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Practical Significance of Water Soluble Vitamins in Poultry

A.K. Panda and M.V.L.N.Raju
Project Directorate on Poultry, Hyderabad .

Vitamins are group of complex organic compounds, which are necessary for maintaining good health, maintenance of physiological functions, growth, egg production and hatchability in poultry. Vitamins are generally classified into two groups basing on their solubility in water or in fat solvents. Fat soluble vitamins include A, D, E and K while vitamins of the B complex, C, and others are classified as water soluble. Under the vitamin B complex the vitamins recognized are Thiamin (Bl), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin (B3), Pyridoxine (B6), Biotin, Pantothenic acid (B6), Choline, Folic acid and cyanocobalamine (B 12).

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Poultry and other mono gastric animals are dependent on their diet for vitamins to a much greater degree than ruminants. Ruminants can satisfy their needs for the B vitamins naturally present in the feed and that synthesized by symbiotic organism present in the rumen. Vitamins occur in vegetable and animal food materials in small quantities compared to other essential nutrients. All the vitamins differ widely in their mode of action, physiological functions and deficiency symptoms in young and adult chickens.

Thiamin (Bl)

Thiamin is involved in a number of catabolic energy releasing reaction in which glucose is oxidized to carbon dioxide and water. It act as cofactor in the decarboxylation of private. As it is involved in various biochemical reactions, abnormalities of the nervous symptoms appear as the major symptoms of thiamin deficiency.

In chicken deficiency of thiamin causes loss of appetite, emaciation, body weight gain significantly for 1-3 weeks.

The effects of Avilamycin on feed efficiency (gain/feed) showed significant improvement with the meat bone meal + feather meal diet for 1-3 and 1-3 weeks (p<0.06). The improvement by Avilamycin on body weight gain and feed efficiency was better than ammo acids for 15 weeks.

Avilamycin with meat bone + feather meal performed significant reduction of total CP excretion over control for 1-3 weeks.

Avilamycin with meat bone meal = feather meal diet showed improvement of nitrogen availability in 1-3 and 3-5 weeks, but no difference with fish meal treatment.

Clinical Trials in Bangalore (India) -42 day’s trial period

Dose (PPM) Weight gains (Kgs)
0 1.855
5   1.882  
10 1.955  
150   1.920  

Feed conversions

Dose(PPM)  PCR  
0   2.06  
5   1.96  
10   1.93  
150   1.99  

Riboflavin (B2)

This vitamin is a component of oxidation reduction system of living cells and constitutes the prosthetic part of a number of enzymes in the body. It is necessary for growth, repair of tissues and hatchability in poultry.

The characteristic sign of riboflavin deficiency in chick is Curled toe paralysis. Chicks are first noted to be walking on their hocks with their toes curled inwards. There is a marked enlargement of sciatic and brachial nerves with sciatic nerve reaching a diameter four to six times the normal size. Other signs of riboflavin deficiency are retarded growth, diarrhea after 8-10 days and high mortality after about 3 weeks. In laying chickens there is a reduction in hatchability of incubated eggs and decrease in egg production.


It acts as a coenzyme and has important links in a series of reaction associated with carbohydrate, protein and lipid metabolism. It is found as nicotinic acid and nicotinamide in plants and animals. It is reported that broilers from 3 to 7 weeks of age do not require supplemental niacin while fed a cornsoybean diet but the vitamin is required from 1 to 21 days of age.

Deficiency results in Black tongue, a condition characterized by inflammation of the tongue and mouth cavity. In laying hen there is loss of weight, decrease in egg production and hatchability.

Pyridoxine (B6)

Vitamin B6 in the form of pyridoxal phosphate plays an essential role in the interaction of ammo acid, carbohydrate and fatty acid metabolism. Deficiency of this vitamin not only affects growth performances of the bird but also produces characteristic symptoms of which play an important role in jerker movements. Abnormal conversion of carbohydrate to protein excitability and convulsions may be and vice versa as well as conversion of observed in some chicks. Chicks may protein and carbohydrate. Deficiency run aimlessly, flop their wings with of this vitamin results in reduced head down. In layer chicken, there is growth rate and feed efficiency, decrease in egg production and disturbed and broken feathering, hatchability as well as feed consumption dermatitis and leg deformities. In weight loss and death.

Pantothenic acid

Pantothenic acid is a constituent of two important coenzymes, coenzyme A and acyl carrier protein (ACP).. This coenzyme A plays an important role in Carbohydrate, protein and lipid metabolism. The major lesion of Pantothenic acid deficiency in poultry appears to involve the nervous system, adrenal cortex and skin. Though deficiency, does not normally affect egg production but serverly depresses the hatchability. Embryonic mortality in Pantothenic acid deficiency occurs usually during the last few days of incubation.


It is another important vitamin B, Which plat an important role in conversion of carbohydrates of protein and vise versa as well as conversion of protein of carbohydrate.


Choline is metabolic essential for building and maintaining cell structure. it plays an essential role in fat metabolism in the liver. It is essential for the formation of acetyleholine for the transmission of nerve impulse. It is also a source of labile methyl group for formation of methionine from homocystine. In young chickens deficiency of this vitamin results in Perosis. It is first characterized by pin point hemorrhages about the hock joints, followed by apparent flattening of the tibiometatarsal joint. When this deficiency persists, the achiles tendonslips from its condyle rendering the birds immovable. Deficiency also causes fatty liver syndrome.

Folic acid

It is an anti anemia vitamin necessary for various physiological functions. Deficiency in chicks causes poor growth, very poor feathering, anemic appearance and Perosis. The chick becomes lethargic and feed intake declines.

Cyanocobalamine (B12)

This vitamin is metabolically related to other essential nutrients such as choline, methionine and folic acid. It is synthesized by microorganism in the intestine and functions as an enzyme in several metabolic reactions. Deficiency of this vitamin results in reduced body weight gain, feed intake and feed conversion. It is also related to leg weakness and Perosis (secondary effect). In breeders diet deficiency leads to severe decrease in hatchability.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is considered as non essential in the diet of chicken as the body synthesizes this vitamin to meet the requirement. Supplementation of this vitamin is helpful when the chickens are in stress. When the chicks are subjected to stress conditions such as rapid growth, exposure to hot or cold temperatures, starvation, vaccination, supplementation of vitamin C helps in alleviating stress.

Vitamins are required in trace amounts in the diet for health, growth and reproduction. Omission of a sing le vitamin from the diet that requires it will produce deficiency signs and symptoms. Therefore, in the poultry husbandry, it is a usual practice to supplement all the required vitamins regardless of their contents in natural feed stuffs for ensuring maximum growth in broilers and egg production and hatchability in layers.