Vitamin D Deficiency in Farm animals: A Review

Document Type : Review Article


1 Department of clinical sciences, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran

2 Department of clinical sciences, Veterinary medicine, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran

3 Department of Poultry Diseases, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Cairo University, Giza, Egypt

4 Cotter Laboratory, Arlington, MA, USA


One of the most effective vitamins in the musculoskeletal structure and immune system of farm animals is Vitamin D. The widespread risk of Vitamin D deficiency states is known widely resulting in autoimmune diseases, diabetes, rickets, metabolic bone diseases, and cancers. The aim of this review is to address the subject of Vitamin D deficiency in farm animals and the role of vitamin D in health and deficiency states. Although Vitamin D deficiency is generally defined as < 20 ng/mL in serum, but this level remains to be discussed. Vitamin D synthesis in the skin is the major source of Vitamin D in the body and is influenced by genetic and several environmental factors, such as length of sun exposure, season, and latitude. Sun exposure might be limited during winter in some areas, such as northern latitudes. Thus, food sources can play essential roles in supplying the demand for vitamin D. Some animal species have more sensitivity to Vitamin D deficiency due to their different metabolism, homeostasis, and adaptation to specific diets and environments. Farm animal species, such as cattle, pigs, llamas, Alpacas, small ruminants, and broiler chickens are more sensitive to Vitamin D deficiency. However, some farm animal species including horses and donkeys usually have a low risk of Vitamin D deficiency. Therefore, the management of Vitamin D deficiency and its consequences are critical in some species. The inclusion of Vitamin D in the body of farm animals depended on farming practices, sun exposure in different seasons, and the content of diets. Due to the diversity of species, regulation of many ongoing processes in animals’ bodies, the complexity of Vitamin D metabolism, and different metabolites, more studies are necessary to find the vital roles of vitamin D in the prevention and control of diseases in farm animals.