Scientists Explore Roles of Calcium, Phosphorus in Sow Bone Health

29 October 2012, at 8:32am

CANADA - Researchers with the Prairie Swine Centre are assessing the impact of different levels of calcium and phosphorus in the diet on the bone health of breeding sows and their risk of lameness, writes Bruce Cochrane.

As part of a multi-disciplinary initiative being conducted on behalf of Swine Innovation Porc aimed at reducing lameness and increasing longevity of breeding sows, researchers are assessing the effect of calcium and phosphorus levels on bone health. The bone health of sows housed in groups and fed various levels of calcium and phosphorus is being compared to sows fed the same diets but housed in stalls.

Dr. Denise Beaulieu, a research scientist nutrition with the Prairie swine Centre says several nutrients could impact bone development and or lameness but the focus of this study is calcium and the calcium phosphorus ratio.

Dr Denise Beaulieu-Prairie Swine Centre:

We are specifically interested in this in the sow because we know that the requirements for gestation, for the development of the fetus and the large demand of the calcium required for milk production.

If the sow requires a lot of calcium for example for milk production that's not coming from her feed, she will remove this from the bones and so we are trying to see if the large demands for milk production are having an impact on the bones of the sows.

We know that both calcium and phosphorus are very important for bone metabolism, for bone strength, for bone remodeling and also it's very important to maintain the correct ratio of calcium and phosphorus in the diet.

They will interfere with one another. If you have too much phosphorus relative to calcium it could interfere with metabolism or the absorption of calcium from the intestines.

Also we don't want excess phosphorus in the diet because of the environmental issues so we're collecting fecal samples to see if one of the diets has more or less output of phosphorus in the feces for example.

Both of them are important for bone metabolism and both of them are important in relationship to each other.

Dr Beaulieu says data collection will conclude early in the new year and she expects results late next spring.

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