Poult Sci doi: 10.1016/j.psj.2020.06.080. Epub 2020 Aug 12.
Egg-laying hens have a unique bone development pattern due to the medullary bone formation and high bone turnover rate. The role of long-term supplementation of an intermediate form of vitamin D3, 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (25OHD), on skeletal development of pullets and laying hens is not well established. Exploring its effects on layer bone development will help develop a strategy for preventing laying hen osteoporosis. The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of long-term supplementation of 25OHD in layer diets on bone 3-dimensional structural development. A total of 390 1-day-old Hy-Line W36 pullets were randomly allocated to 3 treatments with 10 replicate cages and 13 birds/cage. Dietary treatments were 1) vitamin D3 at 2,760 IU/kg, 2) vitamin D3 at 5,520 IU/kg, and 3) vitamin D3 at 2,760 IU/kg plus 25OHD at 2,760 IU (69 μg)/kg. The level of 25OHD in the serum was tested throughout the whole experimental period (0-95 wk). Bone growth rate (BGR) was measured at 10 wk using a calcein injection technique. Femurs were scanned using Micro-CT for 3D structural analysis, and the whole-body composition analysis was performed using a dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry method at 17, 60, and 95 wk. Dietary supplementation of 25OHD significantly increased 25OHD level in the serum from 0 to 95 wk. During the rearing period (0-17 wk), 25OHD increased BGR, cortical tissue volume, and bone marrow area at 17 wk, simultaneously. 25OHD created more pores in cortical bone, which resulted in a lower cortical bone mineral density (BMD) but without alerting bone mineral content (BMC). This effect allowed more space for mineral deposition in bones during the later egg-laying period. At 60 wk, the 25OHD group had significantly greater BMD, which led to the highest total BMC, cortical volume, and trabecular bone connectivity. At 95 wk, the birds fed 25OHD had significantly higher cortical bone volume and lower porosity. The 25OHD group also had higher total BMD and medullary bone volume but a lower BMC and volume of trabecular bone than vitamin D3 or double dosage vitamin D3 treatment. This indicated that the bone resorption rate was lower in cortical bone than that in trabecular bone in the late laying period. In conclusion, supplementation with dietary 25OHD could stimulate bone growth and increase bone volume in pullets to provide more space for mineral deposition during the laying period with positive effects on laying hen bone quality.