5 Best Calcium Sources for Chickens
Without any doubt, chicken requires a constant supply of calcium. Like any other living creature, without this vital nutrient, there is a high likelihood of your bird exhibiting specific health problems that can lead to an early death.
It is worth noting that calcium deficiency in your chicken can be attributed to several factors. For instance, improper diet and excess consumption of soft water instead of hard water are the main culprits.
Calcium Supplements for Chickens
Regardless of the reason, it is prudent for poultry owners to prioritize learning about excellent sources of calcium. Below is an imperative guide on what you should include in your bird’s diet for healthier living. Some of the best calcium sources include:
– Crushed Oyster Shells
Crushed oyster shells are among the best sources of calcium for birds as they contain various vitamins and minerals essential for your bird’s health. The shells should be crushed for easier consumption by chickens and enhance the absorption of minerals in their bodies.
You can easily buy this product ready-made both online and in local chicken poultry shops. Remember that you may need to purchase large quantities of oyster shells for your chicken to reap the many benefits associated with it.
– Crushed Limestone
Another excellent source of calcium for your chicken is crushed limestone, which is also used as chicken grit. Limestone contains a high level of minerals, and it is often used in preparing human foods and animal feeds because it has been proven to be very healthy for humans.
What’s more, limestone is relatively cheaper than other sources of calcium. The only downside it tends to leave some residue inside the beaks of your chicken. Therefore, you may have to keep checking and removing them to allow proper feeding and expected growth.
– Used Eggshells
Eggshells make an excellent alternative to calcium in a chicken diet. If you are a fan of eating eggs every morning, do not discard their shells but rather feed them to your chicken. What’s more, there are high chances that the chickens might not manage to crack the eggshells.
Therefore, you may have to crush it in tiny pieces to aid absorption. Additionally, give them fresh eggshells as they tend to lose their calcium content over time.
– Dairy Products
Most chicken owners avoid feeding their chicken with animal products. Unfortunately, they lose a chance of providing an impressive source of calcium for birds. If possible, give your birds a fresh supply of dairy products to significantly improve your bird’s health. The best thing is to use low-fat dairy products to prevent weight gain and related health problems.
Best animal products for chicken are from fresh fish, milk, eggs, and other organ meats. Note that chicken or beef broths made from the bones are also a useful source of calcium for birds. Above all, monitor the levels of animal products such as milk and cheese because they can cause undesirable weight gain and unnecessary pressure on the bones.
– Vegetable Scraps
Most chicken owners do not consider using vegetable scraps as a source of calcium for their chickens. This is far from the truth because vegetable scrapes are a healthy way to ensure that your birds receive proper calcium content. Furthermore, they also provide the chicken with a wide range of nutrients, vitamins, and fiber essential for good health.
You may be wondering which vegetables have high calcium contents. Well, your best choice is to feed them the leafy greens such as broccoli leaves, fresh cucumber leaves, and cabbage leaves since they contain more calcium than other vegetables. Other sources include kale, squash, and turnip greens.
How Much Calcium Do Chicken Need?
As a general rule of thumb, chickens tend to need about two grams of calcium per day. If your chickens are young, you will need to feed them more calcium to strengthen their growing bones and prevent deformities.
Bear in mind that using different calcium sources can increase daily calcium intake, which can be disastrous to your bird’s health. This is because the chicken body needs time to absorb and process all these products before providing your chicken with sufficient calcium for good health.
Calcium Deficiency in Chicken
Most chicken owners never realize the impact of calcium on a chicken diet. Here are some of the common symptoms of calcium deficiency in chicken.
– Poor Eggshell Quality
Like humans, chickens are required to consume adequate levels of calcium for stronger and well-developed bones. When you fail to provide enough calcium to your chicken, the condition may cause fragile eggshells that are likely to crack during hatching. This condition can also affect the texture and quality of the egg contents.
– Problematic Bones
If your bird fails to receive adequate levels of calcium, it will develop weak bones. In some cases, the bones might easily break when subjected to slight pressure or force. Also, it affects the bone development process leading to deformities and conditions like Osteoporosis.
– Stunted Growth
As a responsible chicken owner, you must understand the benefits of calcium on your bird’s development process. Lack of enough levels of this essential mineral can lead to profound growth complications. Sometimes, you might notice low weight gain on affected chicken. Moreover, your chicken might also produce fewer eggs compared to healthy ones.
– Impaired Reproductive Performance
If your chickens are not provided with the recommended calcium levels, it might affect their reproductive performance. This condition may lead to delayed or non-shedding of old feathers and subsequent reproductive problems. Furthermore, you might observe signs of infertility, such as irregular egg-laying patterns and lowered vigor levels.
– Early Aging
It is the dream of every poultry keeper to benefit from their birds for the longest time possible. Unfortunately, inadequate calcium intake can also cause premature aging and health conditions associated with old age, like arthritis.
However, when they are provided with adequate calcium levels in their daily meals, these symptoms are less likely to occur.
Is Excess Calcium In the Diet Bad For Your Birds?
An oversupply of calcium can be potentially disastrous for your chicken. Hence it is vital to monitor the levels on a daily basis. Some of the health conditions caused by excess levels of calcium include kidney failure and hypocalcaemia.
This is a condition caused by a deficiency of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D in the diet. Common symptoms on your chicken include loss of appetite, decreased level of activity and body weakness.
On the other hand, you can find out if your birds are receiving extra calcium by looking at their droppings. If they look pale, dark green, or even white, that’s an indication that you should slow down on the calcium levels.
Is Corn High in Calcium Levels?
One of the most common questions chicken and egg owners ask is whether corn has high calcium content. The best answer to the question is that corn does not contain any calcium. Instead, it has a substance called phytate binders that helps your bird’s body absorb extra calcium.
The best source of this substance is in soybean meal, wheat bran, and corn. Sometimes, when the chickens eat more corn, they may gain a tremendous amount of calcium in their system. You must supplement your bird’s diet with vegetable oil and an additional source of phosphorus to counteract possible health problems.
In this article, we have discussed the importance of calcium to your chickens. In a nutshell, calcium is an essential nutrient for chickens as they cannot develop properly or lay eggs without it. It is necessary to monitor the calcium levels in your bird’s diet and ensure that they receive enough of it every day.
Thankfully, the guide above is an imperative basis on what to include in your chicken’s diet to improve their calcium intake. If you find any health problems such as infertility or weakened bones, contact a reliable poultry vet to advise how best to supplement their diet.