Effect of vitamin D2- and D3-enriched diets on egg vitamin D content, production, and bird condition during an entire production period

Poult Sci. 2004 Mar;83(3):433-40. doi: 10.1093/ps/83.3.433.


Vitamin D insufficiency during winter is a common problem for humans in Europe. One way to ease this problem is through the production of vitamin D-fortified eggs. To evaluate such a production process, the effects of vitamin D supplementation during an entire production period were assessed. Transfer of vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) and vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) from the diet to egg yolks was measured using 2 different levels of both vitamins (6,000 and 15,000 IU/kg feed) relative to a control treatment (2,500 IU vitamin D3/kg feed). During the experiment, production parameters, egg quality (egg weight, Haugh unit, specific gravity, eggshell fracture force, and Ca content of eggshell), and the condition of hens were monitored. At the end of the experiment histopathological tests were performed. Supplementing diets with vitamin D3 increased egg yolk vitamin D content more effectively than did supplementation with vitamin D2. For groups of hens receiving 6,000 or 15,000 IU of vitamin D3/kg feed, egg yolk vitamin D3 content ranged from 9.1 to 13.6 and from 25.3 to 33.7 microg/100 g, respectively. Corresponding values for birds fed vitamin D2 were 4.7 to 7.0 and 13.3 to 21.0 microg/100 g. Both supplements enhanced vitamin D3 content of egg yolks relative to the control diet (2.5 to 5.0 microg/100 g of egg yolk). Vitamin D supplements had no effects on production parameters compared with the control diet. However, especially vitamin D3 improved bone strength (P < 0.05). Autopsy at the end of the experiment indicated no detrimental accumulation of calcium in the kidneys, liver, heart, muscles, or lungs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Calcium / analysis
  • Chickens / physiology*
  • Cholecalciferol / administration & dosage*
  • Cholecalciferol / analysis
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Egg Shell / anatomy & histology
  • Egg Shell / chemistry
  • Eggs / analysis*
  • Ergocalciferols / administration & dosage*
  • Ergocalciferols / analysis
  • Female
  • Oviposition


  • Ergocalciferols
  • Cholecalciferol
  • Calcium