Vitamin deficiency in poultry: How to make your flocks strong and healthy

Vitamin deficiency in poultry: How to make your flocks strong and healthy

Like humans, chickens and other poultry species need a proper, nutritious diet to thrive. Among the essential nutrients required for their growth, development and overall health, vitamins play an important role. Vitamins are organic compounds that are important for various physiological processes in poultry, including the normal functioning of the system, maintenance of immunity, and prevention of diseases.
In this blog, we will explore the importance of vitamins in poultry feed, focusing on the essential vitamins A, D, E, K, C and B. We will go into clinical signs, postmortem lesions, prevention and treatment of deficiencies in these basic vitamins, showing their effect on poultry health and productivity. By understanding the importance of these vitamins and applying the right diet, farmers can ensure the health and value of their flocks.

Avitaminosis A (vitamin A deficiency)  

Vitamin A, which is important for the normal development and repair of epithelial cells and bones, as well as maintaining the "first defense system" against disease, has a precursor called carotene. However, vitamin A and its precursors, α, β-carotene, and cryptoxanthin, are unstable, and feeds that are stored for a long time can lose a large part of their vitamin A , especially if they have a source of unhealthy fats. 

Clinical signs of vitamin A deficiency in poultry:
When chickens are fed a diet without vitamin A, their growth becomes poor after three weeks and declines rapidly. Symptoms include hydrocephalus, skeletal abnormalities, doping, ataxia, and gray hair. Some chicks may also develop swelling around the eyes and a oozing exudate under the eyelids.
If the diet is not enough, signs can appear between four and six weeks and a large number of chicks can develop eye sores and show nervous behavior. These signs usually appear in poultry. In mature birds, inflammation of the nose and eyes, as well as low egg production and hatchability, can occur.

Post-mortem lesions due to vitamin A deficiency in poultry:
Pustule-like lesions can be seen in the mouth, pharynx, and esophagus of mature birds.
In poultry, white urate is often found in the kidneys. These deposits can also be found in the heart, liver and spleen.
Epithelinal cells of epiteelinal cells can do at olfactory, breathing, strap, strap and urinary tract. 

In the case of deficiency, the increase of uric acid in the blood increases with deposits in the ureters due to the failure of the repair process of the epithelial parts, especially in the kidneys.
Prevention and treatment of vitamin A deficiency in poultry:
Natural sources of vitamin A tend to be unstable and can oxidize in stored feeds. To prevent this, many food manufacturers add antioxidants.
Stable and dry vitamin A supplements are also available for use. When added to drinking water, affected birds recover quickly.
It is recommended to always feed the birds with grains and green leafy vegetables.


 Vitamin D deficiency in poultry
Vitamin D is important for the normal absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorus. Its deficiency can lead to various problems such as rickets, osteoporosis or bad eggshell quality in laying hens, even when the diet contains enough calcium and phosphorus. 

Causes of vitamin D deficiency in poultry:
Cases of rickets and osteoporosis in chickens are attributed to vitamin D deficiency. Chickens raised in the hold need a higher level of vitamin D in their diet than those that have access to sunlight. 

The presence of mycotoxins in feed and eggs can cause vitamin D deficiency by inhibiting the absorption of vitamin D and other fat-soluble vitamins. 

Clinical signs in birds:

  • The first signs are a tendency to rest frequently in a sqatting position, a reluctance to walk, and stiff gait. 
  • Ruffled feather(as in many nutritional cases).
  •  In laying hen, thinning of egg shells.
  • In case of deficiency, there is a reduction in egg production and hatchability.

Postmortem klesions of vitamin D deficiency in birds:
The bone is soft. Epiphyses of long bones increase.

Give vitamin D normal dose for about three weeks

 Avoid feeds that contain mycotoxins. 

Lack of vitamin E
Vitamin E is important for the reproductive performance of hens and the reproduction of mature males. Not enough vitamin E in the diet can lead to the manifestation of problems such as encephalomalacia, degenerative brain disease, exudative diathesis or "bad chick disease" and muscular dystrophy.

 Clinical signs of vitamin E deficiency in poultry:
Encephalomalacia, also known as "crazy chicken disease", is a condition in which chickens cannot walk and fall on their sides. They have straight legs and crooked toes, swollen heads and retracted heads. On examination, brown spots on the cerebellum and swelling are seen.
In exudative diathesis, severe edema is produced by increased capillary permeability. In broilers, this can lead to a decrease in the quality of the meat due to the yellow discharge of the legs caused by plasma leakage into the subcutaneous tissue.
In most laying hens, there is a marked reduction in hatchability. In breeders, there may be death of the embryo on the third or fourth day of incubation.

 Prevention and treatment:

  •  If feeds is to be stored for more than 2 weeks, add antioxidants.
  • High temperatures and high humidity accelerate the destruction of vitamin E (so good ventilation in the store is important).

  •  For sick birds, vitamin E is given orally.
  •  Dietary selenium is saturated with vitamin E and works synergistically to protect the body from oxidative damage.
  • The presence of high fatty acids (polyunsaturated fats) increases the need for vitamin E. Therefore, it works as an antioxidant.

Vitamin K deficiency:

 It is rare that animals need to supplement their diet with vitamin K because they are able to produce this vitamin in their digestive tract. This vitamin is important for blood clotting and reduces the amount of prothrombin, a protein produced by the liver, in the blood. Alfalfa grass is a source of vitamin K, which can be added to animal feed.

Stress factor such as coccidiosis and other bacterial infections of the gastrointestinal tract can increase vitamin K requirements.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
It has not been documented in animals. Many animals can synthesize their supply.

Vitamin B complex
There are at least nine components of this B vitamin. These include complex B12 (Cyanocobalamin), B1 complex (Thiamine, aneuvin), B2 complex (Riboflavin), B3 complex (nicotinic acid, niacin), B6 ​​complex (Pyridoxine), pantothenic acid, l folic acid, choline and biotin.

Vitamin B12 deficiency:

The requirement for vitamin B12 in poultry is low, since it is produced by various bacteria and is present in animal feed. Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to poor growth, low feed efficiency and reduced hatchability. 

Additionally, the element cobalt is an essential component of vitamin B12. 

Vitamin B1 (thiamine deficiency):
This is rare in cereal fed animals.
Riboflavin vitamin B2  

Few poultry feeds can provide enough nutrition to meet the needs of young chicks. It is important to add supplements when preparing their feed.


Clinical signs of vitamin B complex deficiency in poultry:

  • Curled toe is a characteristic of chickens. 
  • They are weak and grow slowly, and the birds have diarrhea.
  •  In young chickens (poults) - dermatitis, loss of growth and the air is covered and burns. 
  • In layers, egg production and hatchability are low, as are embryo deaths during the day.

Treatment of vitamin B deficiency in poultry:

  Supplementation with the above vitamin D complexes;

Deficiency of vitamin E
Vitamin E is important for the reproductive performance of hens and the reproduction of mature males. Sources of this vitamin include wheat and corn, sprouted oil, and green vegetables. The active form of vitamin E is alpha-tocopherol.

 However, these compounds are subject to oxidation by oxygen or unsaturated fatty acids, which are produced when the feed continues (with the smell or taste of stale, grease and rot or butter). Fish oil and vegetable oils are also high in sugar in the form of fatty acids.

 A lack of vitamin E can occur if corn and soybeans are grown in soils that are deficient in selenium, if the diet contains unhealthy fats, or if the diet does not contain sulfur-containing amino acids.
 Vitamin E works as an antioxidant. Vitamin e and Selenium leads to the physical cavity for necrosis and degeneration.

Clinical signs of vitamin E deficiency in poultry:
The first degree effect is in all cases a membrane effect. This results in a decrease in the number of eggs, in which the embryo dies on the third or fourth day of childbirth. 

Encephalomalacia, also known as crazy chick syndrome, is a degenerative brain disease that causes young children to look silly and fall on their sides. They have swollen heads, abnormal feet and crooked toes, and distortion of the head.

 At postmortem, there is a brown area on the cerebellum and the brain is swollen. In exudative diathesis, there is a large edema of the skin, making it stand out. In broilers, meat quality is reduced due to yellowing of the thighs, which causes plasma poisoning in the subcutaneous tissue.
Prevention and treatment:
If the feed is to be stored for more than two weeks, it is necessary to add an antioxidant. High temperatures and high humidity can accelerate the destruction of vitamin E.

Good ventilation and storage is essential. For sick birds, vitamin E supplementation is recommended and should be given orally. 

It is important not to use old food with a noticeable aroma. Food should have adequate levels of vitamin E and selenium.


Finally, vitamins A, D and E are vitamins that are important for the normal growth, development and health care of poultry. Clinical signs, post-mortem lesions and treatment of deficiencies in these vitamins are discussed. To prevent and treat deficiencies in these vitamins, it is important to provide a suitable diet including sources of these vitamins and use stable and dried supplements.

Proper care and management of pet feed and the addition of antioxidants can also help prevent weakness. Maintaining good ventilation and avoiding high concentrations of bad fatty acids can also help prevent and treat these deficiencies. It is important for poultry farmers to understand the importance of these vitamins and take the necessary steps to prevent and treat deficiencies to ensure the health and production of their birds.


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