Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Vitamin B-Complex - Jeffrey Low


Vitamin B1 (thiamine):
Deficiency causes polyneuritis in birds - general weakness, star-gazing and convulsions.

Rich sources of thiamine are mostly from plant sources. Peanuts, brewer's yeast, dry beans, peas and wheat germ are good sources for B1.

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin):
Deficiency causes “curled toes” in birds. Breeding birds deficient in B2 can result in poor egg production and hatchability. B2 is therefore very important for breeding shamas and should be supplemented when necessary. Also, B2 is shown to prevent and treat cataracts in humans (shamas are known to be sometimes prone to cataracts).

Brewers yeast, eggs, green peas and legumes are good sources for B2.

Vitamin B3 (niacin):
Deficiency can cause enlargement of hock joints, bowed legs, inflammation of mouth, diarrhea and poor feathering.

Brewer's yeast, peanuts, dried peas and beans are good sources for niacin.

Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid):
While signs of B5 deficiency are rare in birds, dermatitis of the footpad and the skin around the eyes and beak can sometimes be attributed to this.

Brewer's yeast, eggs, beef and beans are good sources for pantothenic acid.

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine):
The shama being an insectivore requires sufficient B6 in order to metabolise the amino acids in its high protein diet. A high protein diet low in B6 will cause problems including depressed appetite, poor growth in chicks as well as extreme spasmodic convulsions (fits). It is important to bear this in mind especially for breeding and molting shamas fed on a full live food regime consisting mostly of insects. These and young chicks that are fed only with insects during the initial days before dry food is introduced have to be supplemented. Captive shamas are fed with a limited variety of insects that are mostly commercially bred (mealworms and crickets). The wild shamas feed on a wide variety of insects and the diet and nutrient contents of these insects can be very different from those farmed commercially. This could very well be the reasons why captive shamas on an all insect diet are known to sometimes suffer from spasmodic convulsions.

Brewer's yeast is a very good source for B6. Other sources are eggs and wheat germ.

Vitamin B7 (biotin):
Some of the signs of deficiency are like those of B5 deficiency – dermatitis of footpad, skin around eyes and beak. In breeding shamas, dead in shell embryos and deformed chicks can be caused by hens deficient in B7 and they should be supplemented when necessary.

Egg yolks, brewer's yeast, peanuts and beans are good sources for biotin.

Vitamin B9 (folic acid):
Deficiency causes poor feathering and weak and brittle feather shafts, anemia with pale mucous membranes in the mouth, deformed leg bones and poor hatchability in breeding due to embryonic mortality usually towards the last few days of incubation.

Brewer's yeast, egg yolk and fishmeal are good sources for folic acid.

Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin):
Deficiency causes inflamed mucous membranes, uncoordinated movements and poor hatchability in breeding (below 50%). New born chicks can be deformed due to deficiency in this vitamin. B12 deficiency can also be caused by presence of tapeworms in the birds.

Eggs, fishmeal and beef are good sources for B12.

[The post below from Jeffrey was in response to an enquiry on the Malaysian Shama Forum following his above post]

Hi Ronald,

I agree with you that over exposure to bright sunlight may cause cataracts in some shamas. I had also experience the same before with one shama and one anis merah. I think wild caught shamas and maybe some other species of birds that were obtained from habitats with a thick forest canopy and are seldom exposed to bright lights will be more prone to this.

I am not sure whether or not if deficiency in B2 vitamins can cause cataracts in birds but B2 works in conjuntion with B6, B9 and iron and one of its functions is for skin and eye health. B2 has been used in humans for preventing cataracts so it could be beneficial for cataract proned birds although this is unclear.

As for excess of vitamin B complex, there is very low risk of overdosing. This is because they are water soluble and excesses are excreted and not stored in the organs like the fat soluble vitamins. Vitamin B12 being the exception, in that excesses are stored in the liver but tolerance for B12 is very high. So large quantities of B12 can be stored in the liver with little risk of toxicity.

A large dose of B-complex administered to birds having an acute attack of fits due to deficiency in B vitamins can revive these birds very quickly but the underlying cause is still not taken care of (deficiency in either B1 or B6). Therefore to alleviate this problem, these B vitamins must be present in the daily diet in adequate amount. For B6, the higher the protein level in the daily diet, the more B6 is needed.

Fat soluble vitamins like Vit A, D, E and K, you cannot over-supplement because excesses are stored and can be toxic. As for the B vitamins, since excesses are excreted (except B12), all these vitamins must be present in the daily diet of the bird. Therefore, supplementing once a month will not serve the purpose if there is a deficiency of these vitamins in the diet.


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