca, P, and ash content, and bone mineral density in ducklings during the starter period. Under the low-P group, birds from high-Ca group had lower (P < 0.05) final BW, ADG, ADFI, bone ash content, bone mineral density, and the utilization of energy, Ca, and P than those from low-Ca, normal-Ca, and medium-Ca groups. Our results indicate that high-Ca diet induced greater growth suppression and bone mineralization loss in ducklings fed a low-P diet. The aggravated negative effect of high dietary Ca level with a low P level might be related to the elevated serum alkaline phosphatase activity and the reduced utilization of energy, Ca, and P.

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