Preference for inorganic sources of magnesium and phosphorus in sheep as a function of need

Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

Journal of Animal Science

Publication Date

Winter 1-15-2021






We determined whether sheep discriminate among different mineral supplements containing P and Mg and if they modify their selection as a function of the basal diet received. Forty lambs were offered four-way choices among inorganic sources of P and Mg: magnesium oxide in its coarse 1) C-MgO and granular 2) MgO forms and magnesium phosphate: 3) Mag33 (33% Mg and 2.7% P), and 4) MGP (25% Mg and 15% P), and two-way choices between MGP and each of the other minerals, and between MgO and C-MgO (baseline). Subsequently, lambs were randomly assigned to four groups (10 lambs/group) and fed rations such that the levels of Mg and P were low (LMg_LP), adequate (NMg_NP), low in Mg and adequate in P (LMg_NP), or adequate in Mg and low in P (NMg_LP). After 29 d, choice tests (post-deficiency) were repeated. During baseline, lambs ate and preferred Mag33 > C-MgO = MGP > MgO (P < 0.05). This pattern remained during post-deficiency tests, but lambs in LMg_LP and LMg_NP increased their preference for MGP and C-MgO, respectively, whereas lambs in NMg_LP increased their preference for C-MgO and MGP relative to baseline (P < 0.05). The serum concentrations of P and Mg increased after preference tests, and preference for MgO and MGP in low-Mg groups increased as the serum concentration of Mg declined (P < 0.05). Thus, lambs discriminated among different minerals and some groups modified their preferences based on the basal diets received, which rectified mineral imbalances.