Function and Utilization of Essential Vitamins and Minerals in Chickens

Just like for us humans, to chickens, vitamins and minerals are very important for health. Lack of  of these, known as a deficiency,  causes problems, varying from something more minor such as decreased egg production to much more serious conditions, such as anaemia and death.

Chickens need all known vitamins and minerals, with the exception of Vitamin C.

Below is a list of Vitamins and Minerals, and the effects suffered by chickens in case of deficiency.



Vitamin/ Mineral

Vitamin and Mineral Function Deficiency symptoms

Vitamin A (Retinol)

Good feathering, egg production, reproduction Weakness, lack of growth, decreased egg production
Thiamine (B1) involved in enzyme systems, Loss of apetite, Death, chick paralysis
Riboflavin (B2) Essential in many enzyme systems Poor growth, poor egg production and curly toe
Pantothenic Acid Essential for Growth, hatchability, feathering Dermatitis and lesions on feet and around beak and eyes
Niacin Fat protein and carbohydrate metabolism Bowed legs, inflamed mouth cavity
Choline Fat metabolism, Fatty liver, poor growth
Vitamin B12 Growth, good hatchability Anaemia, poor growth, embryonic
Vitamin D Bone growth, egg shell production, Calcium and Phosphorus utilization Rickets
Vitamin E Normal reproduction and fertility. Antioxidant Enlarged hocks, crazy chick disease
Vitamin K Blood clotting, haemorrhage
Folic Acid Prevents perosis, good feathering Anaemia, poor feathering, poor growth, anaemia
Biotin maintains blood glucose levels, involved in carbohydrate conversion Perosis, poor hatchability
Below are some important minerals essential to chickens’ health
Calcium Important for healthy bones, and strong eggshells, and hatchability Soft shelled eggs, poor hatchability and rickets
Cobalt Activates enzymes, synthesises B12, needed for pyrimidine synthesis Slow growth, mortality, reduced hatchability
Copper Iron metabolism, controls the movement of iron anaemia
Iodine Thyroxyn synthesis, regulates neuromuscular functions goitre
Iron Important in haemoglobin formation, Transports oxygen anaemia
Magnesium energy metabolism, nerve impulse transmission Sudden death,
Manganese Important in the formation of bone cartilage Perosis, poor hatchability, bone shortening, bowing bones
molybdenum Synthesis of haemoglobin Deficiency rare, excess more common, causes reduction in copper availability
Phosphorus Component of bone, helps bone structuring Poor egg shell quality, rickets, bad hatchability
sodium Acid-base balance, salt balance dehydration
Selenium Antioxidant, increases vit. E absorbsion, Poor fertility and hatchability
Zinc Essential for over 2oo enzyme systems Short bones, poor feathering, poor eggshell formation