Pullets, introduced in yesterday’s post, should not eat adult hen feed because it has a high calcium content. Layers need calcium to shell their eggs. If they don’t get enough, calcium will leach from their bones, which isn’t great for their health. The pullets, though, could damage their livers having to clean all the excess calcium out of their systems.
We put the whole flock on chicken baby food, but to help the layers keep up their calcium levels, we had to supplement their diet. One can buy oyster shells specially ground for this purpose, but it is even easier to just use cleaned, dried, and crushed eggshells. Now, these shells have to be from the same flock (not store-bought eggs, which could harbor outside microbes) and must be ground up for easier eating.
The shells can be washed under running water. Take care to rub the membrane out of the inside of the shell. Put the shells, open side down, on a pan in the toaster oven or oven, and heat for just a few minutes to let them dry (or let them air dry). Next, crush the shells into small pieces. Do not grind them to powder. The chickens take up the small pieces easier. Think sequin size.
Finally, put the shells in a little container near the food. I tossed a little scratch into the bin one morning to be sure the girls knew where to find the calcium.