“Hentirement”

When aquiring a flock of backyard chickens most people are excited about the farm fresh eggs they will be collecting. Not much thought is given to what to do after hens no longer lay regularly. Laying hens only associated with egg production has been drilling into our conscious.

The hens for production spend their entire life in small cages then are slaughtered between 18 months and 2 years, they are deemed unproductive at that point. It has become common knowledge that after the age of 2 hens no longer lay eggs and are worthless. I am here to challenge this presumption.

In this post, I intend to prove that hens are worth much even beyond their laying years. A hen does not loose her wroth just because she no longer lays eggs.

It is of popular opinion that hens will only lay for 2 years. After this point they no longer lay and are nothing more than chicken stock in terms of value. This is not true. The truth is that once a hen starts to lay eggs, she will lay dependably for the first two years. After that point, she still lay, but not to the tune of one egg a day as she did in her earlier years. A hen will lay eggs for as long as she lives.

Every hen is born with approximately 1000 yolk cells. These are all the potential eggs that she will lay during her entire life. The first two years of her life she will lay at the most regular intervals. A productive laying breed such as the Australorp, Orpington or Rhode Island Red will lay about 3-5 eggs a week. That is about 156 to 260 eggs a year. So for the first 2 years of her life she will have laid approximately anywhere from 315 to 520 eggs. Assuming that she is born with 1000 yolk cells (as most laying breeds are), this mean she has only layed a little more than half of her total egg potential.

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Now, just because she is over the age of 2 does not mean that she will no long lay eggs. She will, she may lay 2-4 eggs a week instead of her initial interval of 3-5 eggs a week. She keeps laying eggs, but slows down a bit. As she ages, she will slow down even more. If she makes it to 5 years of age you might expect to get 1-3 eggs a week. As she progresses even further in age, you can probably count on 1-2 eggs a week.

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I currently have 5 Buff Orpington 10 years of age. The life expectancy of an average backyard chickens is anywhere between 5-7 years. If well cared for they can reach 10+ years. For a backyard hen to make it past the age of 7 defies most odds. To reach the mile mark of 10 years and beyond is rare. This past May, my 5 “Golden Girls” officially reached this 10 year milestone. Even at this age, my 5 Buff Orpington girls still lay. During the summer when bugs and other delectables are at the most abundant, I can  count on about 2-3 eggs a week from my 5 senior ladies. Some will lay on a particular day, others will not. But as a general rule, during the time of the year when the days are long, warm and bugs are plenty, they will lay well. When fall arrives, the days shorten and the weather cools off. During this cooler part of the year they typically slow down to maybe 1 egg a day from the 5. During the coldest part of winter they will cease laying altogether. Their bodies are using egg laying resources to keep warm in the bitter weather. This is just not observed by older hens but all hens. However, in the spring as the days warm again and the sun returns to our sky, they will pick back up the pace to 2-3 eggs a week.

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Even at their advanced age, they still lay eggs. The assumption that a hen will only lay for the first 2 years of her life is unfounded. She will lay eggs till the day she dies.

So really, the question is not will they stop laying eggs, but what to do after hens pass their peak laying years. In the factory farm setting, after 2 years of age, the hens are sent to slaughter and a new batch is brought in. Although these girls still have plenty of laying years ahead of them, they are nonetheless considered expired and slaughtered. These ladies barley begun their lives when it was abruptly halted. For the backyard chicken keeper this is not the normal proceedings. We tend to hang on to our ladies well beyond two years of age.

The question then becomes, what to do with our hens that are so advanced in age that they no longer lay eggs. My 5 “Golden Girls” are not far from this point. I expect next year I will have collected the last egg from my Buff Orpington ladies. At this point I will consider them officially in “Hentirement”. Hentirement is the time in a hens life where she has officially stopped laying but still has much to offer beyond eggs.

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Here on The Kuntry Klucker Farm, all may ladies and gents will live out their natural lives under the loving care of their keepers. Just because a hen stops laying eggs does not mean that she is worthless. Hens can contribute in many ways beyond the humble egg.

So, what can a hen who has reached “hentirement” offer you may ask. She can produce in many ways. For example, I have found that my older hens make excellent mothers. Since they no longer have to use their energy for laying eggs, they focus their efforts elsewhere. I have found that when I bring a new batch of chicks to the backyard, my older ladies are the first to show them the ropes. Taking them to all the hot spots around the yard, dust bathing holes, water coolers, good sun bathing location, the feed buffet, introducing them to the best roosters and more. My older ladies have even adopted a few chicks and raised them for me. To read this story click here. 

Older hens, although no longer laying, still offer all the benefits of having chickens. Providing compost for the gardens, eating the bugs on garden plants, tilling the soil and ridding the yard of all available weeds.

Additionally, I find that my older girls make the best lap chickens. No longer distracted by the needs of egg laying, they become better companions. Instead of focusing on the necessities that go with egg laying, they have more time to spend and bond with their keeper. Thus, my older ladies are the lap chickens of the flock. Not only is it adorable to be claimed by the hen, the younger generations see this and model their behavior. Thus, my subsequent broods are friendlier and more personable towards their keepers.

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Finally, an older hen who has seen and lived through it all are the zen masters of the flock. No longer spring chickens learning the ropes of  life, they are the pros of what it means to be a chicken. My older girls are the calmest members of the flock, nothing surprises them. They know the dangers of life and help others avoid them. They know and roll with the changing seasons and weather patterns. They are the wisdom barring members of the flock.

Above all, they deserve all the honor and respect that is due them. They nourished me with their life during their laying years, it is my turn to nourish them during their twilight years. My older girls are the gems of my flock. They shine bright as they have been polished by the trials of life. For a backyard chicken to make it to the ripe old age of 10 is a feat that defies all the odds. I don’t know how much time they have left but I do know this; they will live the rest of their life grazing on bugs and bathing in the sun glistening like the gems they are.

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I hope you have enjoyed this post. Hopefully, I offered suggestions on how your hens can be productive past their laying years. It’s a personal decision for each and every chicken keeper. For me, allowing my ladies to live out their post laying years in “hentirement” is the decision I have made for my ladies.

The girls and I want to wish everyone a Merry Kluckmas and an egg-cellant new year!

Thanks for reading, till next time keep on crowing!

~ The Kuntry Klucker Crew ~

What is the life expectancy of a Backyard Chicken?

When considering the life expectancy of backyard chickens, several factors come into play. A good amount of these factors are dependent upon their specific breed, parent stock, method of hatch (hatchery vs broody momma) and how they were raise from chickhood. A backyard chicken keeper has control over some of these factors and no control over others.

Some breeds are just more delicate than others. For example, the Polish and Silkie in particular are a bit more susceptible to illness such as Wry Neck which can cause death if not treated quickly and effectively. You also have their sensitivity to winter weather, which can make them less harty in colder climates. However, with proper care and provisions, these breeds can live in colder climates without issue. I have a few members of these breeds, some going into their 5th winter. They do take a bit more care, but for the joy they bring, it’s worth it. To read my posts on care for these breeds, please click these links Polish or Silkies.

However, these factors aside, there are many things a keeper can do to extend the overall life expectancy of their flock. In this post, I will share with you practices I have implemented in caring for my girls. These methods have attributed to my oldest ladies celebrating 10 years of living the good life.

Here on the Kuntry Klucker Farm, my ladies are pets and treated well, even beyond their productive years. Even at 10 years of age, they still lay. They do not lay as dependably or as often as when they were younger. However, my senior ladies lay enough to let me know they are healthy and happy. Not all backyard chicken keepers allow their birds to remain on their farm past the point of productivity. Correspondingly, this blog post is specifically directed towards those who plan to allow their ladies to live out their natural lives long past their productive years. So, without further ado, allow me to share with you methods that I have implemented to ensure a long and happy life for my senior ladies.

I have raised chickens for about 10 years now. My first flock started with 17 Buff Orpington chicks. I had no idea when they arrived what joys were in store for me. I instantly fell in love with them. Thus began the greatest adventure of my life. Out of the original 17 chicks, 5 remain today. These are my oldest ladies, now at the ripe old age of 10. For a backyard chicken to reach 10 years of age, is a feat that defies the odds. Most backyard chickens, even raised as pets, rarely make it past the age of 7. Even at 7, this is still considered a good long pampered life. There are cases here and there of a pet chicken making it to 15 years and beyond. However amazing, these instances are rare, far and few in-between. Most backyard or pet chickens fall somewhere between 5-7 years as a general life expectancy. However, if they are well cared for, this expectancy can be extended by several years and beyond. I will list care taking techniques that have brought my ladies 10 happy years and hopefully many more to come.

Feed and Treats: All physical health begins with diet. For both human and animal, what you put in is what you get out. I have always been a consciouses eater, I do the same for my pets. My ladies are fed a complete poultry feed that accounts for all of their nutritional needs. I am not a poultry scientist, thus I do not rely on my own knowledge to feed them a correct diet.

Laying hens have a lot of specialized nutritional needs that must be met in order to lay well and remain healthy. For this reason, I allow my girls to have treats very rarely. I do not want to dilute their nutritional needs by filling them up on treats. Many treats are not good for them. Many keepers like to feed their girls treats, but in reality this is not in their best nutritional interest. I do however make one exception.

On occasion I will feed my girls dried mealworm. These little goodies contain nutrition that is essential for their health such as protein. During the summer months when they are free ranging, they will eat insects which are good sources of protein. During the winter months this source of protein is not available. Thus, I will supplement this natural part of their diet with dried mealworms. Additionally, I will use mealworms as boredom busters. During harsh winter weather, issues such as pecking can result when the flock is “cooped up” for too long. I make entertainment and games for my girls to distract them from picking at each other during these times. Outside of this, their diet consist of a poultry feed developed to meet all their specialized nutritional needs. As a general rule, I will only feed my girls Purina Premium Poultry Feed. I have tried other brands on occasion, but I find that when I feed them Purina they are much healthier, their egg shells are stronger, and their feather quality is improved.

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Fresh water, vitamins, probiotics and electrolytes: Every day my ladies get fresh water. Additionally, especially during hot and humid weather, I will add poultry vitamins and electrolytes to their water. Living in the south we get extremely hot summers with lots of humidity, making outdoor conditions nothing short of miserable. To assist my ladies in combating this weather, I make sure that they remain well hydrated. The vitamins given to them add an extra boost to keep them healthy in the heat. These vitamins also contain electrolytes, which further keep their bodies balanced during the heat. Several times a week I will add poultry probiotics to their water to keep their gut health in check.

The heat of summer is a great stressor on their little bodies. In fact, heat is more dangerous then wet and cold weather combined. If you have large standard size breeds with ample feathering such as the Orpington or Cochin, the heat is further compounded. I have over the years lost several girls to the heat but never to the cold or prolonged wet weather. Just like for us, high heat and humidity can be a swift and fast killer. To make these conditions easier on their bodies, I supplement their nutritional needs in their water.

During the hot summer months, they will drink more than eat from their feed. They will spend most their time grazing on the grass and eating other delectables they find, such as insects and worms. Since I have supplemented their water, I have not lost any more of my girls to the heat. This has no doubt aided my senior girls in their long and happy life. During the winter, I still add vitamins and probiotics to their water. I suppliment their water as maintenance rather than essential survival of harsh summer weather conditions.

Poultry vitamins and electrolytes can be found at most farm/feed stores. At a MSRP of $7 to $10, they are an easy way to increase the health of your flock.

Clean and Dry Digs: Just like us, your girls also need a clean and dry place to call home. To underestimate the importance of a clean coop would be a detrimental condition for your girls. Although it is true that chickens are messy creatures, that does not mean that they can live in filthy unsanitatry conditions. If allowed, disease and other illness will run rampant in a coop that is not cleaned and maintained.

A chicken coop needs to be cleaned on a daily basis. Everyday, the poop from the overnight shift needs to be removed and disposed of. All my coops are cleaned daily, removing poop from the poop boards accumulated by the previous night. During the summer in order to keep the fly population down, I spray off the boards. In the pen, I remove poop and other debris, be it feathers, leaves or other objects from the previous day of activity.

Another reason to clean their coops daily, is their droppings say a lot about their health. As with all animal, fecal matter tells a story of what is happening inside the body. If you find blood or worms on the poop boards, a closer inspection may be warranted. Keeping a close eye on your ladies poo can help you catch health conditions before they become severe or grave.

In addition to maintaining the coop, you want to make sure that their digs remian dry. The coop should not leak, if it does some calking could go a long way. If you have a covered run, repair any leaks that may have developed over the past few months. You want your girls to have a clean dry place to call home. These regiments will go a long way for a healthy and happy flock. If you girls have a clean place to live, disease and other illness will have little opportunity to infect your flock. If you want your ladies to have a happy and long life it starts with a clean coop and pen. As they say, happy hens lay better eggs.

Protection from Predators: On the heels of a clean and dry coop, comes a secure coop. It is no surprise that chicken tastes good. Many predators feel the same way. It is the main objective for backyard chicken keepers to make sure that your girls are off the menu for predators. After all, this is the main reasons that we provide coops for our backyard ladies. These coops and pens need to be constructed with their safely in mind. Predation is easily the most significant factor affecting the life expectancy of backyard chickens. Even when the best is done to insure their safely, things can still happen. No only is this a disastrous event for a keeper, it’s a very stressful situation for the flock. If a keeper elects to free range their flock, protection and safety becomes ever more important.

Although these dangers exist, I still chose to free range my flock during the day, weather permitting. One way I have insured their safely is a fenced in free ranging area. My backyard is enclosed with a 6ft privacy fence. Additionally, running the perimeter of the fence on the outside, is an electric fence to discourage any climbing or digging predators.  This has reduced predators to the flying (hawks) and crawling (snakes) varieties. In the 10 years that I have kept chickens, I have never lost a member to predator attacks. I live in the country, so I have several roosters out with the girls, providing additional protection. My gents have detoured hawks and other arial predators. I have such an event documented. You can read the harrowing story of my Rooster Roy here and his tangle with a hawk which saved the life of my girls.

To insure a long natural life for your ladies, it is imperative that measures be taken to insure their safety and protection from predators. The only predators that are virtually impossible to protect your flock against is that of a bear or mountain lion. Although extremely rare, some cases of bear attacks have been recorded. Bears are the extreme and probably something that most keepers will not encounter. Living in the foothills of the Smoky Mountians, reprots of bears raiding chicken coops are not uncommon. I have to take extra measures to protect my ladies, such as building a secure fence around my property. Become familiar with the predators in your area, do your best to ensure the safety of your flock. Discourage predators from taking an active interest in your flock.

Routine Care for Internal and External Parasites: The final point that I will make is pervention of parasites (mites, lice and worms). Just like your dog or cat needs routine flea/tick treatment, so do your girls. Treatment for external and internal parasites is a very simple and a straightforward operation. Unlike your dog or cat, the assistance of a vet is not needed.

At some point in your adventure with keeping backyard chickens, they will get a case of mites or lice. Don’t worry though, you cannot become infected with poultry mites/lice, they are species specific (none zoonotic) and only affect birds. Your girls can however get mites and lice from wild birds. You don’t need to keep your girls locked up in solitary, they can be out in the yard and enjoy their normal activies. Treating for mites and lice is very simple.

If you look on the internet there will be millions of methods presented to treat mite or lice infestations. I will say this though, the natural methods do not work well. DE or diatomaceous Earth is not effective on mites or lice. Not only it is one of the least effective treatments, it is very dangerous for you as well as your flocks lungs.

If you look at DE under a microscope, you will see very sharp and jaged edges. This serrated characteristic makes DE a respitorary irritant for both you and your flock alike. DE is only effective if the insects have constant contact with it. In order to use this treatment, your girls also need constant contact with it as well. This sets the stage for disastrous health complications for your flock.

Contrary to popular opinion, a keeper only needs to treat for mites and lice when the circumstance arrises. This is because chickens are well adapted to manage mite/lice on their bodies through dustbathing. A good way to assist your flock in this instinctive practice is by providing a dust bathing medium (sand, peat moss, and regular dirt). The act of dust bathing smothers the little beasties and cleans their feathers all at the same time. However, if the condition arises and you notice little bugs crowing on your ladies, its time to bring out the big guns.

A heavy mite/lice load on a chicken can and will kill them. The little beasties suck blood to the point where they become anemic and weak. If not treated properly, death can result. To treat mites and lice I use a very simple yet effective product. Its called Eprinex, developed for cattle, at low doses its very effective in treating mites and lice on chickens. Eprinex can be found at Tractor Supply and other feed stores in your area and carries a MSRP of about $50. However, since you use so little, it will last years.

To administer Eprinex, obtain a syringe (remove the needle) and apply the liquid directly to the skin at the base of the neck. In the same manner that an owner or vet would adminiser flea/tick treatment for a cat or dog. For a large or standard bird, apply 1/2 cc or ml and for a bantam bird, apply 1/4cc or ml. If you have birds with head crests, such as the Polish or Silkie, apply a drop or two on top of thier head. These breeds are susceptible to mites/lice on the head due inability to preen this area. Reapply in 10 days. NOTE: an egg withdraw will be mandatory during treatment. This means that from start to finish, a 28-30 day egg withdrawal will need to be observed.

Its that simple!

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Now for the internal parasites. At some point, you will run into a situation where your flock will need wormed. Chickens naturally have a worm load inside them. Usually they manage well but at times such as times of stress, they can become overwhelmed. Typical signs of worms are weakness, weightloss, fatigue and in a worst case scenario finding worms in their poop. Don’t freak out though, treating worms in your flock is very simple. As with the mites and lice there are many treatments out there. Again I will reinforce the fact that natural methods of worming are not very effective. If your flock or several members have worms you need to acquire an affective treatment and get rid of the little nasties. Worm left untreated will kill your birds.

Worms can kill a chicken very fast, faster than you would expect. Additionally, if they have a heavy worm load, you may even find worms in your eggs. My product of choice is SafeGuard. Originally developed for goats, it is very effective at small doses for worming. I like this product because it is a broad spectrum wormer. It will not only take care of round worms but it will also take care of tape, flat, gape, lung and other worms that chickens can get. Some other wormers are only effective on round worms. Although round worms are most common in chickens, they can pick up other worms in their environment. You can find SafeGuard at Tractor Supply and other feed stores. It usually runs anywhere between $30-50 depending on location.

To use SafeGuard to worm your girls you need to give this to them orally. The easiest way I have found to worm them it to put the wormer on a small piece of bread and feed a piece to every member of your flock. Once again, use a syringe with the needle removed. For a standard size bird, measure 1/2cc or ml on a piece of bread and feed to the bird. For a bantam size bird, measure 1/4cc or ml and feed to bird. Repeat this process in 10 days. The first dose kills all the live worms in their body, the second kills all the worms that hatched. After two worming sessions, you are done and your girls are free of worms.

Like treatments for mites/lice, a mandatory egg withdrawl is necessary. When undergoing treatment, residue from the wormer and/or worms may pass into the eggs. A egg withdraw for 28-30 days will need to be observed. SafeGuard is a very safe and effective treatment for worms in your flock. Just like the mites and lice, only worm when need. A Chicken’s body is able to handle a normal worm load. Once it crosses a threshold, worming will be needed. You will know when you need to worm your flock. Worms in droppings, weak, and sick hens are all signs that you need to take action.

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Taking routine care of internal and external parasites will go a long way to extending the life of your ladies. If they are free from pests, their bodies are in a much healthier state. Over the course of 10 years, I have only needed to worm a handful of times. I usually have more of an issue with the mites and lice during the colder months of the year. Even in those situations, outbreaks are very easy to address and eradicate. Just like you extend the life of your cat or dog by keeping them flea and worm free, the same applies to your chickens. In doing so, you have much more time to love and enjoy their company.

I hope that you have found this post informative or helpful. If you have any questions feel free to post them in the comments. You can also drop me a line at kuntryklucker@gmail.com

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As Always, thanks for reading. Till next time, keep on crowing!

~ The Kuntry Klucker Crew ~

Oyster Shells for your Ladies.

Collection of the girls productive work day.

This post is dedicated to the care and wellbeing of backyard laying hens. In the post, I will answer the following questions. What are oysters shells? What does it do for your hens? and Why are they important?

But before we get into the specifics of oyster shells, I first need to discuss some of the basics of what your hens body goes though when she lays an egg.

One of the most common questions I get is, “do I need to have a rooster for hens to lay eggs?” The answer to that is No. Your hens will lay eggs in the absence of a rooster. If you want to populate your flock and hatch chicks on your farm, for that you will need a rooster. But that’s a post for another time. For now, were are just going to talk about how you hen lays eggs.

Each egg that your hen lays takes about 24-26 hours to complete. There are 4 stages in the egg laying process that I will cover.

Stage 1: The Yolk Releases

A hen is born with all the egg yolk cells that she will lay throughout her life. Each yolk is contained within its own follicle. When the yolk is released from the follicle, it travels from the ovary to the oviduct, commonly known as the reproductive track. This entire journey this far only takes about 15 minutes.

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Stage 2: The White forms

The formation of the egg white takes your hen 4+ hours to complete. As the yolk leaves the ovary and travels through the oviduct, it can be fertilized by a rooster. An unfertilized egg is known as a blastodisc, a fertilized egg is known as a blastoderm. If you do not have any roosters, the blastodisc will continue its progress in his absence. The yolk (know known as a blastodisc or blastoderm) travels through the magnum and the isthmus sections of the oviduct. This is where most of the albumen (egg white) forms around the yolk, the thin outer shell membrane holding everything loosely together. When you break open an egg you will notice white spiral strands connected to the yolk.  These spindles are called chalaza and attach the yolk to the shell. At this point the blastodisc resembles an egg missing the outer shell.

Stage 3: The Eggshell

The blastodisc (egg) recieves the shell in the uterus via a shell gland. The shell takes about 20 hours to form and another hour or more for the pigment or color to be applied to the outer shell. It is this phase of egg development that requires calcium from your hens body. If she does not have access to calcium through her feed or supplemented in oyster shells, her body takes this critical nutrition from her bones. Over time, the depletion of calcium from the hens body weakens her bones leading to injury. This is why making oyster shells available to you hens is very important. Most feeds come “enriched” with oyster shells but this does not meet all the calcium requirements needed by your laying hens.

State 4: The Nest Box

Your hens lay eggs through their cloaca (the vent). Eggs exit through the same vent used for everything a chicken excretes. Tissues of the uterus expands with the egg until the entire egg passes through the vent. During the act of laying the egg, a bloom layer is applied to the shell to protect the egg and keep it clean. This bloom keeps bacteria from entering the egg which can spoil the yolk and contents inside the egg. It is for this reason, we refrigerate eggs after washing them. Once the bloom is washed off the egg, the egg will begin spoiling. The outer layer of protection is removed, no long protecting the egg from bacteria.

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Unwashed eggs can remain at room temperature for several weeks before they begin to break down. This is why eggs bought at the grocery store are sold in the refrigerated sections and kept cold. Farm fresh eggs only need to be washed prior to use. Otherwise, your farm fresh eggs can be stored at room temperature, only needing refrigeration if you will not use them for an extended period of time.

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Now that you have a better understanding about you hens body and the process of laying eggs, let’s discuss and answer some common questions about oyster shells.

What are Oyster Shells?

Oyster shells are pretty much what they sound like, ground up oyster shells. They are an excellent source of calcium, a much needed supplement for your hens. Most chicken feed contains some oyster shell in the feed. However, it is quickly absorbed by your hens, not longing enough for them to gain the full benefit. Don’t get me wrong, its better than nothing, but your hens are not getting what they need for their daily calcium requirements. Your hens require a long release calcium source which is not in all chicken feed brands.

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The only feed brand that contains a long release oyster shell in the feed is Purina Poultry Feed. Purina can be found at Tractor Supply and many other farm and feed stores. If you cannot find Purina, don’t panic. You can still use the feed that you currently purchase, just make oyster shells available to your girls in addition to the feed.

I have found that a small dish attached to the side of their pen filled with oyster shell does the trick. You don’t need to worry about them going through it like scratch or even feed. A hen will only consume what she needs. Her body will tell her when she needs extra calcium and how much she needs to lay her eggs. Each hens body is different, some may consume more than others. Don’t worry is if one hens consumes a lot while another hen consumes very little, their bodies know what their suppliment needs are.

What do Oyster Shells do for your hens?

Oyster Shells supply your girls with the calcium that they need to form strong egg shells. Most chicken feed brands have some oyster shell in the feed but not enough. Since hens do the majority of the hard work of making eggs shells during the night, they need a supplement that will provide calcium during this time. The Oyster Shell that is contained in the feed is only accessible to the hen while she is eating. Oyster Shells that are supplied in addition to the feed are larger pieces. Sitting in her crop during the night, they slowly grind down, supplying the hen with calcium as she sleeps. It is in this way that your hens are able to make strong egg shells, reducing the stress on her body and depleting her calcium resources.

Why are Oyster Shells important?

Oyster shells are important because they provide a calcium source that is required to make egg shells. If a hen does not have adequate calcium resources for her body to produce the egg shell, it will weaken her bone structure. An egg shell is made almost entirely of calcium, in the absence of a calcium source her body will take the needed resource from her bones. Over time this can lead to bone issues with hens who are not getting enough calcium, in particular the leg bones. Often time the weakened bones lead to painful injury, even breaking during normal activity. For the optimal health of your hens, providing Oyster Shells aids in their overall health and longevity.

After providing supplemental calcium to you girls, you will notice that the eggs she lays will be harder and have firmer shells. This is also beneficial to your hens, eggs are less likely to break during the process of laying. This is another risk to your hen. If an egg breaks inside a hen during the process of laying a soft shelled egg, it can cause internal injury. Broken egg shells are sharp and can cut the delicate skin of her tract and vent. A broken shell during laying can often lead to infection, pain and discomfort. Recovery is not always possible depending on where and how the egg broke inside of her. To prevent this and other unwanted issues with egg laying, simply supply oyster shells to your laying hens.

I hope that you have found this post helpful. Keeping backyard chickens is a fun and rewarding endeavor. Like us, hens need a little help in supplementing their diet. They can’t get everything they need from their feed, but that’s an easy fix. Taking proper dietary care of your girls will lend to a long and happy life for your special ladies.

If you have any question please feel free to post them in the comments. You can also drop me a line at kuntryklucker@gmail.com

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In addition to The Kuntry Klucker, I maintain a sister blog, Knowledge Of The Spheres | Exploring the Celestial Spheres. If the subject matter of astronomy, astrophysics, or anything space interests you, please drop by.

As alwyas, thanks for reading. Till next time, keep on crowing!

~ The Kuntry Klucker Crew ~