Mineral absorption in the black rhinoceros as compared with the domestic horse

Source: Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition, volume 91, issue 5-6, 2007
To test whether mineral recommendations for horses are likely to guarantee adequate mineral provision for black rhinoceroses, we investigated the apparent absorption (aA) of macro- and microminerals in eight black rhinoceroses...
(Diceros bicornis) from three zoological institutions in a total of 32 feeding trials with total faecal collection, with additional data from three unpublished studies (18 feeding trials). Feeds and faeces were analysed for Ca, P, Mg, Na, K, Fe, Mn, Cu, Zn and Co. The resulting aA coefficients, and the linear relationships of apparently absorbable dietary mineral content to total dietary mineral content [per 100 g dry matter (DM)], were compared with data for domestic horses. Rhinoceroses had significantly higher aA coefficients for Ca and Mg (because of a higher calculated 'true' absorption), and lower ones for Na and K (because of calculated higher endogenous faecal losses). High absorption efficiency for divalent cations is hypothesized to be an adaptation to a natural diet of particularly high Ca:P ratio (approximately 14:1); an effective removal of Ca from the ingesta guarantees sufficient P availability at the fermentation site in the hindgut. Higher faecal losses of Na and K are hypothesized to be linked to a higher faecal bulk per DM intake in black rhinoceroses as compared with horses because of a generally lower digestive efficiency. There were no relevant differences in the absorption patterns of microminerals. In particular, there were no discernable differences in Fe absorption within the rhinoceroses for diets with and without tannin supplementation. Several of the zoo diets assessed in this study were deficient in Cu, Mn or Zn, and most contained excessive levels of Fe when compared with horse requirements. The findings of this study indicate that differences in mineral absorption between occur even between species of similar digestive anatomy; that in particular, Ca absorption might vary between hindgut fermenters with Ca:P ratio in their natural diet; that Na might be a particularly limiting factor in the ecology of free-ranging rhinoceroses; that moderate doses of tannins do not seem to markedly influence mineral absorption; and that diets for captive animals should contain adequate, but not excessive mineral levels.

Title: Mineral absorption in the black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) as compared with the domestic horse

Authors: M. Clauss, J. C. Castell, E. Kienzle, P. Schramel, E. S. Dierenfeld, E. J. Flach, O. Behlert, W. J. Streich, J. Hummel and J-M. Hatt