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Digital Subscriptions > Chickens > July/Aug 2019 > GOING Light


When a bird goes pale and loses weight, anemia might be the problem.

Going light” was a term used by old-time poultrykeepers to describe a condition caused by “tired blood.” Today the condition is known as anemia. The usual first sign of anemia is pale comb and wattles. Another sign is weight loss — in other words, “going light.”

“Tired blood” is a picturesque description of anemia. Blood consists of four major components: plasma, red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Plasma is the fluid that carries the other three. Mostly water, with some dissolved proteins and salts (electrolytes), plasma makes up more than half the blood’s volume.


Another 40 percent of blood consists of red blood cells, which transport oxygen throughout the body and remove carbon dioxide and other waste gases. Within the red blood cells is hemoglobin, an iron-rich protein that carries the oxygen and carbon dioxide. Hemoglobin is bright red, giving red blood cells their color.

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