Chickens not eating oyster shells

Savager

Chirping
Nov 14, 2018
92
188
88
I own three ducks and four chickens and recently discovered one of my ducks is a male. Originally my plan was to integrate everyone to share layer feed, but now I don't want to feed my male duck excess calcium. So I bought normal flock grower food and I bought oyster shell to supplement the chickens for now since the ducks haven't started laying yet. However, the chickens don't seem to be eating oyster shell, like it's maybe too hard or something. But their eggs don't seem to have thin shells, so I was wondering if they are getting the calcium needed from walking around the yard during the day, or if maybe the oyster shell needs to be crushed more. Any feedback or experience would be helpful.
 

centrarchid

Crossing the Road
11 Years
Sep 19, 2009
26,387
17,763
856
Holts Summit, Missouri
If they are running about free-range with access to quality forage, then all bets are off in terms of what they are actually consuming in terms of nutrients. If egg quality is good, then like nutritional status is good. If they can sustain egg quality and number, then the forage quality is certainly good as a calcium source.
 

GC-Raptor

Free Ranging
Jul 26, 2016
5,166
9,798
621
Connecticut, USA
I add Oyster Shells to Scratch Grains. 1 pound to 20 pounds of Scratch Grains.
I toss the Scratch in their pen daily over straw as a treat.
My first Flock of 2 1/2 year olds have a raised coop and hangout under the coop or in their pen most of the time.
I placed the Oyster Shell container at the chicken door under the coop, so they walk by it when they go in or out. 20180718_090835.jpg . I also have water there.
I keep their feeder and waterer in the coop. 20181021_092420.jpg . I feed either a Non-Medicated 18% Starter-Grower or a 20% All-Flock feed. Whatever is freshest when I'm at the store.
The Oyster Shells last a long time. I calculated they need 4 average size pieces of Shells a day to get enough Calcium Carbonate. 20180625_162357.jpg . That's not figuring the 1% in a Non-Layer feed or whatever they get while foraging from grass or weeds.
Even when I was feeding a Layers feed in their first year of Laying, a 5 pound bag of Oyster Shells lasted 11 months for 5 hens. GC
 
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rebrascora

Free Ranging
5 Years
Feb 14, 2014
7,127
8,756
556
Consett Co.Durham. UK
You may find that they eat crushed, dried egg shells more enthusiastically but if they are not eating the OS and their shell quality is good, then it is likely they don't need it, but that can change as time goes on so do keep it available.

I'm not sure how old your drake is but beware of keeping him with your chickens, particularly if he is young as when his hormones surge, 2 ladies may not be enough for him and he may try to mate your hens as well, which can be an unhealthy situation.
 

rebrascora

Free Ranging
5 Years
Feb 14, 2014
7,127
8,756
556
Consett Co.Durham. UK
The chickens may not be consuming the oyster shell because they do not need additional calcium. They can clearly assess items based on taste / flavor and the oyster shell consumption may not be driven by any sort of craving for calcium.

I agree. Animals have a much stronger instinct for which nutrients they need than we do, especially with trace elements. If their egg shell quality is good then they clearly don't need the extra calcium at the moment.
 

Savager

Chirping
Nov 14, 2018
92
188
88
The chickens may not be consuming the oyster shell because they do not need additional calcium. They can clearly assess items based on taste / flavor and the oyster shell consumption may not be driven by any sort of craving for calcium.
Ok thanks for the feedback that's what a lot of the responses seem to agree on.
 

Savager

Chirping
Nov 14, 2018
92
188
88
You may find that they eat crushed, dried egg shells more enthusiastically but if they are not eating the OS and their shell quality is good, then it is likely they don't need it, but that can change as time goes on so do keep it available.

I'm not sure how old your drake is but beware of keeping him with your chickens, particularly if he is young as when his hormones surge, 2 ladies may not be enough for him and he may try to mate your hens as well, which can be an unhealthy situation.
Thanks for the feedback, my Drake is about 4 1/2 months, haven't seen any signs of aggression or anything, the three of them tend to be more timid. I have read things about drakes being aggressive to chickens, but he hasn't shown anything yet, but I'm keeping an eye on him.
 

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