Newsletter October 2019
Vitamin D & Calcium supplementation will assist in the
correction & prevention of leg & eggshell problems in broilers and layers
Leg problems in broilers and layers can result in a large economic loss to the farmer/producer. Not only may they
cause an increased rate of late mortalities or culls, but the locomotive restrictions and pain associated with
leg problems will likely reduce feed intake and result in reduced growth rates in broilers and reduced egg
production and/or egg quality in layers.
Vitamin D3 is an essential fat-soluble vitamin that is necessary for the proper metabolism of Ca and P. Its role in
increasing Ca absorption makes it an important element in decreasing the incidence of rickets, tibial dyschondroplasia
and cage layer fatigue. Vitamin D3 can also enhance the utilisation of phytate bound Ca and P, as well as improve the utilisation of
other minerals such as manganese, iron, copper and zinc ensuring proper mineralization of bones and eggshellformation. Additionally,
supplementation with vitamin D3 aids in the maturation and proper functioning of macrophages improving the development of cell-mediated
immunity in the chicken. Calcium and Vitamin D3 supplied in SuppCal-D ® or ® Super Liquid Vitamin D3 supplement will improve the birds’
ability to process calcium optimally and prevent leg and eggshell problems.
Restricted mobility and/or the high calcium requirements of layer hens, especially around the time of peak egg
production, may result in an increased incidence of cage layer fatigue characterised by thin eggshells, a drop-
in egg production, fragile bones and/or lameness. There is also an increased calcium requirement of birds in the pre-
lay period, for medullary bone® formation, and this should be supplied either through a special pre-lay diet or
with formulated calcium additives. Vitamin D3 ® and calcium supplied in SuppCal-D will be beneficial for this
purpose as well as aiding in the prevention and/or recovery of cage layer fatigue. Supplementing Super
Vitamin D3 ® once per week during peak production times would be helpful as a preventative strategy, while supplementing
for 3-5 days with either SuppCal-D ® or Super Vitamin D3 ® would be advised when poor eggshell quality or leg problems arise.
To reduce the incidence of leg problems in broilers, supplementing the drinking water for the first three days
after placement with Super Vitamin D3 and thereafter once per week would be beneficial. However, if legs problems
do arise, 3-5 days of Super Vitamin D3 or SuppCal-D supplementation would help with recovery.
Although modern diets are supposed to have the required levels of vitamin D3, it happens frequently that bone and
eggshell formation are marginal, leading to leg problems, cage layer fatigue, poor internal egg quality and
poor eggshell quality. Water-based supplements such as SuppCal-D or ® Super Liquid Vitamin D3 supplement
are beneficial in these situations as they are easily digestible to the bird and improvements will be seen within 48
hours due to their rapid absorption rate.