The main objective of the present work was to determine the effects of different dietary phosphorus (P) levels on endogenous faecal loss and to estimate the minimum daily requirement of P for sheep. The study was conducted with 24 Suffolk sheep which received a basic diet consisting of hay-concentrate mixture. The treatments consisted of different amounts of bone meal, added to the basic diet, so as to obtain supplementary P levels of 0, 1, 2 and 3g/day. Twenty-one days after the introduction of the experimental diet, 7.4 MBq radioactive P (32P) was injected into the left jugular vein of each sheep and blood, faeces and urine samples were collected daily for 8 days at 24-hour intervals. The samples were analysed for inorganic P and for radioactive specific activities. Mean endogenous faecal losses of P were 19.00, 31.79, 39.35, and 38.06mg/kg live weight (LW) per day in sheep supplemented with 0, 1, 2, and 3g, respectively. A positive linear relationship was observed between endogenous faecal loss and consumed P, indicating that this loss was linked to dietary P. Total P excretion in the faeces, as well as P absorption, retention, urinary excretion and salivary secretion were also directly related to P intake, as part of the mechanism of homeostatic control of organism animal. The minimum endogenous faecal loss for zero P intake, calculated by interpolation, was 8.27mg/kg LW per day, and for zero balance, the calculated phosphorus consumption was 21.36mg/kg LW per day.

phosphorus; sheep; nutrition

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