Pathology of vitamin D deficiency in growing turkeys

Vet Pathol. 1986 Jul;23(4):485-98. doi: 10.1177/030098588602300420.


Turkey poults were fed a vitamin D-deficient diet and examined for clinical signs and structural changes of bone and parathyroid glands. Vitamin D-deficient poults developed ricketic changes during days 10 to 14. Control poults (deficient diet plus vitamin D) did not develop rickets. In deficient poults, lengths of proliferating-prehypertrophied zones of growth plates increased significantly in the proximal tibiotarsus but were only slightly elongated in the distal tibiotarsus. Unmineralized hypertrophic chondrocyte zones increased in length rapidly in conjunction with a decrease in the length of mineralized hypertrophic degenerative zones; this occurred more rapidly in proximal than in distal tibiotarsus. Other ricketic changes included decreases in bone ash, total femoral bone ash (calcium, phosphorus, magnesium), bone length, and body weight. Plasma alkaline phosphatase was increased, calcium was normal, and phosphorus was normal or elevated. Parathyroids were hyperplastic and had foci of degeneration. Vitamin D3 metabolites 25OHD3, 1,25(OH)2D3, and 24,25(OH)2D3 were rapidly depleted. Increase in bone ash Ca/P ratios in deficient poults suggests that phosphorus may be selectively released from ricketic bone. Low 25OHD3 and 1,25(OH)2D3 of control poults early in the experiment suggests that 1,400 IU of vitamin D3/kg of feed may not be an adequate level of vitamin D3 for growing turkey poults.

MeSH terms

  • Alkaline Phosphatase / blood
  • Animals
  • Bone and Bones / pathology
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Male
  • Parathyroid Glands / pathology
  • Phosphorus / metabolism
  • Poultry Diseases / metabolism
  • Poultry Diseases / pathology*
  • Rickets / metabolism
  • Rickets / pathology
  • Rickets / veterinary*
  • Turkeys / growth & development*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / metabolism
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / pathology
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / veterinary*


  • Phosphorus
  • Alkaline Phosphatase
  • Calcium