soft shells, grit .. DE and more. Questions from the backyard

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by mzmolly65, May 9, 2016.

  1. mzmolly65

    mzmolly65 Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 20, 2016
    I did a search but didn't find much for answers to my exact question. One of my Khakis is laying partially soft shells. I know oyster shell is the answer BUT

    there is oyster shell in their feed (they are new ducks for me so two weeks on the new feed and she has just begun laying in the last four days.) I am feeding Scratch and Peck Layer formula and the other eggs are fine and there is a drake eating the same feed.

    Should I add more oyster shell to their feed, add a free choice box of shell to their yard or just wait this out a bit. The other girls don't seem to need it and I'm worried the drake will get too much of it when he really doesn't need any.

    I grew up on a farm and Mum just always put oyster shell in a box and let the chickens and ducks free feed but she was also only feeding chopped grain, while I am feeding something that already has oyster shell in the feed. I don't want to overload them if it isn't necessary.

    One other concern I have ..

    I put out a box of grit and they don't seem to be touching that. I'm not sure if I should add some to their feed for a little while. Their crops are HUGE! .. but to be fair they were neglected and thin when they arrived so I can't blame them for being little piggies around this yard full of slugs, worms, snails and good food in a bucket too.

    They are foraging well and maybe don't need additional grit?? Again, I'm used to farm animals and we never fed grit because they had more than enough gravel around the farm to pick through but these ducks are in a back yard and it's mostly grass compared to the farm yard.

    Edited to add: I am putting Diatomaceous Earth down in the bottom of their coop and I think they are eating that because they shuffle through the bedding and I hear their beaks tapping the floor. Should I give them some of that to eat too?

    All advice appreciated.
    Last edited: May 9, 2016
  2. lomine

    lomine Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 7, 2015
    Peyton, CO
    I would offer a dish of oyster shell free choice. This will allow the one having issues to get a little extra when she needs it. Some animals just need a little more than what's in the bagged feeds. You could also give them some treats with crushed egg shell or powdered calcium to help the one duck boost her calcium levels faster. If that doesn't correct her problem within a few days you'll want to look at other possible sources for the problem.

    If you are letting the ducks free range they should naturally find small rocks to use as grit. That being said, it won't hurt if you offer grit free choice, too. My girls free range and haven't used any of the grit in their run but it's there if they need it.

    Not sure about the DE. I know it's good for pest control in the coop. It won't hurt them (if it is food grade) but I don't know the benefits of feeding it to them. They are probably just poking around in the bedding looking for bugs.
  3. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    I would not feed them the DE, no.

    If they are rooting around outside in the soil, then they are getting grit.

    I would give special treats to the soft egg girl. When that happens here, I add 50 to 80 mg of a crushed calcium citrate tablet to a couple tablespoons of thawed frozen peas (their favorite treat).

    Then I sneak around and give her her "special." The ducks who get this treatment know the signal for our private rendezvous in a corner of the night pen....they meet me in a little out-of-the-way place.

    Seriously, it's a bit of a game. And it corrects the problem.
  4. mzmolly65

    mzmolly65 Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 20, 2016
    Interesting .. I have 3 Khaki Campbell ducks and 1 drake that I got as adult ducks. I have been getting 1 egg a day since they first arrived. Then after about a week of settling in I started getting 2 eggs a day and then, once a week I get 3 eggs a day.

    The soft egg is always on the day I get 3 eggs. At first I thought one of the ducks might be past her egg laying days but now I'm starting to wonder if perhaps the smallest duck is much younger than I estimated and maybe these are her first eggs.

    As a kid on the farm the first eggs from the chickens were always perfect eggs, just tiny and sometimes missing a yolk but these duck eggs are full sized, soft as paper, the yolk has no proper sac and even the albumen seems as if it has nothing containing it. It's just all glooped together.

    The last soft egg was mostly hard with a few soft spots but this second one is soft all over and broke almost as soon as I picked it up.


  5. tmorgan46

    tmorgan46 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 22, 2015
    Stafford, VA
    We had a similar issue with a younger duck. I put out an extra pan of oyster shell and she's always nibbling out of it. We don't offer grit, they get plenty as they sift through puddles and mud as they free range. I use DE (food grade) without issue. But I always cover it with fresh straw, so I'm not sure if they pick through it or not. I back off on it's use around nest though; just not sure of the impact to sitting mommas. The younger duck has gone broody and her soft shells stopped after a couple of weeks of making oyster shell available.
    Last edited: May 17, 2016
    1 person likes this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by