Hens eating chick starter, chicks eating oyster shells!

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by ChickMandy, Jul 11, 2011.

  1. ChickMandy

    ChickMandy Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 7, 2011
    Amaranth Ontario
    We've just taken the chicks (11wks) out of the brooder box for the full run of the coop with the 32wk old hens. Now the hens are eating the chick starter and the chicks are eating the lay mash with oyster shells.

    Is this going to be a problem??
     
  2. hencam

    hencam Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 5, 2007
    Massachusetts
    It can be quite damaging for the chicks to get too much calcium and protein. Too much calcium will damage a chick's kidneys. Too much protein and they won't have the steady, even growth you want for strong bones. Are they in a dirt run the whole time? They need a source of greens. I'm also surprised you're not dealing with bullying. Maybe your run is huge? Can you separate them during the day so each group gets the appropriate food? Even one more month would be a good idea.

    I know that plenty of people have chicks that are cared for by a mama hen, and they free-range together with the laying hens. But, mama usually keeps the chicks away from the others, and they're out on pasture, so not guzzling down on laying hen feed.

    BTW, the chick feed won't hurt the laying hens, but they won't be getting all of the nutrients they need if they eat just that.
     
  3. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend... Staff Member

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    Mar 21, 2011
    New Mexico, USA
    My Coop
    As stated above, oyster shell is very damaging to young ones not laying yet. So what you can do is, go to the feed store and buy a Flock Raiser feed. It is just for this purpose, in mixing different ages of birds. It will work for your hens also, but you will have to offer up oyster shell to the laying girls. The chicks are probably looking for grit of some sort. So make sure they have access to stones and grit so that they won't look to the oyster shell for that, then they should leave the shell alone. [​IMG]
     
  4. Triple B Ranch

    Triple B Ranch Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 4, 2011
    Burnside Kentucky
    I was told to break up egg shells and feed to my hens to harden their eggs. Is this safe for young hens not laying yet since they shouldn't have oyster shells?
     
  5. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend... Staff Member

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    My Coop
    Quote:Yes, I would avoid feeding egg shells to the young girls if they are not laying. The shells have plenty of calcium that could harm the young ones. But they are great for the hens that are laying. [​IMG]
     
  6. ChickMandy

    ChickMandy Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 7, 2011
    Amaranth Ontario
    Our coop is not huge by any means, but the chicks have been in there (in a wire-covered brooder) for about three weeks. We've only got three hens at the moment, so there isn't too much pecking going on. We don't have a run set up yet, so the hens free range around the yard, but the chicks stay in the coop (they're hard to catch!). Today my DH set up a make-shift run with some fencing around trees and the whole flock spent the day outside in the grass.

    I will look into the Flock Raiser feed. The chick starter we have has grit in it. The only reason the chicks were getting the oyster shell is because it was mixed in with the hens' lay mash. My DH has since given the OS its own container. I'm not sure how to keep it away from the chicks though if the hens have at it as they wish.

    A friend of mine who has been raising chickens for years says that everyone in her flock just gets the same food and she's never had a health problem arise. I guess everybody has their own approach.

    Thanks for the input! It's much appreciated!!
     
  7. AlbionWood

    AlbionWood Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 24, 2010
    Albion, California
    I had the same problem, same concern about Calcium, so I switched the whole flock to All Flock (like Flock Raiser) and provide oyster shell free-choice for the hens. The chicks can get into the OS, but since they don't crave calcium they aren't really all that interested. So far, so good. They get grit from the sandy dirt in the yard.
     

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