Foods that interfere with calcium absorbtion?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by JenHP, Mar 19, 2012.

  1. JenHP

    JenHP Out Of The Brooder

    19
    0
    22
    Jan 21, 2012
    Hydesville, CA
    Hi all,
    I recently saw a post in a thread (don't remember which one though) that mentioned some foods that can interfere with calcium absorbtion. Can anyone tell me what foods those are? What is the component that causes the interference? And at what amount per hen do you start having problems?

    I am asking because I am dealing with a hen who has dropped several shell-less/membraneless eggs from the roost at night over the last couple weeks and I am trying to determine if this is calcium deficiency, internal laying, or what. My girls get soy-free organic layer pellets (from Rainbow Egg Farm), oyster shell, and water (which I only recently learned to add ACV to) all day every day. They also get kitchen scraps in the evenings, but only things that are on the treat list.

    I don't have a knowledgable avian vet locally and I have only been keeping hens for 3 months now so I am really hoping for some knowledge and advice from here. Thanks!
     
  2. Imp

    Imp All things share the same breath- Chief Seattle

    Here's some information.
    I do want to preface by saying that I'm not a big fan of livestrong.
    and I'm not sure how this information translates to chickens.

    http://www.livestrong.com/article/31969-foods-interfere-absorption-calcium/

    http://www.womenscircleofhealth.com/images/news/circle-of-health-422x157.jpg

    http://goaskalice.columbia.edu/whats-calcium-supplements

    I looked at this topic last year and came to the conclusion that the danger is somewhat overblown; and the effect was minimal. But I was helping another BYCer via PM recently and it appeared that a lot of spinach consumption MAY have affected her hens shells.

    Imp
     
  3. Erica

    Erica Chillin' With My Peeps

    821
    32
    133
    Dec 5, 2010
    The most problematic foods are those that contain minerals that compete with calcium for absorption.

    The most common one is phosphorus; chickens do need some phosphorus, but if the ratio of phosphorus to calcium is wrong then they won't absorb calcium to make shells.

    I saw soft shelled egg problems when I was feeding either meat meal or bandsaw dust from a butcher. It also happens if I feed too much kefir to laying hens. All these foodstuffs are too high in phosphorus compared to calcium (and there's a limit to how much extra shell grit can be added to balance the feed).

    Other problem feeds are things like dolomitic limestone, which is high in manganese (which also competes with calcium). Again this is a mineral issue.

    I've never heard spinach being a problem in this way, but I'm sure others would be wiser on that (I don't often feed spinach). You might also think about some of the diseases that can affect eggshells; one in particular causes 'egg drop syndrome', i.e. soft shelled eggs. This is a virus usually carried by ducks and geese, but reasonably common among chickens. The cure is to take the bird off lay and force her into a moult, after which her eggshells should be normal again. However it's fairly unlikely only one bird would show symptoms. Still, it's something to think about.

    The last thing I'd mention is internal/digestive problems. Basically if the gut lining isn't in a great state then minerals won't be absorbed the way they should. But in this case I'd expect to see diarrhea or other symptoms (and she'd probably be quite thin).

    Best wishes, hope this helps,
    Erica
     
  4. JenHP

    JenHP Out Of The Brooder

    19
    0
    22
    Jan 21, 2012
    Hydesville, CA
    Thank you Erica. The information you just wrote sounds a lot like the post I saw in another thread and is the information I was trying to find. This particular bird is actually quite thin - she always looked fine to me but after handling her more recently and feeling around for swelling, etc. we have noticed that she seems pretty thin. No diarrhea though. I will research egg drop syndrome as I haven't heard about that before. I have this particular girl in a rabbit cage in a spare room in our house right now trying to make 100% sure that she's the one with the problem, and the ONLY one with the problem for that matter. Could you tell me, based on the following ingredients list for their layer pellets, if any of them could be causing a problem? Wheat, oats, barley, peas, fish meal (you mentioned meat meal, is fish meal considered 'meat'?), flax seed, kelp, live yeast culture, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. 20% protein, 100% soy-free. Thank you so much for taking the time to respond, I really appreciate the help.
     
  5. Erica

    Erica Chillin' With My Peeps

    821
    32
    133
    Dec 5, 2010
    Hi JenHP, thanks for thanking me! [​IMG] You're very welcome.

    It doesn't look like anything in that ingredient list would likely cause soft shelled eggs. Do you know what the calcium percent is? Layers need somewhere above 3.5%, and up to 4% at times of peak production.

    You could always try worming her, since she's thin. Sometimes a heavy worm burden will cause soft shelled eggs by damaging the gut lining (making it hard to absorb what the bird needs).

    Worth a try anyhow.

    good luck [​IMG]
    Erica
     
  6. JenHP

    JenHP Out Of The Brooder

    19
    0
    22
    Jan 21, 2012
    Hydesville, CA
    I'm not sure what the calcium % is but I've read so many times that a hen somehow "knows" when she needs extra and will then help herself to the oyster shell that I provide them seperately from their layer pellets. Is that true? Plus I also give yogurt as a treat sometimes as well as cooked egg shells. I've gotten eggs with the little bumps on their shells, which I've read indicate an abundance of calcium in their systems.

    I want to clarify that the eqqs in question are not soft-shelled, they are completely shell-less & membraneless, and are being expelled during roost time, never once in the nest box. Is that strange? The timing of it seems very strange to me but I'm so new to this that I don't really know. Added to the mystery is that during the time that these eggs have been showing up (couple weeks) there has been at least one day when all 7 of my girls laid an egg, none of which were soft-shelled. Aside from my 2 EEs I have no idea which hen lays which egg. BUT, whichever hen is having the problem is still capable of producing a normal egg at least some of the time.

    I'm completely confused by the problem, it doesn't seem to fit 100% into the symptoms of anything I've read about, but then there are SO many things that could be going wrong with her [​IMG]

    Thank you again for your help, Erica [​IMG] I am going to research the virus that causes egg drop syndrome and get some wormer. In the meantime if you (or anyone else) have any more ideas about a diagnosis please feel free to pass them along, Betty and I can really use the help!
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by