What's the Harm in Too Much Calcium?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Abby11182, Sep 24, 2012.

  1. Abby11182

    Abby11182 In the Brooder

    Jun 12, 2012
    I've read on here that you don't start feeding them layer feed until they start laying eggs, and then I didn't listen. [​IMG] My girls are 14 weeks old and they were almost out of their chick starter/grower. I didn't really want to buy another bag of chick starter not knowing how long they would take to start laying eggs. (they are hatchery SLWs). The 50 lb bags of feed are a lot more cost efficient so instead of buying who knows how many small bags of chick starter/grower I bought a 50 lb bag of Layer Pellets (17% protein).

    Now I'm worried that I'm going to cause a blockage or something because I'm giving them the wrong food? Is it really so bad to start the layer pellets now? Should I just go buy more feed? What's the harm in too much calcium? [​IMG]

    p.s. I'm not trying to be a smart-alec, I really am wondering.
  2. ChickensRDinos

    ChickensRDinos Songster

    Aug 19, 2012
    Los Angeles
    If the chickens are not laying eggs then the calcium does not get used so it builds up in their system and can cause kidney failure long term. If they eat it for a month before they start laying will there be problems? Probably not. Do people do it? Yes. But, I personally think why risk it when you really do not need to. If I were you I would buy the 50 lbs bag of non-medicated grower or flock raiser (not starter) and a bag of oyster shells. Even if they all start laying this is perfectly fine for them. The only difference with the layer is that the calcium is mixed in. If you want you can continue feeding them grower with oyster shell on the side forever.

    If you have a mixed age flock (like me!) or a flock with a rooster this is ideal. Everyone gets what they need and no one gets what they don't need. The chickens will only eat the oyster if they need it. You can still buy bulk and save $$. When all of the girls are laying (and if you have no rooster) then switch to the layer feed that you already bought.
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2012
  3. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Crowing Premium Member

    Honestly? I am hugely negative about feeding high dose calcium to younger birds as I've seen the research and it is very convincing. That said, if your chicks are fast laying types of productive birds, they'll probably start laying at 19 weeks and there simply wouldn't be time for the high calcium to do much damage.

    So, you can dilute their intake with Grower or Raiser. Yes, They've got long enough to go, in my view, that going to buy a bag of Grower is in order. Just buy a smaller, 25 pound bag, not a 50 pound bag. Sometimes to feed them for another month. You could even feed them non-medicated chick feed.

    Hope that helps.
  4. Erica

    Erica Songster

    Dec 5, 2010
    One little-discussed danger (aside from potential kidney trouble) is that their calcium storage system gets overloaded, and they stop being able to absorb calcium or use it properly. A sign of this would be soft shelled eggs when they do start to lay.

    I'm not saying this will happen, but it's an additional danger worth noting when considering what age to switch feeds.

    best wishes
  5. Abby11182

    Abby11182 In the Brooder

    Jun 12, 2012
    Thank you for the information, I appreciate it! I think I'll go back to the store in the next couple days and get some different food for the time being.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by