What are feed phosphates?

Inorganic feed phosphates (IFP) are inorganic salts of phosphoric acid. Different types exist like calcium-phosphates (including dicalcium-, monocalcium- and monodicalcium phosphates), magnesium-phosphates, calcium-sodium, sodium-phosphates and ammonium-phosphates.

What is the base for feed phosphates?

All phosphate based products, including fertilizers, but also feed phosphates are based on rock phosphate or on so-called fluor-apatite. Rock phosphate occurs widely in nature. Large deposits exist in Russia, USA, North Africa and China, where they are obtained mostly by opencast mining.

How are inorganic feed phosphates produced?

Inorganic feed phosphates are mostly produced based on partial purified so-called feed grade phosphoric acid. This phosphoric acid is produced from rock phosphate or apatite. Other production routes also exist like the production based on hydrochloric acid for the production of dicalcium phosphate.

What are inorganic feed phosphates used for?

Inorganic feed phosphates are used to balance the phosphorus requirements of modern high producing animals. Animals do have a certain requirement for phosphorus depending on age, production, etc.

Why is phosphorus important in animal nutrition?

Phosphorus is one of the most important minerals in animal nutrition. The importance of phosphorus is reflected in a multiple of functions. It is the second most abundant element in an animal’s body after calcium, with 80% of the phosphorus found in the bones and teeth, with the remainder located in the body fluids and soft tissues.

What is the function of phosphorus in the animal?

Phosphorus has more physiological functions than any other mineral, such as:

Development and maintenance of skeletal tissue, the greatest proportion of phosphorus is devoted to maintaining and supporting the skeleton, where it is c-precipitated with calcium in the form of hydroxyapatite. The skeleton not only acts as a support system but also as a reservoir of phosphorus and calcium from which the body can draw.
Maintenance of osmotic pressure and acid-base balance
Energy utilization and transfer; phosphorus plays a vital role in energy regulation
Appetite control and efficiency of feed utilization
And many more/ …

Are phosphorus requirements of the different animals known?

Yes, from all animals phosphorus requirements are tabled. However, the system of expressing these requirements differs between the different areas. In Europe for pigs the requirements are expressed in digestible phosphorus, for poultry in available of absorbable phosphorus or digestible forphorus, and for ruminants just the total amount of phosphorus.

Is the content of digestible phosphorus of the different inorganic feed phosphates known?

Yes, in the past but even now trials are carried out to assess the level of digestible phosphorus in the different feed phosphates as accurate as possible. Tabled values do exist and based on this, feed formulators and feed producers can produce feed that match the animal phosphorus requirements as accurate as possible.

Are feed phosphates the only phosphorus sources?

No the majority of phosphorus in animal feed is originating from plant materials. However, this is largely in the form of phytate phosphorus which is virtually unavailable for monogastric animals (poultry, pigs) making it impossible to meet the animal requirements with plant materials alone. Additional phosphorus supplementation is essential. Ruminants have the ability to digest the phytate phosphorus in plant materials in the rumen. But even so, comparison with the requirements of ruminants with levels of phosphorus supplied by normal pasture show that in most cases additional phosphorus in the form of inorganic feed phosphates is necessary.

Are there alternatives to feed phosphates?

Indeed; All feed materials containing high total and available phosphorus levels can be used as a source of phosphorus in animal nutrition. Nowadays, there is also the possibility to use phytase, an enzyme capable to liberate the phytate-bound phosphorus in plant materials and making the phosphorus available for monogastric animals. However, phytase is not capable to release all phosphorus and, therefore, there is still a need for supplementing animal feeds with inorganic feed phosphates.

What happens with the phosphorus which is not digested by the animal?

This is voided in the manure, where it can be used as a cheap natural source of phosphorus next to nitrogen and other minerals. The majority of the phosphorus in the manure however, originates not from the use of inorganic feed phosphates but originates for the greater part (>95%) from undigested plant phosphorus.

Does the phosphorus in manure represents an environmental problem?

Plants need certain levels of phosphorus and ,therefore, manure is a cheap natural source of phosphorus. Only when the supply of phosphorus exceeds plant growth requirements, the excess phosphorus can accumulate in the soil, from which it can be used for successive crops, but also enter the water system through run-off and soil erosion


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