Vitamin B12 , also called cobalamin, is one of 8 water-soluble B vitamins. Vitamin B12 is an essential part of several enzyme systems that carry out a number of basic metabolic functions. Vitamin B12 is necessary for the formation of DNA and the production of red blood cells. It helps maintain the nervous system and is essential to maintaining mental function. Vitamin B12, along with B6, and folate, is essential to heart health. Folate and B12 work together to produce S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), a compound involved in immune function and mood.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Chickens with vitamin B12 deficiency usually develop clinical signs associated with nervous system impairment, such as leg weakness and perosis. Other signs include poor feathering and reduced hatchability from deficient breeding parents. Vitamin B12-deficient embryos die at about day 17.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency Risk Factors
- Intestinal malabsorption: Includes gastrointestinal conditions affecting the chicken's small intestine.
- Decreased stomach acid production: Provides an ideal environment for the overgrowth of anaerobic bacteria in the bird's stomach, which further interferes with vitamin B12 absorption.
Sources of Vitamin B12
Commercial sources of vitamin B12 are produced from fermentation products, and it is available as cyanocobalamin. Vitamin B12 is only slightly sensitive to heat, oxygen, moisture and light.
Nutritional Recommendations for Vitamin B12 in Chickens
|Newly Hatched Chicks (0 - 10 wks)||0.025-0.03|
|Young & Growing (10 - 20 wks)||0.02-0.025|
|Laying hens (Actively laying eggs)||0.015-0.025|
|Breeders (20 wks & older)*||0.02-0.04|
|Broiler/'Meat' Breed Chicks (0-18 wks)||0.02-0.03|
|Broiler/'Meat' Breeds* (19 wks & older)||0.03-0.04|
Feeding Too much Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is relatively nontoxic when fed in high amounts. Dietary levels more than 100 times the requirement have been shown safe in most animals.