What if hens don't want/eat oyster shells or egg shells?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by texsuze, Feb 3, 2015.

  1. texsuze

    texsuze Songster

    Dec 17, 2012
    Texas Hill Country
    Many folks advocate feeding a 'flock raiser' feed, and supplementing with the oyster shells or crushed egg shells, to manage both non-layers and layers within a single flock. My flock is mixed: one hen (unknown age) who has never laid in 3 years, pullets just starting to lay, and older hens in the typical stages of winter-time sporadic laying.

    I put flock raiser feed in all my feeders once the pullets arrived (laying hens were taking their "winter break"). Oyster shells have been available, either in the feeders or in separate containers. And crushed eggshells (from store-bought eggs !), too. I've never seen any of my birds eat or check out the oyster/egg shell bowls.

    SInce I just purchased a new bag of Purina Layena feed for pullets who have started laying in the last few days, my thought is to keep everyone on layer feed. It has worked for me in the past and I can be fairly certain the girls are getting all the nutrients--calcium included-- rather than hoping they'll eat the oyster/egg shells. Even during times of molt and broodiness, which we have lots of, I've historically fed the layer feed and all seems ok.

    Did I answer my own question? Comments [​IMG]
  2. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    I think that you did. I also think that if something works for you, why change?
  3. myfarm4579

    myfarm4579 Chirping

    Jun 28, 2014
    From what I understand they will only eat calcium or grit when their bodies need it:) but I may be wrong.
    1 person likes this.
  4. justplainbatty

    justplainbatty Songster

    Nov 30, 2007
    emmet MI
    I have just tried the same thing after reading flock raiser this, higher protein that. As a result, my hens also ignore the oyster shell for the most part and their shells have gotten progressively thinner and are not eating the high protein feed much. I intend to go back to my long time, tried and true method of 16% layer with oyster shell and grit mixed in. They have always utilized everything in the feeders when I use this method, I mean running to breakfast and dinner and empty feeders twice a day. With this high protein feed, I am dumping feeders every two days as it gets stale out in the air. There is nothing wrong with the feed but the hens are clearly telling me it's the wrong diet. They are not enthusiastic about this new feed, I feel like it's "Johnny, your not leaving the table until you eat your broccoli" type deal. I think supplementing higher proteins at certain times to birds who need it works out better. [​IMG]
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Feed will not get 'stale out in the air' after 2 days...my open bag is fine for a month or more.
    Unless it gets wet if feeder is out in the weather (which it shouldn't be anyway).

    I think it takes time to change feeds.......chickens don't like change and keepers must be stalwart and stubborn, more stubborn than a chicken.
    They get hungry enough, they'll eat what's there.

    Sometimes presenting a new food as a treat can work, making it a mash with water, or mixing it in with their favorite and slowly changing proportions until the mix is wholly the new feed.
    1 person likes this.
  6. SunkenRoadFarms

    SunkenRoadFarms Chirping

    Sep 11, 2014
    I think if you find that layer works for you, then keep it up. I personally use flock raiser because I generally have a constant stream of young hens and/or roos with the whole flock, so it's a lot easier for me than trying to separate everyone based on feed. However, when I did switch from layer to raiser, it did take at least a week for the original hens to accept the new feed. They ate oyster shell prior to this, so that wasn't an issue.

    As for the issue of feed going stale, in my opinion, no it does not after two days in the feeder (I use feeders that hold enough feed for about a week depending on the season, kept under cover). But then I also keep about a years worth of silage in silos and trenches for the cattle, essentially partial exposed to the elements, so my definition of "stale" may vary from someone else's. But at the end of the day, you know what works best for your birds, so go with it!
  7. kurczaki

    kurczaki In the Brooder

    Feb 4, 2015
    My girls eat egg shells, but would not eat oyster shells. I am not sure what is the reason .
  8. Red Bird

    Red Bird In the Brooder

    Apr 4, 2015
    How do you crush the egg shells mine are having an issue and I have oyster shells but they don't really eat them
  9. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida

    Feb 25, 2014
    Northwestern Wyoming
    My Coop
    I hard boil excess eggs, chop them up shells and all, and feed them. They can't just pick out the egg and not get the shell because they are sorta stuck together. Mine won't eat just crushed eggshells either, but they mob me for the hard boiled eggs. And no, it doesn't cause egg eaters to suddenly appear in the coop.......with the eggs cooked and chopped up they don't recognize them as the same eggs laid in the nests. I like that they are getting calcium and protein. at the same time. They don't get the hard boiled eggs every day, but it's nice treat for them and it helps me utilize the eggs that are a little older. Win, win! Oh, and I do have oyster shell in there free choice. I figure just because I don't see them eating it doesn't meant they aren't. They don't need to clean the dish clean daily - just a tiny little bit.

    Edited to correct typo...
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2015
  10. justplainbatty

    justplainbatty Songster

    Nov 30, 2007
    emmet MI
    I want to correct myself form post #4. The reason my birds were not eating the high protein feed was bc it was moldy! I didn't figure it out for three weeks, they knew right away! I got an exchange for the bad feed, same kind. They ate it ravenously just like the layer feed. I just give a lot more oyster shell for the hens. Much better for the roosters and my two old birds who rarely lay!
    (My birds did forgive me for not listening when they were telling me the feed was bad) [​IMG]

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