Antler growth and UV lighting

Submitted by Raven on 01/08/2003. ( )

I just read a post regarding the potential of lighting on antler growth in deer. Most of the responses generally laughed at the notion but it MAY be possible for it to be effective. I dont know if people took that other post seriously enough to bother following up on the thread, so I paste my response here for those who may be interested in the hopes that the concept may be given another chance and not scoffed at.

In mammals there is still debate over the effectiveness of UV light in relation to skeletal development. In herptiles (reptiles and amphibians) it is common knowledge to any experienced keeper. The whole premise behind it is this;

Ultraviolet light in the "B" spectrum is required to produce vitamin D3 in cold blooded creatures. Mammals are able to develope and process D3 in our own bodies. Cold blooded creatures cannot produce their own vitamin D3 without this UVB light. Some individuals may be low on D3 and therefore can take supplements to increase those levels. Vitamin D3 is required to metabolize calcium into the bones of a critter. In cold blooded creatures that are lacking D3 one of two things commonly happen. They develope build ups of calcium that cannot be excreted from teh body fast enough and get calcareous growths. these can be lumps on a bone, fused joints or over devloped sutures that create ridges along the skull as opposed to fine cracks. This is generally correctable with the addition of UVB if the case is not severe - as the excess calcium will be absorbed and utilized rather than deposited on bone surfaces. More commonly however the calcium is simply excreted leaving them deficient. This results in rubbery bones. They can have rubbery jaws that you can bend, weak limbs that cannot support their own weight etc. Technically the condition is called MBD or Metabolic Bone Disease.

Captive bred fast growing juveniles with a lack of strong enough UVB will often die in their vivaria for no explained reason. I've had many hatchling bearded dragons in my care suddenly take a turn for the worse until I researched this and did lots of testing of my own. At the time - info was not widely available on the subject. My findings and hypothesis was that their long bones simply bend under their own weight and they lay flat on their substrate. Their ribs are rubbery too so they bend and compress the lungs thus suffocating them. After realizing this may have been the case I trippled the amount of my UVB for hatchlings and went from a survival rate of about 10% to well over 90%!

Bringing all this back to deer antler growth - it is entirely conceivable that UV light - especially in the B spectrum will enable deer to produce a booster shot of D3, absorb and utilize more calcium and possibly grow a more impressive rack. If I raised deer I would be certainly tempted to add a D3 supplement to a high protein diet and study antler growth rates.

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Raven is right about the Vit-D up take.

This response submitted by John C on 01/08/2003. ( )

Its simple and not so simple. you have calcium controled by Vit-D. But you can very easily overdose vit-D. his will through the Endocrin system. Once this happens it may takes year to correct.
to correct this, you have to supplement the Ionized calcium in the blood. Then in order for to stabilize Vit-B-12 will have to be I.M. every two weeks as needed according to the blood counts.

In one case the bones may become rubbery or on the other hand Osteoporosic. Should the later happen, the spine will be the first to suffer loss, then major bone group will loose the mass need to support the frame.

This is one reason older people sometimes shrink in size.

Its ok to fool with basic food supplements, this can help. But dont start experimenting beyond the foods and mild supplements.

You have to build the body then fins out if the genetics can support the antlers.

common practice

This response submitted by Bill Yox on 01/08/2003. ( )

Most of us supplement our deers diet. We rely heavily on the advice of nutritionists who study the balance of vitamin, mineral, how things are absorbed, interactions, etc. Others have long ago tried changing the amount of light to fool the pituatary gland, etc. Not all of us feel this is beneficial, though. Lots of theory out there, though, to be sure. Its hard to beat good genetics on pass down traits from both sides, along with good diet and low stress.

Bill,Good advice for everyone

This response submitted by Mike on 01/08/2003. ( )

"Its hard to beat good genetics on pass down traits from both sides, along with good diet and low stress."

Although we can't do much about our own genetics!


This response submitted by George on 01/08/2003. ( )

I guess kissing your elbow is POSSIBLE, but I ain't seen it yet. Are you giving credence to that little ...../ creap? LMAO

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