Lead levels in eggs -- how to test and what is safe?


In the Brooder
8 Years
Mar 3, 2011
Hi all -- new poster here.

I've been the proud owner of 2 RIRs since November and will add 8 more chicks to the flock tomorrow.

I found out that my neighbor's former garage, which was taken down recently, had lead paint on it. The garage was 18 inches from property line, without a fence, where I now have the coop and chickens. Because I have kids that could have been exposed to high lead levels, I had the soil tested. The highest soil sample came back at 168ppm which was below the EPA guideline of 400 ppm -- the level that the EPA says the soil needs to be cleaned up. The EPA guidelines have been revised downward over the years so what is considered a safe level today might not be next year. However, I haven't found any info on the web about lead levels in chickens or eggs.

Can anyone point me to any studies that have been done on lead levels in eggs or food? Or if you have come across a place where I can get the eggs tested to make sure the chickens aren't ingesting dangerous levels. I only have a 1/3 acre so I don't have a lot of options about where I could move the coop so that I comply with local ordinances. I will build a chicken tractor to let the chickens graze outside of the run, but I don't have one yet.
Thanks for your input.
I don't know about having the eggs tested, but you should be able to have the birds themselves tested by a local vet. Someone on here had a bird get a nasty case of lead poisoning that he/she found out about through testing. The bird should not have survived, but did. The gist of the post was that the family could not eat the eggs for 30 days after the bird was exposed.

I hope this helps. Sorry I couldn't be more help. Good luck.
Thanks for the suggestion about checking with a vet. I live in an area where the only animals the vets take care of are dogs and cats. I'llhave to take a long drive to find a coutnry vet who might be bale to do it. I'll call around.
Depending on where you live, you might be able to contact the county extension office, or if you happen to live near a good ag university, get information there (I live about half hour from Michigan State - if I had chicken questions, I'd go there before any of the local vets).

Good luck!
Thanks so much!! That blogpost was very helpful. I've had the spoil tested but don't trust the guidelines set by the EPA. I'll get the eggs tested asap and then decide next steps.
We had our eggs tested at a local lab that tests water for contaminants. We got no help from the USDA or the county extension office. We found that the soil, water and no lead paint chips were found. Everything was good, except that the eggs had a high level of lead. We used Layena from Purina, and called them. They use the usual source of calcium that most people use: oyster shell. Oyster shell is loaded with lead. Their lead content was quite high from what they told us, and they thought nothing of it. I have a feeling that most of us are getting a high level of lead in our eggs because of having not much to choose form other than oyster shell for the calcium. What they did was test the yolk for us. The egg white does not contain lead. Very interesting...
I wasn't aware about the oyster shell and lead linkages. I guess I could give the hens dairy as a lead free calcium source.
I checked with the county extension lab and they quoted me parts per billion as lead levels that were cautionary. My guess is that the lead levels should be much lower than that. Naturally occurring background soil lead levels are 20-50 ppm. Out of curiosity, what did the levels in your hens yolks come in at? Did the lab give you any guidance on what is considered a high level?
This is a tad off topic I guess but you can use ground egg shells also. I have no clue if this is equal to oyster shell or not. I have a family friend who has raised chickens for something like 70 years. He mother always baked the egg shells and crushed them fine and added it into their mash. So she has baked her egg shells and crushed them fine for the last 70 years. So she gets me started and gives me all kinds of advice. So now I bake the stupid egg shells, and grind them fine and add it to my layer crumbles. It seems to work and the chickens go nuts picking out the tiny pieces of shell.

Now that I know that about oyster shell I won't be using it anymore.

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom