The truth about digestible phosphorus

The absorption of phosphorus from inorganic feed phosphates by poultry is driven by their chemical form and quality. The use of digestible phosphorus to formulate a broiler’s diet enhances animal performance and bone mineralisation.


Inorganic feed phosphates are used in broiler feed formulation to cover phosphorus requirements. However, similarly to other nutrients, phosphorus is not fully absorbed and utilized by the animal in any feedstuff, including inorganic feed phosphates. The way phosphorus absorption is considered in feed formulation is of major importance because of the impact on animal performance, farm economy and the environment, but there is no global consensus on how to do this. Indeed, phosphorus from mineral sources (non-phytic phosphorus) has classically been assumed 100% absorbable, though this is not realistic.

Choosing the most digestible source of phosphorus is crucial to maximising a farmer’s profitability

The choice of the most absorbable (or digestible phosphorus) feed phosphate source is therefore crucial to maximize farmer’s profitability, improve animal health and minimize phosphorus excretion to the environment.

A recent study by the University of West Virginia tested the effect of different inorganic feed phosphates on early broiler performance and tibia mineralization. Broilers fed Bolifor® monocalcium phosphate (MCP) had better performances and more enhanced bone condition than broilers fed dicalcium phosphate (DCP) when diets were formulated to have similar non-phytic phosphorus content. The higher content of absorbable phosphorus of Bolifor® MCP in comparison with DCP explains this difference.

Bolifor MCP allows a lower inclusion rate in diet compared to DCP

Another comparison based on a similar absorbable or digestible phosphorus content in diets containing Bolifor® MCP or DCP was performed. For this purpose, DCP diets required a 40% greater inclusion than the Bolifor® MCP diet. Similar results for broiler performance and bone condition were obtained for broilers fed either Bolifor® MCP or DCP when both diets were formulated on a digestible phosphorus basis. These results highlight (1) the advantage of precise knowledge of phosphorus absorbability of the product and (2) the advantage of using a high absorbable source of phosphorus such as Bolifor® MCP.

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