By Lori Leigh
If you read my article about egg eating chickens, you might think I am crazy because now I’m writing about feeding crushed egg shells to chickens. If you are hesitant, I completely understand. I was too…until recently.
While trying to solve the egg eating problem that was happening in our chicken coop, I did a lot of research and tried implementing a lot of those ideas. Oyster shells was one of the things that I tried, adding extra calcium to our chicken’s diet. Added calcium helps make the egg shell harder, thus making it harder for a chicken to peck open. The problem was…my ladies did not seem to like the oyster shells. But guess what? They do like the crushed egg shells that I now offer them.
I used to think that feeding egg shells to chickens was like a catch 22. Why would I feed them the very thing that I was trying to break them of?!?! But, obviously, crushed egg shells don’t resemble a formed egg, so the chicken doesn’t ‘get’ that it is the same thing. And, because they are getting extra calcium in their diet from the crushed egg shells, they may not feel tempted to peck at eggs that they lay.
Fact is, chicken keepers have been feeding egg shells to their chickens for hundreds of years. I’m guessing my great Grandma fed her chickens egg shells, using what she had available, not something she would have had to buy.
How to process eggshells
Next time you are cracking open some eggs, save the shells. Rinse them out and let air dry on a towel, no need to bake or microwave them. It’s recommended to crush them with your hand and store in a sealed container until ready to use. If you pulverize the egg shells into a powder it may deplete the calcium found in the hand crushed version.
Feeding crushed eggshells to your flock
Offer the crushed egg shells as free choice, not mixed in with their layer food. The hens will eat only as much as they need. Pullets that are not laying yet, and roosters don’t need crushed egg shells – they don’t have the taxing job of laying eggs.
One more thought
It’s best to feed your own flock’s egg shells back to your own flock. It’s just safe practice.