Calcium in the Avian Patient

Key Points

  • Calcium used for egg production comes from the diet and mobilization of medullary bone.
  • Calcium deficiency may arise from inadequate vitamin D, excessive dietary phosphorus, or inadequate dietary calcium (i.e. all-seed diet or muscle/organ meat diet). Chronic egg laying is also an important drain on calcium stores.
  • Clinical signs of the hypocalcemic syndrome of African grey parrots may include weakness, ataxia, and seizure activity. Clinical signs are responsive to calcium administration, and exposure to ultraviolet B spectrum may also help long-term.
  • Good dietary sources of calcium for pet birds include dark, leafy greens and cooked egg with the shell.

The most widespread mineral in the body, calcium is required for normal metabolism and bone mineralization.


Calcium homeostasis is under the control of calcitonin, which is produced by the ultimobranchial gland, vitamin D, and parathyroid hormone. In laying hens, most dietary calcium is used for egg production. Rising estrogen levels promote increased intake of calcium supplements like cuttlefish bone and calcium-rich foods, however the quantity of calcium ingested daily is insufficient for the massive deposition of calcium required for eggshell calcification . . .

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