Optimizing Swine Nutrition and Resilience 

Part 1 - Balancing Phosphorus and Calcium for Resilience and Sustainability

In the realm of pig production, the adage "you are what you eat" takes on profound significance. Proper nutrition forms the bedrock of healthy, thriving swine populations. As we delve into the intricacies of swine nutrition, a key theme emerges – the concept of supporting resilience. With that in mind, this article explores the pivotal roles that phosphorus (P) and calcium (Ca) play in swine nutrition, elucidating the consequences of deficiencies and overfeeding. We also dive into the revolutionary advancements in phytase technology, particularly the 4th generation HiPhorius, which is shaping the landscape of sustainable swine nutrition.

Ca and P are vital for the health of monogastric animals, as they perform various structural, physiological, catalytic, and regulatory roles in the body (Underwood & Suttle, 2001). These minerals are crucial for the growth and development of swine, as they are involved in bone formation, energy metabolism, cellular function, skeletal integrity, and muscle contraction (Latrou et al., 2021; Schröder & Breves, 2006). Maintaining a proper balance between Ca and P is essential for optimal health and performance of swine, as they are involved in such a range of functions, and both excess and deficiency can have negative consequences. Therefore, Ca and P are indispensable minerals for monogastric animals.

Balancing P and Ca intake in swine nutrition is critical, with both deficiency and excess posing significant challenges. Examining the advantages and drawbacks of high and low dietary P supplies under constant or varying calcium-to-phosphorus (Ca:P) ratios, Gerlinger et al. (2021) discovered that inadequate P supplementation, falling below recommended levels, negatively impacts bone development and growth performance. Also, decreased P levels adversely affect cancellous bone density and trabecular architecture. Excess or deficiency of Ca has been associated with reduced growth performance and bone or kidney diseases (González-Vega and Stein, 2014). Ca excess has been shown to adversely affect the growth performance of growing pigs if the concentration of P is marginally adequate or below that required for growth (Lagos et al., 2019). Excess P and Ca not only burden economic resources due to wasteful feed expenditure but also cast a shadow over the environment. Thus, striking the right balance is not only an economic consideration but also an ethical responsibility.

Enter phytate, an anti-nutrient present in plant-derived ingredients that are commonly used in pig feed. Phytate binds essential minerals, predominantly P and Ca, rendering them inaccessible for absorption by pigs (Selle et al., 2009). This phenomenon severely diminishes mineral bioavailability, contributing to deficiencies despite adequate dietary intake. The challenge then lies in liberating these minerals from phytate's grasp, which can also reduce the excretion and the potential for environmental concerns.

Conventional phytases have limitations in breaking down phytate effectively. With the advent of 4th generation phytases, including HiPhorius, swine nutrition enters a new era. HiPhorius offers enhanced phytate degradation, releasing more of the minerals, as well as amino acids, that are bound by phytate. With a high efficacy to degrade phytate, it’s important to understand the amount of phytate-P in the diets, so that realistic expectations for greater amounts of digestible nutrients can truly be achieved. The increased bioavailability of P and Ca from phytate results in improved growth performance and optimized bone health. Additionally, HiPhorius aligns with sustainability goals, providing another tool for mitigating environmental concerns related to nutrient runoff. HiPhorius' efficacy for swine nutrition has been demonstrated. Comparative analyses highlight its impact on growth performance, mineral utilization, and overall economic outcomes. As HiPhorius is adaptable to diverse farming scenarios, it supports resilience across various contexts. With these case studies, HiPhorius is a practical solution for transforming the swine industry.

In summary, Ca and P are the fundamental threads necessary to weave a robust growth pattern with good Ca and P nutrition also providing benefits for animal welfare and sustainability throughout pig production operations. The evolution of phytase technology, particularly with the emergence of HiPhorius, signifies a pivotal shift in optimizing swine nutrition. It's a clarion call for the industry to embrace innovation in order to improve nutrition, economics, and environmental stewardship. As we champion the delicate balance between these essential minerals, we pave the way for a resilient and sustainable future for the swine industry.


Gerlinger, C., Oster, M., Reyer, H., Polley, C., Vollmar, B., Muráni, E., ... & Wolf, P. (2021). Effects of excessive or restricted phosphorus and calcium intake during early life on markers of bone architecture and composition in pigs. Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition, 105, 52-62.

González-Vega, J. C., & Stein, H. H. (2014). -Invited review-calcium digestibility and metabolism in pigs. Asian-Australasian journal of animal sciences, 27(1), 1.

Lagos, L. V., Walk, C. L., Murphy, M. R., & Stein, H. H. (2019). Effects of dietary digestible calcium on growth performance and bone ash concentration in 50-to 85-kg growing pigs fed diets with different concentrations of digestible phosphorus. Animal Feed Science and Technology, 247, 262-272.

Lautrou, M., Narcy, A., Dourmad, J. Y., Pomar, C., Schmidely, P., & Létourneau Montminy, M. P. (2021). Dietary phosphorus and calcium utilization in growing pigs: requirements and improvements. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 8, 734365.

Schröder, B., & Breves, G. (2006). Mechanisms and regulation of calcium absorption from the gastrointestinal tract in pigs and ruminants: comparative aspects with special emphasis on hypocalcemia in dairy cows. Animal Health Research Reviews, 7(1-2), 31-41.

Selle, P. H., Cowieson, A. J., & Ravindran, V. (2009). Consequences of calcium interactions with phytate and phytase for poultry and pigs. Livestock science, 124(1-3), 126-141.

Underwood, E. J., & Suttle, N. F. (1999). The mineral nutrition of livestock. CABI publishing.

Published on

23 October 2023


  • Swine
  • Phytase
  • Sustainability

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