Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition, vol.105, no.4, pp.747-756, 2021 (SCI-Expanded)
© 2020 Wiley-VCH GmbH.To evaluate the effect of reduced calcium (Ca) and available P (aP) levels in starter diets on growth performance and tibia, sternum and serum characteristics, and to assay the association between Ca and P (aP) intakes and these variables, 600 one-day-old broiler chicks (Ross 308) were used in a 21-days trial. Broilers were randomly allotted to five treatments with five replicate pens. Chicks were fed on one of the five starter diets that were formulated with a 10% reduction in the Ca and aP contents, starting from the control diet and hence, named as C (0.96% Ca, 0.45% aP), L1 (0.85% Ca and 0.42% aP), L2 (0.77% Ca and 0.38% aP), L3 (0.68% Ca and 0.34% aP) and L4 (0.61% Ca and 0.31% aP). Declining dietary Ca and aP levels did not affect body weight and levels of Ca, P and alkaline phosphatase in serum, but reduced linearly feed intake, the feed conversion ratio and the bone weight and ash content. The Ca and aP intakes and Ca:aP ratio displayed a positive correlation with both tibia and sternum weights, and the mass of the bones were equally sensitive to dietary Ca and aP levels. In conclusion, the body weight of young broilers was irresponsive to changes in the skeleton when exposed to early dietary Ca and aP restrictions (up to 0.61% Ca and 0.31% aP) and the mechanostat had limits due to the association between Ca and aP intakes, and bone properties.