A combination of low serum calcium (Ca), high serum phosphorus (P), and low serum magnesium (Mg) has been observed in individual captive ruminants, primarily affecting kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros), eland (Taurotragus oryx), nyala (Tragelaphus angasii), bongo (Tragelaphus eurycerus), and giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis). These mineral abnormalities have been associated with chronic laminitis, acute tetany, seizures, and death. Underlying rumen disease secondary to feeding highly fermentable carbohydrates was suspected to be contributing to the mineral deficiencies, and diet changes that decreased the amount of starch fed were implemented in 2003. Serum chemistry values from before and after the diet change were compared. The most notable improvement after the diet change was a decrease in mean serum P. Statistically significant decreases in mean serum P were observed for the kudu (102.1–66.4 ppm), eland (73.3–58.4 ppm), and bongo (92.1–64.2 ppm; P < 0.05). Although not statistically significant, mean serum P levels also decreased for nyala (99.3–86.8 ppm) and giraffe (82.6–68.7 ppm). Significant increases in mean serum Mg were also observed for kudu (15.9–17.9 ppm) and eland (17.1–19.7 ppm). A trend toward increased serum Mg was also observed in nyala, bongo, and giraffe after the diet change. No significant changes in mean serum Ca were observed in any of the five species evaluated, and Ca was within normal ranges for domestic ruminants. The mean Ca:P ratio increased to greater than one in every species after the diet change, with kudu, eland, and bongo showing a statistically significant change. The results of this study indicate that the diet change had a generally positive effect on serum P and Mg levels.
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