Calcium powder for soft shells

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by dirtbath, Feb 23, 2013.

  1. dirtbath

    dirtbath Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 15, 2009
    North Carolina
    I have Silkies, they are too small to eat regular oyster shell, I set it out for them and they just ignore it. One of my girls has been laying soft eggs for a week. Even on the end, it's like the shell isn't even strong enough to develop, and she lays an "open egg" that has a small hole in the end. Poor thing. Anyway, I have calcuim supplement pills for myself that are made from Oyster shell, can I just use a mortar and pestle and grind up my vitamins and sprinkle one on her food? Or has anyone had any luck with the calcium powder that they sell to reptile owners in pet stores to sprinkle over crickets that lizards eat? I'm trying to think of a creative way to get some calcium down this hen so her poor eggs firm up.
  2. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 15, 2011
    SE Pa.
    The calcium pills you have should help to boost her calcium in take. You can also give her a boost by giving her foods higher in calcium like kale and spinach.
  3. mojoy

    mojoy New Egg

    Nov 24, 2015
    I have had the same problem with one of my new layer, though not sure which one. They won't eat the oyster shell. I know they make calcium powder for reptiles, wondering if that would be an option? My calcium supplement is kind of expensive b/c I don't absorb it well.
  4. MeepBeep

    MeepBeep Chillin' With My Peeps

    Rather than crush up expensive calcium supplement pills or pay a premium for 'reptile' calcium dust, just get some cheap antacid pills and grind them up... Drop them in a plastic bag and hit with hammer... Just verify the ones you purchase are simple calcium carbonate and nothing else added, most are just calcium carbonate even the dollar store ones will work...
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2015
  5. Free Spirit

    Free Spirit The Chiarian

    Oct 21, 2015
    You can also dry and crush egg shells and feed it back to them as well. as @Den in Penn mentioned, Kale is good for calcium and other valuable nutrients.
  6. Folly's place

    Folly's place Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    Are you feeding a layer feed? Hens should be fine on that if fed exclusively. I feed Flock Raiser, and have oyster shell on the side. Mine has multiple sized grains, suitable for any bird. Too many goodies will unbalance their nutrition, and calcium powder or ground egg shells aren't adequate for laying hens. The bird lays down the shell in the early morning, after she's used up ground calcium already. There's research that demonstrates this, at least in high producing hens. If it's just one hen, it may be a individual problem, not so much the food. Mary
  7. MeepBeep

    MeepBeep Chillin' With My Peeps

    I fully beg to differ, can you point me to the studies that show this? Both calcium powder and ground egg shells can provide sufficient calcium for laying birds if offered in sufficient quantities... The calcium in commercial 'layer feed' is nothing more than calcium powder, so the statement makes no sense that calcium powder is not an adequate source of calcium for laying hens...

    Again I fully beg to differ, what do you mean all used up? The shell takes 18-20 hours to form, it's not laid down in the morning... What was their calcium intake for the day used for that leaves none for the egg come morning? Calcium doesn't just pass through the system like many other things, it's retained in the body, and the bird should have plenty come morning if they consumed sufficient amounts in their diet...
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2015
    2 people like this.
  8. Folly's place

    Folly's place Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    Unfortunately I'm not up to transferring websites to the forum, but I did find some studies that were related. One evaluated oyster shell, limestone, and ground eggshells for laying hens, and found that particle size was very important; larger sized pieces were available to the hen in the early morning, when she was laying down the eggshell. The eggshells used in the study were ground up fine, so not so good. The information I was quoting came from veterinary seminar about backyard poultry last winter, from Dr. Harrison at UC Davis, and Dr. Fulton at MSU. If they are wrong, or misinterpreting data, that's fine; I take their advice about most things involving poultry. Mary
  9. Folly's place

    Folly's place Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    The studies they quoted concerned commercial strains of laying hens, not low production types like many of us have. But also, not involving birds fed less optimal diets, like many here. Mary
  10. MeepBeep

    MeepBeep Chillin' With My Peeps

    In the studies I have read particle size is only important when you consider the absorption rate vs intake, they found that calcium bigger than 2mm had better overall absorption rates per intake... This is because the bigger particles get stuck in the gizzard longer and thus there is a higher percentage of absorption as the calcium is in the system longer, basically the larger particles create a timed release over an extended period... But this is mostly irrelevant if the bird has free access to consume more calcium at any given time and is not fed the calcium as a ration, they just need to consume a little more powder over the course of the day to get the same absorption rate... This is important to commercial farms as they can save a few dollars on wasted calcium if they use larger particles, for the small flock owner it's really not a factor...

    This is an interesting study on calcium particlel size... Note they recommend both powdered and chunks, so that there is a time release over night from the larger chunks, but also a rapid release during the light hours from powdered... Also note how fast the birds process calcium, from initial eating to being deposited on the egg in under 30 minutes... nutriton and particles size.pdf
    1 person likes this.

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