Will Hens Willingly Eat Oyster Shell Separately?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Jajika, Aug 25, 2011.

  1. Jajika

    Jajika Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 24, 2007
    Northern California
    Hi All

    I had posted about some of my hens egg shells being thinner than others.

    I feed them Laying Crumbles, fresh water daily and treats every morning.

    Comments came back that the treats might be winning out from the laying crumbles that has
    lots of calcium in the product.

    The suggestion was, that while my girls have
    a very large "run" within the orchard, they might need some
    extra calcium in the form of oyster shell.

    Also the suggestion was that they would eat it as they want.

    So I bought some and put it out in a bowl for them. They appear to ignore it.

    Should I mix it in to their food? Would that help or threaten to give them too
    much calcium thereby causing other problems?

    Not sure what is the best approach.


  2. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    Keep it separate.

    Those that need it will eat it. But it won't be like watching cat or dog kibble disappearing from bowls.... Unless you have a fairly large flock of layers which are fed All Flock instead of layer feed. Yours ARE getting some calcium from their feed, so they're not really lusting for it.
  3. kickinchicken

    kickinchicken Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 23, 2010
    Rhode Island
    I keep my oyster shells in a small bowl near the feeder on a cinder block. The little buggers tip it over at least once a week. If you put the shells out, make sure its in a large bowl that they can't tip over!
  4. dbounds10

    dbounds10 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 15, 2011
    Fort Worth, Tx
    I have a PVC feeder for my shell and it is still as full today as it was 2 weeks ago. I had a hen lay a squishy egg so I took some shell and ground it up in my magic bullet. I mix a little with their nightly cottage cheese, or yogurt or what ever the nightly treat is.

    Today I got a lovely hard shell green egg!
  5. nuchickontheblock

    nuchickontheblock Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 16, 2010
    south portland, maine
    I tried offering some separately and it never seemed to be eaten, although lots of it was spilled and wasted. I also tried to mix it in with their feed which I make into a mash with water that they seem to prefer over the pellets. At the end of the day, the mash is pretty much gone, but the oyster shell bits are still in the bowl. [​IMG]
  6. OwlLover

    OwlLover Alaskan Wanderer

    Aug 25, 2011
    Mine eat it like sugar. [​IMG]

    Seriously though, if they are getting enough calcium, they probably won't need it like water. I would put it in their food to make sure it doesn't tip over and get wasted.
  7. GA_in_GA

    GA_in_GA Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 2, 2011
    Southwest Georgia
    I put out oyster shell in a separate bowl when the pullets were not laying. It sat there . . . and sat there . . . and sat there - untouched. All of the sudden, the oyster shell started disappearing. One pullet started laying, and her eggs have very hard shells. They are fed layer pellets, some treats, and free range under supervision nearly every evening.
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2011
  8. Mrs Clutterbuck

    Mrs Clutterbuck Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 25, 2011
    Auckland, New Zealand
    I put it in a separate dish and they tipped it out but they ate it even though it was on the ground. After that I mixed it with their food, but it all sat at the bottom when they finished their food.
    The white of their eggs when boiled was a little crumbly so maybe I gave them too much? Now I haven't given them any for a couple of weeks nd their eggs have been fine, do they build a supply up or something?
  9. M.sue

    M.sue Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 29, 2011
    I think when they first start laying, a mishap egg is expected from a few out of the flock. It takes their bodies a little bit to get in full swing, so I guess it's normal for new layers. I only had one with a soft shell. I feed mine layer feed & mix oyster shell with it. I also offer a free supply of in their run. They eat it when mixed in their feed and rarely touch the supply in the run.
  10. Jajika

    Jajika Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 24, 2007
    Northern California

    Everything everyone has said makes sense.

    I have all different breeds. It seems the Araucanna (sp?) that lays the green blue eggs, and her predecessor, have very thick shells. The RIR, Buttercup, Buff Orpington etc have a mix of shell thicknesses. Some sturdy, but some fairly thin. Not fragile, but thinner.

    I don't know if the ones with the shells less thick are just that way, but it seems they should be more stable,

    They all get layer crumbles and have a very large 900 sq yard pen with trees etc to forage in. Maybe I should be giving them cottage cheese and yogurt in addition to offering it to them?

    I know what everyone means about the "spilling" issue. I put a brick in the bottom of the bowl to stabilize it. So far, so good.

    Good stuff. Thanks.


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