1. Come check out hundreds of awesome coop pages (and a few that need suggestions) in our 2018 Coop Rating Project!

Hello. New to raising chickens and need help!

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by DoloresRun, Dec 2, 2010.

  1. DoloresRun

    DoloresRun In the Brooder

    Dec 2, 2010
    Hi Everyone

    As I posted I am really new to backyard farming. I have a flock of 5 chickens, 3 Barnevelders and 2 Isa Browns. I have had them for about 2 months now and all has been good until last night. I went to check on them this morning, clean out the coop etc, and I found a broken un-formed egg in the nesting box! I am concerned because after reading some of the posts here I am thinking that we are not feeding our chickens correctly. I should say that i am in Australia and they seem to do things differently here from what my friends in Canada do.

    I currently feed my chickens organic seed only as I cannot find organic pellets! If that even exists [​IMG] I also include shells in their feed but I am not sure if I am putting in enough. I purchased a 40kg bag of feed and added about 5kg of shells! We do not want to feed the chickens meat of any kind, hence the seed mix. We also feed them kitchen scraps every day. My daughters actively feed flies, worms and slugs as well!

    Am I doing this correctly or am I doing something wrong. Everything I have read so far that is Australian tells me that I am doing everything ok but because of the unformed egg I am now concerned. Can someone please give me advise?

    Also, I was told that feeding the chickens their own egg shells could possibly make them begin to cannabalize their own eggs? Is that true because I was doing that and then we stopped because of that advise!

    Any advise would be ever so helpful


  2. texasdixiechick

    texasdixiechick In the Brooder

    Mar 13, 2010
    Alvarado, TX

    We feed our chickens layer pellets or feed that has at least 18% protein. We also put oyster shell out so they can eat it as they need it. This will help them produce hard egg shells. You did the right thing by not allowing them to eat their eggs/shells. Not a good thing. Every once in a while, we get a soft shell egg, despite what we feed them. In other words, the egg just has a membrane like shell, kinda squishy. I think it just happens at times.
  3. chickenlady08

    chickenlady08 Songster

    Jul 27, 2009
    Eastern Shore, VA
    Quote:Hi Delores and [​IMG]

    Have your girls been laying eggs up until now. Are you actually giving them chicken feed or just seed. Seed is not a good diet for them. They need the chicken food as their main food source and then the seed can be a treat to them thrown out on the ground for them to scratch at and gobble up. I give mine oyster shell for their calcuim needs because I don't feed any of my chickens the laying food. I feed them the grower/finisher food, plus the calcuim and grit if they can't free range (which they haven't been for a few weeks because I lost one of my Khaki Campbell drakes to what I beleive is a fox). so they are on lock down until we can enclose the rest of the yard. Do your girls get to free range or do they have to stay in their runs? If they aren't able to free range then they need the grit to help them digest the scrapes and other treats properly.

    I have a different opinion on the egg shells. I wash them well and let them dry and then bake them in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes and then crush them up and give them back to the chickens as a source of calcuim for them. Mine don't crack and eat the eggs unless I accidently drop one and it breaks, then before I can get it cleaned up they are all over it. But even then I haven't had any issues with them 'eating' their eggs. Now I think what helps is the cleaning of the shells and then I pull out the lining of the inside of the shell. I don't know what the name is of that but maybe someone else may. I pull that thin lining out, it almost is like paper when it is dry, feels like a membrane of sorts when wet. And I still will get the occasional soft egg. Most of the time it is under the roost where they are roosting at night, sometimes it is the nesting box or just inside the coop. I wouldn't worry so much if it only happens once in a while. If they are new layers then that is possible that the plumbing is new and those flukes happen sometimes. But definitley try to up the calcuim intake and change to chicken food if you are not feeding that now, but if you are I am sorry for thinking you weren't feeding it to them.

    I also in the cold winter time cook them scrambled eggs for extra protein to them and some calcuim (in the form of the ground up egg shell), and mix different things in there for them. They love oatmeal, grits, yogurt, pumpkin and the favorite is bread. They dont turn down much to be honest. They even love onion. lol

    It does sound like you are doing a pretty good job and they sound pretty spoiled to me.

    Good Luck

  4. Tropical Chook

    Tropical Chook Songster

    Jul 5, 2010
    First up........welcome to BYC

    If I'm reading your post correctly, you're only feeding seeds and no chicken food at all? If that's the case, then I would also suggest you start giving them chicken feed, with the seeds as scratch/treats. Sure, your daughters may be feeding them worms and bugs, but I honestly doubt your daughters are able to feed them enough bugs to meet their protein requirements.

    I'm also not a big fan of commercial feeds, but I have to use them, at least for half of the year. During our rainy season there is an abundance of food available for the birds because they free range from dawn to dusk, and there is also more than enough bugs and other little beasts for them to eat. In fact, my birds tell me when they no longer want pellets because they just don't go near them. Then when the rains stop and everything dries up, they go back onto the pellets, although they do still seem to find quite a bit of food on their own while free ranging.

    As for your soft shelled egg.......I would only start to be concerned if it starts to become a frequent occurrence. A soft egg here and there is perfectly normal. With that said, I have only ever had one soft egg, and as of yet, I have never provided my birds with any form of additional calcium. The shells on my eggs are super-hard, so I can only think it's all the grass and other greenery they eat while free ranging.

    So, to sum it up, in my opinion...................if you free range your birds all day, then you can more than likely get by without buying commercial chicken feed, but if your birds are kept in a run, then I don't think feeding only seeds is a very good idea. I can understand you not wanting to feed meat as you may be vegetarian, and I respect that, but chickens are not vegetarian animals, and they really do need protein. If you really cannot feed meat, then I would strongly suggest feeding them plenty of scrambled egg, and no, it will not encourage your birds to start eating their own eggs. I have always fed mine some egg, sometimes cooked, sometimes raw, and I'm yet to have one of the birds crack an egg open intentionally. I just don't believe they're smart enough to work that out.

    Your other alternative to organic pellets would be for you to mix your own feed, but again, you need the protein, and from what I have been reading, soy seems to be getting a lot of bad press lately. The feed I buy is more than likely full of soy, because here in Thailand, soy is a real big seller due to the fact that it's a cheap source of protein in a country where many can't afford to indulge in fresh meat everyday.

    Anyway, I think it's still too early for you to be concerned about soft eggs, given that you've only had one so far. Keep us posted please, and don't disappear into the night because many of us may learn a thing or two regarding a seed only diet. I like to keep an open mind, so will be interested to see how you get along.

  5. DoloresRun

    DoloresRun In the Brooder

    Dec 2, 2010
    Hey Everyone Thanks for all the advise!

    I was just at my local feed store and the gentleman assured me that the seed diet is perfectly fine as it meets or exceeds their protein needs so I am happy with that [​IMG] He also advised that I put out shell grit as an extra source of calcium which I have done! In Australia apparently the seed diet is not uncommon so the producers have incorporated tons of seeds that are higher in protein!

    The are free range so they are getting plenty protein as we have slugs, snails and fly's abound!

    I didn't mention that I just introduced two new hens (the Isa Browns) and one of them is very aggresive! She runs around beating on the others so this may be stressing them. She may have to go if it doesn't stop as I love my Barnevelders!

    Hopefully this is a one off situation and it won't get worse. Will keep you all posted [​IMG]

    Thank you again for all of your help!
  6. DoloresRun

    DoloresRun In the Brooder

    Dec 2, 2010
    Ok Last post [​IMG]

    I just segregated the Isa Brown and already my chickens are happier! She is just a "B" and I think I may have to give her to a friend who has a much bigger flock.

    Lets see what happens [​IMG]

  7. Chicken.Lytle

    Chicken.Lytle Songster

    Oct 19, 2010
    Montgomery County, TX
    Are you getting bags of seed with rated ingredients, such as CRUDE PROTEIN 18% etc? Here in Texas the bags of wild bird seed do not have enough protein for chickens, although I once raised a couple pet roosters on it.

    Some people raise roaches or worms for an organic protein source. Too much *ick* for me.

    When my flock was maturing, they had some glitches with their first eggs . Later on, I had a problem with eggshells that were too thin.

    I did two things for the thin eggshells. I fed their eggs back to them once in a while. And I fed them a yogurt concoction that we devised when they had been sick.

  8. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    You just need check the label on your seed bag to verify the amount of protein. I think minimum in sixteen percent..........could be eighteen, can't remember right off. Making eggs takes a lot of protein!

    Once in a while, you'll get an off egg. No biggie, we all have off days [​IMG]

    I personally crack my eggs for cooking, etc, toss the shells in the bucket all my kitchen scraps go into, and feed them out. I've never had a hen crack eggs to eat. If you're concerned about it, you can dry and crumble them and feed them back.
  9. DoloresRun

    DoloresRun In the Brooder

    Dec 2, 2010

    I did check the bag and it says that there is 18% protein! This isn't wild bird seed but seed specifically designed for chickens! I also do composting and everyday we go and get a bunch of worms for the girls but I may think about raising worms just for them! Never really thought about that idea [​IMG]

    Will see how things go but so far so good, the girls are more relaxed and the Isa Brown that is causing the problems is mad but under control lol

    Thanks again all
  10. tammyd57

    tammyd57 Songster

    I feed eggs and shells back to my chickens, and have for many years, with no problems of egg eating by the hens. I dry and crush the shells only because they take up less room that way. [​IMG]
    Environmental influences have a lot to do with egg eating, I think. My niece has hens that have eaten their own eggs from the first day they started laying. But they are kept in what I consider to be very much too small of an enclosure. They've only ever been fed lay mash, no extras ever of any kind. I think I'd eat my own eggs too if I were kept like that!

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by