Oyster shell necessary?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by wxdude99, Mar 4, 2009.

  1. wxdude99

    wxdude99 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 26, 2008
    Montgomery Area
    A couple of my chickens just started laying within the last week. The shells on the eggs are fine. Do I need to start giving them oyster shells? Thanks.
  2. briteday

    briteday Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 16, 2008
    Northern NV
    Chickens need large amounts of calcium to produce appropriate shells on their eggs. If you do not provide calcium in the form of oyster shells or such they will deplete their own bodies, resulting in poor bone health and skeletal structure. A that point I'm guessing that the hens would stop laying and eventually die. Lack of calcium can also result in egg binding, which can also be fatal.

    Layer pellets usually contain calcium. But I'd rather err on the side of caution and offer them free choice oyster shell in addition to layer pellets. My 6 hens seem to go through about a 1/2 cup of shell per week. And from the bulk bin it only costs me 20 cents per pound. That lasts me a long time.
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2009
  3. Wynette

    Wynette Moderator Staff Member

    Sep 25, 2007
    Offer it to them free choice in a separate container/bowl; they will eat what they need. [​IMG]
  4. horsejody

    horsejody Squeaky Wheel

    Feb 11, 2008
    Waterloo, Nebraska
    If you are feeding layer feed, they will probably be OK, but putting some out free choice will not hurt them. If you are not feeding layer feed, they absolutely need oyster shell or some other source of calcium.
  5. wxdude99

    wxdude99 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 26, 2008
    Montgomery Area
    Okay. I'll put it out free choice. I am giving them layer feed, but it won't hurt. Thanks.
  6. jlmann

    jlmann Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 3, 2009
    I always offer my birds oyster shell free choice but I have noticed when they get to range more they will hardly touch it so I assume they find what they need elsewhere
    (in bugs or whatever) So if your birds are free range chickens and they don't seem to be eating the oyster shell I wouldn't get overly concerned unless you start getting half formed or "soft" eggs. But even when my birds are ranging a lot I still leave it out and I even change it every couple of weeks just to be on the safe side.

  7. birdsofparadise

    birdsofparadise Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 15, 2008
    North Kohala, Hawaii
    When in doubt, mix the oyster shell into the layer pellets. I use about a 20 to 1 ratio, but its a guestimate. They eat everything, and Iʻve never had a problem.
  8. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

    Nov 18, 2007
    My Coop
    I have a dish of free choice oyster shells for my girls. They take what they want/need.

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