Growth, Bone Mineralization and Mineral Excretion in Broiler Starter Chicks Fed Varied Concentrations of Cholecalciferol

  • Rama Rao, S.V. (Project Directorate on Poultry, Indian Council of Agricultural Research) ;
  • Raju, M.V.L.N. (Project Directorate on Poultry, Indian Council of Agricultural Research) ;
  • Shyam Sunder, G. (Project Directorate on Poultry, Indian Council of Agricultural Research) ;
  • Panda, A.K. (Project Directorate on Poultry, Indian Council of Agricultural Research) ;
  • Pavani, P. (Project Directorate on Poultry, Indian Council of Agricultural Research)
  • Received : 2005.11.21
  • Accepted : 2006.03.06
  • Published : 2007.02.01


An experiment was conducted to study the growth performance, bone mineralization and mineral excretion in broiler starter chicks fed high levels of cholecalciferol (CC) at sub-optimal levels of calcium (Ca) and non-phytate phosphorus (NPP). Five hundred and sixty day-old Vencobb female broiler chicks were housed in raised wire floor stainless steel battery brooder pens ($24"{\times}30"{\times}18"$) at the rate of five chicks per pen. A maize-soyabean meal basal diet was supplemented with dicalcium phosphate, oyster shell powder and synthetic CC to arrive at two levels each of Ca (0.50 and 0.60%), and NPP (0.25 and 0.30%) and four levels of CC (200, 1,200, 2,400 and 3,600 ICU/kg) in a $2{\times}3{\times}4$ factorial design. Each diet was fed ad libitum to chicks in 7 pens from 2 to 21days of age. Body weight gain, feed intake and bone weight increased (p<0.05) with increase in level of CC at both the Ca and NPP levels tested. The CC levels required to obtain significant improvement in body weight gain and feed intake reduced (2,400 ICU/kg vs. 1,200 ICU/kg) with increase in levels of P in diet (0.25% vs. 0.3%, respectively). The feed conversion ratio was significantly improved (p<0.05) with increase in level of CC from 200 to 1,200 ICU/kg diet at 0.5% Ca, while at 0.6% Ca, the level of CC in diet did not influence the feed efficiency. Tibia mineralization (density, breaking strength and ash content) and Ca and P contents in serum increased significantly (p<0.05) with increase in levels of CC in diet. The CC effect on these parameters was more pronounced at lower levels of Ca and NPP (0.5 and 0.25%, respectively). The data on body weight gain and feed intake indicated that NPP level in diet can be reduced from 0.30 to 0.25% by increasing CC from 200 to 2,400 ICU/kg. Similarly, the bone mineralization (tibia weight, density and ash content) increased non-linearly (p<0.01) with increase in CC levels in diet. Concentrations of P and Mn in excreta decreased (p<0.01), by increasing CC level from 200 to 2,400 ICU/kg diet. It can be concluded that dietary levels of Ca and NPP could be reduced to 0.50 and 0.25%, respectively by enhancing the levels of cholecalciferol from 200 to 2,400 ICU/kg with out affecting body weight gain, feed efficiency and bone mineralization. Additionally, phosphorus and manganese excretion decreased with increase in levels of CC in broiler diet.


Broilers;Cholecalciferol;Calcium;Non-phytate Phosphorus;Bone Mineralization;Mineral Retention


Supported by : Indian Council of Agricultural Research


  1. Baker, D. H. and K. M. Halpin. 1988. Zinc antagonizing effect of fish-meal, wheat bran and a corn soybean meal mixture when added to a phytate - and fibre free casein-dextrose diet. Nutr. Res. 8:213-218.
  2. Baker, D. H., R. R. Biehl and J. L. Emmert. 1998. Vitamin $D_3$ requirement of young chicks receiving diets varying in calcium and available phosphorus. Br. Poult. Sci. 39:413-417.
  3. Biehl, R. R. and D. H. Baker. 1997. Utilization of phytate and nonphytate phosphorus in chicks as affected by source and amount of vitamin $D_3$. Anim. Sci. 75:2986-2993.
  4. Davies, M. I., G. M. Ritcey and I. Motzok. 1970. Intestinal phytase and alkaline phosphatase of chicks: influence of dietary calcium, inorganic and phytic phosphorus and vitamin $D_3$. Poult. Sci. 49:1280-1286.
  5. Edwards Jr. H. M., R. B. Shirley, W. B. Escoe and G. M. Pesti. 2002. Quantitative evaluation of 1- $\alpha$-hydroxycholecalciferol as a cholecalciferol substitute for broilers. Poult. Sci. 81:664-669.
  6. Haugh, H. and H. J. Lantzsch. 1983. Sensitive method for the rapid determination of phytate in cereals and cereal products. J. Sci. Food Agric. 34:1423.
  7. Kornegay, E. T., D. M. Denbow, Z. Yi and V. Ravindran. 1996. Response of broilers to graded levels of microbial phytase added to maize-soybean meal-based diets containing three levels of nonphytate phosphorus. Br. J. Nutr. 75:839-852.
  8. Lofton, J. T. and J. H. Soares Jr. 1986. The effects of vitamin $D_3$ on leg abnormalities in broilers. Poult. Sci. 65:749-756.
  9. National Research Council. 1994. Nutrient requirements of poultry, 9th revised edition. Nutrient requirements of domestic animals. National Research Council, National Academy Press, Washington, DC.
  10. Rama Rao, S. V., M. V. L. N. Raju, M. R. Reddy and P. Pavani. 2006. Interaction between dietary calciumand non-phytate phosphorus levels on growth, bone mineralization and mineral excretion in commercial broilers. Anim. Feed Sci. Tech. (in press).
  11. Sohail, S. S. and D. A. Roland Sr. 1999. Influence of supplemental phytase on performance of broilers four to six weeks of age. Poult. Sci. 78:550-555.
  12. Wasserman, R. H. and A. N. Taylor. 1973. Intestinal absorption of phosphate in the chicks. Effect of vitamin D and other parameters. J. Nutr. 103:586-599.
  13. Rennie, J. S., H. A. McCormack, C. Farquharson, J. L. Berry, E. B. Mawer and C. C. Whitehead. 1995. Interaction between dietary 1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol and calcium and effects of management on the occurrence of tibial dyschondroplasia, leg abnormalities and performance in broiler chickens. Br. Poult. Sci. 36:465-477.
  14. Qian, H., E. T. Kornegay and D. M. Denbow. 1997. Utilization of Phytate phosphorus and calcium as influenced by microbial phytase, cholecalciferol, and the calcium: total phosphorus ratio in broiler diets. Poult. Sci. 76:37-46.
  15. Shafey, T. M., M. W. Mcdonald and R. A. E. Pym. 1990. Effects of dietary calcium, available phosphorus and vitamin D on growth rate, food utilization, plasma and bone constituents and calcium and phosphorus retention of commercial broiler strains. Br. Poult. Sci. 31:587-602.
  16. Rama Rao, S. V., A. K. Panda, M. V. L. N. Raju, G. Shyam Sunder and N. K. Praharaj. 2003b. Requirement of Calcium for commercial broilers and White Leghorn layers at low dietary phosphorus levels. Anim. Feed Sci. Tech. 106:199-208.
  17. Mohamed, A., M. J. Gibney and T. G. Taylor. 1991. The effects of dietary levels of inorganic phosphorus, calcium and cholecalciferol on the digestibility of phytate-P by the chick. Br. J. Nutr. 66:251-259.
  18. Shafey, T. M., M. W. McDonald and J. G. Dingle. 1991. Effects of dietary calcium and available phosphorus concentration on digesta pH and on the availability of calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc from the intestinal contents of meat chicken. Br. Poult. Sci. 32:185-194.
  19. Duncan, D. B. 1955. Multiple range and multiple F tests. Biometrics 11:1-55.
  20. AOAC (Association of Official Analytical Chemist). 1990. Official Methods of Analysis of the Association of Official Analytical Chemists (Virginia, USA., Association of Official Analytical Chemists)
  21. Cruickshank, J. J. and J. S. Sim. 1987. Effects of excess vitamin D3 and cage density on the incidence of leg abnormalities in broiler chickens. Avian-Dis. 31:332-338.
  22. Edwards Jr. H. M. 1976. A re-examination of the nutritional role of vitamin D. Proc. Georgia Nutr. Conf. pp. 77-83.
  23. Pointillart, A., A. Fourdin, M. Thomasset and M. E. Jay. 1985. Phosphorus utilization, intestinal phosphatase and hormonal control of calcium metabolism in pigs fed phytic phosphorus; soybean or rapeseed diets. Nutr. Report Inter. 32:155-167.
  24. Waldroup, P. W., J. E. Stearns, C. B. Ammerman and R. H. Harms. 1965. Studies on the vitamin $D_3$ requirement of the broiler chick. Poult. Sci. 44:543-548.
  25. Bar, A., A. Cohen, S. Edelstein, M. Shemesh, G. Montecuccoli, and S. Hurwitz. 1978. Involvement of cholecalciferol metabolism in birds in the adaptation of calcium absorption to the needs during reproduction. Comparative Biochem. Phys. 59:245-249.
  26. NRC. 1980. Mineral Tolerance of Domestic Animals. National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council, Washington, DC.
  27. Rama Rao, S. V., M. V. L. N. Raju, M. R. Reddy, G. Shyam Sunder and P. Pavani. 2003a. Dietary calcium and non-phytin phosphorus interaction on growth bone mineralization and mineral retention in broiler starter chicks. Asian-Aust. J. Anim. Sci. 16:719-725.
  28. Biehl, R. R., D. H. Baker and H. F. Deluca. 1995. 1$\alpha$-hydroxylated cholecalciferol compounds act additively with microbial phytase to improve phosphorus, zinc and manganese utilization in chicks fed soy-based diets. J. Nutr. 125:2407-2416.
  29. Elliot, M. A. and H. M. Edwards Jr. 1997. Effect of 1,25- dihydroxycholecalciferol, cholecalciferol, and fluorescent lights on the development of tibial dyschondroplasia and rickets in broiler chickens. Poult. Sci. 76:570-580.
  30. Meixner, B., H. Jeroch and H. J. Eisengarten. 1979. Analysis of the vitamin $D_3$ supply of broilers. Monatshefte-fur-Veterinarmedizin 34(17):655-657.
  31. Fiske, H. and Y. Subba Row. 1925. The colorimetric determination of phosphorus. J. Biolog. Chem. 66:375-400.
  32. Mc Naughton, J. L., E. J. Day and B. C. Dilworth. 1977. The chick's requirement for 25-hydroxycholecalciferol and cholecalciferol. Poult. Sci. 56:511-516.
  33. Sebastian, S., S. P. Touchburn, E. R. Chavez and P. C. Lague. 1996. Efficacy of supplemental microbial phytase at different dietary calcium levels on growth performance and mineral utilization of broiler chickens. Poult. Sci. 75:1516-1523.
  34. Underwood, E. J. 1981. Chapter 4: calcium and phosphorus pp 31- 39. The Mineral Nutrition of Livestock. Second ed., Commonwealth Agricultural Bureaux
  35. Snedecor, G. W. and W. G. Cochran. 1980. Statistical Methods. Iowa State University Press, Ames, IA.
  36. Watson, I. T., C. B. Ammerman, S. M. Miller and R. H. Harms. 1970. Biological assay of inorganic manganese for chicks. Poult. Sci. 49:1548-1554.
  37. Paik, I. K. 2000. Nutritional management for environment friendly animal production. Asian-Aust. J. Anim. Sci. 13(Special Issue):302-314.
  38. Park, S. W., H. Namkung, H. J. Ahn and I. K. Paik. 2005. Enrichment of vitamin D3, K and iron in eggs of laying hens. Asian-Aust. J. Anim. Sci. 18:226-229.
  39. Georgievskii, V. I. 1982. The physiological role of macroelements. In: Mineral Nutrition of Animals. (Ed. V. I. Georgievskii, B. N. Annenkov, V. I. Samokhin). 1982. Butterworths, London.
  40. Vogt, H. 1992. Differing calcium and phosphorus content in broiler feeds-ecological aspects on mineral supply. Lohmann Information, July-August: 11-15.

Cited by

  1. Effect of Surfeit Concentrations of Vitamin D3 on Performance, Bone Mineralization and Mineral Retention in Commercial Broiler Chicks vol.45, pp.1, 2008,