5 Very thin shells

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Your Poultry -

Very thin shells that break eas­ily can be due to a lack of bal­ance of cal­cium, phos­pho­rous and vi­ta­min D in the diet. It is also a symp­tom of a cou­ple of very com­mon vi­ral dis­eases, in­fec­tious bron­chi­tis and egg drop syn­drome. If thin shells are caused by a dis­ease, you’ll also see oth­ers changes, like wa­tery whites, paler shells, and less eggs.

A lot of peo­ple think the an­swer to thin shells is to feed more cal­cium in the form of crushed egg shell or oys­ter shell. How­ever, ex­cess cal­cium can also cause more shell prob­lems, like ex­cess cal­cium de­posits and pim­ples on the sur­face of the egg.

To form an egg shell, a hen needs to have the cal­cium, phos­pho­rous and vi­ta­min D com­po­nents of her diet in the right pro­por­tions. Nearly all com­mer­cial layer feeds are per­fectly bal­anced, pro­vid­ing suf­fi­cient cal­cium for the bird’s ev­ery­day needs, plus phos­pho­rous and vi­ta­min D in the cor­rect ra­tio.

The only time that ex­tra cal­cium needs to be avail­able is when you are run­ning a high pro­duc­tion flock, and/or a bal­anced com­mer­cial layer feed is only part of the flock’s diet. For ex­am­ple, if a com­mer­cial layer feed is only 50 per cent of a flock’s in­take and you are feed­ing out large amounts of scraps or other grains, the birds can ad­just their in­take if ex­tra cal­cium is of­fered. How­ever, it’s vi­tal any ex­tra cal­cium is not mixed in with feed. It should al­ways be of­fered in a sep­a­rate dish so the hen can choose.

Gen­er­ally, hens will choose to eat cal­cium sup­ple­ments in the late af­ter­noon when their blood cal­cium lev­els are lower as they with­draw it to make the next day’s egg shell overnight. Roost­ers and young non­lay­ing birds do not need ex­tra cal­cium.

Do not give Layer feed to chicks or it will over­load their im­ma­ture kid­neys with cal­cium crys­tals. This can cause ir­re­versible dam­age, and of­ten the bird may die from kid­ney fail­ure months later when her body come un­der stress, for ex­am­ple if she gets run down by another ill­ness.

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