How do chickens know they should eat oyster shells?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by deacons, Jan 13, 2015.

  1. deacons

    deacons Chillin' With My Peeps

    620
    57
    151
    Oct 8, 2013
    New Hampshire
    This has always perplexed me. Crushed oyster shells are not a naturally occurring food source in most regions, so how do the chickens know they should eat it to satisfy their calcium needs?
     
  2. pdirt

    pdirt Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,612
    196
    198
    May 11, 2013
    Eastern WA
    If they're in egg-laying mode, they need extra calcium for the egg shells and some sort of instinct will drive them to find it. I'm not sure how they know this, but my guess is it's based upon smell.

    It matters not what kind of calcium you might give them...oyster shells, eggs shells, crustacean shells, limestone, etc. They will eat it if they need it. Some say they get calcium also from the exoskeleton of some insects.

    I suppose there were some chickens of yore that lived on the coast somewhere that had access to shell fish such as oysters.
     
  3. deacons

    deacons Chillin' With My Peeps

    620
    57
    151
    Oct 8, 2013
    New Hampshire
    I was wondering if smell could be related to it.

    It makes sense that in the "wild" they would use things like eggshells or potentially insect sources. Oyster shells work great for my flock- it just seems really random!
     
  4. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

    17,136
    5,535
    501
    Mar 9, 2014
    Oregon
    My Coop
    X 2 - it is similar, imo, to how you crave certain things when your body is telling you that you need x, y or z nutrient.
     
  5. Julia62

    Julia62 Chillin' With My Peeps

    332
    21
    88
    Jun 18, 2014
    Reno, NV
    Once I put my two oyster shell feeders out, I was surprised how they just went to it! It's almost the first thing they go to as soon as they get out of the coop.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by