Ask the Vet

Your Chickens - - Contents - By Vic­to­ria Roberts

QIs it a good idea to give cal­cium sup­ple­ments to a hen that lays an ab­nor­mally shelled egg? Opin­ions seem to dif­fer.

AVic­to­ria says: If a hen has been lay­ing well she will need a rest at some stage and this is when anom­alies, such as weak, mis­shapen or soft-shelled eggs, can oc­cur. Please do not give ex­tra cal­cium as plenty is pro­vided in com­mer­cial lay­ers’ pel­lets, nor feed too much grain or di­lute the ra­tion with treats. If she does not have enough cal­cium in her diet for good egg shells, she will take cal­cium from her bones which can weaken them — hence the ad lib pro­vi­sion of mixed grit. The in­sol­u­ble grit be­comes a grind­ing mech­a­nism in the giz­zard; the sol­u­ble oys­ter shell (cal­cium) is ground up in the giz­zard and then ab­sorbed from the in­testines. If the hen has a dis­ease which af­fects the shell gland, how­ever, all her eggs will be ad­versely af­fected, no mat­ter how much cal­cium is in her diet. The hen’s cal­cium reg­u­la­tion is tightly con­trolled. She will choose the size and type of grit ac­cord­ing to her in­di­vid­ual needs. Be­ware, how­ever, as ex­cess cal­cium can dam­age other or­gans in a healthy hen’s body.

Do not feed too much grain or di­lute the ra­tion with treats

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