Roosters And Calcium- What's the current thinking?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Fred's Hens, Dec 8, 2012.

  1. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Crowing Premium Member

    Interesting abstract here, posted by another member:

    I'd prefer to read a lengthier portion of the actual report rather than merely the synopsis, but those of you have an interest in this topic: What are you reading here? What conclusions, if any, do you draw from this abstract?

    How are you reading this? Is the control group zero calcium, with a 2% group and a 4% group? Or are you reading this differently in terms of possibly additional calcium above a base amount?

  2. 7&8

    7&8 Songster

    Mar 29, 2010
    Hi. I posted the link to the abstract, which as you point out, is merely an synopsis of a study. I personally don't feel the need to read the entire study. I interpret the study as: control group - received 0% calcium in their diet; group#2 received 2% calcium; group#3 received 3% calcium. The results of this particular study - as I read it - conclude that the control group and 2% group had the "best" sperm motility. The study names other findings, "reduced blood cholesterol, elevated seminal calcium, and enhanced sperm (motility), thermo-tolerance and cryosurvivability" [Anim Reprod Sci. 2010 Jul;120(1-4):158-65. Epub 2010 Apr 13.]. It is a little sketchy whether the control group received 0% Ca or? And also interesting that if the control group did indeed receive 0% Ca in their diet, that their fresh, non-frozen sperm motility was highest of the groups.

    Whatever I am, I'm no poultry nutritionalist! I merely find it interesting that out of the 40 or so birds in my current flock, the three males visit the oyster shell hopper the most faithfully. I feed a "complete" processed pellet (Blue Seal Extra-Egg). It supposedly contains a min 3.3%-max 4.3% of calcium. Which, according to the study, might suggest the boys should be receiving enough calcium in the pellets alone. But then, my birds free range. Maybe they're not eating enough pellets?

    I attended a day long seminar with Michael Darre. Poultry nutrition was covered in about 1/2 hour at 95 mph. The one thing I remember him saying in regard to nutrition is that unless birds are penned and you feed them only "known" rations, you have no real way of knowing if their nutritional needs are being met. So, do I put all of my faith in a bag of processed feed? No. Feed producers are only human. It's good to keep track of lot numbers on feed so if you develop an issue such as widespread soft shells or whatever in your flock, you can contact the feed company.

    But, returning to the topic of roosters and calcium...I dunno why my males eat more oyster shell than the hens. I have had good fertility. Who knows?

    And, by the way, very nice looking Barred Rocks you have there, Fred's Hens! [​IMG]
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2012
  3. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Crowing Premium Member


    My question is the same as SteveTone's question. I just wasn't clear about what the base was? In other words, I read the abstract and see 3 groups in the test. Fine.
    A presumed (dangerous to do) group of Zero, a group of 2% and a group of 4%.

    The results of were, in order of ranking:

    2% dietary calcium did best
    0% dietary calcium was next
    4% dietary calcium was last.

    Did I read this right?

    Much appreciate other eyes and other minds at work along side merely my own.
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging 8 Years

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Control diet has basal calcium level that is not indicated in abstract. I am unable to access full document from home making so I can not see basal level or the form Ca was in formulations. Both very important!!!

    Sperm motility was enhanced by addition of 2% Ca but suppressed relative to control when addition rate was 4%. 2% good, 4% too much of good thing.

    I ignored the cholesterol part.

    I read additional calcium of 2% is beneficial when using their control diet with its level of calcium. Other dietary components could interact with Ca metabolism and impacts and those components may vary between basal formulations.

  5. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

    Jun 1, 2009
    The way I read that study is that most if not all layer feed is a very poor diet for Roosters that are meant for breeding.
    The reason I say this is because most if not all layer feed contains a Calcium level over 2% and is much closer to 4%.

    I still believe that a good Starter, Grower or Starter/Grower feed is best feed for male chickens.

  6. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    Control group was the 0%, from what I read. But they don't say what the feed was.
  7. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Crowing Premium Member

    Without reading the actual report, many of us still cannot figure out whether the calcium "added" was 0,2 and 4 percent or whether the total dietary calcium was 0,2,or 4.

    Were these percentages added to a base of typical grower feed already at 2%, thus making the total dietary calcium 2,4, and 6 percent? That doesn't seem to make as much sense, but without this information, it is harder to draw conclusions. The synopsis just wasn't explicit as we would have preferred.
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2012

  8. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging 8 Years

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Occasionally I run trials like described by authors. Unless purified incredients are used, which are not implied, then is is difficult to formulate a diet that has zero amounts of a given nutrient. Even when purified ingredients used, having zero amount of a given nutrient is seldom realized and that basal level is reported in the methods.
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging 9 Years

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    I'd also have to read the report to figure it out for sure. I'd assume it is a 0%, 2%, and 4% total added calcium purely because the study makes no sense otherwise. I know there are some assumptions in my thinking, but I take this as a study to determine what to feed roosters in a breeding facility whose sole purpose is to make fertile eggs. They have techniques to feed roosters and hens separately although they live together and share floor space. Since the feed is a total formulation with total control of every element in it, it just doesn't make sence to me to start from anywhere except 0%.

    One problem I have with this is that I think chickens that are not laying still need a bit of calcium, but that is another assumption. Growing chicks usually get around 1% but their bones are growing. The roosters in this study were started on this diet at 21 weeks age after they were mostly done growing, at least as far as skeleton. I'm not as convinced as Chris that 4% calcium actually hurts roosters, but it would have been really interesting if at the end of the study they had looked inside the roosters and seen what affects might be noticeable on all three groups. It would also help me to know what percent calcium, if any, is normally fed breeding roosters.

    spermatozoa of all treatment males displayed higher motility in control seminal plasma compared to that of treated males


    (1) The ability to move actively and on instinct, usually consuming energy in the process.

    (2) The ability of an animal to move food through its digestive tract; peristaltic movement.

    Motility is obviously different than mobility.

    The way I read the statement I italizized, the control group, the 0%, had the highest motility, so the ranking was 0. 2, 4. Do I need another cup of coffee?

    Seminal [Ca(2+)] in treated males was higher than in the control during the sampling period, with 4% group being highest, followed by 2%, and control groups

    This statement is what makes me think the control group was the 0% group.

    They measured sperm quality by motility, thermo-tolerance and cryosurvivability. Call me oldfashioned or cynical, but wouldn't another interesting part of this to actually try to fertilize eggs and see if there is any significant difference?

  10. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging 8 Years

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    To make a purified basal diet devoid of calcium may be extremely difficult or impractical. Purified diets also tend to have palatability issues (taste like crap or in my expereince Pepto Bismal).

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