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Anemia

Anemia develops when a chicken's blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells (erythrocytes), or is experiencing external or internal blood loss. Blood requires hemoglobin (an iron-rich protein within red blood cells) for transporting oxygen and carbon dioxide within the body's tissues. Hemoglobin is responsible for giving blood it's bright red color. Normally, old red blood cells die out and are routinely replaced by fresh ones. Chickens that are anemic, do not have the ability to replace the cells that die out as quickly as normal. There are three general types of anemia that occur in chickens, which include blood-loss associated, hemolytic (haemolytic), and depression associated.

Blood-loss Anemia
The most common reason for blood-loss anemia in chickens is from trauma. It can be from external trauma which involves extensive bleeding from a wound or from internal bleeding within the main organs, often involving the gastrointestinal system. Some of the different diseases and conditions that can cause blood-loss anemia in chickens include:

Traumatic injury

Parasitism

Secondary Coagulopathy from Toxicity

Hemolytic (haemolytic) Anemia
Haemolytic anaemia is a condition in which red blood cells are destroyed and removed from the bloodstream before their normal lifespan is up. A number of diseases, conditions and factors can cause the chicken's body to destroy its own red blood cells. This occurs in chickens with bacterial Septicemia.

Depression Anemia
A type of anemia that is usually caused by chronic infectious, toxic or nutritional disease.

Clinical Signs

Weakness
Pale comb/wattles
Lethargy
Weight loss
Dullness
Altered feather color

Diagnosis

  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Fecal test

Treatment

NameSummary
Supportive careIsolate the bird from the flock and place in a safe, comfortable, warm location (your own chicken "intensive care unit") with easy access to water and food. Limit stress. Call your veterinarian.
Determine and correct the underlying cause

Prevention

  • Ensure chickens receive a balanced diet
  • Regularly perform fecal exams to test for parasites
  • Regularly inspect birds health condition

Scientific References

Good Overviews

Blogs

Risk Factors

  • Poor quality diet
  • Ingestion of insect-infested, moldy, or poorly stored feed
  • Poor sanitation
  • Infestation with internal parasites
  • Presence of blood-sucking parasites