Oyster shells

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by circesfire, Jan 11, 2014.

  1. circesfire

    circesfire Chirping

    Aug 10, 2013
    Surprise, Arizona
    I have two questions about oyster shells. One is when should I start offering it to them? They are 13 weeks now, is that too young? Should I wait until they start laying?

    Second is that I am trying to feed them all organic food but my feed store did not sell organic oyster shells? Is there such a product or are they considered to be organic already? Not sure about the manufacturing process for them.

  2. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    Your hens don't need extra calcium until they start churning out eggs.

    Oyster shell isn't "manufactured", it's harvested from the ocean. I don't think there are any standards for organic, the oyster just gets whatever is in the ocean. Not like they can set aside a specific portion of the ocean to be 'clean", or all the creatures would want to live there!
  3. pdirt

    pdirt Songster

    May 11, 2013
    Eastern WA
    It's really difficult to truly certify anything from the ocean (such as oysters) as organic, simply because the water is always changing. Land can be relatively untouched or otherwise reclaimed to organic standards and you can control (except rain) what goes on the land. Water changes daily with the currents. Most oysters are grown on "farms" in the ocean. I don't know much about the oyster farming process or if they use any toxic substances. We tend to follow organic methods and we use oyster shells as well as feeding back baked and crushed egg shells.

    It's too early for your birds to need supplemental calcium, but since they generally know to self-regulate, there is probably no harm placing some for them in a side dish now. You probably won't see much change in the quantity in the dish for another 5-9 weeks. Or you could just wait until they start to lay. They won't run out of calcium from laying few eggs.
  4. All the calcium that a hen uses in the production of egg shells is first withdrawn from her skeleton. Feeding oyster shell is only intended as a replacement source of calcium needed to refortify or rebuild the hens' bones. What no one ever considers however is the effect of vitamin D or especially vitamin D3 on the health of their hens. Without vitamin D3 neither a hen nor a human can properly utilize the calcium in their diet. Without sufficient vitamin D3 it is possible for your hens to develop a condition known as hypocalcemic tetany. To learn more about this condition or vitamin D follow through with the link below. Excess calcium especially in the young can result in deformed skeletons and other problems. The sole source of vitamin D3 is from animal protein, even the vitamin D found in fortified orange juice.


    "Vitamin D promotes
    absorption in the gut and maintains adequate serum calcium and phosphate concentrations to enable normal mineralization of bone and to prevent
    hypocalcemic tetany
    . It is also needed for bone growth and bone remodeling by osteoblasts and osteoclasts [
    ]. Without sufficient vitamin D, bones can become thin, brittle, or misshapen. Vitamin D sufficiency prevents rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults [
    ]. Together with calcium, vitamin D also helps protect older adults from osteoporosis."
    At the bottom of the above link notice that egg yokes are a good source of vitamin D3.

    If you can't find certified organic oyster shell in your feed store you can make your own at home. To make organic oyster shell you first must catch an organic oyster. Because the word "organic" means "Based on the element carbon" all oysters are organic because of the thick calcium carbon-ate shell surrounding them. Because organic oysters lack eyes to see you with, and both feet or legs with which to runaway from you, it is not difficult to bag an oyster. The next step is separating your oyster from its organic shell. It helps if you love
    eating raw oysters, or oysters cooked any way for that matter. I love them so well that one time I got very good at evicting oysters and you will too. After you have evicted the unlucky mollusks from its digs, what you have left is 100% pure organic oyster shell, waiting on the hammer mill or rock crusher..
    1 person likes this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by