Sulfonamides Toxicity in Laying Hen ...

Sulfonamides Toxicity in Laying Hens


Sulfonamides Toxicity in Laying Hens

The sulfonamides feed or water Toxicity in Laying Hens produced a drop in egg production and increase in rough, thin, and soft shell eggs. Prolonged administration of sulphonamides results in anemia, bruising, blood spots in eggs and death from internal bleeding. (1, 2, 3)

Chickens with sulfa toxicity are depressed, pale and frequently underweight. In adults, there is a marked decrease in egg production and shell quality; brown eggs may be depigmented. A rapid decline in shell pigmentation is common following the ingestion of sulfonamides drugs by the hen. (1, 2, 3)

Sulfa toxicosis is due to inducing vitamin K deficiency with severe anemia, widespread hemorrhages, jaundice and pale bone narrow being typical findings. (1, 2, 3)

Oral administration of antibacterial drugs such as sulfaquinoxaline and some other sulfa drugs are stated to be antagonistic to vitamin K activity.  One sulfa molecule interferes with two molecules of prothrombin. Since prothrombin is an important part of the blood clotting mechanism, deficiency of vitamin K results in a markedly prolonged blood clotting time. This prolonged blood clotting time may cause a blood spot in eggs. (1, 2, 3)

Prolonged use of sulfa drugs is toxic and causes a decrease in egg production in laying hens and increased in rough, thin, and soft shell eggs. Sulfaquinoxaline is one of the most toxic sulfonamides. (1, 2, 3)

Hemorrhagic syndrome, which occurred frequently when sulfas were in widespread use, is a manifestation of sulfa toxicity and occurs at and above therapeutic dose levels. Secondary bacterial infections including septicemia and gangrenous dermatitis may follow sulfonamide toxicity. (1, 2, 3)

Sulfonamides are potentially more hazardous than most other therapeutic agents against infectious diseases because of their low therapeutic indices, and overdosage may occur most often when medicating water in hot weather when water consumption rises considerably. ( 3)

Sulfonamides, sulfachlorpyridazine, sulfachloropyridazine, sulfadimethoxine, sulfadiazine, sulfamethoxazole, and sulfaquinoxaline are usually given in the water, and some infrequently in the feed. (3).

Observed Clinical Signs Happenings

Egg drop

  • Egg production declines rapidly
  • A marked decrease in egg production

Shell quality

  • Pale or loss of colour in brown-shelled eggs
  • Ungraded or second's eggs increased
  • Thin-shelled and soft-shelled or porous eggs

Internal Quality

  • Blood and or Meat spots

Diet or Feed Changes

  • Recent medication in feed
  • Recent medication in the drinking water

Sulfonamides Toxicity in Laying Hens  DOES NOT show or exhibit or manifest any of the following clinical signs happenings:

  • Egg production drops gradually
  • Mortality above the standard
  • Visibly sick birds
  • Flock behaviour activity change
  • Droppings abnormalities
  • Respiratory abnormalities
  • Neurological Nervous
  • Lameness or unusual movements, incoordination, reluctance to move
  • Eyes abnormalities
  • Head, Comb, Wattles, Face, Nostrils, Sinuses, Mount, Beak, Earlobes, abnormalities (except eyes)
  • Body Parts (Neck, wings, breast, abdomen, shanks, legs, hocks, feet, joints, vent, and skin, abnormalities), skinny body, retarded growth, weight depression
  • Feathers abnormalities
  • Feed Consumption Changes
  • Feed Consumption Pattern
  • Feed intake increased
  • Feed intake reduced or refusal
Causing Agents
Toxicosis is due to inducing vitamin K deficiency with severe anemia, widespread hemorrhages, jaundice and pale bone marrow and pale bone marrow being typical findings
Affected Systems/Organs
Reproductive, Circulatory
Do not apply
Mainly Affects
Egg Production. and Egg quality
Vitamin K treatment in water Withdraw the sulfonamides as soon as possible.
Suggested Actions
  • Can be confirmed with clinical signs and gross lesions
  • Can be managed with feed additives, off-the-shelf medications
  • Diagnosis should be confirmed with rapid assays and/or a certified laboratory
  • Veterinary intervention is recommended

Impact on Egg quality


Impact on Liveability


Impact on Production


Overall Economic Impact


  1. Y.M. Saif.2008.Disease of Poultry. 12th Edition. Page 1233
  2. David E. Swayne. 2013. Diseases of Poultry 13th Edition. page 1289
  3. Mark Pattison, Paul F. McMullin, Janet M. Bradbury. Dennis J. Alexander. 2008. Poultry Diseases. 6th Edition. 555
  4. Paul McMullin. 2004. A Pocket Guide to Poultry Health and Disease. First Edition.
  5. Steven Leeson, John D. Summers. 2008. Commercial Poultry Nutrition. Third Edition.
  6. Donald D. Bell, Williams D. Weaver. 2009.  Commercial Chicken Meat and Egg Production. Fifth Edition.
  7. Gail Damerow 1994. The Chicken Health Handbook.

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