Soft shells, pullets hate oyster shell . . .what to do?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Whitewater, Aug 5, 2010.

  1. Whitewater

    Whitewater Songster

    Jan 18, 2010
    Has anybody ever experienced this before?

    On July 30th, our Black Star started laying at 20.5 weeks and for the first few days all was well. We got 3 good eggs in 4 days, and I figured there was nothing to worry about, though I knew I needed to get to Tractor Supply to get them some laying feed.

    Then my Black Australorp pullet started doing the squat for me (which has also represented a big positive switch in how they interact with me generally, but I digress) and I knew the second egg would appear shortly. Unfortunately I had to wait for my paycheck before I could go to TSC but from reading here, I figured I had a few days so I was safe.

    In the meantime, I began putting oyster shell free choice in the pullet's run (I only have 3 birds). They overturned their container. The next day I filled the oyster shell container again and they overturned it again. The 3rd day I just scattered it on the bottom of their run like I do sunflower seeds and other treats, hoping that perhaps the container was to blame.

    Nope. My pullets refuse their oyster shell.

    And now for the past 2 days, my Black Star has been laying eggs with almost no shell at all, and today *would* have been our first two egg day, except for the fact that one egg was laid with hardly any shell and the other one, the shell is so thin it's the consistency of paper.

    The pullets still aren't eating their oyster shell.

    They get to run about our back yard for about an hour a day, eating green stuff and bugs and so on -- and our back yard has a ton of calcium rich plants like clover in it -- and as of tonight they'll get a mix of Layena and Flock Raiser (gradually transitioning to 100% Layena), but what do I do in the meantime to get better shells on the eggs?

    The pullets obviously think their soft eggs are poop, I've been finding them under the roost . . . *sigh*

    Is there anything else I can feed them to increase their calcium intake if they won't eat oyster shell? Plain yogurt? Other seeds for treats? Cheese?

    (Sorry, this should probably be in the Feeding section . . . but it's a egg question and a behavior question too . . . )

    They aren't eating the eggs, thank goodness, but can *I* eat the really thin shelled egg? Or would it be better to scramble it and give it back to them?

    And will the Layena help or will I have to resort to drastic measures?

    I'm glad for the egg every day (go, Black Star!) but this thin shell business needs to get taken care of asap. Help?

  2. Dogfish

    Dogfish Rube Goldberg incarnate

    Mar 17, 2010
    Western Washington
    I screwed the oystershell dispenser to the coop. Good luck overturning the coop.
  3. dsqard

    dsqard Crazy "L" Farms

    Jun 11, 2010
    York PA
  4. swordgeek

    swordgeek Chirping

    Jun 23, 2010
    Westford, MA
    Mine didn't used to touch the oyster shells, either. (They've since gotten over that.) Instead, I saved egg shells and washed them with soap and water, rinsed, dried, and pulsed them in the food processor till they were small but not ground up. Whenever I scattered these with their morning treats, they ate them up without a complaint. It seems my kitchen counter is always cluttered with broken egg shells.

    I don't scatter them now because I have some pullets that are too young to lay, but I still occasionally add the egg shells to the bowl of oyster shells in the coop. I think the older girls prefer the egg shells.

    I've been doing that with shells for years, though - I scatter them around by my wild bird feeders, particularly when I know they'll be laying eggs soon. My parents always told me they would help give the birds nice, strong shells for their babies. It never occurred to me that I'd be doing the same for my own flock of birds someday. [​IMG]

    BTW... my birds all love yogurt and cheese, though it took time for them to trust that yogurt was food. Maybe that's why they don't take much shell on their own.
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2010
  5. cjdmashley

    cjdmashley Songster

    Jul 29, 2010
    As gross as it is curdled milk or cottage cheese works well. I don't really even wait for the milk to go bad. If the kids leave milk in the cereal bowl I end up bringing it out with the lunch scraps. My girls love both. I've heard people say that their own shells and eggs are good for them too. (hard when they don't have shells) but maybe you could grab what they are laying, cook that and see how they like it. Hope all works out for you.
  6. swordgeek

    swordgeek Chirping

    Jun 23, 2010
    Westford, MA
    I just washed out the egg shells I got from the supermarket. Hey, I've only had a couple of layers so far, and they stop laying in winter. Family's got to have eggs, even if they're inferior!
  7. blackbelt

    blackbelt Chirping

    Aug 2, 2010
    bloomington springs tn
    Try this crush the shells,use a bag and a hammer whatever. toss the shells in their yard area, like you would scratch, see what happens, my experience is they will get the shells they need to make the shells hard.
  8. Beth G.

    Beth G. Gaetano Family Farm

    I use organic greek or non flavored regular organic yogurt. I mix in this Corn off the cob, hard boiled eggs chopped, and cottage cheese. I put it in an old pie tin and sprinkle oystershells on top. They go nutz over it!!! I feed it to them every other day for a week. By the end of that week their shells are really thick and beautiful! Good luck (I know it sounds like alot of work but, it works and is worth it [​IMG] )
  9. Whitewater

    Whitewater Songster

    Jan 18, 2010
    Thanks for all the ideas! I went to the store after work and got them some lowfat cottage cheese (plain) and put some in a bowl, enough for each pullet to have about two tablespoons worth, along with a few cracked corn kernels and some greens to let them know that there was food in this bowl, and wouldn't you know, the pullets LOVED the cottage cheese.

    I even saw one of them pecking at the scattered oyster shell, because it's white too [​IMG] Hopefully this will give them a clue! And hopefully the calcium in the cottage cheese helps, though I'm off right now to TSC to get the Layena, so they'll have it for the AM.

    Whitewater (will report what happens!)
  10. WingingIt

    WingingIt Songster

    Apr 16, 2009
    Keep in mind, too, that these are new layers and they are still getting the kinks worked out, so some of it might be that, too. We screwed the grit and oyster shell containers to our coop walls, too, worked like a charm. [​IMG]

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