Cathy : This is a thankyou to Bernice, who responded to my question about ISA Browns and their dietary requirements. I was very interested to read this reply and had not considered the idea that the diet of my hens during their growing period before entering their laying period might have affected their ongoing health, but it makes sense that it would, especially given that the hens rely on the calcium already laid down in their medullary bones to support egg-laying in maturity. I acquired these hens as point-of-lay pullets and assumed that they had been fed to meet all their dietary requirements, and perhaps this was true as far as the grower was able to ascertain.
Looking at the condition of both my young hens once they had gone through an extended laying period, I was convinced that they had very low bone density as well as low body weight, and I have been looking at ways to add loading to calcium intake and uptake, even to the extent of treating the soil in their enclosure so that the vegetation growing within will have maximum possible calcium value.
As an ageing female human who is taking both calcium and Vit D supplements to counteract medically diagnosed low bone density, I have been advised that these supplements can only halt the advance towards osteoporosis and not restore bone density already lost. So my thinking is that I can’t restore lost bone density to my hens either, only do my best to keep them in as good a condition as possible through all means available to me, from the start of their time under my care. Meanwhile, the vet suggested changing to another breed of hen altogether, and a gradual changeover to Australorps (which might also cope with the extreme summer heat here) is looking likely. With thanks and kind regards, Cathy O’Driscoll