Are oyster shells absolutely necessary?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by tenderkat, Oct 18, 2009.

  1. tenderkat

    tenderkat Chillin' With My Peeps

    My girls have been laying now for about a month and a half. I've yet to give them any oyster shells, and they are laying eggs just fine. Recently, I bought a bag of oyster shell, but have yet to give them any.

    Is it absolutley necessary to add this to their diet? What exactly is it's purpose? Do I just set a bowl out for them to just free feed on this stuff?

    Also, I seem to have read somewhere of people grinding up the chicken's own eggshells, and feeding them this as a form of calcium. Has anyone any knowledge of this?

    Thanks so much, I want to keep my girls off to a good start!!
  2. HorseFeathers

    HorseFeathers Frazzled

    Apr 2, 2008
    Southern Maine
    Just offer a bowl, free choice. They'll know when to eat it.
    Without sufficient calcium, they may process the calcium inside themselves and kill themselves.
  3. redhen

    redhen Kiss My Grits... Premium Member

    May 19, 2008
    Western MA
    Mine never eat it..ever! OR their grit either.. [​IMG]
  4. Scoop

    Scoop Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 16, 2009
    Central PA
    Mine free range so I've never given them oyster shell. I actually do see them eating small pebbles occasionally.
  5. HorseFeathers

    HorseFeathers Frazzled

    Apr 2, 2008
    Southern Maine
    Quote:Oyster shell and grit are not the same thing and do not supplement the same needs. Grit is for grinding up food. Oyster shell provides calcium.
  6. CHIC

    CHIC Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 18, 2009
    I rinse and crush the eggshells and it works really well. If you already have the oyster shells, definately give it to them in a seperate bowl. I think the eggshells thing more people probably do that have fewer chickens and maybe if they run out of oyster shell. I do it because it's more cost efficient for me- I am on a low low low budget right now.
  7. Imp

    Imp All things share the same breath- Chief Seattle

    ยป Are oyster shells absolutely necessary?

    To oysters they are.

    For chickens not absolutely. If they are eating a good layer feed they are probably getting enough calcium. Some people do give their eggshells back to their chickens. Usually baking them first then crushing them up and sprinkling on the food. Other good sources of calcium are dark leafy greens and dairy. Most people give the oyster shell in a seperate dish, but some sprinkle it in the food. The purpose is to give the hens more calcium so they can make harder and consistent shells.

  8. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

    Jun 1, 2009
    Here is some Info Ultimate Fowl Wikipedia.

    Calcium is a very important part of a mature hens health, and laying eggs. Egg shells are almost completely made of calcium. Along with Vitamin D, calcium is a vital part of the egg laying process. If the calcium intake of your hens is not adequate, you can have problems with the consistency of their laying, and soft egg shells. High levels of calcium can cause problems too. Young fowl, and roosters typically don't need an extra source of calcium, and too much can be harmful to them. It is best not to feed a layer type feed to all your fowl for this reason. You are better off to give them a normal type feed, without added calcium, and provide a free choice source of calcium for them, like oyster shells, so the birds that need it for laying eggs, have access, but the birds that don't, won't have to eat the extra calcium that they don't need.

    Crushed oyster shells
    Boiled egg shells

    Ground oyster (or other shellfish) shell is often called "grit". It is fed to chickens and digested to replenish the calcium used by the chicken to produce egg shells. True grit is sand, small pebbles, or crushed granite eaten by a chicken and used by the gizzard to grind up grain and plant fibers. Calcium "grit" does not remain in the gizzard unlike standard grit does.

    Grit is small pieces of rock that a chicken eats to help it grind up food. Grit can be purchased at most farm supply stores as crushed granite, but if your birds have access to the ground, they will find their own grit.

    Last edited: Oct 19, 2009
  9. Phelanite

    Phelanite Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 4, 2009
    Phelan, California
    I am in the same boat. But my eggs without oyster, are just fine. As a matter of fact today I dropped an egg on the dirt from waist height and it didn't break. Free range don't get any suppliments and they seem to live fine. Just my 2 cents. Also if you use layer feed the calcium is about 3 times what is in grow feeds so it seems there would be plenty.
  10. wombat

    wombat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 23, 2009
    If they are eating mostly layer, they get enough calcium from layer. If they free range, they may or may not be getting enough calcium from their diet.

    If you are feeding layer + garden scraps + treats + scratch grains, you're cutting down the percentage of their diet that's coming from layer feed, so it makes sense to have some oyster shell in a separate feeder "free choice."

    It's not that expensive, and if they are generally getting a lot of calcium elsewhere they won't take much of it. Just put some in a seperate feeder that's out of the elements and re-fill when you need two. Ours hardly use any at all.

    My seven year old daughter's been cracking and scrambling her own eggs since the age of three, and has not trouble with "grocery store" eggs, but our home-raised eggs have a more substantial shell and she has trouble cracking then cleanly. We feed purina layena, garden leftovers, some free range time, etc. and put out shell just in case. I haven't had to top off the shell feeder since spring, the bag will likely last me for years.
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2009

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by