Calcium Deficiency in Chickens – Signs, Treatment, Prevention
Calcium is a vital nutrient in chicken diet formulations. It plays an essential role in egg production in egg-laying hens. Your chickens’ egg production will decline significantly if the birds have a deficient calcium intake.
A calcium deficiency can also weaken chickens’ immune systems, making the fowl susceptible to diseases. Chicken raisers need to check for signs of calcium deficiency in their chickens.
Signs of Calcium Deficiency in Chickens
Detecting calcium deficiency in chickens can be daunting, particularly for beginner chicken owners. It’s thus imperative to know the signs of calcium deficiency in your chickens. Here are some common symptoms of calcium deficiency in chickens.
- Soft or thin-shelled eggs- This is the leading sign of a calcium deficiency in chickens. Your chickens will lay soft or thin-shelled eggs when they have a calcium deficiency. Since calcium is crucial for the formation of eggshells, a lack of this nutrient will affect eggshell quality in your chickens.
- Decreased egg production– If your hens’ egg production declines rapidly, it could be a calcium deficiency sign. A calcium deficiency doesn’t only lead to reduced egg production but also lowers the quality of eggs. Furthermore, hens with a calcium deficiency also have laying difficulties because calcium helps hens produce contractions they need to pass out eggs. Egg-binding is also a sign of a calcium deficiency in hens. Hens need calcium to control their egg-laying muscle spasms.
- Feather loss– Feather loss is a common sign of calcium deficiency in hens. Although molting can lead to significant feather loss in chickens, your chooks will regrow their feathers after their annual molt. However, calcium-deficient birds won’t regrow feathers after molting. Baby chicks with a calcium deficiency also take longer to grow feathers, unlike baby chicks that get adequate calcium in their diets.
- Bone abnormalities- A calcium or phosphorus deficiency also contributes to abnormal skeletal development. For instance, chickens with a calcium deficiency can develop rickets, mainly growing chickens. Furthermore, a calcium deficiency in chickens can lead to Osteoporosis, a condition that occurs when chickens don’t have sufficient calcium in their bones. Chickens with a calcium deficiency also have bone fractures and weak bones. They look as if they always have injuries and swollen bones.
- Egg eating– Hens with a calcium deficiency usually eat their eggs to derive the calcium their bodies need. Calcium deficiency further leads to cannibalism in chickens. Calcium-deprived birds peck each other to get calcium.
Treating Calcium Deficiency in Chickens
Severe calcium deficiency can lead to irreversible damage to a chicken’s health. Early treatment of calcium deficiency can save your flock from multiple health problems that occur due to calcium deficiency. Altering your chickens’ diet content can be an effective treatment for calcium deficiency.
For instance, you can feed your flock with calcium-rich foods if you detect calcium deficiency in your chooks. You should also seek expert nutritional advice regarding therapeutic calcium inputs to calcium-deficient chickens.
Furthermore, you can give your chickens a calcium boost by using water-soluble calcium sources. Calcium supplements are also suitable for severely calcium-deficient chickens. Kindly purchase calcium supplements from a poultry store for your chooks. Calcium-deficient chickens aren’t necessarily unhealthy.
They appear pretty normal, although some early signs, like poor shell quality, can be among chickens’ first signs of calcium deficiency. Adding calcium supplements to your chickens’ feeding program can help treat and prevent calcium deficiency issues in your chickens.
You can try some natural calcium sources to treat calcium deficiency in chickens. For instance, crushed seashells and oyster shells can help restore calcium levels in your calcium-deficient chickens. These two calcium sources are suitable for providing fowl with supplemental calcium.
Furthermore, they remain in chickens’ digestive tracts for many hours, ultimately optimizing calcium absorption. The other excellent calcium source for chickens with a deficiency of this mineral is crushed eggshells, which are suitable for treating and preventing calcium deficiency in chickens.
Calcium pills can also help treat calcium deficiency in chickens. You can crush the calcium pills and add them to the flock’s feed. Or, you can crush the pills and add them to your birds’ drinking water because they won’t swallow them as they are.
Some experts also recommend liquid calcium for severely deficient chickens because it’s easy for the birds to ingest. However, giving excessive liquid calcium to your chickens can be problematic, so you should give it to your birds at least once weekly.
Preventing Calcium Deficiency in Chickens
A calcium deficiency can be a real threat to your flock because calcium-deficient chickens will have several health problems. Consequently, it would help if you moved quickly to prevent calcium deficiency in your chickens. These are simple ways to prevent calcium deficiency in your chickens to ensure the flock stays healthy and happy.
- Look for the early signs of calcium deficiency in chickens– It’s hard to prevent a calcium deficiency in chickens if you aren’t wary of the symptoms of calcium deficiency in poultry. That’s why you must monitor your chickens’ health to help you detect the signs of calcium deficiency in your birds in advance. For instance, you should be alert when you see some of your chickens laying soft-shelled eggs or if they are having egg-bidding problems. You can also check whether your baby chicks have abnormal skeletal development because calcium deficiency is another early symptom. Other symptoms to be wary of to help prevent your chickens from suffering from calcium deficiency include egg eating, rickets, and feather loss. The earlier you detect calcium deficiency in your hens, the better because you will have ample time to take action and prevent your chickens from developing a severe long-term calcium deficiency.
- Always give the birds some supplemental calcium– While regular chicken feeds contain an appropriate calcium content for chickens, the calcium in chicken feed isn’t always enough for chickens that require a high calcium intake. That’s why you need to provide your flock with supplemental calcium to protect them from having a calcium deficiency in the long run. For instance, crushed eggshells can provide your chickens with additional calcium. You should also get some natural calcium sources, like crushed oyster shells, to give your chickens high calcium levels. The advantage of these natural calcium sources over artificial ones is that they remain in a chicken’s digestive tract long. Thus your birds will have ample time to absorb the calcium in their digestive tracts.
- Change your flock’s diet– One reason chickens suffer from a calcium deficiency is due to chicken keepers’ poor diet choices. For instance, you can give your chickens too much protein, suppressing their calcium absorption. Ensure your chooks eat nutrient-dense and calcium-rich foods to protect them from a possible calcium deficiency. Bugs and insects are rich in calcium and protein, so encouraging your birds to have them regularly will help protect them against a possible protein deficiency.
- Try sprinkling some calcium supplements over your chickens’ food– You can significantly lower the risk of your chickens suffering from a calcium deficiency by introducing calcium supplements to their feeding regimen. For instance, you can sprinkle calcium supplements over your chickens’ food to ensure the flock gets adequate calcium that will protect them from developing a calcium deficiency. Nevertheless, you should introduce high-quality calcium supplements to your flock because poor-quality calcium supplements won’t protect your chickens from developing a calcium deficiency.
- Consult a vet– Chickens can suffer from acute calcium deficiency, especially if they haven’t had calcium for a long time. Kindly consult a vet to help you know the measures you can take to protect your chickens from a calcium deficiency. A vet can help administer injections that protect your flock from future calcium deficiencies. Furthermore, a vet will recommend some expert tips to help you protect your flock from calcium deficiency.
- Change your chickens’ feeding habits– Feeding habits can make chickens suffer from a calcium deficiency. For instance, feeding your chickens in the evening can affect their calcium absorption. Because the temperatures are high in the evenings, your chickens won’t successfully absorb the calcium-rich foods you give them. Change your chickens’ feeding schedule and ensure you feed them in the early morning when temperatures are cool, increasing their chances of absorbing the calcium they get.
Best Calcium Sources for Chickens
These are some of the finest natural calcium sources for calcium-deficient chickens.
- Diatomaceous earth– also known as white earth, diatomaceous earth is a natural source of calcium for all animals, including chickens. It works perfectly as a natural calcium source for chickens, especially if you mix it with their feed.
- Limestone-Limestone has high levels of calcium, and that’s why it is a crucial ingredient in chicken feed. Limestone will work well for chickens that require supplemental calcium. It’s best for your chickens if you administer it in a soluble form.
- Eggshells-Eggshells are excellent calcium sources and are also easy to access. They are an excellent source of supplemental calcium for calcium-deficient poultry. You can administer them to your chickens after crushing them and mixing them with their feed.
Calcium deficiency will affect your chickens’ egg production. It can also affect their bone growth and development. The best solution to deal with calcium deficiency in chickens is by introducing a calcium-rich diet to the birds. You can also introduce calcium supplements and other natural calcium sources to your chickens to save them from developing a calcium deficiency.