I Fed My Chick Too Much Calcium... Now What?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Cadbury Eggs, Sep 30, 2015.

  1. Cadbury Eggs

    Cadbury Eggs Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 9, 2013
    Gig Harbor, WA
    I met with a breeder and purchased 8 cute little Blue/Black Copper Marans, and stopped at the feed store on the way home to get a bag of chick starter. I talked to the counter clerk about my new chicks and my chickens at home, then the stockroom clerk loaded the feed in my car. All the chicks seemed happy & healthy in their clean brooder (far away from the rest of the chickens) fresh paper towel bedding, fresh food, fresh water with Sav-A-Chick electrolytes added. Not too hot, not too cold. Normal droppings and chick behavior. Then I started losing them. Everything would be fine at night, but the next morning there were dead chicks. (At this point let me interject that I have raised over a hundred chicks and have never lost any like this. There were no signs or symptoms of coccidiosis, and all had been eating & drinking well. None of the dead chicks had any external injuries, and all were normal chick weight for their age.) After losing the 3rd one I looked closer at the "Chick Starter" feed bag. In fine print it was labeled for turkeys & game birds, not chicken chicks, even though it had a silhouette of a chick on the bag... not what I asked for. Comparing the label with the same brand, different variety of "Chick Starter/Grower" for chickens, I find that the turkey chick feed is 20% higher in Protein, 35% higher in Lysine, 42% higher in Calcium, and 23% more Phosphorus than the chicken chick feed. Very frustrating because the 3 chicks I lost were worth more than the bag of feed. I know that too much calcium causes kidney damage, too much protein (and Lysine which is used to break down the protein) can cause liver damage, so my question is, will the 5 surviving chicks have permanent organ damage that will affect their laying ability? They were on the wrong feed for the first full week after hatch.
     
  2. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    Long Beach, WA
    No way of knowing how much damage the surviving chicks have sustained. Just be sure to feed them the proper feed from now on, and hope for the best. It probably was the calcium that killed them. They can easily expel excess protein through their feces, but calcium has nowhere to go and just builds up in the kidneys until it causes failure.
     
  3. MeepBeep

    MeepBeep Chillin' With My Peeps

    I highly doubt it was the feed, in fact I would rule out the feed and look elsewhere... Calcium damage is cumulative over time not immediate it will take months of excess calcium to even start causing damage in most cases... I doubt the slightly higher levels in the game bird starter were of any concern in the end, what was the overall percentage of calcium in the feed? 42% higher than some other brand really isn't quantitative... The higher protein levels and higher ammo acid levels are not harmful either... You will see these same types of nutritional variances between brands of chicken feed...
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2015
  4. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    It doesn't take much extra calcium to kill young chicks.
     
  5. MeepBeep

    MeepBeep Chillin' With My Peeps


    Please define much extra?

    I took a look at a few Game/Turkey starter feeds and the calcium is still well bellow 2% (usually max of 1.5%) of the feed, that level is not going to kill a chick in a weeks time even though it's higher then say the 1.25% max in many dedicated chicken starter feed, IMO...
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2015
  6. enola

    enola Overrun With Chickens

    I have fed layer ration to chicks for years. I doubt seriously if the feed caused the chicks to die.

    But, I am sure that someone that has some proof will come along and fill us all in.
     
  7. Cadbury Eggs

    Cadbury Eggs Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 9, 2013
    Gig Harbor, WA
    Sure, if you look at chicken starter that has a calcium range of 0.70%-1.20% compared with game bird starter at 1.0%-1.50% it may seem like a small increase, but really that is an increase of 43.0% - 25.0% which is huge!
     
  8. MeepBeep

    MeepBeep Chillin' With My Peeps


    I beg to differ... IMO it's not huge in the big picture as the percentage difference between the two feeds is not what you should be measuring... Instead you should measure what is a lethal and/or dangerous amount of calcium for a baby chick... Even the max 1.5% calcium level is almost certainly not going to be lethal to a chick withing a weeks time IMO, regardless of the fact it might be 43% more than some other feeds amount...

    This article suggest that for broiler chicks calcium should be bellow 2% while for dual purpose or laying chicks it should be bellow 3%, the potential max of 1.5% found in this feed is still well bellow those published danger levels... And in reality I'm guessing the feed probably has closer to 1.2% so they don't exceed minimum and maximum label statements, even further reducing risk...

    http://www.merckvetmanual.com/mvm/poultry/poisonings/overview_of_poisonings_in_poultry.html

    If you want to insist that the maximum worst case 1.5% calcium level in the feed is what killed the chicks within a weeks time, we will just have to agree to disagree... I would personally be looking for another cause of death, as I highly doubt after a week that that little bit of extra calcium was lethal...
     

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