Coccidiosis penalizes calcium (Ca), phosphorus (P), and fat-soluble vitamin status, as well as bone mineralization in broiler chickens. We hypothesized that dietary vitamin D (VitD) supplementation in the form of 25-hydroxycholecalciferol (OHD), compared to cholecalciferol (D3), would improve bone mineralization in broilers receiving marginally deficient Ca/P diets, with more pronounced effects during malabsorptive coccidiosis. In a 2 VitD source × 2 Ca/P levels × 2 levels of infection factorial experiment (n = 6 pens per treatment, 6 birds/pen), Ross 308 broilers were assigned to an Aviagen-specified diet supplemented with 4,000IU/kg of either OHD or D3 between days 11 and 24 of age. The diet contained adequate (A; 8.7:4.4g/kg) or marginally deficient (M; 6.1:3.1g/kg) total Ca and available (av)P levels. At day 12 of age, birds were inoculated with water (C) or 7,000 Eimeria maxima oocysts (I). Pen performance was measured over 12 days post-infection (pi). One bird per pen was assessed for parameters of bone mineralization and intestinal histomorphometric features (day 6 and 12 pi), as well as E. maxima replication and gross lesions of the small intestine (day 6 pi). There was no interaction between infection status and Ca/avP level on bone mineralization. Bone breaking strength (BS), ash weight (AW), and ash percentage (AP) were highest in broilers fed the OHD-supplemented A diets irrespective of infection status. Eimeria maxima infection impaired (P < 0.05) ADG and FCR pi; Ca and P status at day 6 pi; OHD status, BS, AW, and AP at day 12 pi; and intestinal morphology at day 6 and 12 pi. A- compared to M-fed broilers had higher BS, AW, and AP at day 6 pi, and AW at day 12 pi. VitD source affected only OHD status, being higher (P < 0.001) for OHD- than D3-fed broilers at day 6 and 12 pi. In conclusion, offering OHD and adequate levels of Ca and P improved bone mineralization, with no effect on performance. Dietary D3 and OHD supplemented at 4,000IU/kg had similar effects on coccidiosis-infected and uninfected broilers, which led to the rejection of our hypothesis.
Publication Type:Peer-Reviewed Publications
Poultry Science, 98(11), 5679-5690, https://doi.org/10.3382/ps/pez350