Minerals or inorganic matter as food’s component

Minerals or inorganic matter which are a component of remaining food will turn into ashes after all organic matters in plant and animal tissue have been under the combustion process. Minerals are important nutrients our body requires since they support the functioning of cells and body organs. Minerals are considered a significant body structure such as bones, teeth and blood while others are directly related to our growth process, minerals are also a key component of enzymes, hormones and vitamins. In addition, minerals help control the functioning of every body’s muscle; for example, controlling muscles and nerve system, blood circulation as well as balancing the liquid circulation inside our body. Each mineral performs different function for the body and it can be found in different sources. Our body requires an appropriate level of these minerals to perform efficiently.

Minerals can be divided into 2 major groups as follows:

1. Macro minerals refer to minerals our body requires in a large amount or more than 100 mg. per day. Such minerals include calcium, phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, sodium, sulphur and chloride. Calcium is the most commonly found mineral in our body, compared with the amount of phosphorous, potassium, magnesium and sodium.

2. Trace minerals refer to minerals our body requires in a fewer amount or less than 100 mg. per day. Although these minerals are not required at a large amount, but they are still significant. Some examples are iron, zinc, selenium, manganese, copper, iodine, chromium, cobalt, fluoridem, molybdenum and vanadium.

            Most of the minerals used in making animal feeds contain phosphorous and calcium since animals need these two minerals more than others for their growth and productivity.

Phosphorous is an important nutrient for animals

            Phosphorous is a significant component of the bone. Phosphorous found in most plants can be in 2 different forms; that is, organic phosphate (phospolipid, phospo protein and nucleic acid etc.) and inorganic phosphate (phytic acid and phytate) that can be found in most plants. Therefore, phosphorous found in plants that the animals can utilize is only 1 out of 3. Examples of phosphorous derived from animals are fish meal, porcine meal, meat and bone meal, all of which contain a high level of useful phosphorous. Nonetheless, animal feeds contain only a few of such raw materials (approximately 5 percent), resulting in insufficient phosphorous level; therefore, phosphorous must be added into the feeds’ recipe that can respond to the animals’ need.

Sources of phosphorous used in animal feeds

            Sources of phosphorous include dicalcium phosphate/ monocalcium phosphate in a form of inorganic and organic phosphate. These raw materials not only provide phosphorous, but also a good source of calcium. At present, there are many types pf phosphorous as indicated below:

– Rock phosphate used without being processed

– Dicalcium phosphate produced from rock phosphate

– Dicalcium phosphate derived from calcium carbonate

– Dicalcium phosphate derived from animal’s bone

Rock phosphate

            Generally, it is not recommended to use rock phosphates in animal farming without them being processed although they contain some phosphorous. Rock phosphates naturally derived contain the amount of fluorine at the level that may potentially pose danger to animals. Excess fluorine will be absorbed and stored at the bones that may affect bone tissues and in turn causes osteoporosis. Moreover, unprocessed rock phosphate may be contaminated with heavy metals.

Dicalcium phosphate produced from rock phosphate under the production process

            For dicalcium phosphates produced from rock phosphate under perfect production procedure, they must be incinerated under 100 degree celcius to separate fluorince (F) and heavy metal that may be contaminated with rock phosphates. The advantages of using rock phosphates to produce dicalcium phosphate lie in that rock phosphates already contain some levels of phosphorous. Therefore, the manufacturer can add the phosphorous level as deemed appropriate by adding phosphoric acid until different phosphorous levels will be achieved such as P14, P16 or P18. However, the production process has been altered these days. Some manufacturing procedures have been cut down and the temperature has been lowered to only 500-600 degree celcius to minimize cost. This in turn, makes the utilization of phosphorous incomplete and there may be some residues of fluorine or heavy metal as a result.

Dicalcium phosphate generated from calcium carbonate

            This type of dicalcium phosphate is generated by adding phosphoric acid until required phosphorous level is achieved. The advantage of calcium carbonate lies in the fact that it helps reduce the risk of contaminated fluorine and heavy metal. It does not require high heat during the production process; therefore, it also minimizes expenditures arising from thermal energy consumption. However, the manufacturer must add more phosphorous instead of rock phosphate as start-up raw material since calcium carbonate does not contain phosphorous as its key component. For any production process employing calcium carbonate as the start-up raw material is mostly monocalcium phosphate production.

Dicalcium phosphate produced from the animal’s bones

            The advantages lie in that phosphorous derived from the animal’s bones can be utilized almost entirely, if not entirely. There is no risk involved in terms of residues from fluorine and heavy metal. Typically, animal’s bones comprise of 10-12 percent phosphorous and its level can be increased by adding phosphoric acid in the same manner as dicalcium phosphate produced from rock phosphate or calcium carbonate. Consequently, phosphorous used as a source of minerals for animals must be dicalcium phosphate derived from the animal’s bones or rock phosphate or calcium carbonate which have been under complete production process. Rock phosphates that are still contaminated with fluorine or heavy metal are not recommended. Nonetheless, to enable the animals to benefit the most from phosphorous, dicalcium phosphate or monocalcium phosphate with phosphorous level of 18 percent and above shall be employed.

Sources of phosphorous generally available in the market are classified in many levels as follows:

Benefits the animals will gain from the minerals

1. Minerals help strengthen bone structure and they are also a component of organic substance such as protein and fat wich in turn being used to build muscles and body organs. Minerals are directly related to muscle contraction and nerve system.

2. Minerals act as a component of enzymes’ stimulant.

3. Minerals help maintain pH level and are directly related to the functioning of vitamins. Calcium used in animal feeds are in the form of calcium carbonate such as seashells, crushed dust and chipped stones. These raw materials provide calcium in particular and while these sources of calcium contain almost the same amount of calcium, but their price is somewhat varied. Consequently, we must take into consideration the animal specie that such calcium will be used for. Seashells and chipped stones are more expensive than crushed dust; therefore, they are suitable for the animal feeds provided to egg-laying hens.


Potchanakorn, M. and L.M. Potter. 1987. Biological values of phosphorous from various sources for young turkeys. Referred by Naruemol.

Ang Katoke. 2004. Utilization of monodicalcium phosphate under different processing in piglets, young swines and fattened pigs. Thesis of Master of Science. Kasetsart University.

Thanks for some information from: Professor Varapun Jintanawit (animal husbandry technical officer)

Department of Animal Husbandry, Faculty of Agriculture, Kamphaengsaen Campus, Kasetsart University, Nakornpathom.