Do need to feed both layer and Oyster Shell?

Discussion in 'Nutrition - Sponsored by Purina Poultry' started by TexasChicken12, Jan 9, 2015.

  1. TexasChicken12

    TexasChicken12 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Do I need to feed both layer and oyster shell?
    Only two of my nine hens are starting to squat. They are about 23 weeks old. Can I give them all the layer? Do laying hens need to have both layer and oyster shell??? Thanks for all your help!
     
  2. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

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    No -- layer ration is formulated with "extra" (4% vs the 1% of other poultry feeds) calcium to support production of egg shell and expulsion of eggs (calcium supports muscle contraction). Oyster shell is a way to offer that same level of calcium in your birds' diet without having to use a layer ration - preferred by those with mixed flocks or who are not fold of the low protein content of most commercial layer rations.
     
  3. TexasChicken12

    TexasChicken12 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ok! Thanks so much I have been wondering about that!!!!! :)
     
  4. Ballerina Bird

    Ballerina Bird Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Can I piggyback on this question? Does this mean that you can keep feeding your hens grower feed plus oyster shells and not ever switch them to layer feed? Mine have done well on their grower, so I'd be happy to leave them on it if that's possible, but I'm not sure if I have to switch to layer once everyone is laying regularly (and if so, do I then remove the oyster shells?).
     
  5. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

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    Yep -that is the exact feed plan many folks here and in the general chicken keeping world follow, myself included. SO much easier than juggling feed programs for babies, males and hens not actively laying ---- being able to feed one feed knowing that it is suited to every bird who is eating it and then simply offer the calcium that *some* of them need for them to take as they feel the need (as they would in a natural setting) is so much easier.
     
  6. Ballerina Bird

    Ballerina Bird Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you! That's super helpful.
     
  7. DrMikelleRoeder

    DrMikelleRoeder Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi Texaschicken12,

    Sorry for the delayed response!

    Ol Grey Mare is correct – if you plan on feeding a complete layer feed, your birds should have all of the nutrients they need to support quality egg production and bird health. The key to successfully using a complete layer feed is to make sure that it makes up at least 90% of your birds’ diet, meaning that up to 10% of the diet can be treats/scraps/supplements. By following this 90/10 rule, your birds should receive all of the nutrients provided in your complete layer feed. If you increase treats and scraps in the diet, this can dilute the nutrient profile and subsequently, your birds will fall short of the nutrients they need.
     
  8. DrMikelleRoeder

    DrMikelleRoeder Chillin' With My Peeps

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    HI Ballerina Bird,

    To follow-up on your question and to extend upon Ol Grey Mare's response, this does, however, make the assumption that every hen will eat the necessary amount of oyster shell, and that birds that do not require it (roosters, younger birds) will not. Unfortunately, this is not true, so there will always be those hens not eating enough and some other birds eating it when they don’t need it; the roo, for example shouldn’t have it. It is an imperfect option to a balanced and consistent layer feed, but it is the best option available if you do not want to separate birds by nutritional requirements.

    If you plan on going this route, it is important that the oyster shell is provided free-choice. We recommend providing it separately or mixed with the existing feed at a rate of 1 pound of oyster shell for every 20 pounds of feed.
     
  9. Ballerina Bird

    Ballerina Bird Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you for addressing my question! Much appreciated. I just have two hens, and they are just under 8 months old. They both seem to enjoy eating oyster shell, which I offer free choice, along with a grower crumble. They seem so nice and healthy on this regimen, and their eggs look fine. I'm wondering about keeping them on this feed until a year old and then switching to layer? Does this seem appropriate? Because they're my first chickens, I feel hesitant to change things when they are doing well and possibly still growing.
     
  10. rocketmail

    rocketmail Out Of The Brooder

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    I fed my hens 18% layer pellets and still got the occasional thin shelled egg that cracks if you touch it. I'm confused as to how I still had this problem even though the pellets have calcium in them. Responses are appreciated.
     

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