mixing feed, oyster shells, corn all together

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by JoshCheri767, Jan 22, 2017.

  1. JoshCheri767

    JoshCheri767 New Egg

    Nov 13, 2016
    New to raising egg layers, (chickens in general) been looking through past threads trying to find a good mix of feed, corn, and grit or oyster shell. We have a mixed flock of about a dozen layers, some laying some not quite yet. I m adding corn in because we aren't getting dark yellow yolk in most eggs, and i also thought the corn was supposed to help "fatten em up" in the colder months, We live in Iowa btw. SO I guees my question is should I keep mixing layer feed, corn, and oyster shells and dumping into the feeder together, or should I be seperating them. Thanks for any advice!
  2. Ameraucanas

    Ameraucanas Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 15, 2015
    I don't know much about that kind of thing, but good luck, and welcome to BYC!
  3. Folly's place

    Folly's place True BYC Addict

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    Welcome! Mixing ingredients like that unbalances the nutritional profile of the layer feed, a very bad idea! Pullets should eat a grower or all flock feed until they are all laying eggs, or they can eat an all flock feed forever, like my birds, with oyster shell in a separate container for the layers to eat as needed. Corn and scratch feeds are treats, less than 10% of the daily diet, not added to the main feed. High producing laying hens are working very hard and need a balanced diet! Mary
  4. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Well, as long as you've asked, no, mixing all these things together is counterproductive and even harmful, and certainly invites wanton waste.

    First of all, it's green vegetation and veggies such as carrots that contain carotenes that affect the color of the yolks. Not corn. Corn is like candy, empty calories, best offered in strict moderation, not as a regular feature of the diet. "Fattening" up your chickens can result in fatty deposits on the organs, leading to early sickness and death. A nutritious feed contains all the calories a chicken needs to maintain body temperature in cold climates.

    Mixing everything together encourages chickens to "beak out" the tasty stuff, scattering the nutritious feed all over the ground where it becomes contaminated and may molder into a toxic mess, which can cause sickness and lead to death.

    Oyster shell should not be mixed in with the feed because each hen has a slighter different constitution and need for calcium. It's best offered in a separate container free choice.

    Layer feed is strictly for hens currently laying eggs. Young pullets, older hens no longer laying, and cockerels and roosters should not be eating layer, but an all flock feed.
  5. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    The above 2 posts give excellent advice.
    Since chicken feed is nutritionally complete, (just read the feeding instructions on the label) there is no good reason to mix anything with the feed.
    As was said, colorful vegetables will make the yolk darker. However, a dark yolk doesn't mean it is necessarily healthier, it just means that the chickens consumed more carotenoids which they can't assimilate so the color ends up in the yolk. They could still be deficient in other nutrients.
    Yellow corn does add some color but little else other than energy. In Africa, feeds tend to use white corn (and other grains) as a primary ingredient. That makes the yolks nearly white. Still doesn't reflect the nutrition in the egg.
    Oyster shell should never be mixed with feed since that will greatly increase the calcium percentage of the feed giving the hens no choice but to consume too much.

    Since you mentioned "fatten em up", I wanted to mention that fat hens don't lay well.

  6. woody1

    woody1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 8, 2010
    Just North of the PRK
    Welcome to BYC. I don't post much but will chime in here. While corn will help color the yolk it has little of the nutritional value you need in a laying flock. It adds calories which your hens may or may not need. Mixing corn in the layer ration is like putting cake, ice cream and meat, potatoes and veggies on the table in front of a group of children and letting them have what they want. Scratch feeds should not be fed free choice. The oyster shell should be and should also be separate from the other feed so they can get what they need. They will not over indulge on it!
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I agree with all the reasons given to not mix those things. The will pick and choose what they want to eat, missing out on some other things. They will probably pick the corn out first, leaving feed behind so they are not getting the benefit of a balanced diet. They are usually pretty good about only eating what calcium they need, but there can be powder or fairly fine pieces of the oyster shell so you take that ability to regulate how much they eat away from them when you mix it. They can eat as much grit as they need if it is offered separately in its own container or if just tossed on the ground.

    I don’t consider corn empty calories. If you look at the analysis of corn you’ll see it has a lot of good nutrients in it. There is a reason corn is a significant portion of a lot of animal feed for a lot of different animals. When I grew up on the farm our draft horses were fed corn to supplement their grazing in warmer weather and supplement hay in the winter to help maintain their fitness. When we milked the milk cow, we fed her corn to improve the quality and quantity of the milk she gave. In winter we fed corn to the chickens. Otherwise the chickens foraged for what they ate. We didn’t get much snow, they had access to the hay barn, they could scratch through horse and cow manure, and could find a lot of other forage even in our winters. I know that thought horrifies many people on this forum, but that’s the model small farms have used for their chicken flocks for thousands of years. Climate does play a part.

    Many people fixate on the amount of proteins in a food when they are looking at the nutritional value of the feed. Because of the type of corn used and when and how it is harvested and stored, what we feed is usually around 10% protein. That’s low. You need enough of the other stuff to get that protein up to where it needs to be. That’s why corn or any other treat needs to be limited. It needs to form a small part of their overall daily diet. If you are feeding a commercial chicken feed, it contains a good balance of what they need. If you look at the analysis on the label you’ll see the only significant differences are protein and in the case of Layer, calcium.

    No matter what treat you feed them, you are upsetting that balance. I’m all in favor of feeding them all kinds or “treats”: critters, grains, kitchen wastes, stuff from the garden, grass clippings, whatever, but I try to do that in some moderation. Don’t make any of this a significant portion of their overall food, especially day after day.

    Yellow corn does add some color to the yolks. How much depends a lot on what variety of corn you use. They can get the carotenoids for that from various green leafy vegetables or wild plants. Certain veggies supply those. I notice a big difference in yolk color when I toss marigold blossoms, even dried dead brown ones, into the run. As Canoe said, it has nothing to do with nutritional value of the egg, but I just like the darker color.

    There are a lot of good reasons to offer feed, grit, treats, and oyster shell separately. I can’t think of any good reason to mix them.
  8. JoshCheri767

    JoshCheri767 New Egg

    Nov 13, 2016
    sounds like what Im doing is a bad idea, I will definitley take everyone's advice and cut back on the corn, switch up the feed, and seperate the oyster shells.

    Thanks for your help

    Take care all !!!
  9. GC-Raptor

    GC-Raptor Overrun With Chickens

    Jul 26, 2016
    Connecticut, U.S.A.
    Just want to make sure you know grit and oyster shell are not interchangeable. Grit, around here is granite, is insoluble, its purpose in to grind up whole grains, seeds and fibrous veggies, grass, weeds etc and can be mixed 1 lb to 20 lb of feed, according to label. But I offer it in a separate container and it lasts longer. I also offer oyster shell in another container.[​IMG] I give my 5 girls a 1/3 of a cup of 5 grain scratch at 5am, at 9am and if it stays in the low 20s Fahrenheit or below, another 1/3 cup at 1pm when I would check for eggs, if I didn't get 5 by 9am.
    They have unlimited access to layers feed and water, 24/7. GC
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2017
  10. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    If your using a layer feed (and your hens are laying) there isn't a need for oyster shell. Layer has 3% calcium which is more than enough for egg shell thickness. All oyster shell is is a calcium supplement. I feed an all flock type feed, non medicated starter if wanting crumble form or turkey finisher if wanting pellet form. As that's only 1% calcium and can be fed to any poultry at any age. In this way I must give oyster shell to layers. I toss a handful or two on the ground once or twice a week. Hardly use any and will forget and go many weeks without supplementing it. Basically I think 3% calcium of layer feed is even more than they need, you'll know by egg shell thickness. Way back when I first had birds used layer feed because everyone said that's what you do. It would take three or more good whacks on the edge of a bowl to break them! Now that I only supplement if the shells start to seem thin I up the regiment of oyster for a few weeks.

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