Feeding Chickens Eggshells

Feeding eggshells to chickens: a how to guide

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If you have chickens in your backyard, you may have heard of feeding them their eggshells to provide a source of calcium in their diet. If the idea of this raises questions for you, this blog post is for you!

Feeding eggshells to chickens is a practice that can be beneficial for both the chickens and farmers. Here are some key points to consider:

1. Nutrient Recycling:

  • Feeding crushed eggshells back to chickens allows for the recycling of valuable nutrients. Eggshells are a good source of calcium, which is essential for laying hens to form strong eggshells.

2. Calcium Supplementation:

  • Calcium is a crucial mineral for laying hens. It is required not only for the formation of eggshells but also for maintaining bone health and muscle function. Providing crushed eggshells as a calcium supplement can help ensure that laying hens have an adequate source of calcium in their diet. Plus, it’s FREE!
  • You could also offer oyster shell or crushed limestone as a supplemental calcium source for your chickens. These materials can be provided in a separate container for free-choice consumption. This allows chickens to regulate their calcium intake as needed. Oyster shell is often preferred because it contains a good balance of calcium and other minerals.

3. Preventing Calcium Deficiency:

  • Calcium deficiency in laying hens can lead to thin or weak eggshells, a condition known as “soft-shelled eggs.” Feeding eggshells can help prevent this problem and improve the overall quality of eggs.

4. Reducing Waste:

  • Feeding eggshells to chickens can be an eco-friendly practice, as it reduces waste by repurposing eggshells rather than discarding them.
  • You may also consider at least putting the eggshells into your compost if you don’t have chickens, as calcium is important for plants as well.

5. Proper Preparation:

  • Before feeding eggshells to chickens, it’s essential to clean and crush the shells. This helps prevent any potential contamination and makes the calcium in the shells more accessible to the birds.
  • See the ‘recipe’ for preparing eggshells for chickens below!

6. Quantity and Monitoring:

  • The quantity of eggshells to feed depends on the size of your flock and their specific dietary needs. It’s important not to overdo it, as excessive calcium intake can lead to kidney problems. Monitor your chickens to ensure they are receiving an appropriate amount of calcium in their diet.

7. Mixing with Other Feeds:

  • You can mix crushed eggshells with other feeds or offer them separately. Some commercial poultry feeds include calcium supplements, so it’s important to balance the calcium intake with the complete diet.

8. Health Considerations:

  • It’s crucial to observe your chickens’ health and egg production. If you notice any issues, such as soft-shelled eggs or abnormal behavior, you may need to adjust the calcium content in their diet.

Feeding eggshells to chickens can be a cost-effective and sustainable way to support their nutritional needs, especially for laying hens. However, it should be done in conjunction with a well-balanced poultry diet to ensure that chickens receive all the necessary nutrients for their overall health and productivity.

How to Prepare Eggshells for Chickens

Feeding eggshells back to chickens is a great way to supplement their diet with calcium and it's FREE!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes

Equipment

  • 1 bowl of eggshells
  • 1 Rolling Pin
  • 1 sheet pan
  • 1 piece of parchment paper
  • 1 coffee bean/spice grinder

Ingredients
  

  • 1 bowl eggshells collect eggshells as you use your eggs and when a small bowl is full, it's time to prepare them to give back to the chickens

Instructions
 

  • Place eggshells spread out on a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  • Put the eggshells into a 200 degree oven for 10 minutes to kill bacteria like salmonella.
  • Let the shells cool a bit.
  • Fold the parchment over and then crush the shells with a rolling pin. Folding the parchment over on the shell helps reduce mess and keeps the shells from getting stuck to your rolling pin.
  • Empty some of the shells into the spice grinder and grind to a fine powder. Continue with remaining shells until all shells are ground to a powder.
  • Your shells are now fit for chicken consumption! I like to add them in with other treats like cracked corn and/or mealworms. You could also add them to the feed occasionally/as needed. Some prefer to offer them in a feeder on the side as chickens can self regulate their intake, consuming them as needed.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

If you don’t have an electric grinder, you could use a mortar and pestle along with some elbow grease, but I prefer to make quick work of it with the electric grinder. You can get one here!

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Anne Marie Berggren RDN, MS, CDN, CNSC is a Registered Dietitian with a Master's Degree in Nutrition, training in integrative and functional nutrition, nutrition for mental health, obesity and weight management, is a board certified nutrition support clinician, and an adjunct professor for the Stony Brook Graduate Nutrition Program teaching advanced clinical nutrition.

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