When we think of eggshells, we think of the resources that go into making them. They’re a source of calcium, and they’re a very nutritious part of a bird’s diet. They also help keep the eggshells firm and help with the egg-laying process. But what about the eggshells themselves? Are they a valuable resource? Should you feed them to your chickens?
The answer is an overwhelming yes! However, you need to be careful to prepare them as below.
You don’t want to encourage full egg eating. Chickens LOVE the taste and nutrients of their eggs. If your chickens are eating their own eggs, you need to break this habit as soon as possible. The longer they do it, the harder it becomes to fix. Especially if they teach their friends to do it too! Egg-eating is one of the most annoying and frustrating habits your chickens can have.
Eggshells are made mostly of calcium carbonate. Chickens need lots of calcium so that their eggshells are thick and less breakable. If you find you have unwanted egg eaters you can read all about how to stop this behavior here.
If you notice your chicken’s eggs to be soft and pliable or even sometimes non-existent, you need to promptly get on to a supplement. When chickens don’t get enough calcium they may not lay as many eggs or eggshells may become so weak that they get stuck in the oviduct. This is called egg-binding and can be life-threatening. You can learn how to fix this here.
Provide your laying hens with a constant supply of calcium supplements. You can buy commercial supplements that add to their water like avi-calcium, or natural options such as shell grit and calci-protein blend, or simply feed them back their eggs!
How to feed eggshells back to your chickens:
1. Just before you crack your eggs, give them a quick clean to remove any dried poo or nesting materials.
2. As you use your eggs, keep the shells in a tub or old ice cream container. You can crush them a little to save space.
3. Once you have collected a dozen or so, spread your collection of half-crushed shells on a baking sheet and bake until the shells become brittle. Around 160 degrees Celsius for 10-15mins.
4. Crush the toasted shells into small pieces – maybe 2-5mm. Doesn’t have to be too accurate. You could use a food processor, or crush by hand.
Crushing the eggs makes them look different from a just laid egg, to not encourage them to eat their own!
5. You can either mix your eggshell with your chicken’s regular feed, or you can supply it in a separate feeder. I find chickens eat a calcium supplement like eggshells or shell grit as, and when they need to, so a separate dish is best.
What’s the Best Way to Store Eggshells for Use in Your Chicken Coop?
The best way to store eggshells for use in your chicken coop is to line your storage container with clear plastic bags. Place the container in a cool, dry place. And remember, it’s best to keep the eggs and eggshells out of direct sunlight for as long as possible. It’s also important to ensure that the eggs and eggshells aren’t damp.
Feeding eggshells to your chickens is a great way to provide them with calcium and other nutrients. The calcium in the shells helps them form strong eggshells, and the calcium in the diet helps the hens lay larger eggs.