Free Ranging and Oyster Shells

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Mosherd1, Oct 5, 2013.

  1. Mosherd1

    Mosherd1 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 4, 2012
    East Windsor, CT
    I use Layena, but my chickens tend to not eat a whole lot of it. 6 birds might eat 3 hand fulls per day. I am wondering how wild chickens, who do not have access to oyster shells, obtain enough calcium to lay eggs. Everyone seems to say how important oyster shells are but I am wondering if it if needed mostly for confined birds and not free range birds? They seem to be hunting and pecking most of the day in the weeds looking for their own food. I have not used oyster shells and have only had chickens for 2 weeks so I am open to advice.Thanks!
    -Dave
     
  2. DStewart PDX

    DStewart PDX Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 25, 2013
    Portland, Oregon
    My birds free range over the limited area of my back yard. It takes awhile, but the quality of their eggshells will start to decline if they haven't had oyster shell in a long time. If I start to see some weak shells, I throw some out. Whoever needs it will eat it. I do not need to supplement with oyster shell very often. Five pounds will last a year or so.
     
  3. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 True BYC Addict Premium Member

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    Most wild chickens don't lay nearly the number of eggs that our laying hens do, so they don't need as much calcium. Free range birds can find some calcium, but a high production breed is probably sooner or layer going to need supplemental calcium or they will have egg shell problems.
     
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    What kelsie said. Wild birds lay, what, maybe a dozen eggs total a year? I honestly don't know, but it's not many. Chickens are expected to lay an egg a day for a year straight, and even then folks get all freaked out when they take a break for the winter. That's a lot of calcium being used, way more than nature ever intended for the bird to have to supply. We've interfered with their production, so we also need to interfere with their diet to be sure they can support the increased production.

    You don't have to do oyster shells all the time. I feed their own shells back to them (and no, I've never had an egg eater, in 20 years of doing this. Don't bake or microwave them either, just crack and toss in the run) and that does okay for the most part. Every so often I will notice shells getting thinner and then I toss some oyster shell in the run for them to eat. They really don't eat much--I've been working on a 50lb bag for 2 years with 2 dozen hens and have barely made a dent---but the shells thicken up well.
     
  5. Mosherd1

    Mosherd1 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 4, 2012
    East Windsor, CT
    That makes sense, I appreciate the insight, thanks,
    -Dave
     

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