Lead worries?!?!

Shellebelle920

Songster
Feb 10, 2019
158
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146
Southwestern Pennsylvania
I’ve recently introduced crushed oyster shell into my 20 week old chickens’ diet. I keep hens with roosters, so I switched over to an all-flock feed a couple of weeks ago. Without any extra calcium supplement, like in layer feed, I thought that this would work for me. BUT then I started reading about how lead accumulates in oyster shells and then that led me down a wormhole of how lead is very frequently found in backyard flocks often attributable to contaminated soil. So now I’m paranoid to feed any eggs that I may get to my kids. My house was built in the 90’s, so I’m not convinced that my soil would be contaminated, but how about the oyster shell. Is there something available that I wouldn’t have to worry about lead? I know about crushed egg shells from your own flock, but I’ve read that it is common to quickly run out. Are there any other practical calcium sources for chickens?
 

BaaKaaawk

Coopster
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Apr 4, 2011
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Soooooooooooooo... honestly you're worrying about something not worth worrying about in my opinion. I can assure you that you and your chickens (and your children... and mine) come in contact with things hundreds of times more dangerous daily than the potential threat of lead in oyster shells (or your yard). So really I think you're getting worked up about something that isn't a problem, and even if it was, that you'd not really have any recourse about anyway. Again, my opinion.

Here's a post from awhile back- looks like they ultimately came to the same conclusion.

B'villechicken :

I just did a literature search on this at a large medical university library in Syracuse, NY. There was a article written on the lead content of calcium supplements in the Journal of the American Medical Assiciation (JAMA 2000;284:1425-1429). This 2000 article was accompanied by an editor's note. This is, as you have seen here on many threads, is a very emotional issue. The authors of the above cited article concluded that while the lead levels were low, that any exposure was concerning. The editor's note, however said that lead and calcium combined should not pose much of a hazard as the two essentially cancel each other out. This set off a flurry of letters to the editor of JAMA with people lined up on both sides. There was another study done in Brasil that compared two groups of people and followed lead levels in the blood stream. It concluded that there was no appreciable increase in lead levels from oral calcium supplements.
Now for my personal opinion: I tend to believe that a small amount of lead exposure is inevitable and indeed unavoidable. While science is not sure what level of lead is safe, we do know that the present levels that have been set by the health department are workable and practical as far as limiting significant exposure. I do not think we need to be concerned about the low lead levels in the oyster shell calcium that we give our chickens. This is just my humble opinion though.
 

springvalley123

Crowing
6 Years
May 22, 2015
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What is the source? Who's saying that backyard flocks have lead, how much, etc? Impossible to comment without knowing whether this is a responsible, peer-reviewed article alleging lead in flocks based on a scientific study, or someone trying to sell something to chelate out the alleged lead, or someone trying to discourage eating eggs/meat from backyard flocks, etc.
 

Shellebelle920

Songster
Feb 10, 2019
158
355
146
Southwestern Pennsylvania
What is the source? Who's saying that backyard flocks have lead, how much, etc? Impossible to comment without knowing whether this is a responsible, peer-reviewed article alleging lead in flocks based on a scientific study, or someone trying to sell something to chelate out the alleged lead, or someone trying to discourage eating eggs/meat from backyard flocks, etc.
I’ll post a link to a few of the articles that I read. There were a few peer reviewed journal articles detailing lead in oyster shell, but I had read enough at that point to convince myself that it could be true.
 

Shellebelle920

Songster
Feb 10, 2019
158
355
146
Southwestern Pennsylvania
What is the source? Who's saying that backyard flocks have lead, how much, etc? Impossible to comment without knowing whether this is a responsible, peer-reviewed article alleging lead in flocks based on a scientific study, or someone trying to sell something to chelate out the alleged lead, or someone trying to discourage eating eggs/meat from backyard flocks, etc.
I was excited to have my own flock for entertainment and for egg consumption too! However these articles are concerning. Mostly for me because I do have children on the younger side where lead could adversely affect their developing brains.
 

Folly's place

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Sep 13, 2011
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southern Michigan
I'd be more concerned about lead exposure from old paint and other such things in the environment, not the oyster shell. If it makes sense to you, it's not hard to have a test done to see if there is an issue.
Us 'more mature' folks grew up with lead in a lot of places, and likely do have some amount of it in our system. I do, by test, and it's too low to need treatment.
Mary
 

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