Thin shelled eggs

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by critterkeeper25, Jan 28, 2015.

  1. critterkeeper25

    critterkeeper25 Chillin' With My Peeps

    We have a flock of 17 hens that are 9 months old. We feed layer feed and supplement with oyster shell, scratch grains and collards or some other leafy green veggie. I have noticed an occasional cracked and sometimes broken thin shelled egg in the nest boxes. I don't know who is laying them. We also have some eggs that have lumpy calcium deposits on them. So my question is, if the egg that has the thin shell is due to lack of calcium, how do I supplement with calcium without overloading the hens that are laying the eggs with the calcium deposits on them? I am afraid that if I don't do something about the thin shells, my hen will end up with egg yolk peritonitis or some other infection from getting torn up by broken shell.

    Any suggestions?
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    My suggestion is - you don't. Calcium is only one element of the egg shell mystery. Phosphorus and vitamin D3 are equally important but it's the ratio that works.

    The oyster shell needs to be in a separate container and for the time being cut out the scratch grains. Layer feed is formulated as a complete feed and no other supplementation is necessary. Things should straighten out in time.

    http://www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/li...eggs-and-your-small-flock-of-laying-hens.html

    http://www.alltech.com/sites/default/files/alltech-egg-shell-quality-poster.pdf

    ETA
    here's another good one

    http://www.nutrecocanada.com/docs/s...-formation-and-eggshell-quality-in-layers.pdf
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2015
  3. spies04

    spies04 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Why do you keep the oyster shells separate? To see how much they are eating?

    Just wondering for my own knowledge. thanks!
     
  4. critterkeeper25

    critterkeeper25 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thank you for your reply. I visited the sites that you recommended. We feed free choice oyster shell and free choice insoluable granite. We also feed TSC layer feed.. I'm not sure of it's phosphorus to calcium ratio. Would you know a link that would recommend specific levels of calcium and phosphorus that should be fed to chickens? I guess it is also possible that the hen has a defective gland? I also read that the granite may not be the best thing to feed for grit. What do most people feed? The granite that my husband bought for them is reddish in color and the deposits that form on some of the eggs are the same color. Could the deposits be from the granite?
     
  5. critterkeeper25

    critterkeeper25 Chillin' With My Peeps

    I think that it is so that the hens consume it only when they need it. If it is mixed into the feed they may consume more than they need.
     
  6. spies04

    spies04 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you! OK because I am always making sure I stay on top of my game, what would be the outcome if they consume too much? I was not aware that there could be other challenges. I do use it as needed, but do not want to feed too much.

    Thank you for the info - this is why I love this site![​IMG]
     
  7. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Otherwise, they have no choice as to how much they consume.
    They have to choose. Mixing it could easily drive the percentage to 10 % or more. That will kill them in short order.
     
  8. spies04

    spies04 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you!! This helps tremendously!
     
  9. Chris King

    Chris King Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I, too, have been having problems with egg shell quality in some of my hens this winter. I'm currently trying a change of feed. The problem started several weeks ago and seemed to coincide with a new bag of the same layer ration I've been feeding all year without any problems. I contacted the manufacturer, but I was disappointed in the rather dismissive reply, so I switched to a different brand.

    (I'm a veterinarian with an interest in nutrition, so I'm well aware that mishaps sometimes occur in the mixing of animal feeds, but I do expect feed manufacturers to take customer concerns seriously.)

    It is also possible that it's a seasonal problem or a combination of management factors. My chicken coop is designed for the hot summers we get here in NC, and although I've winterized it the best I can, it still gets pretty cold in there at night this time of year, so I have a heat lamp on in the roost area. The girls seem to sleep OK despite having the light on all night (they were raised from pups under a heat lamp, and they had the heat lamp last winter as well), but maybe I'm inadvertently messing with their seasonal rhythms in my zeal to make sure they don't get too cold at night. Although egg production has dropped both winters, they have continued to lay since they started laying 18 months ago (at 4 months of age); they're coming up on 2 years of age and they haven't yet begun to molt.

    Maybe the thin shells are telling me that at least some of the hens just need to take a break from egg laying. Fine by me; I just want to be sure I'm not mismanaging them nutritionally. We're in a calcium-deficient area, so I've always fed a good quality layer ration plus oyster shell grit (all free-choice). They get plenty of grit for their digestive processes from foraging around the farm, and I haven't seen them show much interest in the shell grit, so I doubt it's contributing much to their calcium needs, which is why I'm suspecting the layer ration - rightly or wrongly.

    I'll report back in a few days, when I know whether or not the feed change has made a difference. If it is simply a feed problem, then shell quality should improve pretty quickly.

    -Chris King-
     
  10. Chris King

    Chris King Chillin' With My Peeps

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    P.S. Meant to add that this past week I began offering my hens a little kefir or yoghurt, as I wouldn't get to buy a new bag of feed until today‚Ķ I nearly lost a hand, they were so crazy for it! [​IMG]

    Not exactly proof that calcium is lacking in their diet, but certainly suggestive. They spend the day out on the pastures with the goats, so they're foraging around the farm, and they get to sort through the kitchen scraps in the compost pile almost every day, so they have a very diverse diet. The commercial layer ration should be meeting the balance of their calorie, protein, and mineral needs, and yet they practically pecked me to death to get to the yoghurt. It's supplying extra calories and protein as well, but they have an unlimited supply of the layer ration, so I'm proceeding on the assumption that the thin shells are a calcium issue, if not also a seasonal issue.
     

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