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.
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
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
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 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..
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 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 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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
If you Poultry expert is familier with the Hy-Line [ largest hatchery,/ chicken supplier in the world] egg production book, he can probly quote it to you, -- life time egg size is very much affected by hen size at onset of first laying cycle, --
Just me, I would wait till they're older and laying. It would also make it easier to just add a pound or two of flax to a 50lb. of scratch grain...if they don't have access to fresh greens. Less if they do.
How fun, your going to have lots of babies peeping around!
I just got some Flax seed at Walmart of all places! I love the pumpkin and pistachios already shelled.. and there was a container of flax seed. I munched on a few, but they are kinda hard, and not the best flavor.. I think I'll let the chickens put the nutrients in the eggs for me! :) I just tossed em a handful and some grass clippings.. I'm not sure the exact recipe, just threw some in.. Judging by the feel of the texture when I chewed them.. I think they will be good for their crop.
I wouldn't give it to young chicks.. kinda seems a waste.. ?
I'm pretty sure you have to grind the flax seeds first. At least you do for humans. Otherwise it is just fiber and the body can't break it down easily. I'm not sure if a chicken's digestive track is shorter than a humans but I'm guessing it probably is. You can grind them up in a coffee bean grinder. Flax seeds go rancid pretty fast too so store them in the refrigerator till you're ready to grind and feed to your chickens.
We feed our chickens leftovers from the kitchen in addition to their laying mash. I give them grit and oyster shells and a little cracked corn and in the winter they get sunflower seeds to help them stay warm. They love love love fat off the edge of a steak. They fight over it. :) They also love to kill mice and little frogs and eat them. They'll fight over them. They pretty much will eat anything. We grow pumpkins for them. I read some place the pumpkin seeds help prevent worms.
In the fall some will fly up into our small apple trees and help themselves to apples or eat what hits the ground. They also like to eat all the grapes on the bottom of my vines. We treat them with a lot of veggies from the garden like broccoli and cherry tomatoes etc. Letting them free range cuts down on the cost of feed.
With prices of feed going up and up I'm thinking of sticking with the smaller hens that don't eat as much.
Thank you Loon.. I was reading of the heal benefits for humans to eat Flax, which they recommended grinding it also. A tablespoon or two a day can really do us a lot of good.. Amazing lil seeds, they are!
When it comes to the chickens, I'm thinking with the rocks and grit in their crops, that they would grind up and digest the seeds.. (Just my thoughts, no proof on that) and actually would help with the "grit" issue? I wonder.. I have never seen whole seeds of any kind in their poo.. Humm??
I'm so glad Guavagirl posted this thread.. I love to learn new stuff, and I have to admit, I was initially turned off by any thread about eggs, nutrition, etc.. Just cause I've been doing a lot of cooking recently and I'm so sick of people being afraid to eat eggs... I should have known better than that.. This is the ONE PLACE I don't get all that fear of eggs! Oh well, sometimes you gotta konk me in the head with a huge sign.. LOL So please forgive my ignorance in my previous post that Flax seeds are not necessary to increase Omega 3s... The goal should be to increase it as much as we can!
I think the chickens' gizzard will grind most seeds for them. I have noticed that since the grass and weeds have greened up, my chickens are eating a lot less layer pellets so free ranging is a definite money saver too.
I'm the only adult in this house that will eat gizzards, so it's usually my task to clean them. It's rather gross, but interesting to see what they eat. Last time I found lots of acorns. If they can grind down that thick shell, I don't think they'd have any issue with hard flax hulls.
I had to laugh ZZ, your right, I've never seen them poop an acorn either.lol
Flax meal is the byproduct after pressing for oil, still high in omega-3 and sold as a horse supplement. I wonder if it cheaper then the seeds?
I buy the flax meal to bake with. I don't like having to grind. I'm not sure if there is a difference in nutrition between the seeds and the meal. I do know that it can go rancid so refrigerate what you don't use.
POULTRY FACT SHEET NO. 21
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
THE USE OF FLAXSEED AS A POULTRY FEEDSTUFF
F.H. Kratzer and Pran Vohra University of California, Avian Sciences Department, Davis, CA 95616
Flax or linseed (Linum usitatissimum L.) is grown in the northern United States and southern Canada. It is a source of linseed oil, an important drying oil for paints, varnishes and linoleum. Flaxseed may be processed by mechanical expellers or solvent extraction and the residual linseed meal is available as an animal feed ingredient. Linseed meal is an important feedstuff for cattle but its use in poultry feeds is limited.
Flaxseed contains a cyanide containing glucoside, linamarin, which releases hydrogen cyanide under acidic, moist conditions in the presence of an enzyme, linase. Under normal processing conditions involving high temperature treatment, linase is destroyed so that the subsequent release of hydrogen cyanide is not a problem.
Flaxseed contains about 34% oil which is reduced to about 5% by expeller processing or about 1% by solvent extraction (Table 1). The fiber content of the meal is relatively high, but in addition, contains mucilage, a water-dispersable polysaccharide which is extremely sticky when wet. The protein of linseed meal is somewhat deficient in lysine, and possibly, methionine.
Historically, linseed meal has not been a satisfactory feedstuff for poultry. It could satisfactorily replace the protein equivalent of soybean meal up to 2 or 3 percent of the diet, but higher levels caused noticeable reduction in gain and feed efficiency in broilers and poults (Ewing, 1963). The adverse effect of feeding linseed meal was greater than one would predict from the nutritional contribution to the diet and there was concern that it contained a toxic factor. At one time, it was speculated that cyanide from its cyanogenetic glucoside might be responsible for the adverse feeding value.
Kratzer (1946) and McGinnis and Polis (1946) reported that the growth of chicks fed linseed meal could be greatly improved if the meal were treated with water and dried before being mixed in the feed. The response was unrelated to the cyanide contained in the meal. Extraction with 50% ethanol was beneficial, but the extract was not detrimental. In further studies, it was found that supplementation of a diet containing 30% linseed meal with a yeast extract caused an improvement in growth and a vitamin mixture could also be beneficial (Kratzer and Williams, 1948). The vitamin in the mixture which was responsible for the growth improvement was pyridoxine, although the unsupplemented diet contained far more of the vitamin than the requirement in a conventional diet (Kratzer and Williams, 1948). Poults showed a growth response to the water treatment of linseed meal and its supplementation with pyridoxine in the same manner as chicks (Kratzer, 1949). Maximum growth of chicks was obtained with the addition of 7 milligrams of pyroxidine per kilogram of diet. Much work was done to identify the apparent pyridoxine antagonist, until its final resolution was made by Klosterman et al. (1967) in the identification of linatine. Linatine is gamma-glutamyl-1-amino-D-proline which can be hydrolytically cleaved to glutamic acid and 1-amino-D-proline. The latter forms a stable complex with pyridoxalphosphate, which presumably induces a pyridoxine deficiency.
Studies with water-treated linseed meal as the only protein source in a diet for chicks showed that the major amino acid deficiency was that of lysine (Kratzer et al., 1947). It was interesting that the growth of chicks fed the amino acid supplemented linseed meal was as good as that of chicks fed a conventional control diet, even though the mucilage caused sticky droppings. Wylie et al. (1972) supplemented starter rations with 26 mg of pyridoxine per kg and growing rations with 6 mg pyridoxine per kg. and found that linseed meal could be used satisfactorily at 17 to 18% of the diet and could replace half of the soybean meal in the ration for starting and growing pullets. Madhusudhan et al. (1986) successfully used water-treated linseed meal to supply 50 to 75% of the protein in a diet for chickens. Untreated linseed meal at 20% of the diet was distinctly inferior.
Linseed oil is highly unsaturated. It is rich in linolenic acid (Table 2) which contains 3 double bonds with its first double bond 3 carbons from the terminal end (omega-3). The beneficial effects of consuming omega-3 fatty acids from fish include reducing heart disease, reducing circulating cholesterol levels and suppressing inflammation in humans (Klatt, 1986). This has prompted studies on the effect of feeding linseed oil or feedstuffs containing it to poultry as a means of increasing linolenic acid in eggs and poultry meat. As early as 1950, Chu and Kummerow reported that feeding a high level (25%) of linseed oil to chickens caused increased linolenic acid in the fat of the skin and gizzard. Kummerow et al. (1948) also reported that feeding linseed oil to turkeys increased the iodine number of the fat and it was less stable to oxidation. Klose et al. (1952) showed that including 2% of linseed oil in a turkey ration caused a large increase in the linolenic acid in the depot fat, a marked reduction in the induction period for fat oxidation and a marked fishy odor of the tissue.
The effect of linseed oil on fatty acid composition in broiler chickens has been studied at 56 days of age by Phetteplace and Watkins (1989) and for shorter periods by Olomu and Baracos (1991). Linseed oil fed at from 1.5% to 5% increased the incorporation of omega-3 fatty acids into chicken muscle lipids with the longer chain fatty acids influenced less than linolenic acid. While there was an increase in the omega-3 fatty acids, there was a slight decrease in the long chain omega-6 fatty acids. This may be due to competition of fatty acids resulting in decreased activity of the delta-6-desaturase enzyme. There are other effects of the omega-3 fatty acids upon fatty acid metabolism which are not completely understood.
In 1990, Caston and Leeson reported on feeding 10, 20 and 30% flaxseed to laying hens for a 28-day period and collecting eggs for analysis in the last 3 days of the period. There were large increases in omega-3 fatty acids in the eggs at all levels of flax seed supplementation. Cheronian and Sim (1991) fed flax seed to laying hens at 8 and 16% in diets which were supplemented with pyridoxine. They reported increased omega-3 fatty acids in the eggs, and brain tissue of embryos and chicks from the hens fed the ground flaxseed. The increase in linolenic acid in eggs from hens fed flax seed was mainly in the triglycerides. The longer chain omega-3 fatty acids were deposited exclusively in the phospholipids (Jiang et al., 1991). The fatty acid composition of chicks was significantly altered by egg yolk lipids. The percentage incorporation of omega-3 fatty acids into the chick, however, increased when the yolk sources of these fatty acids were low. There is evidence that elongation of omega-3 fatty acids occurs during incubation (Cherian and Sim, 1993).
Jiang et al. (1992) reported that about 36% of the sensory evaluations reported a fishy or fish-related flavor in the eggs from hens fed flaxseed. This was not noted in eggs from hens fed the control diet or diets containing high oleic acid or high linoleic acid sunflower seeds. Aymond and Van Elswyk (1995) reported that feeding both 5% and 15% flaxseed caused increased total omega-3 fatty acids in the eggs and that the ground seeds caused a greater level of these fatty acids at the 15% level of feeding than the whole seed. Yolk thiobarbituric acid reactive substances, a measure of rancidity, were not influenced by feeding flaxseed up to the 15% level. Feeding 3% of linolenic acid to hens increased the omega-3 fatty acids in the total lipids of the eggs and there were no differences in the lipid deposition in 7 strains of chickens which were tested (Ahn et al., 1995). The flavor scores of eggs from the control group were more favorable than those of the enriched eggs, but the differences were not great.
Farrell (1995) studied human volunteers who consumed ordinary eggs or omega-3 enriched eggs at a rate of 7 eggs per week. After 20 weeks, the plasma levels of omega-3 fatty acids in volunteers consuming the enriched eggs were significantly higher than in those consuming the ordinary eggs and the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids was reduced. There were only small differences in the plasma cholesterol. He concluded that an enriched egg could supply approximately 40-50% of the daily requirement for omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. In a Texas study (Marshall et al., 1994), it was found that 65% of the consumers surveyed reported a willingness to purchase omega-3 enriched eggs, and of that number, 71% would be willing to pay an additional $.50 per dozen.
Linseed meal may be used satisfactorily as a protein supplement for poultry if it is water-treated or supplemented with pyridoxine to counteract the pryidoxine antimetabolite. The protein is somewhat deficient in lysine and must be properly supplemented. The mucilage of the linseed meal causes sticky droppings, but this does not affect the performance of the birds.
Linseed oil is a rich source of linolenic acid which can be incorporated into the meat and eggs of birds to which it is fed. The total omega-3 fatty acids are increased in these poultry products, however, there is some evidence that a fish flavor may result. The health benefits and the cost effectiveness of producing and consuming omega-3 enriched eggs is still under investigation.
That's what I've read in several places Eufaula.. That was why my first response to this thread was what it was... :) Good info is out there.. we just need to spend the time to find it!! Thank you for posting that.