Help - Calcium problems


12 Years
May 13, 2011
North Alabama
We have 2 laying hens and two 3 month old pullets. The pullets stay to one side of the yard where we have the growth crumbles. The other side of the yard I keep the layer pellets. I have oyster shells available on both sides of the yard, but we are almost a week again with shelless eggs again. everyone has access to the whole yard but the younsters have no clue there is a food zone on the other side of the big grassy yard. Treats were the problem before so I started adding shells to the treats and that solved the problem. Now the hens prefer to the crumbles to the layer pellets and are not getting calcium again. I know they are SUPPOSE to be smart enough to eat the shells, but mine missed that memo. Suggestions?
I Good Laying pellet should prevent this and oyster shells too hmm. You can also use other chicken shells and wash them out you dont want them to get a taste of the yummy eggs or you will get them eating their eggs before you can get to them . If it were me I would switch brands of laying mash or pellets. Good Luck
I am transitioning out of layer pellets because the young girls will have access to them too and I dont want that till they start laying, but the older girls are apparently NOT eating enough egg shells or oyster shells. How can I get them to eat them without temping the pullets?
Your problem with soft egg shell may not be a lack of Calcium but a it maybe a Calcium /Phosphorus imbalance or even a Vitamin D deficiency.
The feed that you are feed could have a Calcium /Phosphorus imbalance or your bird may not be getting enough Vitamin D in there diet. Vitamin D is needed for proper metabolism of Calcium and Phosphorus, with out proper Vitamin D your Calcium /Phosphorus levels could be thrown off and in turn your getting soft or no shell eggs. You could try giving topping there food with a little Cod Liver Oil twice a week and see if that helps.

I haven't feed a "layer" feed in 15 years or so and I have never had a problem with soft or no shell eggs.

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Just want to agree with Chris, the calcium/phosphorus balance (as well as a few other possible minerals that can upset calcium absorption) is really crucial to good eggshells. Even something as simple as adding a cupful of milk or yoghurt to a daily mash can throw the balance out, and gradually cause thin shells.

As well, lack of vitamin D can do it (as Chris explained).

A third issue can be when birds are fed too much calcium (eg. layer pellets) when very young; this reduces their ability to absorb sufficient calcium later. Hopefully that isn't the case here.

Worms can also interfere with calcium absorption; indeed any digestive ailment (e.g. algae in the water causing gut lesions; any forms of enteritis) can interfere with shell production in this way. It may be an idea to worm them just in case, and make sure all water sources are clean.

Lastly, high volume commercial layers have been bred to the limit of their ability to absorb enough calcium to make the number of shells they need to make in a lifetime. If your birds are aging they may need a break (e.g. feed them only wheat for a couple weeks to make them moult and go off lay). I would think about doing this anyhow, if the soft shelled eggs remain stubborn, in case the break puts them back on the lay with better shells.

Back to shell grit. They will eventually start taking the shell grit, especially if you sprinkle a little on top of a mash. That way it's not mixed in, so they're aware they're eating it, and they soon develop the ability to take it ad lib.

good luck,

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