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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
Blood loss anemia can be the result of internal or external trauma or from ectoparasites (mites and ticks) feeding on their blood.

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.

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

Clinical Signs

Pale comb/wattles
Weight loss
Altered feather color


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


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.
Iron dextran10 mg/kg IM, repeat in 7-10 days prnB Speer
Determine and correct the underlying cause



Regularly perform fecal exams to test for parasites

Scientific References

Good Overviews

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
  • Recent trauma or blood loss