Usefulness Of Feeding Calcium To Chickens
While you may be wondering about the essential nutrients needed for the overall growth of chickens, we’ll be highlighting some of the usefulness of feeding calcium to chickens in this post.
Introduction To Calcium
Calcium (Ca) is linked to metabolism in the production of bones. The majority of the calcium in food is used to build bones in developing chicks and eggshells in mature hens. Because a large portion of the phosphorus in plant-based feedstuffs is contained as phytic acid and is not released by digestive enzymes, it is poorly accessible. Dietary phytase of microbiological origin can improve the availability of phosphorus. The presence of an adequate amount of vitamin D in the diet is necessary for the efficient use of calcium and phosphorus. Having too much calcium causes a phosphorus shortage. Similar to how too much phosphorus causes too little calcium.
Rickets is brought on by calcium and phosphorus deficiencies in the feed of developing broiler chickens. Histopathological testing is necessary to distinguish between rickets caused by a calcium shortage and rickets caused by a vitamin D deficiency or tibial dyschondroplasia. The proliferating prehypertrophic zone of epiphyseal cartilage in chick tibiae has widened, and the boundary between the proliferating and hypertrophic cartilage zones has uneven shapes. Similar histology is seen with phosphorus deficiency, but the columns of deteriorating hypertrophied epiphyseal cartilage and metaphyseal primary spongiosa are much longer.
Chickens With Rickets
Chicks with severe rickets have spraddle-legged postures, folding fractures, and rotating or bowing tibiotarsals. A calcium deficiency often results in an increase of proliferating chondrocytes, whereas a phosphorus deficiency typically results in an accumulation of hypertrophic chondrocytes in the metaphyseal zone, according to a study on field rickets in broilers. Rickets appears to be caused by fluoride’s interaction with dietary P. The vitamin D-PTH endocrine system generally protects blood calcium levels, but calcium deprivation gradually changes electro- and echocardiographic parameters in broilers, indicating impaired cardiac function. The higher respiratory rates, polycythemia, ascites, and lower CO2 and O2 levels in severely phosphorus-deficient chicks are likely caused by weak ribs and rib folding, which obstruct the rib cage’s ability to move during breathing. A calcium deficit in laying chickens causes problems.
In the end, bones can become so fragile that they can spontaneously shatter, notably the vertebrae, tibia, and femur. The illness known as “cage layer weariness” may be connected to this issue. Although a slight calcium deficiency has frequently been identified as a catalyst for cage layer tiredness, the syndrome is not solely caused by a calcium deficiency and incorporates additional etiologic variables.
A crucial vitamin in the diet of chickens is calcium. In addition to developing and maintaining strong bones, hens also require enough free calcium in their food to form a durable eggshell.
When Is It Safe To Give Chickens Calcium?
It’s time to add calcium supplements for hens to your feeding plan if your flock is otherwise healthy but you start noticing problems with the quality of their shells. A regular occurrence of poor-quality eggs in a flock of healthy birds, such as those with thin shells, thin patches, and general deformities, is an indicator of poor shell quality. But, supplementing a hen’s diet with calcium won’t get rid of lumps, bumps, or additional calcium deposits on eggshells.
Chickens that are in the process of moulting or that have moulted at least once are old enough to consume calcium supplements of their choosing. Look elsewhere for your difficulties if you have shell quality issues in birds who have not gone through their first moult.
Calcium Supplements For Chickens
The most popular method used by flock owners to replenish calcium in their flock is crushed oyster shells. Some people clean, smash, and feed their used egg shells to their hens. This works flawlessly, despite the fact that it could take some time.
It’s simple to do if you decide that it’s time to boost your flock’s food with calcium. Since no one ever mixes it to the chickens’ liking, I don’t advise feeding it straight to their regular grain. In search of more grain, birds will remove and discard your oyster shell, wasting your nutrients.
Natural Calcium for Chickens
When considering natural calcium for chickens, the following are very useful and possess properties of calcium.
Another readily available natural calcium source is eggshell. It is occasionally used as a calcium supplement source for birds who require more calcium. Typically, egg shells are used as a fine powder mixed with feed to make it easier for birds to eat.
Limestone is a fairly abundant component in chicken feed. Given that it contains a lot of calcium, it’s a fantastic option for birds who need to increase their calcium intake. The calcium content is still pretty high even though it can be less expensive and is not as quickly absorbed as an oyster shell. The insoluble form of limestone supplementation with higher calcium concentrations is the more efficient type to use for birds that need more calcium supplements.
Another organic source of calcium utilised in poultry feed is bone. It is derived from animal bones that have already been killed for sustenance. Bone meal is useful for a wide range of items and can be used in numerous ways. During the first few weeks of life, it can be utilised to aid in the development of a chick’s bones. It is a great source of calcium and phosphorus, and it can encourage egg-laying birds to lay more eggs.
It’s critical to give your birds an adequate dose of calcium to keep them strong and prolific. The following five foods are excellent sources of calcium for both laying and meat chickens.
A typical and natural calcium source used in chicken feed is oyster shell. With an average calcium content of 36-38%, it’s a great choice for domestic birds’ diets. It supplies the proper amount of calcium and guards against mineral shortages, which hinder bird growth and productivity.
Using oyster shells as a natural source of calcium for hens has several advantages, including a reduction in egg breaks due to the hardening of the shell, an increase in egg size and enhanced production, and a reduction in lameness. Furthermore, it lessens
White earth, commonly referred to as diatomaceous earth, is really fossilised algae that can be found in bodies of water. It can be used as a food supplement or as an organic or homemade dewormer for chickens, among other things. It gives hens a good amount of calcium as a meal supplement.
Combine diatomaceous earth with your birds’ food is what you should do. The recommended amount of diatomaceous earth to mix is 5% of the feed that will be given to the hens.