Calcium sources and behavior

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by debp, Jan 23, 2016.

  1. debp

    debp Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I feed my chickens both oyster shell and roasted and crushed eggshells for calcium. They never finish the oyster shell. When I put out fresh, they are not to interested. When I feed at night, I put out eggshells with the oystershells and they go crazy for it - they leave their feed to eat the eggshells. I am mixing my own feed now, so I worry they are short on calcium to crave the eggshells so much. I don't have many soft eggs, but think the shells are a bit weak compared to those of commercial eggs. Any idea why they wouldn't like their oyster shells or why they like the eggshells so much better?
     
  2. Jesusfreak101

    Jesusfreak101 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Probably a dumb question but do wash the eggshells out and dry and crush them?
     
  3. debp

    debp Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes, I wash them, dry them, bake them and crush, but not too fine.
     
  4. Jesusfreak101

    Jesusfreak101 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mmmmm well then i havent a clue as to why they like them better. I was assuming possible left over egg but with that not being the case i dont know. Mine like both and will leave their food for both to check it
    Out. I dont bake mine i just let them dry in the counter.
     
  5. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    The egg shells simply taste better than the oyster shell, which is why they go ballistic for it and don't bother too much with the oyster shell. I use both egg shells and oyster shells, but I do it a little differently. The oyster shell is in a separate container, and they take just what they need of it. I rarely see them digging in to it, but the level goes down little by little so they are taking it as they need. For egg shells, I hard boil older eggs. I let them cool, then put them in a plastic grocery bag and tie it shut. I put that bag inside another one, also tied shut, set it up on the counter, and beat the stuffin' out of it. I smoosh it and moosh it and mash it. I end up with a bag of crushed hard boiled egg mash complete with shell bits, and I take that out to them. They usually get that once a week or so, and they go nuts for it. I like doing it because I like the extra bit of calcium it provides, but mostly because I like them getting all that protein, especially important when they are molting and in the winter.

    Now, I know what you're probably thinking....."That'll turn them into egg eaters!" Well, nope, it hasn't and I've been doing that for my chickens for 2 years. What goes out into the run in the form of an egg-and-shell treat bears absolutely no resemblance to what they see and lay in the nests. They love it, they don't know that it's good for them, and they don't associate the mush they get with freshly laid eggs.
     
  6. debp

    debp Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi Blooie! I give the egg treat, too, but I usually fry mine, as its easier for me. My egg customers save shells for me, because my chickens like them so much. Maybe they do just taste better to them for some reason. I was thinking that maybe there was some mineral in them that is missing in the oyster shell - or something in the oyster shell they don't really like.
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Is a vitamin/mineral concentrate part of your recipe?
     
  8. debp

    debp Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I put Durvet Vitamins & Electrolytes in the water. The feed mill owner, who is a real old-timer with experience in the poultry industry, thought that and oyster shell would be sufficient. But I am considering adding limestone or aragonite this spring for calcium as they move into full lay. Do you think they need other minerals, hence a need for a mineral mixture? Once the snow clears, they do free-range.

    I
     
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    I don't know offhand and haven't studied the details,
    but since you are having some nutrient concerns,
    checking the trace minerals and vitamins on commercial feed and concentrate and comparing with the Durvet stuff you are using might be a good idea.

    Providing calcium is one thing, but there are other ingredients that help the calcium be absorbed properly.
    If I was mixing my own feed from scratch I would research it in great detail, they don't use that stuff for the heck of it, it has a definite purpose.
     
  10. debp

    debp Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That is a good idea. I don't think everything in conventional mix is necessarily the BEST option for meeting nutrition, and the reasons for putting things in the mix may be influenced by cost/profit/access, but it would be reasonable to look at the ingredients, and see if anything obivous might be missing.
     

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