A MODEL TO PREDICT NUTRITIONAL REQUIREMENTS FOR ANTLER GROWTH IN MOOSE
We used a simulation model to predict energy, protein, and mineral requirements of moose. Body water, fat, protein, and ash are monitored on a daily time step, and energy requirements for reproduction and body mass changes are accounted for. We estimated energy requirements for antler growth because experimental data are not available. Antler growth increased energy requirements by 13% when energy requirements for antler growth were similar to energy requirements for tissue deposition, and by 20% when energy requirements for antler growth were midway between energy requirements for tissue deposition and gestation. Energy requirements for the latter part of gestation and milk production by females were greater than requirements for antler growth in mature males. Protein requirements for antler growth and lactation were met by forage intake. The model predicts that calcium and phosphorus must be resorbed from bone during peak antler growth. If antlers weigh 30 kg at the end of velvet shedding, > 60 g / day of calcium and > 30 g / day of phosphorous are deposited in the antlers for 40 days when mineralization rate is highest. Phosphorus was most likely to limited growth of antlers after energy. Input parameters can be changed to represent moose from other geographic regions and other cervid species. The model can be used to understand energy and mineral metabolism requirements for antler growth, and to understand the relationship between body mass and antler size in the Cervidae.
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