when to give chicks oyster shells??

ElaynasChick

In the Brooder
Sep 30, 2019
70
42
48
Washington
At that age, they should have moved to chick grower by now. When they will come into lay depends heavily on the breed. If they are your typical sex-link egg laying machines, then around the 18 week mark is accurate - could be a few weeks before or after, but 18 is the average. For heritage breeds, you will be waiting a bit longer - average is 24 weeks.
If they are sex-links I would strongly recommend putting them on a pelleted feed which includes calcium around 17-18 weeks and start offering oyster shell in a side dish now as they will not over-indulge. An egg a day is very demanding on them and you are likely to run into nutrition issues with just loose grain feed and calcium on the side - they're like people and don't always eat what's best for them :/ There's a bit more lenience with other breeds that lay less as they aren't expending so much on keeping egg production up.
If they are roosting consistently, you can make nesting boxes available now with fake eggs as they will investigate and remember this as a safe place to lay.
You should notice a distinctive shift in their behavior when they are getting close to lay. All of mine went a bit stir-crazy, were anxious constantly, became much more vocal and wanted to explore outside the run as much as possible. When they are a week away from starting, you may see them exhibiting lordosis, or 'squatting' behavior.
thanks for that great information! purina doesn't have a grower i am feeding there starter/grower i think i said starter on accident but i meant starter/grower. i have a white leghorn, buff orpington, olive egger, 2 easter eggers, black copper maran, and a black austrolorp. i asked on another thread and pretty much everyone said not to go to a layer because if i ever want to get more chicks when i introduce the new chickens they would eat the layer when they do not need all that calcium or if you have a rooster i it does not lay so it doesn't need all that calcium. what are your thoughts on this??
 

Lizzy733

Songster
Nov 13, 2018
402
810
161
New Zealand
thanks for that great information! purina doesn't have a grower i am feeding there starter/grower i think i said starter on accident but i meant starter/grower. i have a white leghorn, buff orpington, olive egger, 2 easter eggers, black copper maran, and a black austrolorp. i asked on another thread and pretty much everyone said not to go to a layer because if i ever want to get more chicks when i introduce the new chickens they would eat the layer when they do not need all that calcium or if you have a rooster i it does not lay so it doesn't need all that calcium. what are your thoughts on this??
Layer is better for laying hens but if you have a mixed flock, look for an 'all flock' feed if possible as this is made to strike a balance between all of their needs. I don't really have the pleasure of having a good selection here, so have my girls on starter and then grower until my chicks come of age, but mine will be a hen-only adult flock inevitably and I do have a few reds who have already proven to be bad at making nutrition choices, so they will go back on layer when the time comes.
Starter just tends to be a bit more rich than grower, to my understanding, more vitamins, more protein... and often comes as medicated, which shouldn't be offered to adults. I don't like having my reds on it for longer than I have to as I can see a difference for them despite having calcium grit freely available. That being said, I also have a Silkie who does not get adversely affected like the big girls do, but also spends more time broody and brooding chicks than in lay so far, so won't have the same needs as the big girls. There's a lot of nuance in nutritional requirements across the different breeds and at different times in their lives, but you really have to dig to find out what is most suitable for specific breeds and even for specific climates. I've been lucky enough to have some good discussions with knowledgeable breeders who were willing to share their experiences and have been able to supplement my flock where needed as I have added a bit of heritage to my group.
It may take a little trial and error to find the most appropriate feed for your situation, but I would recommend pelleted over loose grain as it tends to provide a more balanced nutrition.
 

Fluffyflufffluff

Chirping
Premium member
Dec 30, 2019
212
409
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Hello! my chickens are now 13 weeks old and i heard that chickens will start to lay when they are 16-18 weeks so we are getting pretty close!! since they are getting close to laying when should i give them oyster shells for the calcium that they will need?? and when should i open up the nesting boxes (i blocked them of so that they would not think it is a place to sleep or something)?? also i am not switching them to layer feed i asked about it a while back on this forum and for various reasons i will not be giving them layer feed. Thanks guys
oyster shells? you mean, actual oyster shells? See... That's exactly what I'm talking about... just accomplished one more reason I'm in this forum.. :D:D:D
 

GC-Raptor

Crowing
Jul 26, 2016
3,121
3,940
371
Connecticut, USA
when should i give them oyster shells for the calcium that they will need??
I offer Oyster Shells after 16 weeks.
I don't feed a Layers feed to my chickens.
My last batch of 7 chicks (Barred Rocks) started to lay between 20 and 23 weeks. I only got 2 thin shelled eggs.
I've read that they need extra Calcium a couple of weeks before laying.
Providing Oyster Shells allows them access when they feel the need.
Always have Poultry Grit available from 7 weeks of age, you don't want them to substitute Oyster Shells for Grit. 20181214_095753.jpg. GC
 

ElaynasChick

In the Brooder
Sep 30, 2019
70
42
48
Washington
I offer Oyster Shells after 16 weeks.
I don't feed a Layers feed to my chickens.
My last batch of 7 chicks (Barred Rocks) started to lay between 20 and 23 weeks. I only got 2 thin shelled eggs.
I've read that they need extra Calcium a couple of weeks before laying.
Providing Oyster Shells allows them access when they feel the need.
Always have Poultry Grit available from 7 weeks of age, you don't want them to substitute Oyster Shells for Grit. View attachment 2004624. GC
Okay is in about 3 weeks i will offer oyster shells. i don't feed layer ether, and yes i am giving them grit
 

NatJ

Songster
Mar 20, 2017
402
894
146
USA
since they are getting close to laying when should i give them oyster shells for the calcium that they will need??
You can start offering at any time, as long as it's in a separate container, not mixed into the feed. If they do not need it, they will not eat enough to hurt themselves.

and when should i open up the nesting boxes (i blocked them of so that they would not think it is a place to sleep or something)??
Anytime, preferably with a fake egg inside to help them recognize what it's for.

i am not switching them to layer feed i asked about it a while back on this forum and for various reasons i will not be giving them layer feed. Thanks guys
i feed them purina non-medicated chick starter so i think that will be okay along with the oyster shells
I agree, that should be fine.

I would recommend pelleted over loose grain as it tends to provide a more balanced nutrition.
The Purina brand chick starter is typically made into pellets and then broken up into smaller pieces. When they make it that way, it is not possible for chickens to un-balance the nutrition by picking out favorite bits.
 

ElaynasChick

In the Brooder
Sep 30, 2019
70
42
48
Washington
You can start offering at any time, as long as it's in a separate container, not mixed into the feed. If they do not need it, they will not eat enough to hurt themselves.



Anytime, preferably with a fake egg inside to help them recognize what it's for.





I agree, that should be fine.



The Purina brand chick starter is typically made into pellets and then broken up into smaller pieces. When they make it that way, it is not possible for chickens to un-balance the nutrition by picking out favorite bits.
this is great, thank you!
 
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