5 Things Chicken Owners Need to Know About Cage Layer Fatigue

Chickens, just like other pets, can suffer from health problems that require the attention of a veterinarian. One of these health problems is cage layer fatigue, also known as osteoporosis. Here are five things chicken owners need to know about cage layer fatigue.

What causes cage layer fatigue?

Cage layer fatigue can be triggered by a severe calcium deficiency. When a chicken doesn't receive enough dietary calcium, its body removes calcium from its bones. These bones get thinner and weaker and can break spontaneously. This is the same thing that happens to people who develop osteoporosis.

Deficiencies of other nutrients, like vitamin D and phosphorous, have also been linked to the development of cage layer fatigue. These nutrients are also very important for bone health, and without enough of them, the bones can become weak and brittle.

What are the signs of cage layer fatigue?

If one of your chickens develops cage layer fatigue, they will be unable to stand on their feet. The chicken will lie down and stop eating. Upon closer inspection, you'll see that the chicken's ribs are bent in a sigmoid shape—meaning that they're S-shaped—or are fractured near the sternum. Often, the tibia and femur bones become fractured, according to The Poultry Site.

In severe cases, the bones can become so brittle that the spinal vertebrae fracture; this can lead to a severing of the spinal cord, which will paralyze or even kill your bird.

How serious is cage layer fatigue?

Cage layer fatigue can be very serious. In some cases, it can lead to acute death among affected birds. When death occurs, it's often caused by fractures to the spinal vertebrae. However, this condition isn't always fatal. Birds can recovery promptly with proper treatment, so don't assume that a chicken with cage layer fatigue is a lost cause. To ensure your chicken has the best chance of recovery, take her to a vet immediately.

How do vets treat cage layer fatigue?

Your vet can give your chicken an intramuscular injection of vitamin D or intravenous calcium gluconate to help re-build your pet's weak bones. If your pet has broken bones, painkillers can be given to make them more comfortable. These broken bones can then be treated.

The treatment for a broken bone depends on which bone is broken. If your bird's wing is broken, the vet will set the bone and then fold the wing against your bird's body in a natural, comfortable position. The wing will be held in place with strips of gauze, and after about two weeks, the gauze will come off. If your bird's leg is broken, it can be immobilized with a splint while it heals.

Can cage layer fatigue be prevented?

Cage layer fatigue can be very painful for your chickens, so the best solution is to prevent it from occurring. Calcium sources such as oyster shells can be added to your chicken feed to ensure your pet's get the calcium they need. If you add oyster shells, don't grind the shells up too small, as relatively large particles allow the calcium to be released more slowly. Too much calcium can lead to health problems like urolithiasis, also known as urinary stones, so consult with your vet to determine the perfect amount of oyster shells to give your birds.

If one of your pet chickens can't stand up and appears to have broken bones, they may have cage layer fatigue. Cage layer fatigue is a serious condition, but with prompt veterinary care, it can be treated. Take your chicken to locations like Bayshore Animal Hospital & Bird Practice for more assistance.