heard so much about..

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by annie3001, Aug 7, 2009.

  1. annie3001

    annie3001 My Girls

    Jun 11, 2009
    food and different things you should and shouldnt give chickens. however i was wondering, do i have to give oyster shell or scratch? my local farm store, isnt much help, so i hope someone here will help out.
    right now my 5 - 2 month old chickens are eating pellets (well actually i have to water them down, mushy ) then they eat it. they got used to the chick starter and they dont eat the pellets.
    do i have to give them the scratch and oyster thingys? they get treats every other day and lots of grass that i throw in their run.
    any advice is appricitated.
    thanks again!

  2. Imp

    Imp All things share the same breath- Chief Seattle

    Quote:You do need to feed scratch or oyster shell. Scratch is mostly a corn treat. If you don't want them to miss out just use kernal corn. I've read that there is some scratch that has other grains in it, but have not seen it here. Maybe it's regional.
    Oyster shell is for extra calcuim to help keep the shells thick. You can use other sources of calcium, if you need it. Dairy products like cheese, yogurt. I sprinkle powdered milk in their treats. You can cook their eggshells, crumble and feed back. And any other sources of calcium, I'm thinking some of the dark leafy greens are a good source of calcium. Good luck

  3. Judy

    Judy Crowing

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    First of all, pellets are a feed size or type, and don't tell you anything about the nutritional content. And you are right, feed store employees are notoriously NOT a good source of information.

    You need to feed starter for about 8 weeks, then grower til about 20 weeks, then layer. Around here, they only sell a combination starter/grower, so I just feed it til around 20 weeks. Some of these may come in pellets, mash, or crumble -- these are terms that address only the size of the pieces, not the age of chicken they are aimed at.

    Pellets will not be available in starter because they need a smaller feed size at that age. As you are feeding pellets, be sure they are not layer pellets. You can damage a young chicken's kidneys with too much calcium. There is more calcium in layer feed, so the hens can make better egg shells. At 2 months, pellets may be fine, but only if they are grower pellets. If they are layer pellets, don't feed this. Never feed layer til they are at point of lay (around 20 weeks) or, better yet, actually laying.

    Oyster shell needs to be offered after they start laying, because it provides the extra calcium they need. They need this in addition to the extra calcium in layer feed. Offer it separately, so they can take what they need, no more, no less. I do feel that oyster shell should be offered to all layers, regardless of other sources of calcium that may be offered, such as crushed egg shells and greens. Has to do with bioavailability.

    Much the same with grit (ground or crushed granite.) Once they are on the ground, have access to dirt and bugs and such, or offered any extras other than feed, they need grit available, offered separately, so they can take what they need. There is a smaller grit for younger chicks, and a larger size for larger birds.

    Scratch is a treat, period, and they need grit available when they are offered scratch, to grind the grains. It should not be more than about 5% of their daily intake. It's chicken candy. It's great to give just for fun, or to get them into the coop when you are training them to go in, or anything similar. I throw out a bit of scratch every morning because they love it, and because it gets them moving and scratching for bugs and such.

    The grit and oyster shell are not expensive at all, as they don't really take that much of either. For 5 birds, you may not buy more than two or three bags of either a year, and they are only a few dollars each. You do not have to offer scratch if you don't want to.

    The only necessities are the proper feed for their age (starter, grower, layer,) and grit, and oyster shell after they start laying. Scratch is not necessary -- but it is cheaper than regular feed and a good treat, so it does make sense, in small quantities.

    On pellets, sometimes chickens resist a change from crumbles or mash to pellets. You can moisten them if you wish, but truth is, they will not starve themselves. And if they don't eat moistened pellets quickly, the pellets could mold, at which point they can become a source of serious illness. They will eat the pellets if they are hungry enough. I only buy pellets at the layer level because they waste a lot less. If they seem to prefer the crumbles, well, tough.

    When it comes time to change feed type, feel free to use up the last feed, mixing it into the new feed. It's actually a good idea, for example, when they start laying, to mix maybe 1/4 layer with 3/4 grower in the feeder, then next time mix them half and half, and so forth. No need to waste feed.

    That's it, in a nutshell. IMHO, of course.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 8, 2009

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