Why give cuttlebone to your birds?


In the wild, birds generally find food in their environment to meet their needs. In captivity, it is up to their owner to ensure that their diet is suitable and provides them with everything they need to live in good health. He must in particular be careful that the diet provided does not create deficiencies. From this point of view, cuttlefish bone thus plays an essential role in the diet of birds.

Feed your domestic birds well

To feed your domestic birds well, it is essential to know the diet that corresponds to them. There are indeed many species of birds and each of them calls for a specific diet. If the diet is not suitable, the bird can get sick or even die.

Beyond the detail of the diet of each species of bird, there is a basis shared by all species: the calcium. It is essential for the vitality of the skeleton of the bird and the shell of the egg, if it lays eggs.

A diet deficient in calcium causes bone disorders: the beak softens, the bird may have difficulty walking, the young do not develop properly, the risk of fractures is greater. Such deficiencies can also cause seizures, egg retention or skeletal deformity such as scoliosis.

Why give cuttlebone to your birds?

Since dairy products are not at all part of the diet of birds, it is necessary to provide them in another way: this is the role of the cuttlebone made available to the birds in their cage. Calcium also plays a role in the digestion of birds by facilitating it. It is important to take into account the fact that ingesting calcium alone is not enough. It is also necessary to bring the bird vitamin D3 one of whose roles is to fix calcium.

It may happen that some birds do not touch the cuttlefish bone. It depends on the individual: some taste everything you make available to them, while others concentrate on certain foods in particular, neglecting the others altogether. One solution then consists in supplementing the water by adding soluble calcium powder to it.

The right dosage

If a deficiency is detrimental to the development of the bird, on the other hand, an overdose will not be trivial either. The risk of overdose does not lie in the intake of calcium itself but in the intake of vitamin D3. Therefore, cuttlefish bone can be placed unattended for unlimited consumption.

Poisoning with this vitamin can cause mineralization in soft tissues – this is called the phenomenon of calcification -, particularly in the kidneys and digestive tract. Other symptoms can also be observed: anorexia, lethargy, diarrhea, decreased reproduction.

In nature, it is thesolar exposure which allows the synthesis of vitamin D3 (this is valid for us too!). But even if the cage is placed in your home in a bright place (but not in direct sunlight), modern windows absorb UV rays enormously: daylight is therefore not sufficient if the exposure is not made with the windows open. . In this case, fluorescent tubes producing UV will be particularly useful. It is the technique which is closest to the natural mechanism and which does not entail any risk of overdose.

During the breeding season, it may be necessary to give more vitamin D3 to birds. It is present in fish oils and can therefore be integrated into a “homemade” food. It also exists in the form of tablets sold in most pharmacies under the term “cholecalciferol” to be dissolved in water. These last two methods are the riskiest from an overdose point of view. It is therefore advisable to limit the intake to stay below the maximum doses, given the serious disorders that this can cause in the bird.

But what is cuttlebone anyway?

Cuttlefish bone is a hard and brittle internal structure, composed mainly of aragonite. This substance is a mineral composed of calcium carbonate, magnesium, iron and strontium, but also copper and zinc in very small quantities. It is a porous shell that the animal mobilizes to manage the depth at which it evolves in the sea. This shell contains gases which are more or less compressed to go up or down.

Cuttlefish bone is not only useful for birds

Cuttlefish bone is known to traditional Chinese and Indian medicines for its effectiveness in healing bones and wounds. However, allergies have been observed due to the presence of certain proteins such as tropomyosin. The presence of certain heavy metals also poses problems of side effects.

Strontium is an element little known to the general public, unlike calcium. It is absorbed by the digestive tract by the same mechanisms as the latter. It has a great affinity for the bone in which it accumulates, but it is eliminated through the urine in greater quantities than calcium. Taken alone orally, it causes bone disorders. But these drawbacks disappear when its intake is combined with calcium: it then promotes the formation and development of tissues (histogenesis) and could limit the development of osteoporosis.
A drug, strontium ranelate, has also been marketed for the treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis. While it reduced the risk of vertebral and hip fractures, it was suspected to increase the risk of thromboembolism and the risk of myocardial infarction. This is why his prescription ceased in 2017.

Research has therefore focused on this material, which is all the more promising because it is natural, inexpensive and abundant. It is indeed easy to collect cuttlefish bones that wash up on the beaches. The combination of biomedicine and pharmaceutical engineering has made it possible to remove any side effects. Lithuanian researchers, for example, have worked on the development ofbone implants in dental surgery, by combining cellulose from cuttlefish bones with calcium alginate capsules. These devices have the advantage of disappearing naturally during the healing process. Cuttlefish bone can also be used in suppositories treating hemorrhoids, as well as in healing creams.

Do you have artistic flair?

If you have it, you might well consider giving your creativity free rein: cuttlefish bone is a porous, crumbly material that’s easy to carve. As it easily turns to dust, you must stabilize the material to ensure the durability of your creations.

The French poet and writer André Breton tried it out from time to time, sketching on these natural mandorles small figures and abstract rounded shapes. Why not you ?

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