How necessary is oyster shell

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by sesa, Aug 10, 2010.

  1. sesa

    sesa Chillin' With My Peeps

    157
    0
    119
    Mar 27, 2009
    Thurmont, Md
    I feed my layers Southern states layer feed, do I need to supplement with oyster shell? I have 2 RIR that are about a year and a half old and are laying just about an egg a day each and 4 others that are just starting to lay at 17 weeks 2 EE's a barred rock and another RIR.
     
  2. Princess Amri

    Princess Amri Is Mostly Harmless

    14,366
    36
    316
    Jul 16, 2009
    best coast
    It's a good idea to have some free choice oyster shell available. Not 100% required, but it's good to have it there in case they aren't getting enough calcium from their feed. [​IMG]
     
  3. PunkinPeep

    PunkinPeep Chillin' With My Peeps

    3,642
    25
    229
    Mar 31, 2009
    SouthEast Texas
    I think this depends a lot on whether you free range your girls. I free range mine from the time i get up, until dark. And i don't offer oyster shell. I have offered egg shell in the past, but i found that if they have access to my compost and the woods (bugs) and everything else - i'm convinced that they just don't need me to buy oyster shell. I have healthy chickens and healthy, solid eggs.

    If i had them confined to a run for much of their life, then i would probably feel differently.
     
  4. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

    8,696
    240
    316
    Feb 24, 2009
    Strasburg Ohio
    I think, if you feed a good layer feed, the nutrition is already there for egg laying. I have offered the oyster shell, then I ran out and didn't replace it, and there was really no difference. I do free range mine a little bit every day too.
     
  5. AnnainMD

    AnnainMD Chillin' With My Peeps

    270
    1
    121
    Feb 1, 2010
    Eldersburg, MD
    What a timely question. I have 11 chickens, 3 of which are one month older and ready to lay (in fact one layed her first egg yesterday!). Because of the difference in age, I still have them on grower feed, NOT layer but I do have oyster shell free choice and the egg had a nice hard shell, no soft spots, just a perfect little egg. They also get our leftovers.
     
  6. Buttercup Chillin

    Buttercup Chillin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 27, 2008
    SouthEast TX
    It depends on how much calcium they get from their feed. If free ranged it depend on the calcium content of food they gather and the calcium content of the little rocks they choose for grit.

    You only need to suppliment with oyster shell if you start getting thin shelled eggs. I did and they get feed and they free range, but evidently there isn't an ounce of calcium in our ground for them to get at. I actually had some sea shells in my yard for decoration that they literally ate up. I knew then I needed to supplement them. I buy a 50# bag of crushed oyster shell (lasts forever) and give it to them free choice available at all times. I go through a bag a year with 16-24 hens. Now I am cutting back to 8-12 hens so a bag should last me 2 years.
     
  7. Leia's Chickens

    Leia's Chickens A Sunkissed Delight

    Jun 20, 2010
    Oklahoma!
    My chickens free range all the time. When they did not get oyster shell, the shells became white instead of brown. The shells became thinner bad broke very easily. The get a complete feed pellet too. We added back the oyster shell and all the difficulties went away. Now I make sure they always have grit and oyster shell as they want it. Each is in a small bowl.
     
  8. woodmort

    woodmort Chillin' With My Peeps

    3,168
    41
    201
    Jul 6, 2010
    Oxford NY
    An alternative is to crust up their eggs shells and put it where they can get at it. I use oyster or egg shells during the winter, free choice, when they can't get outside.
     
  9. ChurkLover

    ChurkLover Out Of The Brooder

    97
    0
    39
    Jul 9, 2010
    St. Louis
    Our hens just began laying about a month ago. After the first week, some of our 18 hens were laying very soft shells that were almost like a skin, while others were laying perfectly good shells. We went out and got a 20 lb bag of oyster shell, about $8 I think, and offered it at free will in a food bowl next to their feeder. We have not seen any problems since. We use a layer feed combined with scratch grain and our birds free range from dawn to dusk (with plenty of tall grass, garden area or mowed pasture to pick from. We also provide them table scraps. (They LOVE cottage cheese, or any cheese for that matter.) My recommendation...you can use the oyster shell if you notice your eggs are breaking too easily or the shells or soft but it is not necessary. I'm with Buttercup Chillin...apparently my ground didn't offer enough calcium for them either.
     
  10. Buttercup Chillin

    Buttercup Chillin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 27, 2008
    SouthEast TX
    I notice most give free choice by their feeders. Not me, I make them walk around for it. Don't want any fat girls in this heat.

    I mix the oyster shell and their crushed up shells in a bowl outside my back door. Where I can see it from the kitchen or living room. Great chicken TV. They free range in the back yard every day rain or shine. They also have a big trough in their run with just oyster shell in it. My Turkens especially lay jumbo size eggs and they are always in the oyster shell. The EE's prefer the mix in the back yard.

    Grit is in the form of crushed gravel on the paths by their run and by the mix bowl outside the kitchen window. I like watching my girls and my ducks.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by