Oyster shell versus Limestone grit

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by duckduckturkey, Jul 13, 2011.

  1. duckduckturkey

    duckduckturkey In the Brooder

    Jun 21, 2011

    Okay, just when I think I've got a handle on chicky sitting ...

    When I first started caring for these girls, the hens were laying shell-less eggs. I immediately gave them egg shells from the eggs I had at home. Then I went out and got some oyster shell, which they gobbled up greedily. Since then, they consumed oyster shell and grit about twice as fast as the feed clerk said they would, so I went back for more. This time, another clerk said, why not get the limestone grit, as it does the job of both. So I did.

    This was Monday. Today, I believe, is Wednesday. They haven't touched the limestone, don't know that they will. Already, their shells are as thin as store bought eggs. We all know that is not good.

    So, that means I'm headed back to the store.

    I'm wondering, is there a reason they won't touch the limestone?

    Is there a reason why they'd be eating the oyster shell and grit twice as fast as expected?

    Do some breeds just naturally need more oyster shell than others?

    I've got three more weeks to go before these neighbors return and I want their chickens to be happy, healthy and laying tasty nummy eggs.

    Your help appreciated

  2. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    Grit does not take the place of oyster shell and I really wish ignorant store clerks would stop telling people that it does. [​IMG]

    If they consumed the OS like it was going out of style I can only suppose that they were deficient in calcium stores in their bodies and were making up for lost time.

    Grit is for grinding up food. Not necessary if the chickens have access to small stones and pebbles in their enviroment.

    Oyster shell serves one purpose - as a calcium supplement.
  3. ChickenAl

    ChickenAl Diagnosis...Chicken-Headed

    Jun 5, 2011
    Putnam cty, NY
  4. ChickenAl

    ChickenAl Diagnosis...Chicken-Headed

    Jun 5, 2011
    Putnam cty, NY
    I reread the original post and followup. One small point is that the limestone can replace the oyster sell as a calcium supplement, but not as grit. Grit is hard, sharp edged stone, like granite chips, and provides no nutritional benefit other than grinding food in the gizzard.
  5. Mac in Wisco

    Mac in Wisco Antagonist

    May 25, 2007
    SW Wisconsin
    Quote:In this case the store clerk was right, to an extent...

    Limestone is a common calcium supplement, but is not insoluble grit. If you buy layer feed then the calcium carbonate that is added is usually in the form of ground limestone.

    As far as the OP's post, hens are picky about particle size. As they do most of their eggshell formation while they are on the roost at night, they need (and may only eat) larger particle sizes in the evening to last throughout the shell formation period.
  6. oledanjennings

    oledanjennings In the Brooder

    Jun 6, 2012
    so what is the answer. do penned chi kens need grit and if so what ....oyster shell, limestone, or granite?
  7. LovinChicknFarmn

    LovinChicknFarmn Chirping

    Jul 17, 2011
    North Carolina
    Everyone will give you a different opinion. If your chickens ever get out and have the chance to forage around and have access to dirt, chances are they're getting enough little pebbles and stones that they don't need the grit. We have a tiny bag we bought a year and a half ago and every few months I throw a handful out into their run just to make sure they have some little pebbles in there. I think ours is granite.

  8. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Songster

    Dec 15, 2011
    SE Pa.
    Oyster shells do not take the place of grit, they are to soft to last in the gizzard. O.S. is used for a calcium supplement.
  9. Mac in Wisco

    Mac in Wisco Antagonist

    May 25, 2007
    SW Wisconsin
    There are two different needs being talked about here, calcium (soluble grit) and granite (insoluble grit). Soluble grit is dissolved by the birds' gastrointestinal tract and provides nutritional minerals. Insoluble grit is not dissolved or easily broken down and is used by the gizzard to grind grains.

    As others have said, if your birds have access to dirt, they will find the insoluble grit they need for digestion. A balanced layer ration will have the calcium they need ( usually in the form of limestone), but a little oyster shell on the side can't hurt. They will eat the oyster shell as they need it.
  10. Don P

    Don P In the Brooder

    Aug 14, 2012
    I give my hens lots of Oyster shell in small separate feeders.
    I also give them Limestone Grit, a hard rock that some find to large to use as grit. But those who use it may get some extra calcium. So it is a good thing to use as it does benefit both uses. But I would not skip the Oyster Shells which are softer.

    In fact I also add extra Crab or Crustacean meal into their food and into the oyster shell feeders. This is an excellent source of calcium and minerals but costs more.

    I also give them granite grit which is smaller size and they also free range so they can get their own grit. And I put Calcium carbonate on the pasture grass they feed on to raise calcium levels in the ground and grass they eat.

    I also add Flax seeds, Chia Seeds, Black oil sunflower Seeds, Camelina Seeds, Kelp Powder and Millet as boosters in their feed.

    I also add extra Probiotics to the feed from time to time. And Ginger Cayenne and Garlic to keep rodents out of the feed and keep the parasites out of the hens.
    And ACV in the water with Trace minerals too.

    And they get 100% Organic grains for feed, like Scratch and Peck or occasionally organic Pellets from Buxton.
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2013

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