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Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by matthewschickens, Dec 4, 2009.
Can chickens have foods with salt?
Can they have too much salt?
I'll copy two sections from a site that talks about salt. I'll also include the link so I hope this gives proper credit to the author. I think the part I put in bold specifically addresses your question. I personally believe it is better to try to keep salty stuff away from them since it is easy to give them too much and they normally get enough naturally. All our set-ups and practices are different however, so you have to decide for yourself.
Animals have an innate desire to consume salt. Feeding a salt-deficient diet will lead to increased
feather pecking and a decline in egg production. Most animal feeds will contain added salt, usually in the form of sodium chloride. Iodine is rarely added as a separate ingredient. Instead, iodized salt is routinely used. Cobaltiodized salt is often used
in diets for swine and ruminants, and this can also be used without any problems for poultry. This type of
salt is usually blue.
Sodium is an essential nutrient, playing a major role in maintaining body fluid volume, blood pH, and proper osmotic relationships. A continuously low intake of salt can cause a loss of appetite. Sodium deficiencies adversely affect utilization of dietary
protein and energy,and interfere with reproductive performance.
Chlorine is also an essential nutrient. Hydrogen chloride (HCl) released from the true stomach (proventriculus) is important in digestion. Chlorine also plays a role in maintaining osmotic balance in body fluids. Birds deficient in chlorine are more nervous, showing increased sensitivity to sudden noise.
Although the salt requirement of birds is relatively low, adequate levels are essential, and excessive amounts are highly toxic and reduce egg production. Birds require a sensitive balance between necessary and toxic levels of salt. SeeTable 1.
Excess dietary salt intake readily causes wet droppings and wet litter. Several feed ingredients,such as fish meal, corn gluten meal, meat meal, whey and sunflower meal contain high levels of sodium. When such ingredients are used, the level of supplemental salt (NaCl) in the diet must be reduced.
I have lost a couple birds over the years to too much salt.
They pigged out on a christmas ham from a local school. A couple weeks later I started noticing a problem with 2. Oddball(standard comet) and Jazzy(bantam dutch) were swelling in the abdomen, but loosing weight in the breast. They had ascites(water belly). This is caused by right ventrical heart failure. Their abdomens will fill with a straw colored fluid. There can be other things that cause it, but one of the biggest in a normal flock is salt poisoning. The sudden spike in blood pressure causes the damage.
We drained OddBall a couple times in an attempt to help, but it only prolonged the end. Jazzy's little heart gave out when I caught her to check her. She was always so hyper and it was just too much. She went into convulsions and I held her as she passed.
It can take a couple months for the bird to get to a state that is too far gone and there is nothing to do but euthanize. Since then I make sure that any leftovers from the school are sorted for high salt items.
Our well was tested and the salt ? content may be too high for chickens?
pH is 8.15
Residual sodium carbonate is 1335 MEQ/L
conductivity is 2132.0?-MHOS/cm
sodium absorbtion ratio is 51.30
total dissolved solids (calculated) 1832/mg/L
sodium chloride calculated 7mg/L
The cation/anion list had sodium at MEQ/L 24.4, mg/L 560 (there was more on this list, low magnesium, low calcium, high sufphur, etc)
Most good commercial laying feeds have about a .50% salt (one half of one percent Sodium Chloride) content. Chickens need salt just not as much salt as they can eat. I think that your well water is 7/1000 of one gram salt per each Liter of H2O. So the Sodium Chloride content of your well water is low. For a comparison the a fore mentioned laying pellets would be 500/mg/L