Thin Shells

NH-Song

In the Brooder
Apr 18, 2019
8
6
14
I have a mixed-breed flock of hens (brahmas, isabrowns, barred rocks, wyandottes, jersey giants, an easter egger, and a rhode island red), in a good-sized coop with large windows. I'm in coastal New Hampshire. We moved them out of our basement a couple of months ago (they'd been spending nights in a box in our basement, since we didn't have a predator-proof place for them to sleep at night).

When they were in the basement and smaller coop, they got layer feed mixed with oyster shell, as we had no way to offer them the oyster shell separately. We got loads of nice, evenly formed, hard-shelled eggs.

Now they are getting layer feed but the oyster shell is separate, in a different container. They don't seem to be eating it at all. We're getting well-shaped eggs, but most have thinner shells and are fragile.

I know I'm not supposed to mix the shell into the feed, but I don't know how to get the hens to eat the shells on their own. My hens have previously shown themselves to be on the dumber side (when brains were being handed out, my hens were in the personality line), but they should still know to eat the shell, right?

Mostly, I just want to know what I can do to keep them healthy.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
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Nov 27, 2012
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What kind of feeder is the OS in, easy to access?
Try sprinkling a few treats on top of the shell.
They may just not have found it.
 

rosemarythyme

Free Ranging
Jul 3, 2016
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Some birds just won't eat it on their own. If it seems to be a flockwide problem you can try mixing it in for a couple of weeks again and see if there's an improvement in shell quality.

I have one specific bird that doesn't seem inclined to eat oyster shell so since it's just her I mix a bit of oyster shell in with fermented feed and give her a private breakfast 3x a week, while she's laying.
 

NH-Song

In the Brooder
Apr 18, 2019
8
6
14
I changed the container and the shells have gone back to being decently hard, but I might just mix some shell into the feed in general. Or mix the baked, crushed eggshells into the feed (those become smaller fragments than the oyster shell).

Thanks tons for the help!
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
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Nov 27, 2012
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I changed the container and the shells have gone back to being decently hard
That should do it then......I wouldn't mix OS or ES into feed.
I mix the OS and ES in a separate container...and watch that they are eating them.
If I get a soft shell I toss some OS out with the scratch.
 
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