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How to serve calcium and grit?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by sbonsai, Aug 2, 2016.

  1. sbonsai

    sbonsai In the Brooder

    May 6, 2016
    So, after reading through some advice here, I decided to keep continue feeding start/grow to my hens that should be laying any day now. I read that I should simply offer oyster shell (or equivalent) free choice and the non-laying hens will simply not eat it. My problem is, I'm not sure what to put it in. I've tried a small tray, and they just keep turning it over. Any suggestions on how I can give them calcium and grit as a side dish without having to buy another large feeder so they can't turn it over?

  2. Intheswamp

    Intheswamp Songster

    Mar 25, 2009
    South Alabama
    What about the diy pvc pipe feeders? You could hang one of those from the run fence or the coop wall...wouldn't take up too much room and they couldn't knock it over.

    Or, maybe a five gallon bucket with a couple of 3-4 inch holes cut into the sides about 3-4 inches from the bottom. Fill it up just below the holes and hang it at an appropriate height for the birds...they might bump it and knock some oyster shell or grit out when it's really full but they couldn't turn it over. You might want to put something on top of the bucket to keep them from sitting on top of it and tilting it over when they jump off of it.

    Just some thoughts...

    Best wishes,
  3. Forty years ago I solved that problem by collecting the small aluminum cans that Vienna Sausages are sold in. I used a nail to perforate the bottom of the cans from the inside out in 4 or 5 places. This is to prevent rain water from standing in the cans. Then I drilled 4 holes in the side of the cans, in this pattern.

    . A . B

    . A . B

    I then used two short lengths of electric fence wire to link point A to point A and point B to point B. The wire is so that I can tie the cans to either the coop wire or to the side of the run shelter next to, but slightly higher than the roost pole, about mid breast high. This way the cans can not easily be spilled and they are too high to be scratched full of dirt, litter, and chicken poop. One can is for grit and another can is for oyster shell.

    When used only for two or three hens and a rooster this much grit and oyster shell should last for a year or longer. It stays dry, is mostly spill proof, rust resistant, and remains available 24-7-356. If you have more hens then use a bigger can to hold your grit and oyster shell or check the level of the oyster shell and grit more often.

    Granit grit and oyster shell are basically the same material. Both of them is limestone that has experienced different forces while sitting in the Earth's crust.

    I hope that this is helpful.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2016
  4. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Crowing

    Jul 3, 2016
    Pac NW
    My Coop
    Not sure how many chickens you're providing for or how your coop is set up. I only have a few so I went to the bird section of the pet store and got some large parrot-size feeder cups that hook onto the hardware cloth siding of my coop, and my girls seem fine with that. They have ones with screws too that you can secure through wire cages as well, if you want something more stable.
  5. Here is my setup, works very well and I'm happy with it...

    Here is a cross section diagram, it's 2" PVC pipe about 4 feet tall, with a 4" cap on the bottom... The 4" cap is for 'sewer' pipe vs your standard SCH40 PVC as it's flat bottom and cheaper... The top cap on the PVC is a 'temporary' knock out plug, again lower cost vs regular caps plus it doesn't get stuck like regular caps... ***See parts list bellow...


    I hung it using these, two each up and down about 18" apart...


    And you can see it in the right of this picture, works very well...


    Parts list...

    2" PVC pipe http://www.menards.com/main/plumbin...id-core-plain-end-pipe-10/p-1444426391701.htm

    4" Sewer cap http://www.menards.com/main/plumbin...448962654-c-19482.htm?tid=8128873667805549560

    (Note the Sewer and Drain cap is probably not in the same isle as the rest of the PVC pipe fittings, it's generally in a drain isle or even possibly outside in the garden section depending on the store)

    2" Knock out Cap http://www.menards.com/main/plumbin...449937121-c-9383.htm?tid=-6980972811240269405

    Keyhole Hanger http://www.menards.com/main/tools-h...4439936554-c-13085.htm?tid=603278982795978906

    Added hint, to line up the hanger brackets and get the bottom cup all in line, use a door jamb, hold the PVC as shown in this picture and draw a line... Now you have straight up and down light to align everything...

    Last edited: Aug 3, 2016

  6. This is not true at all...

    Oyster shell is primarily soluble calcium carbonate aka limestone...

    Granite grit is composed of mainly of quartz and feldspar with minor amounts of mica, amphiboles, and other insoluble minerals it rarely if ever has even a small trace of calcium carbonate...

    The short they are two entirely different things...

    They also each have a unique and different purpose for bird...

    The extreme hardness and sharp edges of the granite aid the gizzard in crushing food, since it's insoluble the birds don't get much if any nutrients from it, when it finally gets ground down it's simply passed and because it's so hard and insoluble it last for a long amount of time in the gizzard as a mechanical grinding aid before it's too small and passed...

    Oyster shell on the other hand is soluble and soft, it will only last for a very short time (nearly none) in the gizzard before it's ground into dust or small particles that the bird then breaks down chemically and absorbs the calcium out of, thus it's purpose a calcium supplement in chickens and other birds...
  7. rebrascora

    rebrascora Crowing

    Feb 14, 2014
    Consett Co.Durham. UK
    I don't understand why everyone feels the need to put grit or oyster shell in a container??? Just scatter some on the ground once a week along with crushed dried egg shells and let the chickens scratch for them.... this is a much more natural way for them to obtain them and helps to prevent boredom.
    My mother used to smash old chipped/broken crockery with a hammer and give that to the chickens as grit. I've tried it and my chickens are very enthusiastic about it..... sometimes they are under the hammer trying to grab bits whilst I'm smashing it! It amazes me how the sharp shards don't cut them and even more when I see the rounded tiny yellow pebbles (it's a yellow dinner service) which have been ground down in their gizzard, come out in their poop!

    I have to say that I struggle with the notion that oyster shell is "soluble and soft".....it very much depends on the medium that it is being dissolved in....clearly sea water doesn't dissolve it! Granted it wears down quicker than granite, but I'm pretty sure that it will also contribute to the grinding process in the gizzard before it breaks down, it would probably just take a more regular amount of oyster shell to do the job that a small amount of grit would do . It will also provide more readily available calcium than granite though, as will egg shells.

    My chickens mostly free range though and are fed layers pellets and soaked/fermented grains, so I don't worry too much about grit or oyster shell.

  8. MeepMeeps

    MeepMeeps Chirping

    Jun 15, 2015
    Long Island, NY
    Search "stainless steel coop cups,"
    I use 2 and hang in the coop and 2 outside the coop on a fence. The girls and Roo know where to go to get the grit and oyster shell. (They free range).
    I feed my flock grower/starter since I read on BYC that the layer feed is not good for the Rooster. He doesn't eat the oyster shell.

    I used to scatter grit in the ground but it gets/looks messy and at least with using the bowls I know they are getting their oyster shell and grit. No problems with thin shelled eggs at all and my flock is over a year old.
    1 person likes this.
  9. GC-Raptor

    GC-Raptor Crowing

    Jul 26, 2016
    Connecticut, U.S.A.
    I use the smallest galvanized pails I can find, 1.3 quarts. I got mine at TSC.
    I drill 2 3/32 holes oblong shaped in the bottom, I let the drill ride for about a 1/4, to drain moisture. I do that for the granite grit and the crushed oyster shell. I also use 1 for water under the coop,so no holes drilled in that one.
    I remove the handle but you don't have to. I drill a hole in a stud where I want to mount it, about half the diameter of the eye screw thread for ease of turning. Screw it in nearly all the way and with the eye horizontal slide the bucket on and turn the eye vertical.
    This works on a corner stud. On a stud in the middle of a wall I hang the bucket and screw in 2 eye screws on either side of the bucket near the bottom on an angle, to keep it from tipping if a girl jumps up. GC[​IMG]
  10. GC-Raptor

    GC-Raptor Crowing

    Jul 26, 2016
    Connecticut, U.S.A.
    Oh yeah one more thing, I keep the grit under the coop with the water. The oyster shell I will put in the coop near the food if I need to add it to their diet. Just my thinking.

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