Chicken Help

Help Me! OR: Search by Category


Q: Do I need to give my hens oyster shell or supplemental calcium?

A:

If your hens have a good, "complete" layer feed, they may not ever need oyster shells or any supplemental calcium! However, it never hurts--and it can really help avoid potential pitfalls in a number of ways. Oyster shell is inexpensive and lasts a long time, so why wouldn't you--just to be safe?

The reason they may need it is that some flocks that spend most of the day foraging, or are given too many treats, can develop a calcium deficiency, particularly if they are high production layers. If they're eating too many treats, they won't be getting don't get all the calcium they need from their feed. It would be like feeding your kids nothing but fries for every meal: they may be getting calories; they may be loving the food... but they need more nutrition than they're getting in order to stay healthy.

Laying hens who aren't getting enough calcium can begin producing weak or irregularly shaped eggs--even eggs with no shells!

shell-less egg, egg with a membrane but no shell

This issue can also cause slow laying or even behavior problems like egg-eating, because your layers are so desperate for the dietary calcium they need.

So, to avoid all these problems from the get-go, we recommend offering a source of calcium like oyster shell, free choice so they can take just as much as they want. We recommend you cut down on the treats, too! MOST of their nutrition should be coming from their nutritionally balanced feed, rather than leftover spaghetti, right?

WKeep in mind that oyster shell isn't necessary for pullets that haven't started laying yet.

Some people prefer to save their egg shells and offer those back to the hens--that works, too! However, please remember that a hens' own shells will not provide her enough calcium if she doesn't have another supplement, since she also needs calcium for other body processes. If you choose to offer eggshells back to your hens, be sure to bake them first (350* for 10 minutes or so) to kill any bacteria on the shells, and make sure they are crushed finely enough that they don't look like eggs... or else you may be providing calcium and ALSO teaching your hens to eat their own fresh eggs... what a headache!



Related Items:

Hot Pick Anti-Picking Spray, 4 ozHot Pick Anti-Picking Spray, 4 oz

Hot Pick Anti-Picking Spray, 4 oz

In Stock
$13.95$9.75
The Chicken SwingThe Chicken Swing

The Chicken Swing

In Stock
$29.95
Chunky Chicken CaviarChunky Chicken Caviar

Chunky Chicken Caviar

In Stock
$8.95$6.69
Egg Cleanser Concentrate, 16 ozEgg Cleanser Concentrate, 16 oz

Egg Cleanser Concentrate, 16 oz

In Stock
$8.95$6.71
The Clubhouse Coop w/Run (4 chickens)The Clubhouse Coop w/Run (4 chickens)

"The Clubhouse" Coop w/Run (4 chickens)

In Stock
$569.00$399.00
Egg-Shaped Salt & Pepper ShakersEgg-Shaped Salt & Pepper Shakers

Egg-Shaped Salt & Pepper Shakers

In Stock
$8.95$3.95
Poultry Grit, 5lb bagPoultry Grit, 5lb bag

Poultry Grit, 5lb bag

In Stock
$7.50
Chicken Fun ToyChicken Fun Toy

Chicken Fun Toy

In Stock
$3.95$3.15
The Bungalow Chicken Coop  (up to 6 chickens)The Bungalow Chicken Coop  (up to 6 chickens)

"The Bungalow" Chicken Coop (up to 6 chickens)

Limited Availability
$489.00$349.00