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#71579 - 10/23/07 06:29 AM Re: Crumbles, pellets, oysters and scratch
Upback Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 06/04/07
Posts: 457
Loc: Maine
Yes, I agree that variety and moderation are key! In my older age ( 35 ) I find I have to remind myself not to be too militant about anything!

Deedee - I'm glad to hear that your chickens like the Russian Olive. We've thought about planting some near the pen as part of our edible hedge. There are already chokecherries there, high and lowbush blueberries, apple trees and we've just planted mulberry trees for them as well. I'm envious that you guys have persimmon and fig trees!

So I agree with what I think you guys are saying- given enough range time and and a variety of food choices they will LIKELY pick what they need and not overdose on anything.

Chris - we had a Faverolles who ate a mushroom and got sick. They were just chicks then and I let them out in this fenced, woody, grassy area on a sunny day. Later that night one Faverolles was very ill. I went looking around the area where I set them out. Little purple mushrooms everywhere! I hadn't noticed them before. We separated her with her own food and water and two days later she pulled out of it. It's actually the one we kept - Rufous - I joke that her hackles are so red from the mushroom poisoning! There were 25 other chicks out there that day and she is the only one who got sick.

Maybe I will start a new post regarding salt because I am a bit confused and very interested in this. There must be some people on this board who feed Fertrell Poultry Nutribalancer or something like it. I don't think supplementing with kelp ( again, this must contain salt ) is any new radical idea either - so I don't understand why Joachim would be shocked that I would consider this stuff. You still there Joachim? If so, did you mean that chickens really lack the ORGANS to process salt, or that their organs just do not process it? Because now I'm wondering what organs exactly do chickens lack?? I really want to get to the bottom of this salt thing. I was considering the Grazer's Choice ( containing the Redmind mineral salts ) as something in the future when there are more than just chickens grazing in the pasture. I figure if they need something in it they can peck a little. If not, they won't. I didn't imagine that there would be any danger of sodium toxicity this way. I know of others do it with out killing their birds- Harvey Ussery's homemade scratch mix contains ( or did ) the Nutribalancer, kelp and salt! He is a homesteader who has had chickens for years. If I remember correctly he stopped using the Nutribalancer after questioning if it is necessary for his pastured flock. He has a great way of keeping them in winter ( from memory of his website, could be slightly inaccurate) - under a portable greenhouse with loads of hay. I think there is enough hay to keep the soil from freezing (plus the warmth from the birds ) and the worm population remains active for the chickens and the birds eat all the seeds from the hay as well. He continues to toss in the scratch mix and come spring his birds are well-fed from their supplement of hay seeds and worms and he has a nice plot to garden. This sounds ideal to me but for the time being I'm thinking my birds might need a little something during the variety-challenged time of year.

Yeah, maybe I'll start a new post. When I hear completely conflicting information from trusted people who know a lot more about chickens than I do I want to know why! Is it an over-simplification to say "Salt is bad for chickens" OR "Salt is good for chickens" ?? I'm hoping for some grey, muddy area to move around in...

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#71580 - 10/23/07 07:40 AM Re: Crumbles, pellets, oysters and scratch
Joachim Dippold Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 02/28/06
Posts: 1823
Loc: Austria
Hello Amy,

sure, still there, just little time for posting, sorry!;-) Yes, I mean they actually lack these organs, they are called salt glands. Here´s a table:

http://jeb.biologists.org/cgi/content-nw/full/206/18/3273/TBL1

I don´t understand it all yet, need to research further, but just look at the ERPF of domesticated chicken, it´s rather high! All the "work" is left to the kidneys as far as I understood it, hope to clear this up today with our vet;-) Will keep you updated!

Here´s the whole paper from which the table above is, in case you´re interested, maybe you find better/more/other keywords for further research there? http://jeb.biologists.org/cgi/content/full/206/18/3273#TBL1

Gotta run for now, enjoy your evening!

EDIT: Just called our vet, here´s what he says: First, he´s not familiar with those salt-stones for chickens, he would use them only after LONG TERM research of the effects have been done. He doesn´t know everything, he´s open to new ideas. Nevertheless he has not heard of any study on the long term effects of salt on chickens.

He says chickens don´t have a salt gland and therefore their kidneys must "absorb" all the surplus salt, that leads to the final result that the bird dies of kidney failure. He says chickens don´t need extra salt no matter what time of the year. He recommends mineral mixtures for birds for Magnesium and Zink and such if you want to "boost" your birds, but he does NOT recommend salt mineral stones or such. He recommends reading long term studies BEFORE offering salt stones, he says chickens die of extra salt, to put it simple. Puh, straining writing, hope that helps!

Here´s the quote for salt from our chicken health book, BTW:

Quote:

Die Aufnahme von 5 bis 8 Gramm Kochsalz sind für eine ausgewachsene Henne tödlich.
roughly translated:
Deadly dosis for an adult hen: 5 to 8 grams of common salt.
source: Hühnerkrankheiten, von Dr. Werner Lüthgen, OERTEL+SPÖRER, ISBN: 3-88627-502-7, page 46, line 6

If as little as 8 grams of salt are deadly for an adult hen, then there must be something to it, see what I mean?


Joachim

PS: Where are all the poultry students? Maybe they can explain this whole stuff to us?;-)

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#71581 - 11/20/07 08:40 PM Re: Crumbles, pellets, oysters and scratch
C. G. McCary Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 04/04/07
Posts: 613
Loc: Alabama
My better half is much better at math and medical issues than I and explains the salt content of cat food as follows:

Hi all. I read the above referenced article in full and believe I understand it properly. This type of study is very similar to the studies of renal clearance and drug toxicity I have to read for nursing school. With out bogging everyone down with terminology like "tonicity", "hypervolemia" and "bolus dose", let me establish some basic principles at play and some cogent observations made by the paper.
First, there is salt. Water follows salt in most metabolisms and this holds true for chickens. Too much salt in you're bird and it'll kill 'em because the fluid balance gets whacked.
Second, there is the kidneys. Metabolically speaking, they are the equalizers for fluids and electrolytes in the body (of which salt is a primary player). Most kidneys will process approximately 1/5 (that's 20%) of a body's circulating blood per minute. Impressive organs to say the least.
Third, there is clearance. That is the rate at which the kidneys of the bird are able to process and eliminate exesses, wastes or toxins (in this case salt).
In chickens, according to the paper, the kidneys can clear only so much salt at a time. There is a threshold where the salt concentration becomes too high and the kidneys shut down. The circulating salt draws the water from all the tissues to the vascular compartment and the bird dies of congestive heart failure secondary to salt intoxication.
By using the percentage by volume of the listed salts in the cat food formula (sodium salts, potassium salts, calcium salts), I determined a volumetric percentage of salt (15% give or take a tenth of a percent). So in the 250 grams of dry cat food being fed to our chickens, I determined that about 37.5 grams are salts. I then devided that by the number of birds consuming the cat food (20) and determined that each bird would get 1.8-1.9 grams of salts-- well with in the safe dose range.

Now for the curious part-- the safe dose ranges (as far as I can determine) are based on the clearance rate for a bird receiving an intra-venous bolus (all-at-one-time) dose, not a by mouth and absorb-it-over-time dose. Granted a dose is a dose no matter the route, but the route has a lot to do with how a metabolic system can cope with or adapt to changes introduced to the system. Eating a salt pill and having salt injected into your veins are two very different things although it is possible that the 'lethal dose' was extrapolated by employing the functional capacity for renal clearance.

PS: 5 grams of salt is a huge dose even for humans! Human cardiac patients are placed on a diet that permits no more than 2 grams of salt per day!

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#71582 - 11/21/07 06:03 AM Re: Crumbles, pellets, oysters and scratch
Upback Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 06/04/07
Posts: 457
Loc: Maine
Thanks for taking the time, Chris' better half!

As for the point of "...if as little as 8 grams is deadly for an adult hen, then there must be something to it.." I would say that 8 grams is not a little, but an ungodly amount. All the salt we eat in our food is measured in milligrams, not grams. People should only consume around 1,500 - 2,500 milligrams per day. 8 grams is really a lot.

Second, I would say that there are a number of things, even water, which are essential to our life, but will kill us in large quantities. People have actually died from drinking too much water. So while I see the point, I just don't buy it.

Yes, where are the poultry students? I wonder what how much sodium hens get from a commercial ration, salt is added to all of them, I think it's 1%, sometimes .5% - ? I wonder how many milligrams per day that would work out to, generally speaking?

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#71583 - 11/24/07 05:24 PM Re: Crumbles, pellets, oysters and scratch
Rogo16 Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 439
Loc: Arizona
=== Crumbles, pellets, oster shell, scratch. ===


I've fed various poultry menus, meant for poultry, thru the years. Egg production has always been high. But I wanted to get away from soy. Looking at the bag of dog food I feed, I decided it was the healthiest bagged feed I could feed my birds.

No chemicals, corn, soy, wheat, wheat gluten, overseas products, and the company has never had any recalls on any of its feed. The dry kibble is beak size.

I free choice feed, and as I've always done, I mix DE into the feed, so no need for oyster shell. Hay is still free choice fed, and is about 1/3 of the diet.

I don't feed grit since the birds roam free and get what they need from the acreage.

Egg production is still high, but the birds look a lot better.

Experimenting paid off! :o)
_________________________
Rogo

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#71584 - 11/25/07 12:37 AM Re: Crumbles, pellets, oysters and scratch
Joachim Dippold Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 02/28/06
Posts: 1823
Loc: Austria
Hello Chris, Amy and Rogo,

thanks for the info! Yes, haven´t thought on this: "Eating a salt pill and having salt injected into your veins are two very different things". Thanks also for your calculations!

I agree on the diet of 2 grams per day for cardiac patients, but in general "we" consume much more: in Germany around 8 grams per day per human for example, I think it´s 6 grams per day in the UK? Sure, this doesn´t sound healthy, I agree;-) But since 10 grams is only 1 spoonful, 8 grams don´t sound this much to me.

Let´s take a 50 lb bag of food containing 1% of salt, that´s about 220 grams salt per bag. How long does a bag last? Let´s say 150 hens eat 150 grams food = 150 x 150 = 22500 grams = 50 lb, approximately!;-) So if 1 bag last for 1 day for 150 hens that´s 220 grams salt for 150 hens = 1.5 grams salt per hen per day. Just an example, hope it´s correct!

We also try to avoid soy since first our birds don´t like it (really!) and second I have read some links from Rogo that were quite, ermmm, interesting;-) I agree on the 1/3 part green food idea, have read this several times here.

You say "People have actually died from drinking too much water" Amy. I agree, I have read a child died in Germany from eating an oversalted chocolate pudding, look:

Quote:
Frankenthal -
Ein Mädchen (4) schüttet versehentlich Salz statt Zucker in den Schoko-Pudding. Die Stiefmutter entdeckt das verstreute Salz auf dem Küchenboden - und zwingt ihre Tochter, den Pudding zu essen. Das Kind stirbt daran.
translation:
Frankenthal -
A girl (4) poured accidentally salt instead of sugar in the chocolate-pudding. The stepmother discovered the salt scattered on the kitchen floor, and forced her daughter to eat the pudding. The child died from eating it.
source: http://www.abendblatt.de/daten/2005/07/16/459992.html

Best greetings,

Joachim

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#71585 - 11/25/07 02:18 PM Re: Crumbles, pellets, oysters and scratch
Barnyard Jenny Offline
Feather

Registered: 08/27/07
Posts: 27
Loc: North Carolina
Rogo16- What brand dog food, if I may ask. I think it is an interesting idea. Do they gobble it up?

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#71586 - 11/25/07 07:38 PM Re: Crumbles, pellets, oysters and scratch
Rogo16 Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 439
Loc: Arizona
=== Rogo16- What brand dog food, if I may ask. I think it is an interesting idea. Do they gobble it up? ===


All my critters - house pets, large livestock, poultry - are free choice fed. When fed this way, critters don't gobble their feed, they nibble periodically.

Interesting that a couple of days after I started feeding the dog food, I put out some of the whole grains I had left. The birds wouldn't touch it. Poultry refusing grain! -LOL- It went into the garbage.

Also, there's no added salt in the feed, just what's naturally in the foods used.

I feed Strongpoint Senior. I found out years ago that if I go over 20% protein my dogs fight and have behavior problems. The senior feed is 20% protein and fed to all ages of dogs and poultry. It's only sold in the southwest U.S.
_________________________
Rogo

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#71587 - 12/30/07 08:08 AM Re: Crumbles, pellets, oysters and scratch
C Mom Offline
New Egg

Registered: 11/20/07
Posts: 4
Loc: Florida
My girls are nearly 12 weeks old. I have been treating my girls with oats I get from one of my local feed stores. They love the oats. I also threw in a piece of alfalfa bale which they pick at and have scattered over a portion of their run. Also I grow lettuce. Every once in awhile I throw a head in and they devour it. I feed them vegetable scraps except raw potato peels. They all seem fine. I recently purchased some scratch. I have been reading in some different forums about chick scratch which appears to be just regular scratch that is more finely ground. Do they need grit and are they old enough for grit? I have a 500ft net that I use to net off an area they can range in that connects to their run. I have a gate that I can close in the run. This is all movable including the coop which I do about every three weeks.

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#71588 - 01/02/08 08:23 AM Re: Crumbles, pellets, oysters and scratch
Lifelong Learner Offline
Chicken

Registered: 10/27/06
Posts: 126
Loc: Louisiana
I love this forum; I always find what I need here. I only have two hens, both young, both laying. I feed only Layena pellets in their feeder, but they are completely free-range all day (in a protected coop only at night).

While they are out, they eat everything including cat food, which my husband puts out for a stray he's coaxing. (From the size of the stray lately, I think someone else must be feeding him too.) They also love scraps -- everything from strawberry tops to cooked rice.

I put a few cups of pellets in their feeder each week and it takes them the whole week to eat it, so the girls must be pretty self-sufficient. There are lots of bugs and grasses, etc. out there all day.

I have recently been wondering if I should make some oyster shell available. We get an egg a day from each of them and the shells seem perfect. Should I leave well enough alone or is it just a matter of time til I get weak shells?

I've never had chickens before.

--Angelle

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