Super Hard Egg Shells

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by binky1902, Dec 27, 2014.

  1. binky1902

    binky1902 Out Of The Brooder

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    My 20+ week old hens just started laying last week. I was worried since they were on grower still and not on layer feed with extra calcium that the shells would be a little brittle or soft...well I was wrong. I've gotten about a dozen in the past week from the two that's started laying, and the shells are hard to crack, even on the side of our cast iron skillet. I've never seen shells that thick and hard before.

    I think I found out today why the shells are so hard. My land is very, very "crawfishy". It is clay soil and I get the crawfish mounds all over the yard, and of course in the uncovered portion of the chicken run as well. It stays wet in the winter. While I was in the covered run area today fixing a feeder, moving the water dish higher, etc, I kept noticing behind my back the hens chasing each other. When I finally got up and turned around one of the Red Stars had her head back choking down an eating-sized crawfish. I watched them for a little bit and they have figured out to wait on the crawfish to come to the top of the hole, and they pounce on them and pull them out. Then the chase is on until they can get it choked down. I was wondering why they have been eating a good bit of grit lately, trying to get those things chopped up lol. Anyway, just wanted to share.
     
  2. binky1902

    binky1902 Out Of The Brooder

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    No idea how much calcium is in a shell-and-all crawfish but I'm guessing it's a lot.
     
  3. pdirt

    pdirt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    In that case, I wouldn't bother with layer feed as they won't need any more calcium. Just keep feeding grower or starter feed. If you start noticing the shells getting thin (if they perhaps decimate the crawfish population in their immediate vicinity), you could put out some crushed oyster shell in a separate container.

    I think layer feed can be dangerous. IF someone is raising a single flock of only layers and never intends to add to the flock and never intends to free range them, then layer feed can work. Otherwise, it can, over time, be an overdose of calcium, which can lead to health problems. It's especially not good for roosters, cockerals, chicks, old no longer laying hens, hens in molt, etc. There's just too many scenarios where you shouldn't be feeding layer feed. Since the calcium is mixed into the feed, they can't pick it out if they don't need it. If you feed grower/starter with crushed oyster shell on the side (or a yardfull of crawfish!), then they can pick and choose how much calcium they get...those birds that don't need extra calcium will mostly leave the oyster shells alone.
     
  4. binky1902

    binky1902 Out Of The Brooder

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    I was thinking the same thing, it would be nice to be able to feed the same thing to all the chicks/chickens.
     
  5. pdirt

    pdirt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It's SO much easier. Otherwise, you need a separate coop and run for every type of feed, otherwise you'd never be able to keep the chickens eating just the feed they are supposed to! Plus the extra protein of a grower, starter or all-flock feed is good for everyone, layers included.

    Honestly, I don't know why anyone bothers with layer feed at all. When some of your flock starts molting and some is still laying, most people don't have a separate coop to move the molters to so they can eat a non-layer feed. Plus moving birds in or out of a flock is stressful to them.

    There are plenty of folks who will say, "don't worry about it" as to feeding layer feed to non-laying birds. I agree that a few weeks or possibly even a couple months might be okay...but why bother? Why bother possibly causing harm to the birds?

    Lucky you with all those crawfish around!
     

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