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Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by kaymart, May 9, 2011.
I have 7 week old red stars, should I be giving them oyster shells now?
Oyster shell is for you chicks when they start to lay. Oyster shell is their source of calcium to make the egg shells stronger. Your chicks wont need oyster shell until they are closer to laying age (16-20 weeks). Hope this helped!
So when should you implement chick grit? And exactly is "chick grit"? I read in a book that my 5 day old chicks need it but no feed store says they have it. Is it already in the food?
Oyster shells are there to provide extra calcium for the egg shells if they need it. But since yours are not laying, they do not need it. Once they start to lay, you can provide oyster shell on the side. If they want it, they will eat it. If they are getting enough calcium elsewhere, they may not eat any of it. I keep oyster shell out for mine, but with me feeding them layer, which has extra calcium in it, and them free ranging, they are finding all the calcium they need. They hardly ever touch the oyster shell and the egg shells are fine.
Too much calcium can harm a growing chick. It can cause bone deformation or possible kidney damage. Once they are adults, they can handle the extra calcium, even if they are not laying, but don't give extra calcium to growing chicks.
This means that your chicks should not be eating layer. It has over 4% calcium. At 7 weeks, they should be eating a chick feed that has around 1% calcium, or maybe just a bit more. That is all they need for good bone growth. I generally feed Grower at that age, but there are a few other options.
Chickens do not have teeth to grind their food, so they eat grit to use in their gizzard to grind up their food. For grown chickens, that grit can be a rock up to the size of a pea, but young chicks just need very small pebbles and large grains of coarse sand. You can buy chick grit some places, but beware of the parakeet grit you can get in a pet store. Read the label. Not all, but a lot of that has extra calcium in it. I just get coarse sand from my gravel road or the run and give them some of that. Play sand is too fine and smooth and does nto work.
If all you feed them is Starter or Grower, you do not need to provide grit. It has already been ground up and them reformed to make the crumbles or pellets. Their gizzard can handle it without extra grit. You can feed them some other things like boiled eggs or yogurt without giving them grit, but you should give them grit before you feed them about anything else. I start mine on grit about day 3 in case a hard shelled bug wonders inside their brooder or my wife stuns another wasp and gives it to them to play with.
Oyster shell is not grit. It is not really hard enough to gring up a lot of stuff, but the main reason it does not work is that the chickens digestive system produces acid, much like a human. The acid dissolves the oyster shell.
Good luck! Hope this helps.
I am not an expert. My understanding is that chickens who are only fed commercial rations do not need grit. So, presuming your chicks are in a brooder and you are not feeding them a lot of treats like kitchen scraps, cracked corn, BOSS, etc... They should not need grit. My coop has a dirt floor, so when I put my 7 week old chicks in it, I did not worry about grit because they could just get it from the ground.
But, as they got older I noticed that there were some pretty deep holes scratched into the ground (not dust baths) my guess is they were looking for bigger pebbles for grit. That is usually when I dump some extra store bought grit on the ground for them, and the fresh scratched holes go away. Since, they get cracked corn, BOSS, kitchen scraps, and free range, I make sure they have grit.
My parents have had chickens for 30 years. The chickens have been fed commercial feed, and kitchen scraps during that time, in a coop with a slatted raised floor, so no grit at all. They have not had problems.