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Snail shells for calcium supplement?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by utahmethodist, Aug 21, 2008.

  1. utahmethodist

    utahmethodist Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 7, 2008
    SLC, UT
    First a little background.

    A) We have a lot of snails here. My chickens are allowed to free-range in our little backyard during the day and they're very good at finding all the snail hiding spots. I'll frequently find them hiding behind a perennial bashing a snail against concrete or a rock to break it open but they also end up eating the shell.

    B) This spring while cleaning out the garage I found an amazing cache of empty snail shells left by rats. They had been taking them behind some old railroad ties where they ate them and dumped the shells in a big pile. There have to be at least 200-300 large snail shells back there, the size you see in a restaurant when you order escargot.

    C) I'm extremely thrifty. Or cheap, depending on who you ask.

    So taking these three things into account, could I get away with feeding my two hens crushed snail shells (as well as cooked crushed egg shells) instead of buying oyster shells to supplement their calcium? I really hate buying something if I have a good FREE alternative. So far we've been getting eggs for a little over a month and the shells seem very thick when I break them to cook. Please reassure me that I can continue not buying expensive oyster shell. [​IMG]
     
  2. ChickenToes

    ChickenToes Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 14, 2008
    NE Wisconsin
    I would try it for maybe a week. Keep a close eye on the eggs your girls are laying. If the shells stay nice and strong and you don't notice any changes, go ahead and just use snail shells.
     
  3. JennsPeeps

    JennsPeeps Rhymes with 'henn'

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    South Puget Sound
    Leave the supply of oyster shells out for them & see how much they eat. My understanding of laying birds is that they'll seek out calcium if they're not getting enough.
     
  4. Chickenfiend

    Chickenfiend Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 16, 2008
    Bellville OH
    I would boil them or put them in the oven to disinfect them because of the rats.
     
  5. yeahLauren

    yeahLauren Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 14, 2008
    Muncie, IN
    I love snails and have some as pets. What kind are they? I'm jealous as we don't have many land snails around here.
     
  6. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    I would go ahead and use them after washing and baking to disinfect.
     
  7. utahmethodist

    utahmethodist Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 7, 2008
    SLC, UT
    Ew, I think I'll grill them on the Weber outside. [​IMG] I don't think I want that smell in my kitchen. And I'll do it while my husband is at work so I don't have to answer any more questions about strange obsessive things I do to make my feathery girls happy. "Why, I'm just grilling some escargot in a garlic butter sauce for the chickens, honey."
     
  8. d.k

    d.k red-headed stepchild

    *Are snail shells really that high in calcium? I wouldn't mind trying them for chickees! I can lure dozens of snails with a little cheap beer in a dish in the flowerbed.
     
  9. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    d.k :

    *Are snail shells really that high in calcium? I wouldn't mind trying them for chickees! I can lure dozens of snails with a little cheap beer in a dish in the flowerbed.

    That's a good question. Oyster shells' main component is calcite, but I wonder if land snail shells are more protein like nails. Then again... the snails here are all the flat paper thin shelled types. We have monster slugs instead. Perhaps reading this might give some insight. Gotta go lock up the birds now with the brand new pad locks.​
     
  10. Akane

    Akane Overrun With Chickens

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    Jun 15, 2008
    Dunno about land snails but aquatic snails (I had 100s of applesnails at one point) are mostly calcium carbonate. If you leave the shells of dead snails in there they will raise the calcium level and that also raises the ph in an aquarium. If you catch wild pond snails the ones with light spots are often from loss of calcium creating thinner areas of shell.
     

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