This study investigated the effects of cholecalciferol (vitamin D₃) supplementation on beef vitamin D activity, beef tenderness and sensory attributes. Thirty heifers were randomly allocated to one of three finishing dietary treatments [(T1) basal diet+0IU vitamin D₃; (T2) basal diet+2000IU vitamin D₃; and (T3) basal diet+4000IU vitamin D₃] for a 30day period pre-slaughter. Vitamin D₃ supplementation linearly increased serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D₃ (25-OH-D3) concentrations (R(2)=0.48), Longissimus thoracis (LT) total vitamin D activity (R(2)=0.78) as well as individually vitamin D₃ (R(2)=0.84) and 25-OH-D₃ (R(2)=0.75). The highest vitamin D₃ inclusion diet (T3) had a 42% increase (P<0.001) in LT vitamin D activity compared to the intermediate diet (T2) and a 145% increase over the lowest level diet (T1). Vitamin D₃ supplementation decreased LT shear (P<0.05) force values after 14days chilling. Sensory parameters were not affected (P>0.05). In conclusion, through short-term vitamin D₃ supplementation of cattle diets, beef vitamin D activity can successfully be enhanced.
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