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Vitamin D deficiency, calcium deficiency, weather? (Follow-up report)

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by SeaChick, May 31, 2010.

  1. SeaChick

    SeaChick Songster

    Apr 25, 2007
    Southern Maine
    We have a small backyard flock of 7 hens (various heavy breeds aged 1-3.)

    We feed free choice layer pellets (Blue Seal Organic Life), and offer crushed oyster shell and granite grit free choice. Occasionally they get a handful of scratch or leftovers. They free range in the yard all day, too, and I know they are eating a lot of forage.

    We had some extremely warm (unseasonable and fairly sudden) weather a week or so ago. Nothing else has changed (no diet change, etc.) except that for the last week -since I found the first thin-shelled egg- I have been mixing oyster shell right into their food as well as offering it free choice as usual. So, if anything I'd think they were getting a LOT of calcium. (This bag of oyster shell is a year old, but I don't believe it has a shelf life, does it?)

    All of a sudden, at least 3 of our hens are laying very thin-shelled eggs. I have found a couple on the droppings board under the roost in the morning, a couple on the floor, and a couple in the nest box, broken and sometimes eaten! This is all very strange. Until now we've had only thick-shelled eggs and everyone except one hen lays routinely in the nest boxes.

    I looked in the "chicken health handbook" and read about Vitamin D deficiency, that it can sometimes be precipitated by unusually hot weather. So I thought, oh, that must be it! But then I read that TOO MUCH Vitamin D can cause those pimply calcium deposits.... and I know that one hen has been having those deposits for at least 4 months. So--- now I am thoroughly confused as to the cause. And worried, since it's affecting so many of them!!!

    Today I ground up some eggshells and mixed it with a little chick feed and water and fed it to them as a "treat", hoping that might help some.... but I really want to know what to do next.

    Last edited: Jun 2, 2010
  2. Lunachick

    Lunachick Chicken Slave

    Mar 19, 2007
    Brick, NJ
    I'm not sure if this helps Seachick, but are the hens that are doing the thin eggs the 3 yr olds? I ask because that's what happened with my two older hens. For about six months they were thin and I have oyster shell and give extra calcium loaded food. I think when they get to a certain age, their eggshells get thinner then they stop laying altogether. That's been my experience. If the younger ones are doing it too, then something could be up. Hopefully someone else will chime in. Good luck though. [​IMG]
  3. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble Premium Member 9 Years

    Nov 27, 2008
    Jacksonville, Florida
    I had the same thing happen about a month ago when the temp got up in the 90's and I couldnt figure out what was going on. They had plenty of crushed oyster shell available too. I crushed about a dozen calcium pills into a fine powder and sprinkled it in their feed and repeated it the 2nd day. I've had all hard shells since. I think the heat threw them off balance abit and stressed them somewhat, not sure. It's been in the 90's since and everything has been fine.
  4. SeaChick

    SeaChick Songster

    Apr 25, 2007
    Southern Maine
    Thank you both!

    It's actually not just the older girls, but one pullet about 11 months, one hen about 23 months, and one 3 year-old.

    I'm going to assume it was the heat... and will add some calcium to their feed too. I have some human calcium tablets, are those OK to use do you think?

    Maybe I will also get them some cod liver oil in case it's a Vitamin D deficiency caused by the stress/heat, as the book suggested...
  5. Imp

    Imp All things share the same breath- Chief Seattle


    Here's some alternate food sources of calcium:

    2.Turnip greens
    3.Mustard greens
    4.Collard greens
    5.Blackstrap molasses- Can cause diarrhea in chickens
    6.Swiss chard
    9.Mozzarella cheese
    10.Milk (goat's milk and cow's milk)
    11.Basil, thyme, dill seed, cinnamon, and peppermint leaves
    12.Romaine lettuce
    16.Sesame seeds
    19.Summer squash
    20.Green beans
    23.Brussel sprouts
    24.Oranges- some people don't feed their chickens citrus
    26.Crimini mushrooms

    And some info about thin shelled eggs:


    Good luck

    Imp- Hope it helps
  6. SeaChick

    SeaChick Songster

    Apr 25, 2007
    Southern Maine
    If anyone else comes across this thread, I just wanted to post a follow-up.
    After feeding the crushed eggshells, suddenly everyone went back to normal. Eggs have been in the nest boxes and with decent shells. I also saw one of the previously afflicted hens eating oyster shell. So...... it was obviously some sort of one-time event. Perhaps brought on by the unusually warm weather.
    Thanks for all your help!
  7. kittyandeva

    kittyandeva Hatching

    Jun 2, 2010
    This is useful for me too- I just had a girl lay an egg with no shell at all (at least I think that's what happened) - maybe the heat played a role as well. And I will got them a little cod liver oil-yogurt treat for a Vitamin D - calcium shot.
  8. feathersnuggles

    feathersnuggles Songster

    Sep 4, 2009
    In the stress of intense or sudden heat, a laying hen has to regulate her body temperature. She'll stop eating much feed, affecting her calcium intake. She may pant. Her blood's acid-to-base balance changes. All this, and more, negatively affect her ability to maintain adequate calcification of her eggshell while she focuses on staying alive. So, until the environment is back to normal temps, I wouldn't necessarily dose them with extra calcium or Vit D. I'd give extra cool water, shade, and a breeze -- especially for these large birds.
  9. CluckCluck18

    CluckCluck18 Songster

    Apr 26, 2010
    Largo, FL
    The same thing is happening to me! Last month I had one of my RIRS lay a few eggs with no shell and one with a soft shell. She is a treat lover and probably wasn't eating enough feed. Got that rectified and now in the last 3 days I've had 3 completely whole but soft shelled eggs. One on the floor of the hen house and 2 on the roosts. Not sure who's doing it yet. Going out tonight with a flash light to see if I can tell. It has been very hot here......August temperatures since April and no relief in sight. Can you get liquid calcium and put it in the water?[​IMG]

    Had another one this AM, wasn't sure who it was until I saw Ruby and her dirty butt! She's the one that had problems before so at least it's just her. Thanks for the feedback about the heat and not overdoing it with calcium and vitamin D. Added some extra oyster shell in the feed...my girls aren't much for eating it plain. Think I'll get them a little cod liver oil. It won't cool off anytime soon down here, so we'll hope for the best. Thanks for all the help.[​IMG]
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2011

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