Too Much Oyster Shells!

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Ringtailtwister, Feb 23, 2016.

  1. Ringtailtwister

    Ringtailtwister Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have about 25 young hens that just started laying. They are eating approximately a quart of oyster shells a day is that too much?
     
  2. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    How are you giving the oyster shells? Free choice, mixed in food, scattered on the ground, etc?
    What type of food(s) do you normally feed them?
    Are they kept in a run or free range?

    Generally your girls will only consume what oyster shells are needed to supplement their calcium if being fed a balanced poultry feed.
    You may want to look at the nutritional values in the feed you are currently using to check the calcium content.
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Good questions from Wyorp. A quart a day is way too much. Are they trying to use it as grit? Is it being spilled on the ground? A quart of oyster shell should last a long time, even if that is the only calcium they are getting. Something is just not right.
     
  4. Ringtailtwister

    Ringtailtwister Chillin' With My Peeps

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    At this time they are in a pen and not free ranging. I put the oyster shells in a rabbit feeder. I feed them laying mash, scratch, wheat and meal worms. They have all they want to eat but sure do eat a lot of oyster shells. They have granite chips for grit.
     
  5. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    Is it possible they are "billing it out" of the rabbit feeder and it's getting scratched into the ground?

    My girls do sometimes bill out the OS, but they generally peck and scratch most of it up as needed.
    The only other possibility I can think of is there some other "varmint" like a chipmunk, squirrel, mouse, etc., that would eat the OS and is somehow getting in the run?
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    At a quart a day the only thing I can think of is that you have some pretty thick bedding and it’s getting spilled into that. You might try raking it away and see if there is a bunch on the ground if you do have thick bedding. I also use a rabbit feeder. I only have half your number of chickens but mine will last a month or more. I feed Grower, not Layer, so they are not getting much calcium from that.
     
  7. Ringtailtwister

    Ringtailtwister Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They are on the bare ground so too much bedding is not the problem. I do have squirrels but have never seen them in the chicken pen. I see the chickens eating the oyster shells quite often. I guess I need to just offer them OS about once or twice a month.
     
  8. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    In my opinion, I would NOT limit them to once or twice a month.
    Chickens will eat the OS when needed, so if they are eating quite a bit, then it must be needed.
    I don't think they will "overload" on the OS.
    Do you mind telling which layer mash and scratch that you use?
    Also how much wheat and mealworms do they get daily/weekly?
    How old are they? I know you say "young hens" but approx. the age and are all laying?
    Like @Ridgerunner I feed a grower/ all flock type food which doesn't have near the calcium content as a layer should and my girls don't consume great quantities of OS.
    It's a Mystery!
     
  9. Ringtailtwister

    Ringtailtwister Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I use Faithway feed and mix wheat and scratch with it. I raise mealworms and give them as treats about once or twice a week. My hens are about 6 to 7 months old. I had one lay a egg today that looks like a goose egg. Don't see how she did it. Maybe the rooster laid it? LOL[​IMG]
     
  10. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    Ha! I wish my cockerel would lay one occasionally!

    Generally speaking, wheat and scratch are considered "treats". I know some people do mix their own feeds, and I in no way am judging. If your flock is anything like mine, they will pick out the wheat and scratch and leave the mash until last or not touch it at all (and wait for more wheat & scratch)[​IMG] That might explain the extra eating of OS since wheat and scratch are generally not calcium rich foods, so they are making up for it by eating more OS.
     

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