Brown Egg Blue Egg

Corn, Vitamin E, and Your Silkie

by P.J. Wagner
18 July 2003
Edited by Alan Stanford, Ph.D.

Nutritional deficiency of vitamin E and selenium might occur in your Silkies if you feed them too much corn. Some examples of nutritionally deficient feeds are "3 grain scratch" and "cracked corn and wheat". Traditional wisdom claims Silkies have a difficult time absorbing vitamin E.

The results of a vitamin E / selenium deficiency are: encephalomalacia, exudative diathesis or white muscle disease, and loss of fertility. The symptom you will probably notice first is chickens unable to properly stand. This symptom of the deficiency can be reversed by adding extra vitamin E to your chickens' diet. The loss of fertility in roosters might be permanent.

Corn does not contain sufficient vitamin E and might also not contain sufficient selenium. Vitamin E and selenium work together; chickens fed corn grown in soils with sufficient selenium will probably will not become deficient in vitamin E because the selenium helps your birds use vitamin E.

I am sure this whole corn bit will start controversy. People will say, "But I have always fed my chickens corn with no problems." Remember that the key to the entire "corn controversy" is the soil in which the corn grows.

It is better to feed your poultry commercially prepared feeds such as a Layer or a Game Bird ration. Environmental stress or infection can occasionally make even the formulated rations insufficient to prevent a deficiency.

  • The Chicken Health Handbook by Gail Damerow
  • Merck Veterinary Manual (Online Edition)
  • Nutrient Requirements of Poultry by National Research Council
  • Poultry Diets for Small Flocks by Bobby Damron
  • Soluble Vitamin Supplementation in Poultry by Paul McMullin DPMP MVB MRCVS

Brown Egg Blue Egg