There are so many augments about chicken raising. Feed this, this is poisonous, don't ever use this, this is ok to use, etc, etc. However, out of the endless arguments, there is one thing people can't disagree on; all hens need calcium. Many people don't know that eggshells serve a great purpose as a natural source of calcium. Plus they are cheap and organic. Eggshells serve the exact same purpose oyster shell does. Some people don't understand how much hens need calcuim. They also sometimes don't buy oyster shell as it can be expensive. Eggshells, however, are free and easy to serve.
Before we go into how to prepare eggshells, let's look at how important they are in the making of an egg.
Hens lay eggs usually every 25 hours. About 20 of these hours are spent forming an eggshell. Many studies have shown that the eggshell is formed at night. Hens therefore eat most of their daily calcium in the evenings. (This is not true in every situation.)
(Photo courtesy of Grit magazine.)
If your hens are fed a layer feed then they probably won't need as much calcium as they would if they were eating, say, chick or game feed. But, that doesn't mean they don't need it at all. Hens need calcium to produce strong and healthy eggshells aside from what they need for their bodies to function properly. Calcium also plays a big role in the contractions of the oviduct and uterus to produce an egg. Without enough calcium hens can become egg bound very easily. Additionally, lack of this nutrient can draw calcium out of her bones resulting in weak bones and sometimes bone breakage.
Now, lets look at how to prepare eggshells.
Eggshells must be prepared differently then oyster shells. (One of the downsides.) They must be rinsed, dried, crushed and provided in a separate dish. The reason for rinsing is so that hens don't get a taste of a raw egg and start eating their own eggs. (See this link for info on how to break egg eaters. https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/six-tips-on-breaking-your-egg-eater) The reason for crushing is so the hens don't see the shape and start eating their eggs. You need at least three eggshells for each hen a day.
Here is a picture guide to how I prepare my eggshells.
Then I place them in a jar and take it out to the girls.
You probably won't be able to tell that your hens are eating eggshells if you give them a lot. But, even though they eat small amounts, they still need a steady supply of it.
Something to remember: Don't feed your hens store bought eggshells as these have had chemicals sprayed on them which can be harmful to your birds
Eggshells are a cheap, organic and practical way to providing your hens with the calcium they need. Why would you throw out such a nutrient?
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