If you own a flock of chickens, one of your primary concerns will be ensuring that they get everything they need in their diets. Eggs shells are known to be high in minerals but can you feed them back to your birds? I decided to conduct some research. I would like to share my findings here with you today.
So, can chickens eat egg shells? Yes egg-laying chickens can eat egg shells. In fact, it’s a great way to supplement their diet with additional calcium. Chickens require adequate and even additional calcium in order to form shells and lay new eggs. However it is important only to feed egg shells to egg laying aged hens (6 months old+) while chicks do not need nor should be fed them. To feed egg shells to chickens all you need to do is dry them, crush them and mix into their regular feed.
There is something quite strange about feeding chickens their own eggshells, or from that of another flock for that matter. But this does not mean you cannot and should not provide them.
Why Would You Want To Feed Eggs Shells To Your Chickens?
Laying hens require a lot of calcium in their diets.
This is because every egg that is laid, is protected and sealed in a strong cover of calcium. An egg shell is essentially a hard outer covering that consists mostly of calcium carbonate.
But of course, a chicken also has requirements for calcium elsewhere and for other processes and functions.
If they therefore do not consume enough, they run the risk of encountering health issues and other complications.
Calcium deficiency is very tough on a hen – plus it also leads to low-quality eggs.
A calcium-deficient diet is likely to lat eggs that have a very thin, weak and fragile shell which will easily crack and can be easily pierced.
So as you can see, there is a natural cycle at play.
Feeding eggshells to your chickens therefore offers a way to ensure that they are getting all of the calcium in which they need.
But beyond this, eggshells also contain small small amounts of protein and other organic compounds and minerals.
It is important to note that it is in egg-laying chickens, those of 6 months+ that require additional calcium in their diet.
They are using up their reserves of this mineral and therefore need to consume more to meet the demands that are being placed upon them,
For chicks and younger chickens under egg-laying age – they do not require as much calcium in their diets.
As long as they are consuming a high-quality feed, they should be getting all of the calcium they need naturally.
How to Feed Egg Shells To Chickens?
When it comes to feeding your chickens egg shells, there are two ways in which you can acquire them.
First and foremost, you can purchase them pre-dried, crushed and grounded. With this option, you would just need to sprinkle an appropriate amount into your chickens feed.
If you are short of time, or do not want the hassle of the drying process, then this option is for you. Here is the best egg-shell supplement to buy from Amazon.
However, the process is relatively simple and quick, so actually making the supplement yourself at home can easily be done.
Its great for making use of leftover egg-shells, helping to get rid of them and preventing them from going to waste!
Here are the steps that you would need to follow to make your own supplement!
Step 1 – Collect and Dry
To begin, you will need to collect some egg shells to make up the supplement.
This could be from your kitchen, where you have saved them following use, or you could even venture out to your chicken coop. It could be from your own chickens, or from eggs purchased at the store.
Either way, collect a sufficient amount of egg shells – enough to fill a small container up. 15-20 is a minimum you will need.
Generally, its a good idea to keep a storage container where you can put your egg shells ahead of time.
Step 2: Pre-Heat The Oven
Next, you’ll want to re-heat your oven to an appropriate temperature. From experience, around 350 °F (177 °C) works well.
Ensure that you have a rack positioned in the center of your oven for you to place the baking tray of egg shells on.
Let your oven warm up for around 10 minutes.
Step 3: Place The Egg Shells on a Baking Tray
You will then want to place your egg shells onto a baking tray for baking. Eggs are naturally quite moist, and any remaining membrane on the egg will help to keep the shell strong and in shape.
Therefore, by baking the shells you can dry this membrane out to enable you to break the shells apart.
For this reason, you will want to ensure that all of the shells are broken (at least in half) to ensure that they can dry out competely.
Its a good idea to only place one later of eggs, and to not stack them up on top of one another.
Step 3: Bake for 10 Minutes
You will then need to place the baking tray into the oven – leaving the eggshells to bake for 10 minutes.
Ensure you place the baking tray into the center of your oven, on the rack positioned in the previous step.
Once 10 minutes has passed, take them out and put them on a safe, appropriate surface to give them a chance to cool.
You should notice that the shells have become considerably weaker – even crumbling when pressure is placed on the,.
If they do not easily break when you do so, this means they require further baking. 2-5 minutes is usually all that they will need.
Step 4: Crush The Eggshells
For this step you will need a resealable plastic bag and a rolling pin.
If you do not have a rolling pin, you can use a coffee bean grinder.
Once sufficiently cooled, place all of the egg shells into the bag. Attempt to place as many of the egg shells into the bag as possible, and then be sure to seal the bag.
You can use your hands to break some of the egg shells apart. This should enable you to fit more eggshells into the bag.
From here you will want to use your rolling pin to smash up and grind the eggshells down. Carefully use your rolling pin to hit the bag of eggshells. You can either lay the bag down on a surface or you can hold the sealed bag of eggshells with your other hand.
Be careful not to pierce through the bag or that it opens up as you do this.
You are essentially looking to grind your egg shells up into a fine powder.
For this reason you will also want to roll your eggshells with the rolling pin – just as you would with flour/bread.
Keep turning the bag over to ensure that you get all of the eggshells.
Keep grinding until all of the egg shells have been sufficiently ground. This is when they are ready.
However, you must make sure that all of the egg shells are sufficiently broken down. Otherwise, your chickens may recognize them which can result in eating of their own eggs once laid!
Step 5: Feed Your Chickens
When it comes to feeding the eggshells to your chickens, you have a couple of options.
You can look to add a bowl, exclusively consisting of ground eggshells to their coop. This will enable your chickens to eat them as and when required. They will naturally regulate how much they want to eat and get a sufficient amount of calcium.
From here you can top up the bowl as and when it empties.
Make sure that you are also providing sufficient food and their regular feed, as chickens will not be able to live off just eggshells!
Alternatively, you can look to mix the eggshells in with their regular feed. This works well if your chickens are not consuming much from the eggshell bowl.
Doing this will prevent your chickens from getting used to the chalky taste of eggshells, and will prevent them from being able to notice the flavor.
When doing this you’ll need to mix an appropriate amount of eggshell into the bowl of feed. Around a 1/4 eggshell, 3/4 feed works well.
Its also a good idea to add a small amount of eggshell at first. This will enable your chickens to get used to the new flavor and texture that eggshells bring.
Step 6: Consider Oyster Shell Supplementation
If you notice that your chickens begin to consume their own eggs, this is because they have recognized the eggshells that you are feeding them – enjoying the flavor they provide.
In this situation, you are going to want to remove the eggshell supplement/bowl or mixed feed from the coop.
From here, you will need to replace it with Oyster Shells (which have a different texture/taste).
Your chickens will still continue to be able to get the calcium they need without the risk of going for their own freshly laid eggs!
Small Pet Select does an amazing ground oyster shell supplement that can be purchased for a great price on Amazon.
Chickens can consume eggshells.
In fact, it’s a practical and affordable way to increase the calcium in their diets in which they need. Particularly for egg-laying hens.
Thankfully, as a keeper of chickens you have several options open to you.
You can make them yourself easily at home, or purchase a ground supplement ahead of time. You can feed it exclusively, or mix it in with their regular feed.
Either way, doing so will ensure your chickens can remain healthy and continue to lay strong, unbreakable eggs for yourself or others to collect and consume.
Chickens can eat eggshells daily as a finely ground powder, or they can eat eggshells mixed into their regular feed. If you decide to leave a bowl exclusively of eggshells, your birds will eat them as and when required.
Baking eggshells typically takes 10 minutes at around 350 °F (177 °C). However, they may require longer depending on whether you let your oven warm-up, or depending on the size of the eggshells and how they were placed in the oven or on a baking tray.
Wondering what else chickens can eat? Check out my other chicken feeding guides below!
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.