Overeating free-choice calcium?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by shortstaque, Oct 27, 2010.

  1. shortstaque

    shortstaque Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I just started offering free-choice calcium. My pullets are 20 weeks old and 5 or six of them now have very red faces, combs and waddles. Some are starting to submit to the cockerels instead of running in terror. So I thought it was time to offer calcium; if their behaviour and characteristics are any indication the eggs should not be too far away. I have grit free choice in the run and last night for the first time I put out oyster shells as well.

    My set-up is a large, portable chicken tractor with a run underneath and an attached portable run that rotates to fresh pasture every day. To encourage them to forage, I withhold feed for the first hour or so that they are in the run.

    This morning I let them into the run as usual. After morning chores, I went back to put their feed out and noticed that they appeared to have really put a dent in the oyster shells. I thought I read somewhere that too much calcium is really bad for their systems. Do you think that they seemed to eat a lot of shells because they mistook it for "feed" or will they really just self-regulate, and those eating a lot of it were deficient, and I don't need to worry about them "overdosing" on calcium?

    Thanks, I know it seems like I'm worring over a little thing, but better safe than sorry. [​IMG]
     
  2. A.T. Hagan

    A.T. Hagan Don't Panic

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    If it's the first time you offered shell they'll scarf it up until they've had their fill. After that they'll only eat it now and again.
     
  3. shortstaque

    shortstaque Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 29, 2010
    Bucks County, PA
    Thanks!
     
  4. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    Yes mine too love oyster shell even though a lot of them are not laying. I think it is good for them so that when they lay they aren't lacking in calcium.
     
  5. Kittymomma

    Kittymomma Chillin' With My Peeps

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    A.T. Hagan :

    If it's the first time you offered shell they'll scarf it up until they've had their fill. After that they'll only eat it now and again.

    X2--Same thing happend here when I first put it out.​
     
  6. Tala

    Tala Flock Mistress

    A.T. Hagan :

    If it's the first time you offered shell they'll scarf it up until they've had their fill. After that they'll only eat it now and again.

    x3
    My experience as well.​
     
  7. Yay Chicks!

    Yay Chicks! Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It was recommended to me not to feed oyster shell until they start laying, so I didn't. But they seemed to eat more oyster shell in the beginning and then taper off. Every once in a while, though, they'll eat a bunch.
     
  8. CoyoteMagic

    CoyoteMagic RIP ?-2014

    If you start to get over run with eggs, you can always toss the whole eggs, shell and all into a blender, blend and then cook them up. Once cooled feed them back to the chickens. Extra protein and the little bit of calcium won't hurt roos or chicks either. Layer feed has too much for chicks
     
  9. viktoriacl

    viktoriacl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh MY! NO! I posted this same question awhile back and got the exact opposite response! No extra calcium before they are laying. It can cause Kidney problems. They dont need oyster shells until they are laying. They can definatly OD on it and dont know when they need it! Chickens will eat almost anything weather they need it or not. My girls would eat as much as I would give them and not just the first time! Hope this helps!!!
     
  10. Kittymomma

    Kittymomma Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:That hasn't been my experience at all. I have a mixed age/species flock so I feed gamebird feed instead of layer. It doesn't have the added calcium of layer so it's safe for the youngsters, but the layers need the extra calcium so I always have oyster shell out free choice--the youngsters and roos don't mess with it at all, but as soon as the pullets get close to pol they start scarfing it up along with the hens. They do self-regulate in regards to their calcium needs. Now if I were to put scratch out free choice........
     

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