What are you supposed to do with all these eggshells after cracking and eating eggs? You might want to know if your chickens can eat them. This idea will be discussed in the following paragraphs as we understand whether or not chickens can eat eggshells.
Yes, chickens can absolutely eat eggshells. Egg-laying chickens have a lot of use for eating eggshells, as long as they’re prepared and served correctly.
The eggshell from a healthy egg has a lot of nutrients and minerals that promote stronger eggs. It’s a strange idea, but it makes sense when you think about it.
Eggshells for Non-Egg-Laying Chickens
Before looking more into how chickens and eggshells mix, it’s important to understand that chickens that don’t lay eggs have no use for eggshells. In fact, it’s just a waste of eggshells. They stand to gain no value from the discarded eggshells, and they should be saved only for chickens that lay eggs.
Hens that are younger than six months are not considered egg-laying chickens yet.
Any chicken that doesn’t lay eggs really doesn’t require a lot of calcium in their diet. Whatever they do need can be found in the feed that they eat.
Why Feed Chickens Eggshells?
The act of laying eggs requires a lot of calcium. The protective shell and membrane around an egg are all thanks to calcium.
Calcium deficiency can lead to a lot of problems in a chicken. It leads to low-quality eggs that easily crack open on their own. The fragile shell might not even make it to the kitchen before breaking open.
By feeding strong eggshells to a hen, you’ll wind up supplementing the calcium that they need. It will, in turn, create stronger eggs that they lay.
There are also a few other nutrients and minerals that are included in an eggshell. These amounts don’t add up to much, but they’re there! Magnesium, sodium, potassium, and phosphorous are all in the shell.
Won’t Eating Eggshells Make Chickens Eat Laid Eggs?
This is a big myth in the world of chickens. Just because you feed your chicken eggshells does not mean that they will start eating eggs that are laid in the coop. They understand the difference between these two items, and they won’t start seeing eggs as food.
If anything, it can help prevent unwanted egg eating. By providing them the calcium they need, chickens won’t go off on their own looking for it.
How to Prepare Eggshells for Chickens
You need to do a little prep work before the eggshells are ready for chicken consumption.
Take your stack of eggshells to the sink. Thoroughly rinse the shells with water and put them on a paper towel.
Give the shells some time to completely dry. Now it’s time to wait a little bit. Put the shells in a bowl or container and wait a few days.
Waiting a few days allows the shells to get really brittle, so the next step is easier.
Now that they’re brittle, it’s time to break them down. Use your hands or a utensil and crush the eggs into tiny pieces. You want them to be small enough that your chicken can eat them, and they won’t get stuck in their throat.
This simple process doesn’t require any special tool or knowledge, and it’s super helpful for your chickens.
If you don’t want to wait for them to dry naturally, you can bake the wet eggshells. By putting them in the oven at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes, they will get a lot more brittle and crispier. This also makes sure that the eggs are completely dry.
Which Eggshells Can I Feed Chickens?
Sourcing the eggshells is the important part. You should really avoid using eggshells from store-bought eggs or gifted eggs from another farm. These eggs could have bacteria that your flock isn’t used to, and it could end up being disastrous.
You want to keep the eggshells from the eggs your flock has laid. It also adds to the sustainability of your chicken operation.
On top of that, it will reduce your overall waste. Rather than throwing out the eggshells, now you can repurpose them into a bonus source of calcium for your flock.
How to Feed Chickens Eggshells
Some people think that you want to mix the eggshells into the regular feed for your chickens. You should avoid doing this. You want the chickens to be able to choose how much or how little they want to eat.
They will know how much calcium their body needs and will subsequently eat the eggshells.
Benefits of Feeding Eggshells
We already discussed some of the great reasons to feed eggshells to your flock. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest benefits of this.
Sustainability of the Farm
Feeding your flock eggshells that came from your farm creates a more sustainable farm. You are using scraps to feed and strengthen the flock. These scraps came from the flock, so it’s a win-win.
These eggshells cost nothing to you. Your hens lay the eggs, which means that they are completely free. This beats buying a method to boost the calcium in your chickens.
It Reduces Waste
Since you’re using every part of the egg, you’re reducing your overall waste. Rather than throwing the shells out, now you have a purpose for them.
Eggshells take a while to break down, so they aren’t usually the best option for composting. This leaves the trashcan as the only other place you can throw them. That is until you start feeding them to your chickens!
Great Source of Calcium
This is the number one reason to feed eggshells to your chickens. There’s a ton of calcium in every peck, and it will help your chickens in the long run.
Calcium also helps the uptake of other minerals and nutrients. This means that your chicken’s overall health will boost with the addition of eggshells.
Calcium is also the main player when it comes to healthy eggs in the future. Your hens will lay stronger and healthier eggs when they have enough calcium in their system.
Alternative Places for Eggshells
There are two reasons to look elsewhere for your eggshells. One reason is you don’t have the supply for it yet. If you don’t have enough eggs and you’re looking to feed your chickens eggshells, you’re in a catch 22.
The other reason is your current eggs are calcium deficient. These thin-walled eggshells will not help your flock.
If you’re looking for alternative places to source eggshells, you need to be careful. Using eggs from other farms can prove to be dangerous to your flock. If you need some supplemental calcium for your flock, you can consider oyster shells. These will hold you over until you have enough healthy eggs in your inventory to make your own eggshells.
How to Store Eggshells
After preparing eggshells for your flock, you might have made too much. You don’t want to give them all the shells at once, so you have to find out how to store these eggshells.
If you leave them on your counter for weeks on end, you will get a lot of bacteria growth on the shells. This can make your flock sick and can be really bad.
You want to make sure you properly store the eggshells. Use a closed container and put them in the fridge to maximize how long they’re good for.
This means that every month or two, you can go ahead and make a huge batch of eggshells. Over time you’ll better understand how many shells are eaten a day, so you’ll know when to restock your supply.
Use Dishes to Serve Eggshells
A lot of homesteaders have spoken to the power of an eggshell dish. They keep a dish by the coop that they refill with eggshells as it depletes.
This is a good idea for a couple of reasons. It keeps the shells separate from their feed so they can choose how many shells they want to eat.
It helps you understand how many shells are eaten in a given week. This gives you insight into how many eggshells you need to prepare and how often. It can also hint at calcium deficient feed if you find that the eggshell supply quickly goes away. Remember, chickens are eating the eggshells because they crave the calcium. If they’re not getting enough from their feed, they will make their way to the dish.
Using a dish also provides a convenient way to transport the shells. You can take the dish to your kitchen, fill it up, and bring it back to the flock.
Why Should I Crush the Eggshells?
Chickens have a very narrow throat and a small mouth. They are also bad at picking things apart.
If you feed a chicken a whole eggshell, they won’t know where to start. They can try pecking it into smaller pieces. Due to the size and weight of the eggshell, it will just move around – it’s really hard to peck it into small pieces.
By crushing the eggshells, you’re making sure that they’re a safe size for the chicken. On top of that, it makes it look more like food from your chicken’s perspective.
Crushing the eggshells also makes it easier to store and stock up on eggshells since they take up less space.
A shell that’s too large can get lodged in your chicken’s throat or stuck in their digestive tract. Either way, it’s not a pretty sight, and a little bit of prep work goes a long way here.
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