Shell grit isn't working! Dang.

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Fierlin1182, Dec 26, 2011.

  1. Fierlin1182

    Fierlin1182 powered-flight

    Aug 26, 2011
    We started adding shell grit to the feed a couple of weeks ago after noticing soft-shelled eggs being laid. Long story short: they're still being laid.

    I'm pretty sure the hens are eating the stuff because there's never any left over, so what could be going on? Does it just need more time to work?
    Last time I went to collect the eggs, two out of eight (these were laid over a number of days) had broken shells.
  2. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

    Nov 18, 2007
    My Coop
    I have a dish of crushed oyster shells my birds have access to them all of the time. They may need more than just mixing it with their feed. They will take what they want.
  3. KDK1

    KDK1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 29, 2011
    Tennessee Plateau
    I'm not really sure what 'shell grit' is or if you're using the right product. Oyster shell is a calcium suppliment for stronger egg shells and grit is crushed granit to help grind food in the gizzard.
  4. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    Quote:Yeah... that. Oyster shell and grit are two different things.

    That said, soft shells can be a genetic/individual issue too.
  5. Mum

    Mum Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 23, 2011
    I regularly feed back crushed chicken shells (roasted) to my chickens. Also, if I find any snail shells in the garden, I crush those up too. Not had a softie.
  6. HHandbasket

    HHandbasket The Chickeneer

    Quote:Yeah... that. Oyster shell and grit are two different things.

    That said, soft shells can be a genetic/individual issue too.

    Ditto to shells and grit being two completely different products with two completely different uses by a chicken's physiology.

    The only time we have had issues with soft shells is when new hens first start to lay. One of our EE girls laid soft-shelled eggs about once, sometimes twice a week for the first month or so that she was laying. Sometimes it just takes them a while to get all the kinks worked out in their equipment.
  7. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

    Jun 1, 2009
    Quote:Oyster shells are often referred to as Soft or Soluble Grit and Granite Grit is often referred to as Hard or Insoluble Grit.

  8. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

    Jun 1, 2009
    Most people immediately think that Oyster shell grit is what a hen needs if she is laying soft shelled eggs but a dietary deficiency can also be the cause of a ‘soft' shelled egg.
    A few things to look at when you are getting soft eggs are (remember too much of any one of these ingredients can affect egg quality just the same as too little) --

    Protein, Adequate levels of lysine and methionine is need to produce good egg shells. When pullets begin laying, there is an increase in protein, vitamin and mineral requirements per day due to deposition in the egg. If dietary protein is too low or the amino acid requirements are not met, poor egg production and hatchability will occur.

    Calcium, The egg shell is composed primarily of calcium carbonate. The pullet's requirement for calciumis relatively low during the growing period, but when the first eggs are produced, the need is increased at least four times, with practically all of the increase being used for the productionof eggshells. Inadequate calcium consumption will result in decreased egg production and loweregg shell quality.
    Hens store calcium in medullary bone, a specialized bone capable of rapid calcium turnover. As calcium stores are depleted, bones become brittle. In severe cases, hens are unable tostand. The condition is known as caged-layer fatigue. Birds on the ground or on litter floorsrecycle calcium and phosphorus through consumption of feces, and do not have caged-layer fatigue.
    Calcium can be supplied in the diet as either ground limestone or oyster shell. Particlesize affects calcium availability. Usually the larger the particle size, the longer the particlewill be retained in the upper digestive tract. This means that the larger particles of thecalcium source are released more slowly, and this may be important for the continuity of shellformation, especially in the dark period when birds do not ordinarily eat.
    Periodically, dolomitic limestone is offered to the feed industry. However, dolomitic limestone(which is used in the steel industry) should never be used in poultry diets. Dolomitic limestonecontains at least 10% magnesium, and this complexes with calcium or competes with calcium forabsorption sites in the intestines. The consequence of feeding dolomitic limestone is inducedcalcium deficiency.
    Young birds should not be fed a high calcium layer diet because the calcium/phosphorus ratiowill be unbalanced, resulting in increased morbidity or mortality.

    Phosphorus, The nutritional role of phosphorus is closely related to that of calcium. Both are constituentsof bone. The ratio of dietary calcium to phosphorus affects the absorption of both these elements;an excess of either one impedes absorption and can reduce egg production, shell quality and/orhatchability.
    In addition to its function in bone, phosphorus plays a primary role in carbohydrate metabolism,is active in fat metabolism, and helps to regulate the acid-base balance of the body

    Vitamin D, Vitamin D is required for normal calcium absorption and utilization. If inadequate levelsof vitamin D are fed, induced calcium deficiency quickly results and egg production decreases.
    Feed grade vitamin D comes in two forms, D2 and D3. In most animals, both are equally potent. In birds, however, D3 is substantially more active than D2. In poultry diets, therefore, vitamin D must be supplied in the form of D3.

    Magnesium, Magnesium is needed for healthy bones, proper nervous system functioning, and energy metabolism.

    Fat, Dietary fat is a source of energy and of linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid. A deficiency of linoleic acid will adversely affect egg production. Dietary fats also serve as "carriers"of fat-soluble vitamins, and some fat is necessary for absorption of vitamins. In fact, impairmentof the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) is the most serious consequence of a dietary deficiency of fat.

    The general make up of a egg shell is --
    Calcium carbonate.............................................................:94-97%
    Sodium, Potassium, Manganese, Iron and Copper............:traces
    Organic matter...................................................................:< 2%

    (* Note -- With Proteins it is easier to break down proteins that are animal based than plant based. On a second note watch high levels of linseed "Flax seed". Too much Flax Seed can cause health problems in chickens. Overfeeding flaxseed can cause problems for your hens because flax seed contains sticky compounds that stop the hen from digesting some of the nutrients in her diet. Flax seed also contains a compound called linoline that may increase the birds' vitamin requirements. Feeding too much flax seed can also cause production drops, small egg size, reduced body weight gain and thin egg shells. *)

  9. need to know exactly what you are feeding as the normal diet before making an informed suggestion. We have switched to flock raiser and/or breeder pellets, and non medicated starter. Usually a combination of those. Average protein runs 18-20 depending on the mix and average calcium runs about 1.5%. We then offer free choice oyster shell in a separate feeder. Plenty of fat and protein for everyone, normal calcium for younger birds and roosters, laying hens take more calcium free choice as they need it. Everybody is healthy and happy [​IMG] We are of the belief that commercial layer feed has entirely too much calcium and most home mixed feeds dont have enough calcium, vit d, phos, mag, as well as being shy on protein. Our system seems to solve these problems and at least works well for us. If you have a blue seal dealer close... we like the breeder pellets. Ours is 50 miles away so we only get there once in a while and mix the other stuff with it.

    Edited for : I am glad chris chimed in as I was writing this. Very good advice from someone who knows what he is talking about.
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2011
  10. JodyJo

    JodyJo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 27, 2010
    I feed Layer feed, oyster shell in its own container, and also throw back the crushed egg shells after I use them...I have very strong egg shells!

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by