As humans, we are encouraged to consume more calcium: drink more milk, eat more yogurt. But what about birds? What role does calcium play in their bodies? And how do you prevent a shortage of it? Here’s what to do stop calcium deficiency in birds.
Together with phosphorus, calcium accounts for three-quarters of all minerals in the bird's body. Ninety percent of the calcium is found in the skeleton. This mineral therefore plays a very important role in the skeletal system, but it is also indispensable for many body functions.
For example, calcium plays a role in muscle contraction, in the conduction of nerve impulses, in blood clotting, and, of course, in the formation of egg shell. In birds, egg shells consists of 97% calcium.
Calcium is therefore important for birds, but bird seeds and grains are very poor sources of this. As such, calcium deficiencies in birds are common.
How do you recognise a calcium deficiency?
Vitamin D plays an important role in calcium metabolism. Among other things, it’s indispensable for good calcium absorption in the intestines. A deficiency of calcium and/or vitamin D can usually be recognised by similar symptoms.
Young birds develop growth problems: the bones don’t mineralise sufficiently, making them too soft so they deform under the weight of the bird. The medical term for this is rickets. This is also painful for the joints.
Adult birds with a calcium deficiency can suffer from a shortage of eggs, eggshell abnormalities and decalcification of the skeleton (osteoporosis), causing the bones to break easily. Especially during the breeding period, birds really need calcium. The body's calcium reserves will not be sufficient for the birds during this period.
In gray red-tailed parrots, one often sees typical symptoms of nerve problems as a result of the stimulus conduction disturbances: this causes convulsions similar to epileptic seizures.
How to maintain birds’ calcium levels
For a good mineral balance, the ration you give your bird should always contain more calcium than phosphorus. Thus, the calcium/phosphorus ratio should be more than 1: 1. In the breeding period, a ratio of 2:1 or 3:1 is even better. And, as already mentioned, seeds by themselves offer too little calcium.
So, your birds must have a calcium source. Many bird lovers and breeders give their animals pecking stones or cubes, cuttlefish bone or grit. The oyster shells in the grit are a good source of calcium. However, you never know if a bird is absorbing enough of these calcium sources. That’s why it’s better to feed egg food, an enriched seed mixture or extruded pellets, for a guaranteed minimum absorption of calcium.
You can also provide them with a water-soluble calcium source via their drinking water. That's another simple but sure solution to avoid a shortage. Oropharma Calci-Lux contains calcium lactate and calcium gluconate, two easily absorbable calcium compounds, which also dissolve well in water. It’s best to administer Calci-Lux once a week throughout the year. Give it daily during the breeding period.
Calci-Lux is also ideal for treating birds with a calcium deficiency. However, is your bird very affected by the deficiency? Then you’d better have it examined and treated by a specialized vet. The vet will inject calcium gluconate into the bird, which is a fast-acting solution.