Does my Chicken have a Vitamin or Mineral Deficiency?
Keeping your backyard chickens healthy needn't be an overwhelming operation. However, it is important to understand the role of vitamins and minerals in your birds diet. Below we describe the signs and symptoms of deficiencies, but further to this you need to understand how even a slight deficiency can quickly lead to a reduction in disease resistance.
If your chickens have a vitamin deficiency, it is quite possible they are lacking in not just one vitamin, but multiple. This is because chicken feed or mixes are often supplemented with vitamins. However, if your chicken is selectively feeding then they will not be consuming the components they actually need for healthy homeostasis. Not only is it important for your chickens to receive adequate vitamins, they should also be supplied in the correct ratio.
Ultimately, if you want healthy chickens who lay tasty eggs for your morning breakfast then it's time to take note of their vitamin intake.
Signs of Vitamin and Mineral Deficiency in Chickens
Each vitamin is inherently vital to different bodily functions. For instance, Vitamin B is essential for the health of the chicken's nervous system; it is not normally stored in the body so your hens must consume it regularly for normal nerve function.
If it is not an incident, but it is becoming a regular pattern ie, diarrhea then it is a sign which should be investigated.
- Seem to be constantly unwell
- Growing at a slow rate
- Reduced egg production
- Feathers are sparse. This may be due to a deficiency in vitamin B12
- Ruffled feathers along with weakness can be a sign of Vitamin A deficiency
- Watery eye discharge, leading to a crusty, cheesy secretion around the eyes
- Poor eggshell quality is seen in chickens with a Vitamin D3 deficiency
- Leg weakness in chicks born with a Vitamin D3 deficiency
- Nervous disorders such as balance issues or involuntary movement
- Loss of appetite
- Curled toes, seen in Vitamin B Deficiencies.
- Scaly skin
- Reduced immunity to illnesses.
- Thin shell eggs can be a result of calcium deficiency
Causes of Vitamin Deficiencies in Hens
Without a doubt, chickens are very much like toddlers. Picky eaters with little table manners. Chickens are notoriously selective eaters, casting aside tasty pieces of food to only eat small morsels that will satisfy their fussy taste buds.
This particular behaviour can ultimately lead to a series of symptoms that herald major vitamin and mineral deficiency. It is also the reason why do not recommend any feed that allows your hens to be selective.
Scratch mixes are not nutritional in value. They comprise of mainly seeds, corn and other grains which are high in fibre but not nutrients. Because of the variations of grains and seeds in a scratch mix, chickens develop selective eating and only gobble what they want - not what their body needs. Also, despite the well-meaning of feeding your chicken kitchen scraps, these too may not meet their requirements.
Another reason your chicken may be showing signs of vitamin deficiency is because they are infected with a parasite.
Parasites cause Vitamin Deficiencies in Chickens
Backyard chicken coops can become a breeding ground for different external and internal parasites. These parasites attack the intestinal tract disrupting absorption of vital nutrients needed for egg production and bodily functions.
Parasites spread easily within the coop, quickly infecting your entire flock.
How to fix a vitamin and mineral deficiency
We recommend a few methods to ensure your chicken's nutritional requirements are met.
- Pelleted Feed - A complete feed will include a spectrum of vitamins and minerals and it will also remove any possibility of selective feeding
- Vitamin and Mineral Supplement - A supplement such as Mega Mineral can be added to the chickens feed or water supply.
- Treat Parasites - Treat parasites fast and organise a regular preventative treatment to keep your birds free from internal worms