Phosphorous Appetite in Sheep: Dissociating Taste from Postingestive Effects

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Journal of Animal Science






American Society of Animal Science

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We hypothesized that lambs discriminate the postingestive effects of P and associate those effects with feed flavor to modify feed choices. Three predictions were tested based on this hypothesis: 1) lambs will modify preference for arbitrary flavors eaten during intraruminal infusions of NaH2PO4, 2) changes in preferences are more specific than changes in osmotic load induced by salts of Na; and 3) preference for P is inversely related to the concentration of inorganic P in blood. Thirty lambs were depleted of P by the offer of a P-deficient diet, allocated to 3 groups (10 lambs/group), and conditioned during 3 periods as follows: During conditioning period 1, lambs in each of 3 groups ate a poorly nutritious feed (grape pomace), flavored differently for each group, while water was infused into the rumen. During conditioning periods 2 and 3, lambs again ate grape pomace, with 2 new flavors now paired with infusion of an aqueous solution (126 mmol) of NaCl (conditioning period 2) or NaH2PO4 (conditioning period 3), rather than with water. After conditioning, all lambs were offered a choice of the 3 flavors during preference tests immediately after conditioning (period 1) and every 3 wk thereafter (periods 2, 3, and 4). During period 1, when serum inorganic P levels were greatest, lambs preferred flavors paired with water > NaCl > NaH2PO4 (P < 0.05). During periods 2 and 3, as inorganic P concentrations decreased in serum, lambs preferred flavors paired with NaH2PO4 > NaCl (period 2, P = 0.10; period 3, P = 0.05). Lambs preferred flavors paired with water > NaH2PO4 in period 2 (P < 0.001), but those differences disappeared in periods 3 and 4 (P > 0.05). During period 4, lambs preferred flavors paired with NaCl > NaH2PO4 (P < 0.10). The estimate of the slope for the linear relationship between intake of flavors paired with NaH2PO4 and serum inorganic P was negative (P < 0.0001), whereas estimates of the slopes for the relationships between intake of flavors paired with NaCl or water and serum inorganic P were not different from 0. Thus, preference for P was inversely related to the concentration of serum inorganic P. Our results suggest lambs discriminated among the postingestive effects of NaH2PO4, NaCl, and water and associated those effects with specific flavors. Lambs avoided flavors paired with NaH2PO4 during periods of P replenishment, and they increased preference for those flavors during periods of P need.