My hens are quasi free-roaming. They are out in an acre of total area about 3-4 hrs per day. They love to dig & scratch for bugs. They love "greens"(except broccoli). They are (all six) laying & have been for a month or more. Nearly every morning, I cut up some greens, full cup of crushed oyster shells, & 3 cups of multigrained cracked corn. They are given an unending supply of Nutrena layer feed & have a constant-feed water supply. When they are not free-rangiing, they have a circular pen using over 200 feet of fencing. I do, occasionally, sit down in the backyard & "pull" one half of a chicken breast(cooked, of course) into long strings& feed by hand. They go bananas over this protean treat. No problems 'til this morning when one laid a paper-thin-shelled egg & booted it out of the nest onto the straw-covered floor below. It did not break. My first question is simple, "Am I giving them too much greens"? Second question...if not too much greens, what would cause a paper-thin shell? What about the other diet items? or is this just one of those things that happen occasionally? captbridgers
I doubt the greens are a problem. I'd offer the oyster shell on demand all the time, in a separate feeder or dish from their feed. My first guess, if there is an issue, would be the cracked corn. Chickens will forgo everything for corn and scratch mixes, and may not get enough vitamins and minerals from their feed. I look at it as "chicken crack" or "candy corn". A very little bit goes a long way.
It also could be a passing anomaly. I'd forgo the corn mix for a while. If you don't see anymore thin shell eggs you can start giving again, in moderation.
Many thanks! Yeah, I've noticed they do love the corn. I also put about a cup on the back deck every evening as they come up & expect something. They do have 2, 3lb feed delivery jars in the hen house & they each are usually down 2/3 to 3/4 nearly every morning by 10am. It appears they are getting a fair amount of commercial layer feed. It does not have the extra calcium that Nutrena's new feed has so Maybe I'll switch to it. & yes, I will pick up another delivery jar to make calcium available 24-7. They do eat up all the calcium I give them in the morning. My wife did suggest I give them more a couple weeks ago...Guess maybe she was onto something? Guys hate to give wives credit for something they should have known, huh!? Any comments? Thanks again! captbridgers
Yeah, I was wondering, should I wash the greens I get from the grocery store? I didn't think it was important since they eat dirt all the time but maybe there are some residual pest control chemicals present on the leaves. The primary type of greens is collard greens. Thanks for your response! captbridgers
I wash greens from the grocery store, simply because I have no idea what might be on them.
From my garden, I don't worry about it because I know. Radish greens are always a hit with mine.
Here is a post on treats for chickens. It's a good start.
A good rule of thumb is that treats and extras should not exceed 10% of their diet.
And I personally think it's healthier to have variety rather than too much of any one thing.
You will have to experiment to see what is a hit with your birds. They have likes and dislikes just like people.
The first time you offer something different you may get weird looks, or they may look at it like it might be a bomb about to go off.
Thanks for the response. The chart is most helpful. I have a copy in the kitchen, bedroom & laundry room!! It's hard to remember everything that's good or bad! I have probably beengiving them more than 25% of their diet in "treats". I will back off, as I do agree w/ your 10% max. captbridgers