The latest data to be published from research to determine the digestible calcium (Ca) requirements for pigs and corresponding digestible Ca availability in feeds will be presented at the upcoming Pig Feed Quality Conference in Bangkok, Thailand, between 31 March and 1 April.
The research is part of an ongoing collaboration between the University of Illinois and animal nutrition technology company, AB Vista, to develop the foundation of a working digestible Ca system for use in commercial pig diet formulations.
“Unlike for phosphorus (P), there is currently no system to allow pig nutritionists to accurately formulate for digestible or available Ca,” explains Dr Carrie Walk, AB Vista’s Research Manager. “Being presently limited to just total Ca values tends to result in oversupply to avoid deficiency, a situation compounded by the relatively low cost of Ca and the often unaccounted for use of limestone as a flow agent in soya bean meal.”
Analysed total Ca is frequently up to 25% higher than formulated, with some recent data showing that approximately 0.24% Ca in the diet is not included in the feed formulation. With excess Ca negatively affecting the digestibility of more expensive nutrients such as P and amino acids, the development of an accurate digestible Ca system could substantially improve both feed efficiency and animal performance.
“This is extremely important research that will benefit the whole industry,” continues Dr Walk. “By measuring standard total tract digestibility (STTD) for Ca in pigs, it has been possible to develop a better understanding for the Ca requirements, as well as values for Ca availability, content and variation in common feed ingredients.
“These are the early stages of a continuing research effort designed to lead to the development of a working digestible Ca system for pig diet formulation. Ultimately, it will enable more precise nutrient supply, resulting in improved P, amino acid and Ca digestibility, and subsequently have a major positive influence on growth performance, skeletal integrity and feed efficiency.”
The presentation entitled, ‘Establishing a digestible calcium requirement for pigs: methods and current results’ will be made in Bangkok at 10:40 am local time on Thursday 31 March by Dr Carrie Walk. The presentation is based on data from the on-going research program with the University of Illinois which has already resulted in the publication of five peer-reviewed papers.