Category Archives: chicken

Curled Toe Paralysis in chicken

Other Names: Hypovitaminosis B2, Riboflavin Deficiency

Curly toe paralysis is caused by deficiency of riboflavin (vitamin B2) in young chicks. It is one of the most characteristic signs associated with the vitamin deficiency, resulting in the curling of the chick’s toes. The condition is nervous system related due to peripheral nerve damage, as a result of degeneration of the sciatic nerves (the nerves along the back of the chick’s leg to the foot). The damage can be reversed if treated quickly, however in longstanding cases where treatment is delayed the condition will become permanent.

Curly toe paralysis occurs in chicks fed outdated or improperly stored starter feed, or who are bred from parents with a riboflavin-deficient diet. Chicks that are fed a riboflavin-deficient diet will begin to show signs at about 8 to 14 days following hatch. They will slowly develop progressive symmetrical paresis starting with initial signs of reduced growth rate (despite a good appetite), weakness and sometimes diarrhea. Affected chicks soon become reluctant to move, followed by intermittent flexing and inward curling of toes. Without use of the legs, the muscles in the legs will start to atrophy and may eventually extend outward out from underneath the body of the chick.

During advanced stages of this condition, chicks are seen more frequently resting on their hocks, trying to walk as little as possible. It is at this later stage that chicks are at high risk of death from starvation, due to inability to reach food or water sources, or from getting trampled on by other chicks. The condition is still treatable however, as the chick’s peripheral nerves are able to rapidly regenerate once riboflavin levels are restored.

Nutritional Riboflavin Requirements
Nutritional riboflavin requirements for chickens fluctuate depending on genetics, stage of growth, environmental conditions, level of activity, health status, and other dietary components and synthesis. Riboflavin requirements are highest for newly hatched chicks and for chickens used for breeding. The NRC (1994) recommends that poultry species require between riboflavin at 1.8 – 4 mg/kg (0.45 – 1.8 mg/lb) of diet. However, more recently conducted research studies have found that the NRC’s recommendation is not sufficient for modern breeds of chickens, breeders, or growing chicks. All chickens should receive a diet with a minimum riboflavin content of 4.4 mg/kg (2.0 mg/lb), however the recommended riboflavin levels based on research conducted by DSM Nutrition is as follows:

Age/Life Stagemg/kg
Newly Hatched Chicks (0 - 10 wks)6 to 7
Young & Growing (10 - 20 wks)5 to 6
Laying hens (Actively laying eggs)5 to 7
Breeders (20 wks & older)*10 to 12
Broiler/'Meat' Breed Chicks (0-18 wks)6 to 8
Broiler/'Meat' Breeds* (19 wks & older)12 to 16

Dietary Food Sources of Riboflavin
Riboflavin is one of the vitamins most likely to be deficient in poultry feeds. Only a few feed ingredients that are used in poultry feeds  contain enough riboflavin to contribute to the requirements for growth and reproduction.

Fermentation significantly increases the proportions of riboflavin present in the free form.

Clinical Signs

  • Toes curled inward like a fist (both when walking and resting) Weakness
  • Normal appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Rough and dry skin
    Supportive care
    Isolate the bird from the flock and place in a safe, comfortable, warm location (your own chick “intensive care unit”) with easy access to water and food
    Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
    Administered IM (1-3 mg/kg q7d) or orally (1-2 mg/kg q24h)

Feed management

  1. Replace current feed with a new bag of quality chick starter feed.
    Corrective shoe.
  2. Splinting the toes at the first sign of deviation. Involves taping the affected toes into a normal position for 2-3 days. This can be accomplished by making a corrective shoe, constructed from a piece of firm material such as thin cardboard or radiographic film. The shoe should be made to properly fit the foot of the affected individual with a notch in the shoe into which each toenail is placed in the shoe and each digit is taped into a normal position using very thin strips of masking tape. Should be monitored closely as deformities can be caused by leaving bandages or splints on too long.


  • Ensure any adult chickens intended for breeding are receiving enough riboflavin in their diet (10-16 mg/kg).
  • Feed newly hatched chicks a fresh bag of starter chicken feed (not feed that has been stored for longer than 2 months), with additional riboflavin food sources during the two weeks of life.
  • During warm weather, provide supplemental sources of riboflavin.
    Store feed in a sealed plastic container located away from direct sunlight.

Nervous conditions in poultry


Nervous signs occur when the brain, spinal cord or specific nerves are affected. Different organisms or poor feed can cause nervous signs in chickens. The most frequent nervous signs seen, are:

  • Chickens lying down because they are unable to stand.
  • Walking with difficulty as if in pain.
  • Necks twisted or turned to the side.
  • Staring into the air and not knowing where they are.
  • Shivering.


The following diseases cause nervous conditions in poultry. They are listed in order of how frequently they occur.

  • Newcastle disease
  • Epidemic tremor
  • Marek’s disease (range paralysis)
  • Botulism

Poor feed can also cause nervous signs. Usually this is because of a lack of vitamin B2 or vitamin E. Poison can also cause nervous signs. There are many pesticides that should not be used on or near poultry.

Newcastle disease (NCD)


A virus which is present in droppings from sick birds and in the air (sneezing of sick birds). If these droppings contaminate food or water then healthy chickens will get sick. Healthy chickens also get sick by breathing in contaminated air. This virus can survive in the environment and can be transmitted by people, machines or equipment.

Signs in live poultry

Chickens often have turned heads when suffering from NCD. They also walk in circles or may have difficulty in walking. Other frequent signs are green diarrhoea, difficulty in breathing, depression and ruffled feathers. Birds usually die.

Signs in dead poultry

Windpipe (trachea) may be very red. Heart and/or stomach and intestines may have red spots. Otherwise the carcass is usually in good condition.


There is no treatment for NCD.


NCD is controlled by vaccination. Use either eye drop vaccine, sprays or vaccine in drinking water depending on how large your production system is.

Epidemic tremor


A virus which is present in droppings of infected birds. Healthy birds are infected by eating food or drinking water contaminated by droppings. The virus is also passed from hens to their small chicks. This is the most important way that chicks get infected.

Signs in live poultry

Adult chickens that get infected do not show any serious signs. However, hens will produce fewer eggs than they normally do. The chicks that hatch from these infected eggs will show nervous signs, usually at 5 to 7 days of age. If one of these chicks is held in the hand, then shivers and tremors will be felt and seen. Also, chicks will  show difficulty in walking, lie on their sides, become paralysed and will eventually die of starvation.

Signs in dead poultry

No specific signs are seen.


There is no treatment for epidemic tremor.


Epidemic tremor is controlled by vaccination. Young birds less than 8 weeks of age should not be vaccinated. Laying hens should also not be vaccinated. Vaccinating at these times could cause the disease. The best time to give the vaccine is between 8 and 16 weeks of age.

Marek’s disease (range paralysis)


A virus which is present in feathers and can survive in feather dust in chicken houses. If these cages/houses are not cleaned regularly, new chickens that are placed in them will get sick.

Signs in live poultry

Birds become paralysed in one or both legs or the wings and lie down. They will eat normally but there may be considerable weight loss. Few birds die.

Signs in dead poultry

Carcasses are very thin. Nerves are thick and yellow in colour (normally thin and ivory white).


There is no treatment for Marek’s disease.


Vaccinations are available. If possible try to buy vaccinated birds.



A toxin that is produced by a germ causes botulism. This toxin is usually present in dead and rotting poultry and other carcasses. It can also be present in maggots or beetles that have fed on these carcasses. Chickens get sick when they peck at these carcasses, maggots or beetles, or drink water or eat feed contaminated by carcasses.

Signs in live poultry

Chickens are weak and unable to walk, which eventually leads to paralysis. The head may be twisted or hang down. They may also lose feathers around the neck region.

Signs in dead poultry

No specific signs are seen.


Drinking large quantities of fresh, clean water may help to flush out the toxin and/or bacteria. Treatment with penicillin sometimes also helps.


Management plays an important role.


  • A lack of vitamin E causes crazy chick disease. This occurs in chickens 2 to 3 weeks of age. Typical signs are muscular weakness: frequent falling, head and neck pulled towards the back, paralysis and eventual death because of starvation.
  • A lack of vitamin B2 (riboflavin) causes curled toe paralysis. This occurs in 10 to 14-day old chicks. A lack of this vitamin affects the nerves of the wings and legs. Typical signs are reduced growth rate: legs are stretched out, curling-in of toes, drooping head, wings and tail feathers. Birds are still alert. The paralysis leads to death as a result of starvation. In early cases giving vitamin B2 in water leads to a rapid recovery.

In order to prevent these conditions you must make sure that you are feeding your poultry correctly (properly formulated chicken food).


  • Vaccinating your chickens against diseases such as Newcastle disease can help in preventing them from getting sick.
  • Chickens should not be overcrowded. Keep the correct number of birds for the space available.
  • There should be good air circulation in cages/houses
  • Cages/houses should be washed, dried and disinfected regularly between batches.
  • Control other birds and rats. They can also spread diseases.
  • Clean and disinfect machines and equipment used.
  • Also try not to let too many people onto your farm.
  • Dead poultry should be removed as soon as possible.
  • Feed birds a balanced diet.
  • Occasionally give vitamin supplement


Trichomoniasis is a parasitic protozoan disease that affects domestic fowl, pigeons, doves, and hawks. It occurs in the digestive as either the ‘lower’ form, which is characterised by depression, weight loss and watery yellow diarrhoea or the ‘upper’ form, which is characterised by depression, drooling and repeated swallowing movements, sunken and empty crop, open-mouth breathing and bad odour. The upper form is rare in turkeys and chickens. Most caged, domestic and game birds (except waterfowl) are susceptible but the disease is more serious in young birds. Recovered birds remain carriers for life.

Exudate from Trichomoniasis in pigeon oral cavity Source: The Merck Veterinary Manual

What causes trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis is caused by infection with the parasitic protozoa Trichomonas gallinae. This protozoa has variable pathogenicity (ability to cause disease). Transmission of the protozoa is by bird to bird contact or by contact with infected litter, feed or water. The protozoa is shed in the faeces of infected birds and can be regurgitated in crop milk.

Treatment and prevention of Trichomoniasis

Treatments are available that will control the disease but there may be restrictions on their use in commercial flocks. Prevention requires good biosecurity and management practices to eliminate the sources of infection. Drain water pools on ranges, screen out wild birds, separate young birds from adults as well as susceptible birds from recovered (carrier) birds.

Adrian Muteshi dies

Mr Adrian Gilbert Muteshi, the man who won a land grabbing case against Deputy President William Ruto in 2013, has died.

Mr Muteshi died Tuesday, October 27, 2020, according to an obituary placed by his family in the Daily Nation today (Wednesday).

The family did not disclose the cause of his death. He was 87.

In 2013, the DP was ordered to pay Sh5 million to Mr Muteshi, a 2008 post-election violence victim, for illegally occupying his land.

Mr Muteshi had accused Dr Ruto of hatching a plot to grab his 100-acre farm in Uasin Gishu during the 2008 post-election violence when he (Mr Muteshi) had fled for his safety.

The High Court in Nairobi ruled that Mr Muteshi had proved that the property was his and that he had been deprived of it.

Dr Ruto had stated that he was an innocent buyer who had heard that some land was being sold and conducted due diligence before purchasing it from people he believed to be the owners of the property.

The DP, who at the time was set to stand trial at the International Criminal Court over charges related to the post-election violence, told the court he had offered to vacate the land in an out-of-court settlement.

But the deal collapsed when Mr Muteshi demanded compensation and payment of the cost of his suit.

The matter went to trial, and Mr Ruto chose not to give oral evidence in court.

However, he sent Uasin Gishu businessman Hosea Ruto, who was involved in the land sale, to testify on his behalf.

Lady Justice Rose Ougo concluded that evidence showed that Mr Muteshi owned the land and that he still had the title deed.

She also concluded that the land was irregularly and fraudulently sub-divided and sold to the DP.

She, however, did not hold Dr Ruto liable in the irregular dealings with the land.

“I can only attribute the irregular acts to Hosea Ruto (Mr Ruto’s witness) as Honourable Ruto chose not to testify,” Justice Ougo said then.

The businessman was the only witness the Deputy President presented to the court in his defence.

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