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Pyridoxine (vitamin B6) Deficiency

Pyridoxine Deficiency

Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6) Deficiency

Vitamin B6, also called pyridoxine, helps the chicken's body make several neurotransmitter chemicals that carry signals from one nerve cell to another. It is required by several enzymes, including those involved in the breakdown of amino acids.
Pyridoxine chemical formula

Chicks fed a vitamin B6-deficient diet have little appetite poor growth, chondrodystrophy, and characteristic nervous behavior. Chicks may show jerky, nervous movements of the legs, run aimlessly about, flapping their wings, or squatting with their wings slightly spread out and their heads resting on the ground. Chronic borderline B6 deficiency produces perosis; usually one leg is severely crippled, and one or both of the middle toes may be bent inward at the first joint.

Dietary requirement
Vitamin B6 requirements generally vary from 2.5 to 4.5 mg per kg (1.4 to 2 mg per lb) of diet (NRC, 1994). The amount of vitamin B6 required is influenced by the percentage of protein in the chicks' diet. Chicks on a high protein level require increased amounts of vitamin B6, since vitamin B6 is needed to breakdown the amino acids. In addition, depending on the breed of chicken, it might require increased vitamin B6. Lucas et al. (1946) found that crossbred chicks (Rhode Island Red x Barred Plymouth Rock) showed a considerably higher requirement for pyridoxine (B6) than had previously been found for White Leghorn chicks.

Clinical Signs

Jerky nervous walking
Aimlessly running and flapping wings
Facial swelling
Little to no appetite
Stunted growth
Squating w/ wings spread out
Heads resting on the ground
Easily excitable
Drooping wings


  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam
  • Nutritional analysis of diet


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.
Vitamin B6Provide oral supplements of vitamin B6 or vitamin b6-rich food sources, such asred hot peppers, bran cereal flakes, cheerios, rice bran, sage, garlic powder, peanut butter, dried spearmint, dried tarragon, dried basil.


Scientific References

Risk Factors

  • Feeding an unbalanced or limited diet to birds