Feeding bones

Kayla's Lunch

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Jun 9, 2018
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Hi everyone. I have a hen that is a little over a year old. She recently has been having some troubles with laying eggs that have thin shells/no shells. They have oyster shell available in the coop and run. They free range about 2-5 hours a day. I feed them New Country Organics grower and I ferment it. I also feed barley fodder. Since her problem started, I also give them layer pellets. But, she still is having a problem with her shells. I have powdered calcium carbonate. When I am able to get her to eat it, it helps. She is a very picky eater and it has been difficult. Today I tried little pieces of raw chicken wing tips. They were cut up into little pieces and she loved them. I don't like the idea of feeding chicken to my chicken, but I don't want her laying shell-less eggs. Anyone have any idea how much wing bone I should feed her? I was thinking I would feed a little every 2-3 days, but don't know how much. Thanks for any suggestions!
 

Chelsa'sChicks

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Aug 16, 2017
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I am a very free person about feeding my chickens things, but I would not feed them bones. Bones will not digest and can cause internal damage.. unless you meant bone meal.. Try crushing up their egg shells. My chickens do not prefer Oyster Shell, but get their calcium from crushed shells.
 

DobieLover

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Jul 23, 2018
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Hi everyone. I have a hen that is a little over a year old. She recently has been having some troubles with laying eggs that have thin shells/no shells. They have oyster shell available in the coop and run. They free range about 2-5 hours a day. I feed them New Country Organics grower and I ferment it. I also feed barley fodder. Since her problem started, I also give them layer pellets. But, she still is having a problem with her shells. I have powdered calcium carbonate. When I am able to get her to eat it, it helps. She is a very picky eater and it has been difficult. Today I tried little pieces of raw chicken wing tips. They were cut up into little pieces and she loved them. I don't like the idea of feeding chicken to my chicken, but I don't want her laying shell-less eggs. Anyone have any idea how much wing bone I should feed her? I was thinking I would feed a little every 2-3 days, but don't know how much. Thanks for any suggestions!
Chickens can eat bones without a problem. They eat small birds, mice, frogs, snakes, anything they can get their little beaks on.
Give it a try.
You may also want to toss some oyster shell out with seeds or scratch if you feed that to encourage her to eat the OS.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
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I have a hen that is a little over a year old. She recently has been having some troubles with laying eggs that have thin shells/no shells.

That's challenging. I assume her egg shells were fine until recently. How long is recently and how consistent is it? Are your other hen's egg shells OK? When I have an issue I try to determine if it is an individual issue or a flock-wide issue. I don't want to mess up the rest of the flock by treating them when nothing is wrong with them.

How long has she been laying without stop. Sometimes egg quality can deteriorate late in a hen's laying cycle. That's one reason they need to molt and recharge their system. Each hen is an individual and some are affected by this more than others. Usually it takes 13 months or more for this to start showing up but you never know.

Some hen's bodies don't absorb certain nutrients the way they should. They just don't process them right, no matter how much they eat. Often it is genetic. If her egg shells used to be fine this is probably not it. Then there is Vitamin D.

Most hens know by instinct that they need extra calcium for egg shells and will eat enough oyster shell or other calcium supplements if they need them. But not all of them have the right instincts.

Is it every egg she lays? Hens typically only make a certain amount of shell material per day. It is possible for a hen to release more than one yolk per day to start the internal egg making process. When that happens there may not be enough shell material to go around so the later eggs especially can be thin-shelled or even soft-shelled. Double yolked eggs can sometimes be thin.

I'll mention this one but I don't think it is what is happening to you. When a pullet starts laying the eggs are pretty small. If she is making enough egg shell material those shells can be pretty thick. As the eggs get larger the shell material has more egg to cover so the shells get thinner. I find it highly unlikely the eggs have increased that much in size lately.

Are they getting a period of dark time? They need enough dark to rest and regroup at night. That can lead to egg quality problems but usually not something like this.

This is what the Egg Quality Handbook has to say about it. This is more for commercial egg production but some of it carries over to our backyard flocks.

https://thepoultrysite.com/publications/egg-quality-handbook/16/thinshelled-eggs-and-shellless-eggs

I'm having problems coming up with things I think it could really be as I understand that this is a recent change. Maybe you can see something in all this that gives you a clue.
 

Kayla's Lunch

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Jun 9, 2018
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Maryland
How long is recently and how consistent is it? Are your other hen's egg shells OK?

It started around Aug 15. I think in the past, I have found a blob of clear jelly in the nest box a few and had no idea who did it. A few weeks ago, Mae had some thin shell hanging out her vent and was not feeling well. I soaked her, gave her calcium, Nutridrench, and olive oil. She pooped out some yucky stuff that had some yellow in it and in a day or two she was fine. But since then there have been about 3 more incidents of thin shells and a blob of jelly. So, I guess it is Mae that is having a consistent problem. She has already gone through molt. That was back in late March. I don't remember when she started laying after the molt. She is a Delaware and doesn't lay every day. And we have had some very hot days this summer and egg production really drops when we even get just 2 days of really hot weather. It seems that it is only her, but I can't be totally sure. If she hadn't had the thin egg shell hanging out her vent and was action lethargic in August, I wouldn't have suspected her. But, when I gave her the calcium after her ordeal, her eggs were fine. So, I was hoping to sneak in some calcium to her to see if it improved the situation. But she is very picky and it has been hard to find something she will eat the calcium in. I tried canned cat food. I tried sprinkling it on mealworms mixed with millet - her favorites, I tried sprinkling it on peas, another favorite and she just doesn't really go for it. The little bits of raw chicken wing tips were very appealing to her! As far as I know she gets enough dark. They go to bed when they feel like it and she is usually the first to go roost.
 

Kayla's Lunch

Songster
Jun 9, 2018
493
736
227
Maryland
I am a very free person about feeding my chickens things, but I would not feed them bones. Bones will not digest and can cause internal damage.. unless you meant bone meal.. Try crushing up their egg shells. My chickens do not prefer Oyster Shell, but get their calcium from crushed shells.

Any eggs that we eat, I save the shells and feed them to the chickens. I have also been trying to make sure she gets a good bit of the shells when I feed them. It seems she needs more than that, because the problem still exists. If it is indeed her (Mae) and not some other hen.
 

MANNA-PRO

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