Calcium – The Basics

Calcium is a “macro” mineral, which means it is required in large quantities by the body. African Greys and Eclectus are prone to calcium deficiency; females producing eggs need more calcium, and a lack of calcium may result in egg binding.

Calcium is also required for proper feather development. So it’s much more than simply a vitamin for “strong bones”! It collaborates with phosphorus, magnesium, and vitamin D. Calcium helps maintain the acid/base balance, manage the balance of bodily fluids, and maintain cell membranes and muscle function, in addition to egg production and bone growth. Minerals obviously interact with one another as well as other elements in the diet.

Seed-only diets are infamously low in calcium and the Vitamin D required for absorption. I’ve seen birds who had only been fed seed for years gorge themselves on cuttle bone when it’s first provided – their bodies are clearly trying to tell them something! It’s one thing to consume enough calcium; it’s quite another to absorb what you eat. Plant meals are typically deficient in calcium, but animal products provide far more. Furthermore, certain plants contain oxalic acid, which binds calcium and makes it less accessible.

Calcium carbonate is found in cuttle bone (from the cuttle fish), egg shells, and oyster shells; tofu, cheese, and yogurt are all excellent calcium sources; cottage cheese, on the other hand, is not. Almonds, spinach, broccoli, charo, and kale are all great sources in the plant family. These vegetables do contain oxalic acid, however they provide significantly more calcium than is rendered accessible by the oxalic acids. Rhubarb leaves, on the other hand, are high in oxalic acid and should not be given to birds. If more calcium is required, I recommend “Os-Cal,” a drink available at a health food shop.

The balance of calcium, other minerals, and Vitamin D3 is sensitive, and it may be difficult to accomplish on one’s own. This is one area where I prefer formulated (pelleted) feeds since the minerals are usually provided in the right ratios. Additional feeding of the calcium sources described above should guarantee that your bird gets enough calcium. In addition to a pellet, seed, whole grain, and legume basis, crush eggshells into Birdie Bread and offer plenty of leafy greens (also rich Vitamin A sources). Variety is, once again, the spice of life and the finest method to cover all nutritional bases!

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