Ever wondered why a chicken’s wing looks ruffled or why they look unhealthy? Nutritional deficiency in poultry is one major reason why some poultry birds can look so scary!
Either way, their nutrition plays a huge role in the overall health and appearance.
Nutritional deficiency in chickens is usually undermined and overlooked especially in small scale poultry farming as the chickens are just been fed with anything and everything not considering the nutrients ratio of such feeds.
Poultry just like other living organisms need a balanced diet for proper functioning of the body and overall health. The vitamins and nutrients needed for egg production, rich and healthy meat can be obtained in the feed given to the birds.
Poultry farmers for some reasons such as finances, reduce the rations of feeds or attempt to substitute some items not minding the consequences of their action. Trying to cut down cost will eventually cut down profits or the entire poultry business.
Some results of nutritional deficiency includes but not limited to poor or reduced egg production, slow or stunted growth, paralysis of the legs etc.
Causes And Diagnosis Of Nutritional Deficiency In Poultry
In poultry farming there are various categories of feed depending on the age and specie of bird. The layers, the broilers, the cockerels all have their own formulated feeds that aids their growth and overall development.
Nutritional deficiency occurs when an essential nutrient is missing from a diet or when there is adverse interaction between two nutrients; one overriding the other by having anti nutrients.
These nutrients can be micronutrients or macronutrients with the micronutrients including vitamins and trace minerals while the macronutrients include carbohydrates, proteins etc.
A diet may seem to have enough nutrients but in actual fact may be deficient to some extent. Stress, temperature and infections can also interfere in how the poultry birds absorb the nutrients or the quantity.
To this effect, microorganisms or toxins can destroy or make a bird unable to absorb particular nutrients even though they are present in the diets in required amounts.
Mycotoxins are also causes of serious problem in the livestock feedmill industry. They are toxic compounds produced as a result of the presence of molds in the livestock feeds: removal of the molds doesn’t stop the mycotoxins from being present.
Some ingredients in the production of livestock feed are prone to the growth of molds such as corn having higher occurences.
Symptoms of nutritional deficiency varies from birds to birds such as rickets and fatty liver syndromes affects the layers (birds that lay eggs) accounting for the high mortality in these birds.
The diagnosis can be made only when the birds are affected because a single nutrient deficiency may be insignificant to produce symptoms until there are accumulated deficiencies.
The layers feed is specifically formulated to be highly nutritional but infections and diseases prevail thereby making these birds nutritionally deficient.
An adequate diagnosis can only be done with a full information about the diet, the composition of ingredients and management of the farm including clinical signs in affected birds.
Effects Of Nutritional Deficiency In Poultry
In a bid to have a greater output in the overall health of the birds and profit in the poultry farming business, it is important that the birds are fed with balanced diet and adequate medical attention in cases where the birds are not doing great despite the high nutrients in their feeds.
Poultry formulated feeds that meets the nutrition requirements including protein, amino acids of each class of poultry should be given to the birds regardless of cost and substitute should have the same amount of nutrient needed.
Vitamin A Nutritional Deficiency
Vitamin A is an essential mineral needed for the overall health of the membranes of the digestive, urinary, reproductive and respiratory systems.
This deficiency of vitamin A can occur when the vitamin is not enough or an oxidation by rancid fat has occurred.
Another deficiency of vitamin A can occur with the use of a common antibiotics known as Neomycin as it decreases the absorption of the vitamin.
Symptoms of vitamin A deficiency include:
- Odourless discharge that looks like cheese from one or both eyes of the birds.
- Emanciation also known commonly as extreme thinness in birds
- Weak birds
- Ruffled feathers
- Stuck eyelids known as sicca
- Watery discharge from the throat, nostrils or eyes in younger birds
- Reduced egg production
- Adult birds laying eggs not viable to hatch
Vitamin B Nutritional Deficiency
Vitamin B1 is needed for the formation of a coenzyme involved in the function of the nervous system. Deficiency of this vitamin can be caused by medications such as Amprol, moldy feed and rancid fat oxidation.
Vitamin B1 deficiency symptoms can be mistaken for vitamin B deficiency and Newcastle disease.
Symptoms of vitamin B1 deficiency
- Ruffled feathers
- Leg weakness
- Paralysis and convulsions with head retraction
- Blue comb
- Decrease in respiration rate
- Lowered body temperature
Vitamin B2 is a cofactor in many enzyme systems which are associated with oxidation-reduction reactions involved in respiration.
Symptoms of vitamin B2 deficiency include:
- Curled toes
- Poor growth
- Weak and emaciation in young birds
- Reduction in size of leg muscles
- Dry skin
- Poor egg production
- Still birth with cuffed feathers
Vitamin D Nutritional Deficiency
Vitamin D is essential in proper calcium and phosphorus metabolism and absorption making it an important nutrient needed in formation of the bird’s beak and claws including egg shell.
Rickets a result of this deficiency occurs in young birds and can be mistaken for cage layer fatigue which occurs in mature females.
Vitamin E Nutritional Deficiency
Vitamin E aids reproduction, the nervous system and the muscular system. It is also an antioxidant and a shield for other vitamins.
A feed rich in vitamin E can be inefficient if there is extreme heat; also known as heat-labile. Deficiency in Selenium can also result in vitamin E deficiency.
Symptoms of vitamin E deficiency include:
- Uncoordination in birds
- Episodes of Tremors
- Rapid contractions and relaxation of the legs known as the ‘crazy chick disease’
- Testicular degeneration in adult males causing decreased fertility
- Increased embryonic mortality
Vitamin E nutritional deficiency can also be mistaken for Newcastle Disease (AE) and vitamin B1 deficiency.
Vitamin K Nutritional Deficiency
Required for the production of prothrombin which is essential in blood clotting, vitamin K, is an essential nutrient that must be present in poultry diet to prevent hemorrhaging conditions.
Deficiency of vitamin K can increase embryonic mortality. Inhibition of vitamin can occur with the use of sulfaquinoxaline a medication used in treating coccidiosis in poultry.
Nutritional deficiency is a factor poultry farmers should consider as a determinant to the success of their poultry farming business. The poultry birds need to be fed with complete feeds with adequate nutrients.
Medications can also inhibit the absorption of some essential nutrients and this should be taken into consideration when feeding the birds subsequently.
The birds undergoing treatment should be given supplementary nutrients upon completion of their medications.