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Mal-nutrition: meaning, causes, symptoms, and practical ways to check mal-nutrition.

Definition of malnutrition:

It is the condition in which an animal shows evidence of nutritional deficiency as a result of improper feeding. It occurs when an animal takes in an insufficient quantity of feed, or eat diet which are deficient in one or more nutrients like protein, carbohydrate, minerals and vitamins. This eventually results in nutritional disease.

This may also occur if there is interference with the digestion and absorption of one or more nutrients from the digestive tract, and or binding of nutrients by some substances making amounts available for utilization by the animal to be inadequate.

Types of malnutrition:

There are two types of malnutrition, namely:


This is a condition that occurs when an animal does not eat or absorb enough nutrient to cater for their needs causing a deficiency.


This is a direct opposite of under nutrition. It is excessive consumption nutrients leading to health problems.

  1. Causes of malnutrition:
  2. Feed shortages
  3. Feed prices and distribution
  4. Digestive disorders
  5. Poor diets
  6. Poor milk production in lactating animals.
  7. Poor mothering ability in nursing dams.
  8. Ignorance of farmer.
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Symptom/effects of malnutrition

  1. Poor body conformation as a result of slow growth.
  2. Loss of weight or emaciation.
  3. Low level of production in eggs, milk, and meat
  4. Paleness of the eyes, impaired vision, (anaemia).
  5. Specks in eyes.
  6. Low level of resistance to diseases.
  7. Difficulty in birth.
  8. Poor hatching ability
  9. Stunted growth
  10. Vices such as cannibalism, egg pecking, eating of sand (pica in ruminant).
  11. High mortality especially in young animals.
  12. Physical deformities such as small sized eggs, rickets, oesteomalacia, e.t.c
  13. High susceptibility to disease attack.
  14. Delay in the onset of puberty.

Sub topic 2


Ricket and osteomalacia Lack of calcium, Phosphorus and Vitamin D Flexible, curve bone and soft egg shell Add to feed – fish meal, bone meal and oyster shell
PEROSIS (Slipped tendons) Lack of chlorine, folic acid, calcium, phosphorus in diet Chicken lie down on their knees Add vitamin B complex and bone meal to feed
Pregnancy Ketosis Lack of sufficient energy intake by farm animals Loss of Appetite Feed high carbohydrate diet to animal
Milk fever Low blood sugar Loss of appetite, constipation and nervousness Feed Oyster shell or bone meal and carbohydrate
Piglet anaemia Low iron in the blood Loss of appetite and nervousness Inject iron dextran into the body
Night blindness Lack of vit A Inability to see clearly in dim light Feed yellow maize and vegetable
Scurvy Lack of vit C Lesion around the connective tissue Feed vegetable and fruit to animals
Beri Beri Lack of vitamin B1 thiamine Lack of appetite, fatigue and loss of weight Feed yeast, cereals and vegetable to animals
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Practical ways to check malnutrition in farm animals.

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