Oyster Shell Overdose!!


5 Years
Apr 5, 2014
I can't seem to find any information on this topic anywhere online, I am looking for a little advice. My husband and I left on vacation for four days over this past weekend. We left our five hens (they are all of laying age but not all are laying yet) in the run while we were gone. We left them enough fresh water for two weeks with a nipple system. We also have a feeder that will hold enough food for a week. They didn't end up getting their feeder filled before we left because we each thought that the other had done it. I texted our tenant and asked him to feed the hens. Was very specific about how to do it and where to find the food, but he has a few learning disorders, is high functioning autistic we believe.

When we came home last night I saw that their feeder was mostly empty yet had about an inch of some white substance. To my horror I realized that he had filled their empty feeder with Oyster Shell rather than their layer crumbles. They ate nothing for four days but oyster shell and they went through their entire two week supply of water.

I am amazed that all five of them are still alive!! I am worried about liver or kidney issues. They were all bright eyed and active this morning when I let them out to free range. Does anyone have any advice as to what I should keep an eye out for with them? Or any supplements I can give them to help regulate levels?

Thank you in advance!


Premium Feather Member
11 Years
Nov 23, 2010
St. Louis, MO
What a bummer. Likely they didn't eat a lot of it but with only that and a lack of water is a problem.
The only way to rectify is for them to flush the kidneys with water. Whether they have food or not, make sure from here on out that they have plenty of fresh water available.
They'll probably be ok.
I would take them off of layer feed and switch to a grower feed that's about 1% calcium and continue to provide the oyster shell in a separate container. And lots of water. Don't put them back on layer (4% calcium) till they're all laying or not at all.

Now you can make a better plan for when you leave again. All of my coops have bulk feeders and water systems that last at least a week but I have someone with a list of well spelled out tasks to check on them daily if I leave - which isn't often now.
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