by Candace Pezzuti


For years breeders have watched their birds waste away and die. The term going light has been used for decades to describe a bird that eats, but continues to lose weight, and eventually succumbs to the condition.


I use the term condition because it is not a disease, but a deficiency in vitamin D3. We know this because antibiotics have no effect on reversing the condition. Therefore, we can rule out bacterial infection or a virus.


However, a bird could be suffering from more than one problem at a time.

The vitamin deficiency could be secondary to another ailment lowering the bird’s immune system to infection. Always look at your bird’s droppings, the color will often tell you if your bird has a bacterial infection. Smell is also a good indicator for example; E. coli in a bird’s dropping will smell very foul.


Research has found that retarded growth and severe leg weakness are the first signs noted when chicks are deficient in vitamin D3. Beaks and claws become soft and pliable. Chicks may have trouble walking and will squat on their hocks. Feathering is usually poor and abnormal, lacking in calcium due to the vitamin D3 deficiency.  Rickets is a prime example of this condition.


Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in few foods. It is produced by ultraviolet rays from sunlight. Since our bird-rooms have artificial lights, the lack of sunlight creates the deficiency of vitamin D3 normally manufactured and absorbed by our birds.


In humans, vitamin D’s major biologic function is to maintain serum calcium and phosphorus concentrations within the normal range by enhancing the efficiency of the small intestine to absorb these minerals from the diet.

The liver also plays a role in metabolizing vitamins and minerals. Be careful of the dosage you administer to your bird. A little may help but too much may be counterproductive and cause toxicity in your bird’s liver.



 A bird that goes light shows signs of listless, poor feather quality, and muscle loss due to the fact they are deficient in vitamin D3.  This deficiency prevents the absorption of nutrients from their diet. They can eat all day, but if their intestines do not absorb the nutrients and minerals from the food, they are starving to death no matter how much they consume.


During my theoretical and practical research I have found that supplementing with a liquid vitamin D3 has reversed this condition.


Administer 1-2 drops of liquid vitamin D3 twice a day for 5 days, by dropper, into the bird’s beak. I have used this on birds going light and old birds. To my surprise most started acting like young chicks again.


Again, it’s important to note that not all vitamin companies and their products are the same. Buy the best you can obtain. I used a product called Fast Absorbing Liquid Vitamin D3 with concentration of 5000 IU manufactured by Trace Minerals. Their web site is www.traceminerals.com.


I believe every breeder should supplement their birds with vitamin D3 in their eggfood at least twice a week on a prophylactic course of treatment.


Our birds are living in an artificial environment that is not conducive to their basic needs and lacking in most of nature’s natural gifts of sun light, fresh air, fresh water, grasses, and insects to feed on.


This is for informational purposes only. Do your own research and consult a veterinarian, if your bird is sick. I have written this article from my own personal experience and hope you find it helpful in your aviary.