Vitamin D supplement?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Uzuri, Apr 8, 2011.

  1. Uzuri

    Uzuri Songster

    Mar 25, 2009
    Anyone know what you feed a chicken if you think her D3 is down? I'm getting some thinner shells than I'd like, and it's not from lack of calcium (it'd be hard to see how they could get more of that than they are without force-feeding the stuff), so I'm thinking maybe something's interfering with calcium uptake -- D3 deficiency is about the most likely thing in that category, so that's where I'm looking first.
  2. HorseFeatherz NV

    HorseFeatherz NV Eggink Chickens

    I have read that spinach can interfere with calcium intake.

    Are your birds getting free choice oyster shells? Or are they getting their calcium from the feed?
  3. Celtic Chick

    Celtic Chick Crowing

    Apr 7, 2011
    SE Wis
  4. 5chicks4us

    5chicks4us In the Brooder

    Mar 30, 2011
    Cod liver oil is probably your best bet.
  5. juliette2009

    juliette2009 Songster

    Apr 27, 2009
    Wadmalaw Island, SC
    Quote:And how do you give that to chickens? On their food?

  6. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

    Jun 1, 2009
    Quote:And how do you give that to chickens? On their food?


    You put liquid cod liver oil on there food or you can dive them a cod liver oil pill either way a little gos a long way. Too much Cod liver oil will make the feathers oily.
    The oil runs around $8.00 for 16oz. and pills run around $10.00 a 100

  7. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

    Jun 1, 2009
    Quote:There are 5 things that can "regulate" egg shell quality.
    Vitamin D

    Calcium is the primary mineral that makes up eggshells and when not supplied in the diet, the hen does not have the basic materials needed to make the shell. The problem is produced when whole grains or feeds deficient in minerals and vitamins make up the bulk of the laying hen diet. Thin egg shells are observed when calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D3 are not provided in diets at adequate levels. It is more often observed during periods of hot weather because calcium is conserved and retained within the hen's body less efficiently.
    The quality of the shells is improved by feeding a complete laying ration as the only diet. This diet supplies all nutrients in the proper proportions so the hen can produce good shells. If thin egg shells becomes a problem, it is advisable to add 2 pounds of oyster shells (as an oyster shell flour or hen-sized oyster shells) to every 100 pounds of complete layer ration.
    This will provide a quick remedy to the problem and should restore egg shell quality within a short period of time. After the egg shell quality is restored, the addition of oyster shell can be eliminated and the complete layer diet can then maintain good egg shell formation. It is also advisable to also add a vitamin supplement to the drinking water while the oyster shell is being added to the feed. This will help ensure that calcium and phosphorus in the diet is being properly absorbed through the digestive system and will be available for deposition as shell on the egg.

    Calcium is a very important part of a mature hens health, and laying eggs. Egg shells are almost completely made of calcium. Along with Vitamin D, calcium is a vital part of the egg laying process. If the calcium intake of your hens is not adequate, you can have problems with the consistency of their laying, and soft egg shells. High levels of calcium can cause problems too. Young fowl, and roosters typically don't need an extra source of calcium, and too much can be harmful to them. It is best not to feed a layer type feed to all your fowl for this reason. You are better off to give them a normal type feed, without added calcium, and provide a free choice source of calcium for them, like oyster shells, so the birds that need it for laying eggs, have access, but the birds that don't, won't have to eat the extra calcium that they don't need.

    Phosphorus is needed for healthy bones, energy metabolism, and acid base balance in the body.

    Vitamin D is produced naturally in the body when exposed to the ultra violet rays from the sun, and its main function is to maintain normal blood levels of calcium, and phosphorus. Lack of vitamin D can cause soft egg shells, and brittle, or thin bones in fowl. Vitamin D also helps keep your birds immune system strong, and can affect their over all growth, and development. Extreme cases of vitamin D deficiency can even lead to diseases like Rickets.

    A deficiency of either calcium or phosphorus in the diet of young growing birds results in abnormal bone development even when the diet contains adequate vitamin D3. This condition, rickets, can also be caused by a dietary deficiency of vitamin D3 (Vitamin D3 Deficiency), which is necessary for absorption of calcium. A deficiency of either calcium or phosphorus results in lack of normal skeletal calcification. Rickets is seen mainly in growing birds. Calcium deficiency in adult laying hens usually results in reduced shell quality and osteoporosis. This depletion of bone structure causes a disorder commonly referred to as “cage layer fatigue.” When calcium is mobilized from bone to overcome a dietary deficiency, the cortical bone erodes and is unable to support the weight of the hen.
    The Merck Veterinary Manual

    Vitamin D3 Deficiency Abnormal development of the bones is discussed under calcium and phosphorus deficiencies ( Calcium and Phosphorus Imbalances) and manganese deficiency ( Manganese Deficiency). Vitamin D3 is required for the normal absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorus. A deficiency can result in rickets in young growing chickens or in osteoporosis and poor eggshell quality in laying hens, even though the diet may be well supplied with calcium and phosphorus. Laying hens fed a vitamin D3-deficient diet exhibit loss of egg production within 2-3 weeks, and depending on the degree of deficiency, shell quality deteriorates almost instantaneously. Using a corn-soybean meal diet with no supplemental vitamin D3, shell weight decreases dramatically by about 150 mg/day within 7 days. The less obvious decline in shell quality with suboptimal supplements is more difficult to diagnose than that seen with absolute deficiency, as it is very difficult to assay vitamin D3 in complete feeds. There is a significant increase in plasma 1,25(OH)2 D3 of birds producing good vs poor eggshells. Feeding purified 1,25(OH)2D3 improves the shell quality of these inferior layers, suggesting a potential inherent problem with metabolism of cholecalciferol. Retarded growth and severe leg weakness are the first signs noted when chicks are deficient in vitamin D3. Also, beaks and claws become soft and pliable. Chicks may have trouble walking and will take a few steps before squatting on their hocks. They often sway from side to side while resting, suggesting loss of equilibrium. Feathering is usually poor, and an abnormal banding of feathers is seen in colored breeds. With chronic vitamin D3 deficiency, marked skeletal disorders are noted. The spinal column may bend downward, and the sternum may deviate to one side. These structural changes reduce the size of the thorax with subsequent crowding of the internal organs. A characteristic finding in chicks is a beading of the ribs at the junction of the spinal column along with downward, and posterior bending. Poor calcification can be seen at the epiphysis of the tibia and femur. By dipping the split bone in a silver nitrate solution and allowing it to stand under an incandescent light for a few minutes, the calcified areas are easily distinguished from the areas of uncalcified cartilage. In the laying hen, signs of gross pathology are usually confined to the bones and parathyroid glands. Bones are soft and easily broken, and the ribs may become beaded. The ribs may also show spontaneous fractures in the sternovertebral region. Histologic examination shows deficiency of calcification in the long bones, with excess of osteoid tissue and parathyroid enlargement. Adding synthetic 1,25(OH)2D3 to the diet of susceptible chicks does reduce the incidence of this condition. Although the response is not dramatic and is quite variable, results suggest that some leg abnormalities may be a consequence of inefficient metabolism of cholecalciferol.
    The Merck Veterinary Manual

    Natural feed ingredients are rich in magnesium, thus deficiency is rare. Magnesium is rarely added to diets in the mineral premix. Newly hatched chicks fed a diet devoid of magnesium live only a few days. They grow slowly when fed diets low in magnesium, are lethargic, and often pant and gasp. When disturbed, they exhibit brief convulsions and go into a comatose state, which is sometimes temporary but more often fatal. Mortality is quite high on diets only marginally deficient in magnesium, even though growth of survivors may approach that of control birds. A magnesium deficiency in the diet of laying hens results in a rapid decline in egg production, blood hypomagnesemia, and a marked withdrawal of magnesium from bones. Egg size, shell weight, and the magnesium content of yolk and shell are decreased. Increasing the dietary calcium of laying hens accentuates these effects. Magnesium seems to play a central role in eggshell formation, although it is not clear whether there is a structural need or whether magnesium simply gets deposited as a cofactor along with calcium. Requirements for most breeds of chicken appear to be 500-600 ppm magnesium, a level that is usually achieved with contributions by natural feed ingredients.
    The Merck Veterinary Manual

    Protein and Amino Acid Deficiencies. The optimal level of balanced protein intake changes according to age; for growing chicks it is 18-23% of the diet; for growing poults and gallinaceous upland game birds, 26-30%; and for growing ducklings and goslings, 20-22%. If the protein and component Amino Acids content of the diet is below these levels, birds tend to grow more slowly. Even when a diet contains the recommended quantities of protein, satisfactory growth also requires sufficient quantities and proper balance of all the essential Amino Acids. Few specific signs are associated with a deficiency of the various Amino Acids, except for a peculiar cup-shaped appearance of the feathers in chickens with arginine deficiency and loss of pigment in some of the wing feathers in bronze turkeys with lysine deficiency. All deficiencies of essential Amino Acids result in retarded growth or reduced egg size or egg production. Some deficiencies or even imbalances of Amino Acids may be related to management problems such as hysteria, “pickouts” and “blowouts,” and Fatty Liver Hemorrhagic Syndrome.
    The Merck Veterinary Manual

    Last edited: Apr 9, 2011
    KarenS likes this.
  8. snowflake

    snowflake Crowing

    Aug 21, 2009
    Belding Michigan
    stress can also cause egg shell problems. I was getting soft shells from some of my hens as well as heavy lines and groves. I was fairly sure the diet was good, I got rid of a rooster,new I had one to many and the egg problems cleared up. you might check to see if they are stressed for some reason.
  9. ScarlettFever

    ScarlettFever In the Brooder

    Mar 6, 2010
    East Central Alabama
    It's probably unorthodox (haven't found this mentioned in other posts yet) but I actually keep a container of human infant or stage 2 formula on hand (powdered), as well as fortified infant cereals, to use as a supplement when any situation calls for a boost of essential vitamins/protein. They didn't like it straight, as milk, and didn't like it when I made oatmeal with the "milk", either. But they DEVOUR a "souped-up" scrambled egg reciped I make. If low calcium's the central concern, I'll often crumble the eggs right in there---they're so camouflaged by the rest of the mix that it wouldn't look or smell like their own egg shells anymore so I don't worry about that factor. For each egg (large) I'll generally do about a scoop of powdered formula (sometimes 1.5), and 1-2 tbsp of cereal mix. Whisk it up real good and microwave the mixture (generally stir after every thirty sec, takes around 1-1.5 min). Make sure it's only room temp at this time of year, because with hot days starting to appear you don't want to overheat anyone, but in Winter I'll serve it nice and warm. "Crumble" it into small bits (about pea size) so it's easier to eat---bigger clumps WILL be eaten, but also tend to stick on the beaks which can frustrate them). This gives the vitamin D you're concerned about. It's helped my girls through molting, injuries, and weight loss due to worms (I obviously also gave them deworming medication)! And you should see the beautiful, bright-yellow yolks that result!
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2011
    2 people like this.
  10. dragonlair

    dragonlair Songster

    Apr 29, 2008
    I ran into the thin shells this fall/early winter when they got almost no sun. I added my Vit D3 pills to their water and their shell quality improved significantly.

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