Alternatives to Oyster Shell?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by CreativeCowgirl, Dec 3, 2012.

  1. CreativeCowgirl

    CreativeCowgirl Out Of The Brooder

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    I've noticed that most people here seem to use oyster shell for their hens calcium. However, I have heard that if you ever plan on processing your birds later, the oyster shell can make them have a bit of a fishy taste. Has anyone else noticed this? Now, my girls are about 18 weeks right now, so I figure I should start offering them some calcium in case they start laying soon. I don't know if I will be processing them later or not, but I would like to leave that option open by not feeding oyster shell so they don't taste fishy. What are some other good alternatives to oyster shells? I have heard that some people feed back the eggshells all crushed up, and I will probably try that, but I probably won't be able to save all the eggshells as I will be selling a lot of the eggs. What are some other good (and easy) sources of calcium(other than in veggies)? Is there anything similar to oyster shells that is not fish based?
     
  2. stevetone

    stevetone Chicken Advocate

    Is there a reason that you aren't relying on the content of the layer feed to supply all the calcium they need? Don't get me wrong, there may be good reasons to supplement, but since your pullets have not started laying, they probably don't need any extra calcium. And may not even as laying hens.

    Although there are those that seem to like to tinker with feed, a good layer feed really does have the correct amount of calcium needed for a laying hen. Now, if you are heavily supplementing their feed with other things (veggies, meat, scratch grains, etc.), you may have to add calcium. Just keep in mind that oyster shell is really not a potent source of calcium delivery, as it is hard to crush in their gizzard and dissolves very slowly. And they need Potassium along with the Calcium, or it's just wasted.

    Eggshell does not have the digestive challenge of oyster shell, so if you really need to supplement, I would recommend that you use either crushed eggshells or a vitamin/mineral powdered supplement.

    However, in my opinion, most flocks do not need supplemental calcium, except in unusual situations.

    Edit: I've assumed that you have switched them to layer feed at this point? If not, the next bag should be layer feed.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2012
  3. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

  4. CreativeCowgirl

    CreativeCowgirl Out Of The Brooder

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    They are still working on their last bag of grower/finisher feed, after that bag is gone, I was planning on switching to layer feed. Although, I also may have chicks in spring so would I then need to switch again to a chick feed so the babies don't get too much calcium?
     
  5. mickey328

    mickey328 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I save the eggshells and dry them. Then I whiz 'em in the food processor till they're ground but not powdery. We keep a container topped off for them to help themselves from. Recycling at its best! For the most part they only help themselves to what they need. I prefer to offer both calcium and grit in this manner rather than mixing it with feed...that way everyone gets what they need :)
     
  6. ChickensRDinos

    ChickensRDinos Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I never use layer because I have a mixed flock and prefer my birds to regulate their own calcium. I use oyster shell as their main calcium source. I processed my first bird this year and did not notice any sort of fishy taste. She was delicious, like the most chicken tasting chicken I have ever had in my life. Of course, one bird is not a great sampling. I would be curious if other people had a different experience. Where did you hear about the fishy taste? Sounds more like a wife's tale than science to me.

    If you decide to use a layer, you should switch when you add in chicks. You really only want laying birds eating the layer.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2012
  7. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

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    Last edited: Dec 3, 2012
  8. stevetone

    stevetone Chicken Advocate

    It is worth noting that these test subjects were not on a premixed feed that contained calcium. This study used a feed that was formulated and mixed onsite, using the various calcium sources. It was for a commercial flock. This is Backyard Chickens website, not Commercial Chickens Inc.

    I still contend that laying flocks on a good commercial layer feed do not need supplemental calcium unless the nutrient ratios have been thrown off by supplemental feed sources (i.e., treats, scratch, etc.).

    It was, however, an interesting result. I like it when posters come to the table with facts and studies instead of folklore and myth. Thank you!
     
  9. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

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    Quote: Of course they used a onsite mix, they us that mix so that there is not false result in the test.
    That test tells the same result for a commercial flock as a backyard flock.


    Chris
     
  10. stevetone

    stevetone Chicken Advocate

    I think you missed my point. Unless you are mixing your own feed, you are likely getting enough calcium in the layer feed that you are buying in the bag.
     

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