Vitamin D is essential to maintain calcium and phosphorus levels (building strong skeletons and reducing the risk of leg problems). It can also support immune functionality. But, contrary to conventional wisdom, not all vitamin Ds are equivalent and the differences can have an impact on performance and even intestinal health.
Vitamin D benefits go beyond the skeleton
Vitamin D is best known for its role in calcium and phosphorus metabolism in skeletal development and maintenance, as well as eggshell strength. In addition, vitamin D has been recognized for cell growth and differentiation (Brown et al., 1999), as well as for its potential effects on the immune system (Reinhardt and Hustmyer, 1987) and reproduction (DeLuca, 1992). A deficiency of vitamin D can result in an elevation in blood glucose levels in chicks, and abnormal energy substrate utilization (Hunt and Nielsen, 1987).
25-Hydroxy Vitamin D3
An exciting development in vitamin D nutrition in recent years has been the commercialization of 25-OH vitamin D3 in poultry feeds. This product was given GRAS status for broilers (1995), turkeys (1999) and laying hens (1999), and is known as Hy•D® and marketed by DSM Nutritional Products, Inc. Today, 25-OH D3 is routinely used in numerous commercial poultry programs. This vitamin D metabolite may exert effects beyond those induced by vitamin D3 (Soares et al., 1995), and research in recent years indicates that some tissues may have a requirement specifically for 25-OH vitamin D3 (Vieth, 1999).
Not all 25-OH D3 products are the same
When it comes to 25-OH D3, there are many misperceptions in the broiler industry. One of the most common and costly misperceptions is that other products are equivalent to the industry standard Hy•D. Hy•D was the first 25-OH D3 on the market and continues to set the standard for purity, bioavailability and performance.
Hy•D is currently the only source of 25-OH D3 legally registered as a feed additive in most countries and is the only product to match 25-OH D3 regulatory specifications. Hy•D is a single ingredient 25-OH D3. Analysis of other market products claiming 25-OH D3 activity may contain other unapproved metabolites.
New data supports Hy•D during intestinal challenge
A recent study compared Hy•D with a leading competitor testing feed conversion and shedding with coccidiosis. Broilers fed with Hy•D had lowest FCR before and after coccidiosis or Clostridium perfringens challenge compared to the control and competitor group. Broilers fed with Hy•D had lowest Eimeira maxima oocyst shedding 7 days post-inoculation compared to the control and competitor group. Overall, broilers fed with Hy•D had best performance before and after mild to moderate intestinal challenge.