Bone characteristics and femoral strength in commercial toms: The effect of protein and energy restriction

R. C. Van Wyhe, P. Regmi, B. J. Powell, R. C. Haut, M. W. Orth, D. M. Karcher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Selection for rapid growth in turkeys has resulted in skeletal problems such as femoral fractures. Slowing growth rate has improved bone structure, but the effect on mechanical properties of the bone is unclear. The current study's hypothesis was that slowing the growth of turkeys by reducing energy and CP in the diet would result in increased femur integrity. Commercial turkeys were fed 1 of 3 diets: control with 100% of NRC energy and CP levels, as well as a diet feeding 80 or 60% of NRC energy and CP levels. All other nutrients met or exceeded NRC requirements. Control birds were grown to 20 wk of age, whereas the 80 and 60% NRC birds were sampled when BW matched that of control birds at wk 4, 8, 12, 16, and 20. Both femurs were extracted, with one being measured and ashed and the other twisted to failure to evaluate mechanical properties. Total bone length, diameter, cortical thickness, and cortical density were measured. The total femur length was longer in the 60% NRC birds at 5 and 10 kg of BW compared with control (P < 0.05); this significance was lost by the time birds reached 16 kg of BW. At 5 and 10 kg of BW, ash content was higher in the control birds than in the 60% NRC birds (P < 0.05). At 16 kg of BW, the 60% NRC birds had the highest femur ash (P < 0.05). The mechanical testing parameters were failure torque, shear strength, and shear modulus of the bones. The 60% diet produced the highest failure torque (P < 0.05), at 16 kg of BW and onward. The shear strength was greater (P = 0.01) once the birds reached 5 kg of BW for the 60% diet than other diets. In conclusion, reducing the energy and protein in the diet to 60% of NRC recommendations, thus slowing growth, improved bone strength, as measured by failure torque, and bone quality, as measured by shear strength, without altering bone length or ash content by the time birds reached market weight.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)943-952
Number of pages10
JournalPoultry science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • Ash
  • Break
  • Femur
  • Mechanics
  • Turkey


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