chicken grit/crushed oyster shell

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by gullybrush, Dec 1, 2014.

  1. gullybrush

    gullybrush Out Of The Brooder

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    I have been buying a 5lb bag of "chicken grit". It looks like smooth very white stones only it's not rock. They go through 5lbs fast, so I asked for a bigger bag. When I got home and opened it, it was crushed oyster shell and had sharp edges and some had very pointy ends. Can chickens eat this? If I tried to swallow some, it would be like razor blades. Thanks for any advice.
     
  2. pdirt

    pdirt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They have a bag labeled "chicken grit" but it's really crushed oyster shell? If so, your feed store doesn't know their stuff as it relates to chickens.

    Oyster shell cannot be used as grit, it's too soft. You need hard rock, such as crushed granite. If you're feeding your birds layer feed and they are also quickly going through the oyster shell, they may be attempting to use the oyster shell as grit, if they have nothing else available to them to function as grit. They would also be getting way too much calcium.

    As for the sharpness, it's hard to say without a photo. Chickens have been known to eat crushed glass, such as broken safety glass, which they use as grit.

    Do your birds free range at all?
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2014
  3. Percheron chick

    Percheron chick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They are fine with what you bought as a Ca source. It's too soft to really do the job of grit. If you want cheaper grit you can just put a pile of dirt from the garden or flower beds in the run for them to scratch and pick through. It will help keep them busy when they are locked up. You can also buy a 50# bag of sand/gravel from Home Depot for about the same price as a 5# bag of chicken grit.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2014
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  4. gullybrush

    gullybrush Out Of The Brooder

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    I asked for a larger bag of "chicken grit" and they gave me crushed oyster shell, so I think you're correct in that the feed store doesn't know their stuff. I haven't given them the oyster shell...wanted to check first. Will go back to the 5 lb. bag of smooth grit.

    Should chickens have free choice of grit calcium or should I just throw about 1/2 cup in their yard each day? How do you tell if they're getting way too much calcium?

    They have about a 25 X 40 yard and are let out for at least 8 hours most days, depending on severe weather and whether or not I'm home before dark.....I have wild chicken-eating critters around.

    Thank you for responding to novice questions.

    PS - what breed of chickens lay the best. I average 4 to 5 eggs a day from 8 chickens. Is that good?
     
  5. gullybrush

    gullybrush Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for the Home Depot suggestion!!
     
  6. Percheron chick

    Percheron chick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    For this time of year, that's a great yield from 8 hens. I haven't seen an egg is about a month out of 25. Your best layers are going to be the hybrid sexlinks, leghorns, aconas and a few rarer breeds. The problem is most of these breeds are going to have a shorter laying life and get burned out younger (2-3 years tops). If you stick with the smaller bodied hens, they will cost less to feed per egg than the dual purpose ones.

    I just toss the OS on the ground in the run. I would do the same for the grit. Make them work for it. Helps trim their claws scratching and if the hens are busy scratching, they aren't picking on each other.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2014
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Grit is usually crushed granite.....you probably don't need to supply this to them if they have access to varied ground.....or the scratch grain I get from the mill has granite grit added.

    Calcium is usually supplied with crushed oyster shell....and rinsed, dried and crushed chicken egg shell.
    They may not need this supplied if you are feeding a layer feed which already contains calcium.


    I like to feed an 'all flock' 20% protein crumble to all ages and genders. Makes life much simpler to store and distribute one type of chow that everyone can eat and have calcium available at all times for the layers, oyster shell mixed with rinsed, dried, crushed chicken egg shells in a separate container.
    The higher protein crumble offsets the 8% protein scratch grains and other kitchen/garden scraps I like to offer.
     
  8. pdirt

    pdirt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If all you have are laying hens, you don't need to worry much about them getting too much calcium. They will get calcium from the layer feed. You don't really need to offer them additional calcium if you're feeding layer feed, but some folks do (separate from their feed). If you're not feeding layer feed and having some laying hens, you'll need to offer additional calcium on the side, either in a separate dish or scattered like Percheron chick suggested. They will self-regulate themselves with how much calcium they need if you provide it separately.

    I only said they "might get too much calcium" because it sounded like you might have been offering oyster shell as their grit and since oyster shell doesn't function very well as grit, I thought they might've been scarfing it down in attempt to try to get enough to work sorta like grit. But it's a moot point, because you free range your birds and they will get plenty of grit that way. In other words, you don't need to buy grit if they have free range access.

    5 eggs from 8 birds sounds great to me! Today I got 3 from 20 birds, yesterday was 5.
     
  9. gullybrush

    gullybrush Out Of The Brooder

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    My chicks are just cross-bred mutts and a few barred rocks, but I was thinking about some Leghorns. For eggs, maybe it's quite a bit colder in Colorado than in Texas. Mine do slow down in Jan & Feb.
    Thanks for the info.
     
  10. RonP

    RonP Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by pdirt [​IMG]

    They have a bag labeled "chicken grit" but it's really crushed oyster shell? If so, your feed store doesn't know their stuff as it relates to chickens.

    Oyster shell cannot be used as grit, it's too soft. You need hard rock, such as crushed granite. If you're feeding your birds layer feed and they are also quickly going through the oyster shell, they may be attempting to use the oyster shell as grit, if they have nothing else available to them to function as grit. They would also be getting way too much calcium.


    Often "Grit" is labeled as soluble or insoluble grit.

    Soluble would be the crushed oyster shells.
    [​IMG]


    Insoluble would be the crushed granite.
    [​IMG]
     

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