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High vitamin D3 requirements in broilers for bone quality and prevention of tibial dyschondroplasia and interactions with dietary calcium, available phosphorus and vitamin A.

  • Whitehead, C C
  • McCormack, H A
  • McTeir, L
  • Fleming, R H
Published Article
British poultry science
Publication Date
Jun 01, 2004
PMID: 15327131


1. Two experiments were carried out to investigate responses in performance and bone compositional and structural characteristics in broilers fed diets containing 4 concentrations of vitamin D3 (5, 20, 125 and 250 microg cholecalciferol/kg) at different concentrations of calcium, available phosphorus and vitamin A. 2. In experiment 1, body weight and tibia breaking strength were maximised at 14d with 250 microg vitamin D3/kg, tibia ash was maximised with 125 microg vitamin D3/kg. A high incidence of tibial dyschondroplasia (TD) was decreased to very low levels with 125 microg vitamin D/kg. 3. At 42d, performance and bone characteristics showed no response to vitamin D3 concentrations above 20 microg/kg. 4. Dietary vitamin A within the range 2-4 to 4.5 mg retinol/kg did not show any interaction with vitamin D3 status at either age. 5. In experiment 2, responses to vitamin D3 were strongly influenced by dietary calcium/available phosphorus. With 13 g calcium and 5 g available phosphorus/kg, performance and bone characteristics responded to vitamin D3 concentrations up to 125 microg/kg but more was needed at less optimal concentrations of calcium and available phosphorus. TD incidence was minimised with 250 microg/kg. 6. This study shows that high dietary concentrations of vitamin D3 can prevent TD. It is concluded that the vitamin D3 requirement of broilers up to 14 d of age at optimal dietary calcium and available phosphorus concentrations may be in the range 35 to 50 microg/kg for cortical bone quality and up to 250 microg/kg for prevention of TD. The vitamin D3 requirement for cortical bone quality after 14 d is not higher than 20 microg/kg. These requirements are much higher than earlier estimates and may be related to higher calcium requirements of modern broiler genotypes. Current regulations limiting maximum vitamin D3 concentrations in broiler starter diets may need to be reviewed.

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