Thin shells - not eating oyster shell

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by clb, Jun 5, 2011.

  1. clb

    clb New Egg

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    My 3 yr. old hens are free range during the day. Last summer, they completely stopped eating the layer pellets or crumbles. Tried fresh bags but no luck. They also don't seem to touch oyster shell I put out. Needless to say, their egg shells are getting thin. How do I get them to eat a balanced diet?
     
  2. FireTigeris

    FireTigeris Tyger! Tyger! burning bright

    don't allow free range until they have eaten and had some eggshell?
     
  3. PhilErvin

    PhilErvin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:I agree with this comment. I'd lock them up for a week and provide the food and oyster shell. After a week or so they will be back in the habit and will most likely continue eating what YOU want. If they stay away from the oyster shell while locked up you might try sprinkling it in their food. Good Luck!![​IMG]
     
  4. debid

    debid Overrun With Chickens

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    I disagree.

    They're getting calcium in their greens and bugs and if they were deficient, they'd eat the oyster shell. I suspect you're seeing a normal thinning of shells that happens with a combination of advancing age and summer heat stress. Locking them up gives you more control over what they eat but it won't make them younger or cooler.

    ETA: you can also try adding a vitamin/electrolyte to the water since that helps with the heat stress and helps their body utilize the calcium.
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2011
    1 person likes this.
  5. sammyh312

    sammyh312 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    FWIW, i think debid's right, sounds like heat, age, or both, and seems to run parallel with my experience. now about oyster shell, how are you making it available? I dust the area with it like i do scratch and feed and have gotten by great. A buddy of mine piles it in a corner and "hopes" they find it. He doesn't seem to like his results. Maybe should be a separate thread.
     
  6. Medicine Man

    Medicine Man Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would take a look at what they're eating out there on the range. Something high in oxalic acid, perhaps?
     
  7. clb

    clb New Egg

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    Jun 5, 2011
    Thanks for all the great suggestions. Sometimes I put it in a dish with their feed, which they don't eat much anyway, and sometimes just on the ground. I think I'll keep them in for a while in the morning and see if they eat more feed. But they have all that delicious horse manure to root through............Maybe it is just age and heat.

    CLB
     
  8. triplepurpose

    triplepurpose Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I agree, probably just age/heat. You shouldn't need to try to force them to eat the feed. If they need to eat something to make up the balance in their diet, they'll eat it--chickens are really smart that way--but obviously they are preferring the goodies they are finding for themselves, with all that horse manure to scratch through. Lucky chickens! [​IMG]
     
  9. Medicine Man

    Medicine Man Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I do not agree with the previous hypotheses on age. It's a bogus myth that a three year old chicken should not lay a normal egg on a regular basis. I have personally seen a flock of (30) 5 and 7 year old Barred Rocks that were malnourished to the point of feather-picking that still laid 7 dozen marketable eggs per week.

    Heat, schmeat...there's something wrong with your chickens' diet.
     
  10. clb

    clb New Egg

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    Jun 5, 2011
    I've only had chickens 3 years, so certainly not an expert... but I've read that heritage breeds like the Barred Rocks have a much longer laying life than 'production' breeds. The 3 year olds are Golden Comets from Tractor Supply. Is that a production breed?? My new chicks are gold-laced Wyandottes and Barred Plymouth Rocks.

    CLB
     

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