I'm new to chickens but am looking forward to 3 speckled sussex chicks coming next month. I'm building an ark (movable coop) so they can forage when they are old enough. What can I do to help them have omega 3 rich eggs?
Any advice about feeding them their own egg shells?
When do I stop feeding them chick crumbles and advance their diet?
So much to learn.
Feeding chickens to get omega 3 rich eggs
Pastured chickens lay eggs with higher omega 3. I feed them their own shells - cooked and crushed. Feed the chick crumbles until they are starting to lay. The feed bags usually have age recommendations on them. Welcome to the world of chickens!
I feed them layer crumbles from birth to death. I know some would argue with that but it has always worked well for me. I have a four old hen that still lays five eggs every week. I like to experiment and see what works best for me and that is what I go with...Haystack
Thanks for the information.
When do I start feeding them the crushed egg shells? When they start laying or before?
You can feed that to them anytime, just make sure they are brittle enough (cook) so that they break up very small peices. They love it and it's a great source of calcium. Also I wanted to say welcome to the forum and we'd love to see pic's and let is know how things are going for you. I think you'll have lots of fun with your girls and here both...Haystack
I would wait on the egg shells until they are laying - otherwise you will be feeding them those inferior store-bought shells!
We have to supplement with crushed oyster shells from the feed store; the baked, crushed eggshells aren't enough for them right now. I used to crush the shells in a nut grinder but someone suggested just putting them in a plastic bag and mashing the bag with your hands, and that's much easier.
Our chickens also get our kitchen scraps - vegetable and fruit remnants and that sort of thing. I'm sure it helps to make the eggs rich in omega 3, too.
I don't know anything about your growing conditions, but would recommend Linum usitatissimum, flax. If your birds are free range, they will harvest it themselves :0)
I agree with Porkpal.. not only cause of the store bought eggshells, but too much calcium as chicks can cause bone problems.
That's why they say to feed chick starter... but just like Haystack, I'm not feeding chick starter anymore... the chicks I have are with the mom, so they are getting all the right stuff. :)
I do not cook eggshells... I have a container that I leave them in till they are dry and dump em in a plastic bag and smash..
We sprinkle flax seed on their breakfast, and plant Peaceful Valley's poultry meadow in the spring , which has flax plants.
Recent studies have shown that free range chickens already have a natural high omega count.. there is no need to add to their feed if they free range.. (at least not to raise the omega count) there IS a need to give goodiez and spend quality time with them though!
Yesterday it was 64 and my DH was turning over our garden, to get ready for planting. Of course the girls were out there with him "helping " . They like to help. They would jump on every shovel full of dirt he turned over, I guess to protect him from the worms, because they ate everyone they saw lol. I don't know how much omega 3 worms have, but yesterday they would have gotten a months worth.
They also like to "help" me do laundry. When I bring out a basket of laundry to hang up, they gather round and sometimes fly up in the basket. One day I brought in a load of dry laundry off the line, and I guess something fell off my armload. I came back out, and found the girls playing tug of war over a pair of my underpants. I thanked them for their vigilance, and put my underwear back in the wash.
We wouldn't dare let our chickens (all forty or so) roam like that because we wouldn't have a garden left, but it's really fun to read about the antics of the lucky chickens who really ARE free range.
We only let them in the vegetable garden in the winter when nothing is growing. They love spending time in the compost bin , finding choice bits and bugs. And just scratching around on the leaves. But in the summer when we have growing vegetables, it is strictly off limits to them. I've seen them devastate an entire crop of eggplants, and tomatoes, in just a half hour. And when we saw them and went in and tried to chase them out, they kept going around in circles, taking a bite out of every tomato they passed. They are very fast. Little buggers. So they have free range in just the back yard during the growing season.
On the subject of egg shells, I wash the goo out and nest the shells then put them in the freezer. Periodically I remove them from the freezer put them between the palms of my hands and with a quick smash they crumble. I use one hand to then squeeze and crumple the broken pieces into smaller pieces. This is the way they go into my compost bin.
I stick my eggs in an aluminum pie plate in the oven, and they get baked when I bake other things. Then I put them in a plastic bag and crush them with my hands against the counter. It works a lot better than using the nut grinder, which was the way I used to do it!
I have a plastic container behind my coffee pot on the counter where we put egg shells.. they dry out in a day or so and every so often I'll dump em in a plastic bag and smash em up and take the bag out to my feed bin and throw a few in the yards when I feed.. super simple! :)
I do something similar: I have a square plastic jar on the counter into which I put all shells and I then smash them up with an old hand-held potato masher. It just fits the shape of the jar.
I feed Chick Starter, until they are about 1 month from laying age, -- then I change to layer formula, -- the reason, is-- the larger the bird is when laying starts, the larger the eggs will be for the rest of her life, --she will lay the same amount of eggs regardless of her body weight, but-- the size of the egg will be affected by the body weight of the bird at onset of laying, ---
I would feed chick starter too if I were raising layers.. I do not agree with the body weight thing making for larger eggs.. A speckled Sussex is a huge bird and they lay puny eggs.. I think it depends more on breed than weight..
I'm just sayin.. this is my opinion, and has been my observation by experience, doesn't mean it's fact.
I think the idea is that the growthy bird (for the breed) is going to lay a bigger egg than it's smaller sister.
You've got a point there Porkpal.. when you put it that way, I'd tend to agree... but just haven't seen that. It makes sense, that the egg would for sure be healthier, but size? Hummmm food for thought. :)
Either way, it's best to give your layers the best possible jump start.
I was just going to ask Michael what they have been putting in the Florida Orange Juice...LOL...Sorry but I'm not sold on that at all...Hay
I did some more reading about this and found this link.. interesting!
So, just getting some flax seed from the health food store and mixing some in their food will give them a boost?
It certainly wouldn't hurt them, but would be an expansive additive year round. As ZZ said they'll get plenty of omega-3 from pasture. Grass fed or pastured livestock are only as good as their pastures. A variety of green options to the chickens will produce the best year round availability. That's why I like planting flax (besides it's pretty). Here It goes to seed in the fall and they can scavenge it throughout the winter when grasses and greens are in short supply.
lulu, thanks for the info about the flax. I really didn't think flax would grow in TX (too hot). I had grown it in MT and just figured it wouldn't grow here along with a lot of the other beautiful flowers I grew in MT. Up north flax grew in the ditches in the mountains -- beautiful. I had decided to transplant a few of those -- impossible -- they were growing in rocks! I think I will scatter those seed along the fence line that borders the chicken pen. woo-hoo!
I'm going to have to look up flax to see if it'll grow here. I have a bag of alphala seed to reseed some of their pasture so maybe I can mix in some flax seed as well? My dad is sick and has been in the hospital for the past week. His favorite food in the world is eggs and that is about all he'll eat when he's really sick. I've been saving eggs so when he comes home he can have quiche, egg custard, rice pudding, (he needs to gain weight). I'd do anything to make the eggs even more nutricious for him.
Annie, I'm sure he'll appreciate the attention and love put towards his healing foods. My thoughts are with you and yours for a quick recovery.
I don't have any experience direct sowing the flax in Texas. The chickens have the run of the place and I haven't seen a self sowed poppy since! lol I winter sow flax in milk jugs and set it out in tiny plugs. It blooms the second year.hth
Thanks, Cocoa_lulu. My dad is so supportive and has really encouraged me from the beginning of my chicken project. He also has a GREAT sence of humor and appreciates all the text pictures I send him of the chickens doing chicken stuff. I still remember, when I was a child, sitting down to breakfast one morning and he asked what the heck I was doing... Um, eating breakfast? He said until those horses learn how to cook their own breakfast you get out there and feed them first. To this day I don't eat until I have my animals fed, watered and cleaned up first.
I'm going to the Health Food store today and am going to look for raw Flax seeds and try to winter sow some in jugs like you suggested. I have a gallon of cold pressed Flax oil, I use it for the dogs, I wonder if it would be Ok to use a tablespoon in the chickens food?
Oh, I like your father, Annie. One of the simplest traditions to pass along to children and often overlooked, just to respect the animals that give us so much :0)
Sorry, no experience here with flax oil, I wouldn't hazard a guess. Perhaps someone else will have an answer.
Cute, cute and cute! Have fun!
Glad the islands are safe and the babies made it thu!
I don't know if I agree with the size of the chicken when they start laying determines the size of the egg for the rest of the chicken's life. I've had small golden comets start laying at age 16 weeks who are now two years later still laying very large eggs. When they start laying the eggs may be smaller but it changes to larger as they mature. At least that's been my experience.
Yeah, that's how I felt Loon.. but I do agree that they need the biggest nutritional boost we can give them to laying age.. I mean what better way to insure good eggs!?
I'm all for adding to their diet too.. cause it's like putting all those extra nutrients in our own breakfast all broken down and easier for us to digest/absorb!
Since guavagirl started this thread, I've done more reading about adding Omega 3s to our eggs, and I'm going to add flax seed to my layer's diet.. on top of a free range when ever possible. :)
Congrats Guavagirl.. your babiez are darling. Thank you for starting this thread.. I very much appreciate learning all I can... especially about nutrition!!
We feed our chickens extra sunflower seeds. I'm not sure how good that is in terms of omega 3, but it's extra protein for a mid-day snack and they did seem to start laying better after I begin supplementing that way. They're free range, but there's not much to range on right about now.
And yes, my chickens' eggs start out small when they begin to lay, but then they achieve full size and I don't think it has much to do with diet or when they start.
I bought some ground flax seed and a bag of whole flax seed that will have to be ground before feeding it to them, correct? Approximately how much flax will you feed for X amount of chickens? Mix in their feeder or given separate? I haven't given it to them yet as I'm not sure about the correct amount, don't want to under or over feed it to them. Thanks!
We supplement our dairy cows black oil sun flowers, off hand I cant think of all the good stuff they have in them, other then they're high in minerals and good fat.
A friend of ours is a breeder nutritionalist for a large poultry corporation. We don't get to see him as often as I would like, but now I'm curious to ask him about the age, egg size debate. Oddly enough we rarely discuss chickens when we get together.
The difference in his world and mine, the chickens might as well be two entirely different animals. I have no doubt he'll know exactly to the day what they expect a hen to lay in her lifetime. What may seem imperceivable us as backyard growers, could mean the difference in millions of dollars to commercial growers. All by fractions of ounces, in terms of input and output.
Michaelp, from what I have understood is starting a small commercial egg operation. (*I think, he brought this subject up) His supplier, no doubt has the science behind him to maximize their breeds lifespan.