Caloric Exhaustion and Emaciation in Waterfowl and Cranes

Summary Information
Diseases / List of Miscellaneous / Metabolic / Multifactorial Diseases / Disease summary
Alternative Names General nutrient deficiency.

See also: Starvation, Starveout

Disease Agents General nutrient deficiency/ insufficient energy intake.
  • It is important to check for any underlying disease, also to consider any diet or management problems which may have led to this problem. (B115.5.w6)
Infectious Agent(s) --
Non-infectious Agent(s)
Physical Agent(s)
General Description
  • Insufficient calorie intake in juveniles due to excessive consumption of palatable, low-calorie foods (usually green foods). Results in poor growth, lack of weight gain, death (B16.19.w1, B35.13.w5).
  • Insufficient food intake leads to cachexia and emaciation, with mobilisation of body fat (note that body fat is very limited in chicks) followed by catabolism of muscle. (B115.5.w6)
Further Information
  • Emaciation with no other obvious cause of death has been recorded in two Grus canadensis - Sandhill crane in Florida, in many years of study. (B702.19.w19)
  • Note: cranes which are ill may have both increased energy needs and reduced food intake (e.g. due to reduced appetite or weakness). (V.w5)
  • Ensure that food offered is of sufficient quality and energy density, and is both physically and psychologically available. (V.w5)
  • Preventable by ensuring food with a sufficient calorie level is provided and limiting the amount of 'empty' food, particularly lettuce, offered. (B10.26.w2, B16.19.w1)
  • Monitor ill cranes, including monitoring body condition, particularly those with muscular weakness, incoordination or other movement restrictions, to check that they are eating sufficient food. (V.w5)
    • Normally, blood glucose levels remain above 200 mg/100 mL (based on Gruidae - Cranes (Family) chicks from hatching to fledging0, but in emaciated birds this may fall to as low as 80 mg/100 mL. In birds of prey, levels below 50 mg/100 mL are considered critical. (B115.5.w6)
    • In chicks before fledging, assessment of pectoral muscle mass is not useful for body condition assessment; the muscles surrounding the caudal, thoracic and lumbosacral spine should be palpated. (B115.5.w6)
Techniques linked to this disease
WaterfowlINDEXDisInvTrCntr.gif (2325 bytes)
Host taxa groups /species
Author Dr Debra Bourne MA VetMB PhD MRCVS (V.w5)

Return to top of page