Do Chickens Need Feed Supplements?

June 4, 2019


If there wasn’t a need for supplements they wouldn't still be manufactured and readily available. 

For instance you may need to give your chickens oyster shell if they are producing weak or thin shelled eggs.


Calcium is an essential nutrient in the diet of poultry. Not only do chickens need to build and support healthy bones, but they also need enough free calcium in their diet to produce a hard eggshell.


An ideal shell is relatively smooth, evenly colored, and maintains a consistent shell thickness. Sometimes you get bumps and deposits on your shells, which is OK, However, if dark spots appear that crack easier than the rest of the shell, you have thin spots. Additionally, if your eggs are breaking too easily, you may be experiencing thin shells.


When the shell gland fails to produce a shell, a hen can lay an egg that appears to have a soft shell. These eggs really don’t have a shell that’s soft, but instead, they don’t have a shell at all. These eggs only have a shell membrane on the outside. The membrane usually holds everything together, and feels like a wiggly ball of fluid.


Shell-less eggs do become more common as a hen ages, so don’t be surprised if you find one now and again.


In these instances Cluckin’ Good Oyster Shell from Scratch and Peck Feeds provides additional calcium to increase egg shell strength.


(We also carry vitamins, electrolytes, wormers and other items to keep your chickens healthy.)


Oyster shell is not a substitute for grit. Calcium is absorbed by chickens to build strong egg shells where grit stays in the gizzard to contribute to digesting whole grains and oyster shell.


Some hens require more than others, so feeding oyster shell free choice is the best way to make sure only the hens that need extra calcium get it.


An eggshell is approximately 95% calcium carbonate, and a growing egg will draw upon the laying bird to get the calcium it needs. Any calcium in a laying hen’s body will first be put toward strengthening the eggshell. Insufficient calcium can result in the body pulling from other calcium-rich areas, such as bones or beaks, which is detrimental to the chicken.


If they have too much calcium, the eggs may have an extra coating of powdery calcium around the entire egg or calcium deposits around the shell.


To provide your birds with oyster shell, offer it free choice in a separate location than the food, rather than sprinkling it in or mixing it with their feed. Chickens usually self-regulate when it comes to knowing what they need and when.


If the oyster shells are offered away from their food, they’ll pick at them as needed. It’s best to supplement chickens or ducks with oyster shells just prior to laying time to ensure that calcium levels at are at optimal levels when laying begins.

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