Bone densitometry as an indicator of percentage tibia ash in broiler chicks fed varying dietary calcium and phosphorus levels.
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The relative sensitivity of tibia bone mineral content (BMC) and density (BMD), percentage ash (ash), and shear force as indicators for dietary Ca and P was compared in 3-wk-old broiler chicks. One hundred eight 7-d-old chicks were grouped by weight into 6 blocks of 3 cages each with 6 birds per cage. Three corn-soybean meal-based diets were randomly assigned to cages within each block. The diets were low P, medium P, and adequate P and were formulated to contain 4.0, 5.1, and 7.8 g of total P/kg feed, respectively; and 5.1, 6.7, and 10.0 g of Ca/kg feed, respectively. The chicks were fed the experimental diets for 14 d. On d 22, chicks were killed, and tibiae were removed from 3 birds/cage. Weight gain, feed intake, feed efficiency, BMC, BMD, shear force, and ash were determined. The BMC and BMD were determined using dual energy x-ray absorptiometry. Correlations among the various bone status variables and dietary Ca and P were determined. Growth performance criteria and ash increased linearly, and BMC and BMD increased linearly and quadratically as dietary concentrations of Ca and P increased. The correlation coefficient between dietary Ca and BMC, BMD, shear force, or ash was 0.89, 0.91, 0.50, or 0.89, respectively; and between dietary P and BMC, BMD, shear force, or ash was 0.88, 0.91, 0.48, or 0.89, respectively. The correlation coefficient between ash and BMC, BMD, or shear force was 0.92, 0.93, or 0.67, respectively. The correlation coefficients for linear regression between shear force and BMC or BMD was 0.56. The regression model for predicting percentage ash using BMD was as follows: percentage ash = 24 + (240 x BMD) with an r2 of 86%. It is concluded that in broiler chicks, tibia ash, BMC, and BMD may be more sensitive than shear force as indicators of dietary Ca and P concentrations and that BMD as measured by dual energy x-ray absorptiometry may be used to predict percentage of tibia ash.