Will chickens eat enough supplements (oyster shell, kelp meal, etc.) when it is not mixed with their

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by ashleyrae211, Apr 9, 2012.

  1. ashleyrae211

    ashleyrae211 In the Brooder

    Feb 9, 2012
    Will chickens eat enough supplements (oyster shell, kelp meal, etc.) when it is not mixed with their food?
    I hate mixing it, but if they won't eat it otherwise I guess I will have to keep mixing it.
    Anyone know?

  2. KingBardRock

    KingBardRock In the Brooder

    Mar 21, 2012
    As far as I know they will eat it. I sprinkle my oyster shells in the hen yard and they seem to gobble them up when they see them. Then again they ahve learned that I wont let them free-range till their yard is cleaned up and everything is in it's place (Or at least they think that is how it works). ;)
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    I don't feed kelp so this is all about oyster shell, but I do not mix oyster shell in with their food. They need a certain amount of calcium for general body maintenance, which is why you see some calcium, usually around 1%, in feeds other than Layer. If they are laying, they need more calcium for the egg shells, which is why Layer is usually around 4% calcium. If they are not laying they don't need that much calcium.

    Most chickens will get all the calcium they need for laying eggs with hard shells from Layer if Layer is about all they eat. If they forage, they can get calcium from plants, bugs and other creepy crawlies, and even the gravel they use for grit if it is limestone. They might or might not get enough calcium from foraging. It depends on what they are foraging on. Depending in what they are eating, the per cent calcium in the feed may not be that important. It’s the total amount of calcium they are eating that is important, not the per cent of calcium in part of what they eat.

    If yours eat much of anything that is not Layer, they might need extra calcium, which is why oyster shells are so good. It just depends on what they are eating. If you egg shells are hard without feeding oyster shell, they don't need oyster shell. They are getting enough calcium. If your egg shells are not hard enough, they can use extra calcium. They are pretty good at deciding if they need extra calcium or not. I keep oyster shell available on the side and let them decide if they need it. Sometimes mine free range and sometimes they don't. Sometimes I feed Layer, but when I have young birds in with the flock, they get Starter or Grower. Depending in what they are eating, the oyster shell may last a real long time or it may get eaten.

    If they are not eating it when it is offered on the side, they don't need it. Occasionally you will get a hen that does not process calcium right. She can lay soft shelled or thin shelled eggs. But if the others are laying eggs with hard shells the problem is with that individual hen and how she processes the calcium, not with how much calcium she is eating.

    If their bodies are fully grown, they can process extra calcium and get it out of their bodies, but at some point, too much can hurt them. Their internal organs have to work to get rid of the excess. I don't want to set anybody into panic mode. Their bodies can handle a fair amount of calcium, once they are mature. But why would you want to try to trick them into eating more calcium than they need or want? It just causes their bodies to work harder to shed the excess.
    2 people like this.
  4. ashleyrae211

    ashleyrae211 In the Brooder

    Feb 9, 2012
    Makes sense! Mine are layers, so I will start putting it on the side, thanks.

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