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Seasonal variation in vitamin D status of beef cattle reared in the central United States

E. Casas, J.D. Lippolis, L.A. Kuehn, T.A. Reinhardt
Domestic animal endocrinology 2015 v.52 pp. 71-74
nutrient intake, animal growth, diet, blood serum, autumn, rearing, endocrinology, winter, beef cattle, vitamin status, vitamin D, seasonal variation, finishing, summer, crossbreds, calves, ultraviolet radiation, Midwestern United States
The objective was to retrospectively measure seasonal sunlight-associated variation in serum concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD) in beef cattle. The concentration of 25OHD was measured in crossbred animals born from March to May in 2011 and 2012. Vitamin D status 2 to 3 mo after birth (period 1) was only available for 2012 calves and was measured in June 2012. Period 1 animals had serum 25OHD concentrations of 26.3 ± 1.5 ng/mL. The 25OHD concentrations for late summer (period 2) were 46.6 ± 1.4 and 51.0 ± 1.5 ng/mL for 2011 and 2012, respectively. Serum concentration of 25OHD in early fall (period 3) were 63.8 ± 1.4 and 55.2 ± 1.5 ng/mL for calves in 2011 and 2012, respectively. Values observed for both late summer and early fall indicated vitamin D sufficiency (P < 0.001) compared with period 1. With diminishing exposure to ultraviolet B and consuming ∼800 IU or 1800 IU (2011 and 2012, respectively) of supplemental vitamin D, the calves' midwinter (period 4) 25OHD concentrations fell to 15.2 ± 1.6 and 16.7 ± 1.5 ng/mL for 2011 and 2012, respectively, after 4 to 5 mo on a finishing diet (P < 0.0001). This is considered vitamin D insufficiency in most species. Results indicate that calves are marginally sufficient to insufficient for vitamin D based on serum 25OHD concentrations soon after birth and during winter. Some individual animals would be classified vitamin D deficient. In the absence of sufficient UVB exposure, the dietary vitamin D requirements for rapidly growing beef cattle may need to be increased.