Feeding chickens their own shells

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by The Deviled Egg, Feb 24, 2015.

  1. The Deviled Egg

    The Deviled Egg Hatching

    Feb 5, 2015
    I read an article recently that suggested feeding chickens their own shells to help add calciuum to their diet. I know a lot of people use oyster shells, but I'm looking for a more sustainable option. This article suggested baking the shells in the oven for 20 minutes at 275 then mashing the shells up and giving it to the birds. According to the article the baking helps to kill all of the bacteria on the shells and changes the taste of the eggs so the chickens do not get a taste for their own shells. What are your thoughts?
  2. Spangled

    Spangled Songster

    Jan 12, 2012
    Serenity Valley
    My thoughts? Ha ha. I don't think my thoughts will be helpful. [​IMG]

    I decided that if I had to cook the shells, that it wasn't sustainable by my standards. If I turn on the oven, then all bets are off because I'm either using coal or gas to heat up the oven since we aren't solar nor do we have a wind generator. It also wasn't cost effective, either money-wise or time-wise or water-wise because I would have to wash the pan I cooked them on or use foil. But it's probably a toss up when compared to buying oyster shells. But I admit, that the eggshells look really dumb in the garden even after being composted because it's like they never break down.

    If I lived in town, I think I would try to get the lobster and crab shells from seafood restaurants once in a while. That would be so good for my chickens! I'd just take a 5 gallon bucket over at lunch time and pick up later in the day. Voila!

    Edited to add: [​IMG] [​IMG] Glad to have you join us!
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2015
    1 person likes this.
  3. steph0601

    steph0601 In the Brooder

    Jan 15, 2014
    I use them, I actually blend the egg shells up, I don't bake in the oven though I just boil them. Once it's a fine powder I add it to there food. It is not really helpful for grit but is a good calcium source. I have a friend that makes her own calcium pills this way. After she crushes the egg shells into powder she puts it in vegetable pill pockets.
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    I just rinse the shells after breaking(rinsing the albumen off them will greatly reduce any change of bacterial growth) and let air dry, crush with my hand and grind them up in a pseudo mortar and pestle (metal measuring cup and drinking glass) and mix them with oyster shell.

    They should not be mixed with the feed but kept available all the time in a separate container to be consumed as needed.

    Feeding egg shells even uncrushed will not lead to egg eating....plenty of people do that.

    Egg shells alone are not a complete calcium source, they are absorbed and used differently by the body than oyster shells. It also depends on what kind f feed you are using and how much calcium it might contain.

    I don't see why oyster shells are unsustainable...maybe unselfsustainable.
    But someone is eating all those oysters somewhere, might as well use the shells, they are cheap at my mill.
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2015
  5. Honey B

    Honey B Chirping

    Feb 1, 2015
    I use egg shells in a similar fashion to @Aart

    I mix crushed egg shells and oyster shells. They are in a little container in the coops and the girls can choose what they want. They both seem to disappear in a timely fashion indicating one type of calcium is not preferred over another. Never had any problems with egg eating.
  6. CrazyTalk

    CrazyTalk Songster

    Jun 10, 2014
    I throw the shells in the compost pile - the chickens get up there and eat the ones they want. I don't see any reason to crush them up or bake them or anything like that.

    Egg eating is usually nutrition issues.
    1 person likes this.
  7. Percheron chick

    Percheron chick Crowing

    Apr 12, 2013
    Boulder, Colorado
    All that work is not cost effective for a few grams of Ca. The egg shells go straight in the chicken pail and they get tossed in the run with the rest of the goodies. I do like them to be dry so I can crush them in my hand but other than that I won't do any more work. My chickens eat some pretty yummy (nasty) stuff so I"m not going to worry about an egg shell that's been sitting on the counter for 2 days.
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Not every bit of calcium they eat gets absorbed by their bodies. A lot goes straight on through and out the rear end. That makes their poo even more valuable for compost. Calcium is an essential nutrient for plants. Some of the calcium they do absorb gets used for body maintenance. It does not all go to egg shells. If the only calcium they ate was their own eggs it would be a losing proposition. It can help supplement their calcium but by itself it egg shells are not sustainable.

    But they can get calcium from a lot of sources. Their feed, whether Layer or something else has some calcium in it. Some plants have calcium. Many creepy crawlies provide some calcium, especially if they have hard shells. If your rock is limestone, they will absorb calcium from the rocks they eat as grit. If your egg shells are hard they are getting enough calcium somewhere. If they are thin or soft, you may have an issue.

    I’m with the group that does not wash them, heat them, or crush them. I just toss them out and I do not have egg eaters. To me, the more work I put into it or the more energy I use the less sustainable it is.

    Still there is nothing wrong with offering them egg shells. If you are more comfortable treating them somehow, go for it. It will not hurt your chickens and it might relieve your stress levels.
  9. aatx

    aatx Songster

    Mar 19, 2014
    Erath County, Texas
    If I am just using one or two eggs, I admit that I rarely think about keeping them. I did at first, but I've gotten lazy. My parents are pretty good about just throwing the shells in a plastic bag in the fridge though and give that to me occasionally. If I am doing a breakfast for supper type thing though, where we are having eggs and biscuits, I save the shells and then as soon as my biscuits get done baking (on a piece of foil covering a cookie sheet), I remove them, add the egg shells and pop them back in the oven (now turned off). I let them stay in the oven until it cools. This way I'm not using any additional heat or dishes - just taking advantage of a hot oven and a used piece of foil.
  10. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    I keep a bowl on the kitchen counter that everything the chickens can eat or that can go to the compost goes into. It's simple once you get into the habit.

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