'Complete' Layer Pellets: Enough Calcium?

Posted by: Anonymous

'Complete' Layer Pellets: Enough Calcium? - 01/18/04 02:17 AM

Hey everyone. I'm just starting to breed chooks, and thought I'd better start by thickening the shells of the eggs my chooks lay. I bought (sea) shell grit, and a bag of fairly expensive Barastoc Golden Yolk Layer Pellets (Aussie brand - Aussies out there - does it contain enough calcium?) The Analysis on the bag does not have a percentage of calcium, although it says it is compounded from calcium, among other things. I tries ringing Barastoc, but they never returned my calls.

MY QUESTION: Do 'Complete' Layer Pellets generally contain enough calcium to produce stong shelled eggs, or does a supplement like sea shell grit usually have to be given. If the answer is yes, then why say 'complete' when a supplement has to be given.

I'm desperate to know if I need to buy more shell grit, so is it worth it, and ARE CHEAPER BRANDS USUALLY AS GOOD (NUTRITIONALLY) AS MORE EXPENSIVE BRANDS? confused

Brett Enright. laugh
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: 'Complete' Layer Pellets: Enough Calcium? - 01/18/04 06:36 AM

Brett, I can't help you with the complete ration, but as far as the shell grit goes, I just bought a bag of it from Coles in the pet section for birds. It was about 3-4 litre size and cost less than $2. I put a small container (about 1/2 a cup) beside the food dispenser several months ago and there is still about 3/4 of it left (I think most of the loss was spillage!!). I only have 2 hens, but just having there makes me feel better and it costs me basicly nothing!
Posted by: CJR

Re: 'Complete' Layer Pellets: Enough Calcium? - 01/18/04 08:11 AM

In the U.S. a complete laying ration, is designed for the commercial egg producers, who only keep their hens for about a year. Even, so, their egg shells will get thinner as the year goes by (note variation in shells of store eggs). Most of us plan to keep our hens in production longer, and the "complete" ration will not have enough calcium to keep the system fired up for health of the bird and good shells. It is quite a drain producing an egg every day or two! So, yes, do offer your hens sea shell, free choice. They will eat it as they need it.

And shell is not the same as "Grit", which is hard ground Rock, which is the teeth of the chicken , in the gizzard, and which is necessary for the processing of all food they eat, but especially for grains and seed, and roughage like grass. Grit also is offered free choice, as the grit is worn down in their gizzard and is replaced continually. AND it grinds and breaks down the sea shell (Oystershell, in the U.S.), so it can be absorbed. Good luck, CJR
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: 'Complete' Layer Pellets: Enough Calcium? - 01/18/04 09:56 AM

Commercial poultry producers (confinement facilities with high output) are keeping their birds longer nowadays than they used to. It is common now for a confinement facility to keep birds for two laying seasons which is about 18 months. They receive them as point-of-lay pullets so the life-span of the birds is about two years in these situations.

This trend is going to continue. Hy-Line International, which has about 80% of the commercial layer marketshare, has a bird in development that lays 1000 eggs in 3 years. A bird like that will be a boon to the confinement facility operator. I just pity the birds living that long in a tiny cage.

If you insist on feeding oyster shell to your layers, this method was invented by my sister. Put a couple of pieces of oyster shell on a small piece of white bread. Roll it up in a ball so the oyster shell is inside. Feed that to your hens and they will gobble it down. Sissy started that years ago when she noticed that the birds just didn't want to eat the oyster shell 'raw'.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: 'Complete' Layer Pellets: Enough Calcium? - 01/19/04 04:36 AM

thank you for that tip Leee,my girls won't have anything to do with the oyster shell. smile
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: 'Complete' Layer Pellets: Enough Calcium? - 01/19/04 02:38 PM

Ok. I will provide crushed sea shell free choice, along with layer pellets. I will feed them a cup of wet malt a day, along with occasional food scraps. They free roam, so eat little rocks etc. all day, so I won't provide grit unless absolutely necessary. I'm buying Leghorns to breed after Feb 18th, so I need to be set up so my chooks lay hard-shelled eggs. I'm not going to force feed them the shell: they hate it, they also hate the pellets, but if they're hungry enough they'll eat both.

Any suggestions about whether I should provide grit (I live on 2 acres, the chooks are free range - do I need grit?)

Posted by: Anonymous

Re: 'Complete' Layer Pellets: Enough Calcium? - 01/19/04 04:02 PM

If you have plenty of little stones like gravel around I wouldn't bother. My girls spend all day picking up bits of this and that and don't seem to have any hassles. If they were confined I would give them grit but free-rangers should be able to pick up enough bits and pieces themselves.