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Question on scratch and oyster shells

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by raspeary, Sep 17, 2009.

  1. raspeary

    raspeary Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ok, I need some help.

    What is the difference between scratch and oyster shell? Or are they the same thing?

    One of my hens just started to lay, (today i got her 2nd egg) my husband says they don't need scratch or oyster shell till winter time becuase they are getting enough dirt/stones outside. What should I do? Take hubbies advice or do i need to supplement scratch or oyster shell?
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2009
  2. musson

    musson Out Of The Brooder

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    Scratch is a mixture of grains including corn and I think milo and is given as a treat. Oyster shells are crushed up and given to chickens to provide calcium for egg shells.
     
  3. raspeary

    raspeary Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:so do i need to supplement oyster shells for my hens especially since she just started to lay. her egg shells are nice and hard.
     
  4. musson

    musson Out Of The Brooder

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    I let the chickens decide. We have a bowl of grit and a bowl of oyster shell they can help themselves to. But in general it's a good idea to provide something with extra calcium when they are laying.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2009
  5. centavo71

    centavo71 Out Of The Brooder

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    So, you give it to them once they start to lay or before??
     
  6. musson

    musson Out Of The Brooder

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    The grit I gave them as soon as I started to feed them something other than crumble. Ckick grit when they are small, regular grit when they got older. The oyster shell we put out at about 19 weeks, a couple of weeks before they started to lay.
     
  7. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    And grit is ground up granite, small rocks, that they use to grind their food. If you have granite gravel, small pieces of granite, where you are, you may not need to provide it. Things like sand and limestone will also work but granite does a better job of grinding their food.
     
  8. gsim

    gsim Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Am a newbie with 24 girls of 13 weeks. I have only given them crumble so far, but they do eat grass and bugs in their pen. They also get daily salad leftovers and garden culls of all types of veggies from 2 weeks onward. The pen is roomy at 180 ft perimeter so plenty of grass and bugs for all. Am going to add scratch and grit anyway to be safe. Good for their gizzard I think. Am sure that all greens give them needed calcium so I made pen extra large in the hope that there would always be grass. One thing is clear by now, and that is that I will never need to mow inside of the pen! Am debating letting them out of the pen an hour before dark if I am going to be out back then. They will all go into their coop at dusk for sure. AM also looking into raising crickets in center of pen along with night crawlers in a protected area. Those who move out due to overcrowding are treats for my birds. Kind of a sustainable and renewable source of protein.
     
  9. kathyinmo

    kathyinmo Nothing In Moderation

    Am going to add scratch and grit anyway to be safe.

    Scratch is like candy. It is a treat, and should be no more than 5 - 10% of their diet. Oyster Shell (when laying age) and grit offered free choice, is an excellent way to feed. 90 -95% of diet should be from their appropriate (starter / grower or Layer) feed, to be nutritionally balanced.​
     
  10. edselpdx

    edselpdx Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 10, 2008
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    There are different things being discussed here, and about 5 basic parts of most chickens' diets. I think maybe the OP is not using the same wording for parts of chicken diets as some of the rest of us are. These are generalizations, and I know that some people do things differently, but as a general rule:

    1. Good quality chicken feed (pellets/mash) should generally be the bulk of all chickens' diets. Commercial feeds are developed with nutritional needs of poultry in mind, and the right balance of protein and vitamins.

    2. Oyster shell. This is ground up oyster shell that laying hens should be given as free choice to keep up their calcium levels for healthy shells and bones. Some people refeed egg shells to their chix instead of or in addition to oyster shell. I just keep a jarful wired to the cage side near the food. Oyster shell is NOT a substitute for grit. Oyster shell is broken down and absorbed in the guts and used to lay down eggshell.

    3. Grit. This is essentially small stones/ground up granite. All chickens should have access to grit once they eat anything except chick/layer feed, including grass, scratch, bugs, veggie scraps... anything. They swallow this and it goes to the gizzard to help grind of food; there is no nutritional value to grit itself. If your chix have access to soil and small stones, you may choose not to buy grit, but without adequate small stones, your chickens' guts will not be happy, and they won't be able to digest the other foods here.

    4.Treats: veggie scraps, fruit scraps, even meat scraps can be a treat for your flock. Some people give sunflower seeds, or oatmeal. Bugs, mice, grass, and weeds fit into this category as well. You should steer away from scraps with added/refined sugars and salts. Most things you'd put in your compost pile are OK in moderation for chickens.

    5. Scratch is a store-bought or homemade mix of various grains for your chix. Most poultry-keepers think should be treated like "candy" and given in moderation. Various store carry various mixes of scratch in different seasons. Dried corn, in particular, as a part of a "scratch" helps keep body temperature up, which can make it a good wintertime treat when the girls are using lots of calories just staying warm.
     

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