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Am I a bad chicken momma? I'm not giving them oyster...

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by sixlittlechicks09, Aug 16, 2010.

  1. sixlittlechicks09

    sixlittlechicks09 Songster

    Jul 8, 2010
    Hey everyone! I've got a lovely flock of hens all around laying age, with one who started last week (YAY!) But we recently had some neighbors over who were APPALLED I was not giving our hens crushed commercial oyster shell. So far the few eggs our Mona has produced have been lovely, albeit small. The one we got yesterday was actually quite thick, moreso than a store bought egg (took two smacks to make my french toast this morning) I, as well as my older, farm raised parents, are under the impression we don't need to give calcium supplement unless our hens start laying softies. Are we wrong? Our neighbors are not native to this rural area, they moved up three or so years ago from central Philly. [​IMG] I'm not saying we know better, but these people bought a 1200 dollar, pre-made, heated, solar powered chicken coop for their FOUR chickens, all of which turned out to be roos. They frequently scoff at our old storage shed turned coop and home made, heavy duty wire run and tractors. I'm not one to talk, because we spoil our hens ROTTEN but they just seemed very concerned we weren't "properly caring" for our hens because we weren't giving them oyster grit. ANYWAY back to my original question, our hens get tons of free range time, and when they're "penned in" they've got a 40'x15' run to scratch around in. Will they find their own calcium or do I need to take heed and go down to TSC and get them a bag?
    Sidenote: They're getting laying crumbles, scratch grain and whatever starter/grower feed my slightly younger hens don't finish. No worries though, it's not medicated. And whatever table scraps/garden scraps/treats they can beg off passerbys

  2. FarmerSandra

    FarmerSandra In the Brooder

    Feb 15, 2010
    I think you have the hang of it. I'm new at this, but have done some research, and most chickens get plenty of calcium from yummy bugs that they eat as well as many leafy greens. We are supplementing because two of our pullets are laying shell-less eggs. I tell my kids the same thing, just because they have more money, doesn't mean they know better. Sounds like your hens are healthy and thriving. That's the key.
  3. drdoolittle

    drdoolittle Songster

    Jul 30, 2010
    NE Indiana
    Well, I have never given any of my chickens oyster shell------I too feel guilty about it, but only when I'm buying feed and see it, and wald on by. I do, however, feed my chickens' egg shells back to them crushed up. Mine are free-range also, and get quite a few garden scraps----at least every other day. They are fed layer pellets. Anyway, my chickens have always seemed fine, and have never layed "soft" eggs. Maybe someone else who knows more about this can help. As for the neighbors' chickens' accomadations, I think they went a little over-board. My hubby did build a nice big shed that is sectioned off for the chickens and goats, but heated?!? Not sure that is good for the chickens. Your shed is just wonderful as far as your chickens are concerned![​IMG]
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    If your egg shells are hard, they are getting enough calcium, whether it is from the layer crumbles, bugs, certain green stuff, or the rocks they find and use as grit.

    Oyster shell is too soft to be used as grit. They need harder rocks or sand to use to grind up hteir food. If they have access to the ground they are getting plenty of that.
  5. prancie

    prancie Songster

    May 29, 2009
    I have never given my chickens oyster shell. My chickens lay wonderful eggs that are downright hard to crack sometimes. Don't worry one bit. At least you get eggs...they aren't getting any from those roosters!!![​IMG][​IMG]
  6. Arcane Araucana

    Arcane Araucana In the Brooder

    Jun 14, 2010
    Fort Mohave
    sounds like "hen envy" to me.
  7. tlink34

    tlink34 Hatching

    Aug 16, 2010
    They don't need oyster shell if you are feeding a balanced feed. I give grit because we feed some whole and cracked grains in their scratch feed (in addition to their free choice complete feed).

  8. turtlebird

    turtlebird Songster

    Dec 11, 2009
    layer ration has fairly adequate calcium added for shell production, it is when you start adding scratch and treats that that calcium level sometimes can get out of whack. You could throw a bowl of crushed oyster shell out there for them, or feed their crushed shells back to them. That should take care of any soft shells, if you ever get any of those.
    Try not to get sucked into the "us vs them" game with the Jones's. All that matters is that your ladies are safe from predators, properly cared for.....you give them what they need - they give you what you need (eggs! [​IMG] ). It's a lovely thing that doesn't require tons of money.
  9. jjthinkagain

    jjthinkagain Chirping

    May 26, 2010
    I'm on the other side of this from most thus far. A rubbery egg can be murder to expel and a thin shelled egg can break internally - first time could have serious consequences - so I say, better safe than sorry. It's so easy to have oyster shell available at all times - a bag lasts a long time. This way if they feel the need to add calcium then they will and if not, not. My hen always eats oyster shell the night before laying an egg. She gets a varied diet (a source of great joy for her and her roo buddy) so this way I never have to worry about whether she is getting enough calcium.

    JJ (aka jjthink most of the time...)
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2010
  10. tuesdays chicks

    tuesdays chicks Songster

    Apr 26, 2010
    stuart florida
    1 person reads a book and they know it all, I've read my book and noticed that the people writing the book weren't exactly experts either. so I come on byc so I can learn from others. I only have my 1 laying hen and 1 laying pullet so far the hens been giving me eggs all summer long without having any oyster shell, when I see a problem with her eggs I might add some but I live in florida and I probably have enough calcium in the sand they eat, remember the old saying " if it aint broke don't fix it" as for your neighbors they'll probably be offering you their coop by januaury. because they're going to find out its actually work keeping chickens.
    gl to you and your girls

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