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Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by brokenknee, Nov 1, 2015.
Can oyster shells go bad like feed? How much would one expect to go use for seven hens?
They don't go bad per se like feed. They are mostly calcium carbonate. What I do find is if they get wet, like the container gets rained in, the get a little mushy and the chickens don't care for that. I keep mine in a 5 gallon food grade pickle bucket.
How much you go through depends on if they are in addition to the CA in layer feed or if they are the only source of calcium as if one feeds an All Flock type of feed that is 1% calcium.
It goes a long way. If it were the only source of calcium, 25 lbs. might last them a year. You have to play it by ear since there is no way to know how many eggs they'll lay and producing those egg shells is the only reason they need more than 1% calcium.
I usually have about 20-30 hens. Sometimes I feed layer feed but if I have roosters or young birds with a flock I don't. I bought a 50 lb. bag well over a year ago and I probably have about 10 lbs. left.
Oh and, welcome to the group.
Another potential problem would be if the oyster shell was dirty with some type of organic material and that stayed wet. The oyster shell itself would not be the problem and would not go bad, but the other stuff could go sour and really stink. If you store it where it is dry you are not going to have a problem with it going bad in your lifetime. As long as you don’t offer it in a way that it stays in standing water you’ll be fine.
It’s almost impossible to tell how much oyster shell they will go through. Chickens not laying need some calcium but not much calcium. Chickens that lay small eggs or that don’t lay an egg every day don’t go through as much calcium as others. There are other factors too. Your chicken feed has some calcium. Chickens can get calcium from some of the plants they eat, some creepy crawlies they catch, and even from the rock they use as grit if it is limestone. If they are getting enough calcium from other things they eat they are not going to go through the oyster shell very fast.
How you feed it makes a difference too. I feed mine in a rabbit feeder and they knock a lot onto the ground. It gets scratched in the dirt, scattered and lost, so it looks like they are eating more than they really are.
Wild birds are not fed oyster shell yet they find enough calcium in their environment to put shells on their eggs. Most of our chickens are not in an environment where they can find enough calcium so offering oyster shell on the side is a good idea in my opinion. It may go fairly fast, it may last a really long time. But it is there if needed.
Thank you for the reply and the welcome Pretty new to the chicken thing.
A five pound bag of oyster shells were around $6.00 and a twenty five pound bag was around $10.00. Since the store is about an hour and a half drive (visiting daughter and grand kids) I picked up the twenty five pound bag as I figured I could give it to friends who also raise chickens.
We currently have seven hens (started out with ten, one died within the first few days and a skunk? got into the temperary coop a few weeks ago and killed two and maimed one (lost an eye).
They are now in their new coop even though it is not completely finished.
Good points. Plus wild birds only lay a clutch or two a year. There's enough calcium stored in the medullary bone for that and they can rebuild it through summer, fall and winter before the next laying season.
Looked at the bag again and it was fifty pounds not twenty five, better deal than I thought.
I'd been working on a 50 lb bag for probably 3 years when it got moved outside and rained on. Made a huge soggy mess so I just took it out to the garden. I figured it was probably okay to spend another $10 on calcium for the girls for the next several years. Now it's in a galvanized trash can, no more rain!
How many hens do you have?
I am going to give a coffee can of the shells to my boss who also has chickens, When I asked him if he feeds his girls oyster shells he said no, I asked him if he was having a problem with thin shells and he said yes. So will be giving him some to try.
I do find it strange here in farm country have only been able to locate the shells in five pound bags; We go to the city to visit our daughter, stop at fleet farm and they have the fifty pound bags for ten dollars. Five pound bags here are six dollars, go figure. .
I'm going to take the 5th, in case my Honey reads this . We have an agreement, he doesn't count my chickens and I don't count his guns .
Okay, seriously, during that time frame I ran anywhere from 2 dozen to a peak of almost 70 birds, probably 2/3s were active layers.
Things like that are always way cheaper in bulk. The feed store closest to my house does that. The only way I can buy OS or oat groats there is in 5 lb. bags. They buy 50 lb. bags, make smaller bags and mark them up. I asked if I could buy a 50# bag and they said no.
Needless to say, I only shop there in an emergency. It is a shame it is only 5 minutes from my house. The next two are a half hour away.
My wife used to always say, 'Do we really need more chickens? I don't think so." She has given up.
I range from 10-100 at any one time throughout the year. Usually about 20 + hens and 5 roosters going into winter. I never want to be under 2 roosters since I can't find them anywhere.