An experiment was conducted to test two hypotheses: 1) reducing dietary Ca and P reduces gastric pH and diarrhea in weanling pigs; 2) negative effects of low Ca and P on pig growth performance may be overcome if phytase is added to the diets. A total of 320 weanling pigs (6.35 ± 0.87 kg) were allotted to eight corn-soybean meal-based diets in a randomized complete block design with five pigs per pen. Two phase 1 (days 1 to 14) control diets containing 100 or 50% of total Ca and digestible P relative to the requirement, and six diets in which 500, 2,000, or 16,000 units of phytase/kg feed (FTU) were added to each control diet were formulated. Phytase was assumed to release 0.16% total Ca and 0.11% digestible P. Common diets were fed in phases 2 (days 15 to 27) and 3 (days 28 to 42). Growth performance data were recorded within each phase. Data for fecal scores and gastrointestinal pH were recorded for phase 1. Colon content (day 14), the right femur (days 14 and 42), and blood samples (days -1, 14, 27, and 42) were collected from one pig per pen. In phase 1, reducing Ca and P did not reduce gastric pH or fecal score, but pigs fed the 50% diets had reduced (P < 0.05) average daily gain (ADG) and average daily feed intake (ADFI) compared with pigs fed the 100% diets. In both 50% and 100% diets, phytase above 500 FTU increased (P < 0.05) gain:feed ratio (G:F) and tended (P < 0.10) to reduce gastric pH of pigs. From days 1 to 42, pigs fed the 50% diets tended (P < 0.10) to have reduced ADG and ADFI compared with pigs fed the 100% diets, but among the 100% diets, pigs tended (P < 0.10) to have a linear increase in G:F as phytase level increased. Pigs fed the 50% diets had reduced (P < 0.05) concentrations of inositol phosphate esters (IP) in the colon and reduced bone ash (days 14 and 42) compared with pigs fed the 100% diets. Phytase did not affect bone ash or most blood metabolites. Concentrations of IP in the colon decreased, whereas plasma inositol increased (d 14; P < 0.05) in pigs fed diets with phytase (≥ 500 FTU). In pigs fed the 100% diets, IP in the colon linearly decreased (P < 0.05), but plasma inositol linearly increased (P < 0.05) with increasing levels of phytase. In conclusion, reducing Ca and P in diets for weanling pigs did not influence gastric pH or fecal score, but compromised growth performance and bone ash. However, regardless of dietary Ca and P, high doses of phytase increased phytate degradation and inositol absorption, which consequently increased G:F of pigs.
- bone ash
ASJC Scopus subject areas