Four groups of eight lambs (four male + four female) of about 25 kg live weight were given a concentrate diet which was supplemented with either calcium (Ca) or Ca and phosphorus (P). The levels of Ca and P in the diets were set in relation to estimated requirements (R) as determined by the Technical Committee on Response to Nutrients (TCORN, 1990) and the four treatments were as follows: treatment A Ca and P = 1R; treatment B Ca = 2R P = 1R; treatment C Ca = 4R P = 1R; treatment D Ca = 4R P = 2R.
At about 50 kg live weight the lambs were slaughtered and their body composition was determined.
The composition of their gains was also determined using information obtained from a fifth group of lambs killed at the start of the trial. There were significant treatment effects in relation to body mineral composition with Ca and P levels being higher in lambs on treatments C and D compared with those on treatments A and B. Magnesium levels were also higher in lambs on treatment D. Lambs on treatments A and B grew at the same rate (0·t25 kg/day) and retained Ca and P in relation to live-weight gain at rates close to those on which TCORN (1990) based their estimates of requirements. Lambs on treatments C and D, however, retained these minerals at somewhat higher rates though this improvement in mineralization was accompanied by a slight reduction in growth rate and in some lambs on these treatments there were health problems due to the formation of kidney stones.
The levels of Ca and P recommended by TCORN (1990) for lambs are adequate for normal growth and mineralization. Some improvement in mineralization may be achieved by feeding these minerals at above recommended levels but this improvement would appear to be at the expense of a reduction in growth rate and an increased risk of urolith formation.