Nutrients: Signs of Deficiency

Clinical signs of nutrient deficiencies may be caused by two things: the nutrient actually being deficient in the diet or an imbalance existing in the diet. A deficiency occurs if an inadequate amount of a nutrient is fed and adding more of the nutrient to the diet will improve the animal's performance or relieve an unhealthy condition.6 An imbalance, however, results from a large excess (or deficiency) of one nutrient interfering with the normal metabolism of another.6 For example, excess calcium can lead to deficiencies in iron, iodine, zinc, manganese, and magnesium if they are only marginally supplied.5 Additionally, inadequate amounts of vitamin D3 can precipitate a calcium deficiency even if the diet has adequate amounts of calcium.5 To relieve an imbalance, larger amounts of the limiting nutrient should be provided or the nutrient present in excess should be reduced to relieve problems in the normal functioning of the bird.6 The table5,7 below explains some of the signs and health problems that result from a deficiency of various nutrients.

Nutrient
Signs of Deficiency
Protein Weight loss/poor gain, poor feathering, plumage color changes, the appearance of stress lines on the feathers, obesity, poor reproduction
Vitamin A Gout, white pustules in the mouth/oesophagus/crop & nasal passages, caseous nodules under eyelids, caseous plug may block the syrinx, polyuria/polydypsia, reduced egg/sperm production, loss of footprint & hyperkeratosis of plantar surface of the feet, feather coloration may become muted yellow & red if these are dependent on carotenoid pigments, increased susceptibility to disease (especially aspergillosis), xero-ophthalmia
Vitamin D3 Thin selled or soft shelled eggs, demineralized soft bones, bent bones, decreased calcium absorption, hypocalcaemia
Vitamin E Poor muscle function (leading to undigested seed in stool, poor hatchability, muscle twitching), neurological abnormalities (encephalomalacia, abnormal body movements), reproductive abnormalities (infertility in hens, early embryonic death, poor hatchability, testicular degeneration in males)
Fat Weight loss/poor growth, reduced disease resistance, neurological abnormalities
Linoleic acid (specifically) Decreased metabolic efficiency, decreased growth, hepatomegaly, increased fat storage, decreased reproduction, poor hatchability
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