New NatureWise Feeds with Vitamin D for Healthy, Strong-Shelled Eggs

By Jennifer Murtoff, Home to Roost LLC

At Cargill we’re working hard to help your hens live their best lives—and lay great eggs! Our new and improved NatureWise feeds now contain more Vitamin D3. What is this vitamin, and why is it important for your birds—and you? 

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient that helps the body absorb calcium. It also aids in muscle movement, strengthens the immune system, and improves nerve function. The two main forms of Vitamin D are

  • Vitamin D2, which comes mainly from plant sources, and
  • Vitamin D3, which is produced by animals (including humans) in response to sunlight.

Although the liver can convert both of these into forms that the body can use, it processes Vitamin D3 more easily. That’s why we’ve chosen Vitamin D3 for our NatureWise feeds.

Human adults should get 800 IUs (20 micrograms) of Vitamin D per day, which is the same amount found in 1 Tbsp of cod liver oil or 3 ounces of farmed trout. Other natural sources of this important vitamin include salmon, red meat, liver, canned tuna, and egg yolks. Because egg yolks are a source of Vitamin D, let’s look at how this vitamin affects your chickens.   

How Your Hens Use Calcium and Vitamin D

Just like humans, hens need Vitamin D, too, and their bodies use it in similar ways. In a chicken’s body, Vitamin D does the following:  

  • Aids absorption and metabolism of calcium
  • Improves quality of bones and eggshell
  • Helps calcium move quickly through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream
  • Decreases early embryo death by up to 30%

The blood carries calcium to the shell gland, which secretes the calcium onto the outer membrane of an egg to create the shell. The blood also transports calcium to the rest of the body, where it contributes to bone health and helps power the muscles, including those that expel eggs.

Vitamin D3 Progress through the Chickens Body

 

 

Appropriate levels of Vitamin D can improve the hardness of eggshells, resulting in less breakage and a longer shelf life for your eggs. In addition, your older hens can benefit from Vitamin D. As hens age, they lay eggs with thinner shells. A little boost from Vitamin D can result in thicker, more healthy shells.

Chickens and Vitamin D Deficiency

So what happens if hens don’t get enough Vitamin D in their diet? A deficiency in this nutrient can reduce calcium absorption, which results in the following:

  • Brittle bones: Hens without enough calcium pull the mineral from their bones, reducing bone strength.
  • Thin-shelled eggs: A Vitamin D deficiency can result in less calcium in the eggshells.
  • Higher feed consumption: Lower levels of calcium in feed lead hens to eat more, resulting in higher feed costs overall.
  • Mineral-deficient embryos: Hens fed a low Vitamin D3 diet produce embryos with low levels of calcium and phosphate.

Because of the close link between Vitamin D and calcium, your birds’ diet should include healthy levels of both of these nutrients.

Find Vitamin D on a Feed Label

You can easily compare the levels of Vitamin D in different feeds. Commercial layer feeds have a Guaranteed Analysis, like the one pictured below, on the back of the bag. Locate the amount of Vitamin D and compare NatureWise to other brands. You’ll find that the new NatureWise has 2500 IUs of Vitamin D3 per pound.

 

Vit D eggs Guaranteed Analysis

Get More Vitamin D! Feed Your Hens New NatureWise Feeds

If you’re feeding your hens our new NatureWise line, eating their eggs can increase your own levels of Vitamin D. In a recent study conducted by Cargill, eggs from hens fed the improved NatureWise 16% Layer feed contained 37% more Vitamin D than hens fed the standard layer feed as a control.

Vit D levels

If you are a backyard poultry owner who values healthy eggs with optimal Vitamin D levels and strong shells, the new and improved NatureWise layer feeds are the best choice for your chickens. Learn more about our feeds with added vitamin D3 at the following links:

Rhode Island Red Chickens: What’s the scoop?

Looking to add crazy-good egg production to your flock? Then Rhode Island Red Chickens are the gals you’ve been searching for!

This breed produces large, brown eggs, with roughly 260 eggs produced annually! With all of these great attributes, this popular breed is sure to keep your coop happy.

Rhode Island Red Chickens

Wrap up Some Love, with Holiday Egg Cartons

The best gift of all is giving…eggs! Check out these festive egg cartons for the holidays! With a quick trip to the dollar store and $10 in my pocket, I got all I needed to create this simple gift from the heart.

Option 1: Tissue Paper & Tulle

Start with one piece of tissue paper and fold it in half. I placed the egg carton upside down and a few inches from the end of the tissue paper. Then start rolling the tissue paper around the egg carton. After the egg carton is fully wrapped, I finished it off with wrapping a piece of red tulle around the tissue paper.

Option 2: Wrapping Paper

We all have extra holiday wrapping paper sitting around the house! I purchased this plaid wrapping paper from the dollar store for $1.
Lay the egg carton a few inches from the end of the wrapping paper (as seen in picture). Cut the other end a few inches from the egg carton. Once again place the egg carton a few inches from the end of the wrapping paper and start rolling. Use tape to secure the wrapping paper on the bottom of the egg carton. Then top it off with a bow or ribbon!

Option 3: Gift Bag & Ribbon

I purchased two different kinds of gift bags (one brown bag and one holiday bag) to use for wrapping the egg cartons. I cut the gift bag in half and carefully ripped off the handles.

Like shown in the third image, I once again rolled the egg carton in the gift bag. After tapping the bottom of the gift bag, I added a bow with green burlap ribbon and to top it off, I stuck a bundle of cranberries to add a festive accent.

These three options only took me about 30 minutes to complete. So, spread some holiday cheer and give the gift of fresh eggs!

6 Egg Myths Solved!

With so many variations and slight differences that affect our eggs, it’s easy to see how myths around what is good and bad in an egg can pop up. We’ve identified some common myths and explained the real story here:

Do Roosters = Eggs?
This is one of the most common questions and myths that exist in the poultry world. Simply put, the answer is no. You do not need a rooster to have eggs – your hen will lay eggs whether or not a rooster is present. However, if you want to have eggs that can be hatched, you will need a rooster to make the eggs fertile.

Shell color
Brown eggs are nutritionally equivalent to other eggs of different colors. The breed of the chicken will primarily determine egg color. Often, the color of the earlobe of the chicken will indicate the color of her eggs – a red earlobe typically means a brown egg while a white ear lobe means the hen will lay a white egg. egg cartonsRemember, to keep eggshells nice and strong, be sure to always provide oyster shell free choice in a separate container for birds 16 weeks and older.

Yolk color
Yolk color does not affect nutritional value. Vibrant yolk color comes from outdoor plants consumed and/or quality layer feeds that contain marigold extract or other cartenoids. Home-produced eggs have yolks that are bright yellow to deep orange in color and an albumen (egg white) that stands up a bit in the frying pan. Grocery store eggs will often have pale yolks and runny albumen.

Fertilized vs. Non Fertilized
Fertilization of the egg does not affect the nutritional value. Some people will claim that a fertilized egg tastes slightly different than a non-fertilized egg, however others cannot distinguish between the two.

Blood Spots
Blood spots are not harmful and the egg can still be consumed. Blood spots can indicate a rupture in some of the tiny blood vessels within the egg itself. This is seen more frequently in older or very young hens and can also be hereditary.

Egg Size
Lastly, don’t forget to pay attention to the quantity of feed your hens are getting. Low body weight will most likely equate to a drop in egg size. The average laying hen should be consuming approximately 1.5 lbs. of feed per week. By keeping hens well-fed and happy, they’ll keep producing nutritious eggs just as nature intended.

Winter Lighting in the Chicken Coop

Do you wonder why your chickens stop laying eggs in winter?  And is there anything you can do about it?  Good news, friends!  Watch this video from Nutrena Poultry Specialist Twain Lockhart for everything you need to know about lighting your chicken coop to keep the girls laying eggs!

Leave comments below, or questions if you’ve got some!